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Taking a Walk with Giles - A Review

Taking a Walk with Giles - A Review

Ipswich Guided Walks - Taking a Walk with Giles 

On a late September afternoon, tour guide Elaine Everitt took walkers on a guided tour around central Ipswich, to visit locations associated with the late cartoonist ‘Carl’ Giles.

Born in North London, Giles first became associated with Ipswich in the mid-1930s, when he took up a job in a film animator’s studio in Museum Street. Although he returned to London, and lived there during the early years of WW2, following marriage to his cousin Joan, in 1942, he moved to the area. Finally, he settled in Witnesham, where he remained until his death in 1995.

Commencing at the Tourist Information Centre, situated in the medieval St. Stephen’s Church, Elaine led us up St. Stephen’s Street to the junction with the Buttermarket. There, she showed us the first of several of cartoons by Giles; dated 1955, it included a section of the magnificent Ancient House. Proceeding along Buttermarket, walkers must have been struck by the rich architectural heritage that inspired Giles. Arriving at Giles Circus, we paused at the commemorative statue situated outside the location from which he created his thousands of cartoons. The statue depicts his most famous creation, Grandma, looking up at his former studio, which was located above what is now Costa Coffee. Grandma is accompanied by Vera, the twins, and Butch the dog. From this position, it is possible to see several locations included in his cartoons, including The Swan pub in King Street.

Leaving the statue, we moved a short distance along Princes Street, stopping at the side of the Town Hall, at the site of the former police station, which was depicted in a 1947 cartoon. The front of the Town Hall features in a cartoon of 1960. Casting an eye across Cornhill, to the entrance to Lloyds Avenue, Elaine showed us a 1957 cartoon of the scene. Then, it was up Lloyds Avenue, across Tower Ramparts to Crown Street, and The Cricketers, a most impressive building, designed in a style similar to some others in Ipswich. The pub featured in a 1946 cartoon which, unlikely as it may seem, also contained a camel! Moving along Crown Street and St Margaret’s Street, at the juncture with Soane Street we encountered the unmissable black and white timber framed building (now housing an estate agency) featured in a 1957 cartoon. Then, it was down Northgate Street, along Upper Brook Street, and into Dogs Head Street, for locations in cartoons published in 1946 (The Plough Inn) and 1953 (The Old Cattle Market).

Following the walk, I could not help but reflect upon what a tiny area all this was from which to  draw inspiration for the creation of the cartoons which immortalised Giles and Ipswich. As a life-long Giles enthusiast, it was pleasure to be guided around the locations by the very knowledgeable Elaine. She gave us an entertaining afternoon, which should result in many of us seeing Ipswich through fresh eyes.    

Report by Robert Carr, undergraduate on the BA (Hons) English course at the University of Suffolk.

The next Guided Walk coming up is Horrible History Event for Families. Click on this link to find out more.

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