The Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society (FLS) held the first meeting on Tuesday 4 December. The president was Richard Dykes Alexander, the head of the ‘Alexander’ Banking family. The Recapitulation Book was first updated with the daily investments on 11 December 1849, with the same journal still updated monthly to this day.
Founded in 1849. Still here today.
Suffolk Building Society was established in 1849 as the Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society, as part of a national movement to create ‘forty-shilling freeholders’ – giving the ordinary man the chance to buy enough land to enable him to vote.
The Society’s declared aim was to “improve the social position and promote the moral elevation of the unenfranchised population of this country”. People would be able to invest their savings with the Society, with that money being used to purchase areas of freehold land.
This land would be divided into plots of sufficient size to confer its owner the right to vote. Through the Ipswich & Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society arm we assisted members with affordable mortgages to help with their purchase.
Now, over 170 years on, Suffolk Building Society still exists to benefit our members – now and for the future, helping them toand with an organisation they can trust.
A short story about
By 1858 the first come, first served model of allocating plots to members was replaced by balloting. Members interested in a particular development would submit their ballot paper to the Secretary; should their corresponding numbered ball be drawn out they could proceed to purchase outright – or through an affordable mortgage with the Ipswich & Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society.
The Society built houses for the first time, having already allotted 1,000 plots of land across 22 estates. The Society laid out two new Roads, Palmerston and Lancaster, with 28 houses built and sold by ballot for £145.
A notable occasion in the Society’s history was the election of a new solicitor. Since the position was worth a decent return for a solicitor’s practice, the sense of competition was intense and public interest high. The election was made at the Society’s Annual General Meeting – the East Anglian Daily Times called it “one of the largest and most representative gatherings ever to be held in the town”. Mr E P Ridley of Birkett, Ridley and Bartley won and was duly elected.
The Society built for the last time in 1933, with twelve semi-detached houses on Shafto Road, Ipswich, boasting “electric light points to all rooms and hall”. By this time the Society had developed over 50 estates in Ipswich, and more across Suffolk including Felixstowe, Stowmarket, Lowestoft, Framlingham and Hadleigh.
In June concern was growing with the increasing number of air raids, so the Society’s directors arranged for the microfilming of all deeds for properties mortgaged by the Society, along with other important records.
For the very first time the Society had a branch which opened six days a week, with a second Ipswich office located within the Debenhams department store. On the second floor, the branch soon became so busy that more space was needed and, in 1990, a move to the new Tower Ramparts shopping centre was on the cards.
In 1992 the Society adopted a new brand identity, with a logo capturing the essence of the Suffolk environment with a suggestion of sea, sky, wheat fields and countryside.
Online for the first time, the Society’s website was launched.
150 years on and one of less than 70 building societies in the country, the Society boasts assets approaching a quarter of a billion pounds and has over 40,000 members. This landmark occasion was celebrated with a staff gathering at Christchurch Mansion. As staff arrived the bells of nearby St Margaret’s Church rang out in jubilation.
SUFFOLK BUILDING SOCIETY
Our name through the ages.
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Estate plans usually show name of estate, date, size and price of individual plots and are often marked in pencil with the name of the Member to whom each plot was balloted.
Ballot Notices give full details (including price and fortnightly repayment amounts) of property to be balloted and date, time and place of ballot. In the case of ballots for FLS houses a description of accommodation and local facilities is often included. Occasionally ballot notices include drawings of front elevation of houses.
There are also a number of loose architect’s specifications and plans and/or drawings for houses built by the I & SFLS. Details of these can be found at Reference GF419/FLS1849/3/4 & GF419/FLS1849/3/5.
2. Check relevant Minute Books for details of Estate development and ballot.
3. Identify bundle of title deeds retained by I & SFLS for earlier history of land.
4. Check mortgages for details of early owners of plot of land and/or house.
Contents of the collection is fully catalogued on CALM and can be searched on the Suffolk Archives website: https://www.suffolkarchives.co.uk/
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