...it's our town

Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House reflected in Willis Building (both Grade I)

Newsletter, October 2003 (Issue 153)

Chairman's Letter

Let me start with an update on developments on the Waterfront. Since the spring I have chaired the Waterfront Steering Committee, taking over from Bob Wales from Tolly Cobbold Brewery on its take-over by Ridleys. The Society has been a member of the Group since it was formed some seven years ago. The Group consists of the IBC, SCC, East of England Development Agency, Suffolk College, Ipswich Port and a broad selection of private developers. Its purpose is to monitor (and influence as far as this is possible) the development of the Waterfront. As you will know there are many developments taking place in this area, most of them residential and the skyline is changing rapidly. It is the concern of the Group that development should be mixed and balanced and we are encouraging bars, cafes, restaurants and shops, although in the present economic climate all the commercial pressures are for housing.

The redevelopment of Cranfields mills and the surrounding area (including land across College Street) is particularly welcome. Planning permission is about to be sought and the scheme looks interesting and imaginative, including as it does generous accommodation (four studios) for Dance East which currently is the only regional dance group which does not have its own suitable accommodation. Housing will also be provided in a carefully placed tower block.

Another major player on the Waterfront is Education. Major activities at Suffolk College and renewed interest in a university, perhaps backed by UEA and Essex University, throw up exciting ideas for an educational presence from the present College down to the Waterfront on land already owned by the College. The removal of SCC from its sites around County hall to the former TXU building generates another massive site adjacent to the present College.

Perhaps the centre of plans for the Waterfront (in more ways than one) is the Island site, owned by the Port (ABP). Because it is within one ownership it can be developed as a whole, and ABP are currently developing their proposals for this important site.

The Waterfront Group has long pressed for a "magnet" on the Waterfront - a public building that would attract interest from locals and visitors alike. Money was gained from EEDA for a feasibility study, the first phase of which is about to be presented. The concept of a Visitor Attraction has been carefully developed, to include our Anglo-Saxon history, Ipswich's connections with America, and other themes. Work will now proceed on phase 2 which will include a study of potential sites and details of finances and funding. I do believe that we will see a building on the Waterfront telling the story of Ipswich and linking it to Sutton Hoo and West Stow.

I was recently contacted by the son of an old Ipswich Society member who has donated a large selection of papers, cuttings and photographs relating to the work of the Society and going back many years. This has brought to a head a problem we have. For many years we have kept cuttings and photographs about the Society but we have never been happy about how they might be used. The only space we have is in Pykenharn's Gatehouse (which is cramped enough) but of even more concern is how more use can be made of this material. I suppose we really need a "librarian" to firstly catalogue what we have, and secondly advise on making it more widely available. For many years Ruth and Bill Serjeant have acted as our "archivists" and much of our more important material is in the Suffolk Record Office in Gatacre Road, but more help is needed. If you think you may be able to help, perhaps you could contact me or any Committee member.

Elsewhere in this Newsletter you will read of John Norman's idea for the Society to have a presence on the Cornhill during the summer months in order to complement the Town Guides and the Tourist Information Centre. Your Committee has discussed the matter and approves it, but I want to stress that it could only go ahead with the active support of ordinary members: it is not something which the Committee can undertake. So it's up to you!

Finally I want to draw your attention to the Awards Ceremony to be held on 12 November at Suffolk College. This is the second year we have held the event in the College, and the College has agreed to sponsor it. (Those who came last year will remember the excellent food and drink.) This is in many ways the most public of the Society's activities, and I do look for a good audience, so please make the effort. Car parking is available and the event is held in the Lecture Theatre just off the main foyer, so access could not be easier. I look forward to welcoming you.


    Front cover of issue 153 Cover, issue 153

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