...it's our town

Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Willis Building (Grade I)

Newsletter, January 2004 (Issue 154)


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A happy New Year to you all. And I hope that this Newsletter will bring you food for thought and some reasons for feeling optimistic about the future of our town. You will find amongst the various articles a report on our very enjoyable Awards Evening, the Chairman's account of this tantalising stage of progress towards a major Visitors' Centre, the prospect of a dramatically new bridge across the New Cut and, most controversially, an article about "Noddy housing".

Other similar societies in the region regularly send us their newsletters, for which we are very grateful. It is always interesting to compare and contrast their experiences with ours in Ipswich. A striking survey undertaken by Anne Lloyd appeared in the Chelmsford Society's Newsletter. She studied changes in shop ownership in Chelmsford High Street during the 20th century.

"Of the 87 different shops in 1906, it was estimated that 78 of them were operated by local traders. Nine were assessed as national enterprises and there were no international firms in the town centre In the High Street today, whilst stores such as Next, Gap, Monsoon and H&M flourish, no stores offer a tailoring service: there are no dress makers in the town centre; high quality clothing stores for ladies are absent, and many people choose to shop in London or neighbouring towns for a better quality and a wider choice of clothing.... In addition, chain stores like to portray a corporate image and this gives uniformity of layouts and window displays around the country."

No surprises there! Not much can be done in the short term to improve the range of retailing in our town centre - except we should make good use of the unique shops we do have. In the medium term, perhaps the proliferation of new flats will bring in newcomers with the inclination and money to patronise a wider variety of shops. However, it is encouraging that a survey carried out for Urban Management Initiatives shows that other aspects of our town centre, like the quality of public transport, street cleaning, marketing and promotion, and (yes) even car access and car parking, compare very favourably with similar sized towns in the region.

I look forward to receiving your contributions - articles, letters, illustrations, suggestions - for the next Newsletter by 20 February. The more the better.

16 Warrington Road, Ipswich, IPI 3QU

    Front cover of issue 154 Cover, issue 154

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