One of the most outstanding features of Rushmere St Andrew is the fine timber house known as ‘Columbia House' shown in the photograph above. The story goes that it was built by local timber merchant John Brown for the Royal Agricultural Show of 1934 as an elaborate gimmick to sell timber. The then Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) attended the show and was said to have, ‘Taken tea in the lounge'. It seems certain that the Prince of Wales attended the 1934 show as there is a record of the visit on the Pathé News.
The story however, goes on to say that after the show the house was transported to its present location on Playford Road. Just how would one transport a house from the showground to Playford Road?
We can confirm that the house was indeed displayed at the Suffolk Show and transported to Playford Road. Of course the house has been added to since then. But the old photos reproduced here give some of the history.
The kitchen photo was taken while the house was at the show as there is a plaque on the wall that declares, ‘Stoves, Sanitary Appliances and Door Fittings by E L Hunt Ltd, Ipswich and Chelmsford'.
It is interesting to note that the house while at the show did not have a chimney: it didn't need one as it was heated by these new-fangled electric fire things. It has fireplaces but no chimney. The house grew chimneys after it was moved to its present location and extended.
There is more information in a magazine supplement ‘Timber and Plywood dated 30 June 1934' of the house and interior as it was at the show,
Our grateful thanks to Andrew Frettingham for information and use of historical photos.
Some of the beautiful effects to be obtained by the use of Empire timber are admirably demonstrated on this stand by Messrs. Wm. Brown and Co., of Ipswich, who have erected a complete house, in every detail, of Empire timber, somewhat on the lines of the timber houses of Canada, with most excellent results. This exhibit is bound to attract a lot of attention.
The house is completely furnished and equipped entirely electrically, with modern electric fires, tubular and panel heating and every possible electrical device for the home. British Columbian Western red cedar has been used for the exterior, beams and stud work, the roof being covered with Western red cedar shakes.
In the porch, the pillars, panelling and front door are British Columbian Western Red cedar, while the flooring is Gurjan, from the Andaman Islands. The entrance hall ceiling is of Insulwood Wall Board, which is manufactured in England. The beams and panelling are of British Columbian Western hemlock; the flooring is of rift grain, kiln dried Western hemlock, and the staircase is British Columbian pine.
The dining-room is entirely constructed of British Columbian Western red cedar, with the exception of the flooring which is rift sawn, kiln dried British Columbian pine; whilst the kitchen is lined throughout with Insulated Wall Board.
The bedrooms are panelled with British Columbian Western hemlock, with rift sawn kiln dried flooring to match. The bedroom floors are of Australian silky oak and Australian walnut, the bathroom door of Queensland maple and the walls and ceiling again being of Insulated Wall Board.
The constructional timber is of merchantable quality British Columbian pine. Surrounding the Empire Timber house are various types of fencing, constructed mainly of English oak, converted in the firm's English timber mill at Handford Road, Ipswich. The electrical fittings throughout have been installed by the Ipswich Corporation Electrical Supply Department