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Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Willis Building (Grade I)

Newsletter, January 2012 (Issue 186)

An Arch and a Shelter

I was contacted as a member of The Ipswich Society by Tony Martin. His grandfather was James Mason Martin of the solicitors, Turner, Martin and Symes. His father was Leonard Martin who owned a dental practice in Northgate Street, next to the County Library. The family lived in the house on the floors beneath the dental practice during the period before and during World War H.

Tony remembers that his father installed an ancient arch in the wall of the garden. He believes his father obtained the arch from an old local church. During the war his father also installed a rare concrete air raid shelter in the garden. Tony remembers using it. Both these artefacts still exist where they were originally installed by his father and can be seen in situ.

They can be viewed by entering a gateway in Old Foundry Road alongside the library in an area which I believe is a car park for library staff. Tony wondered if the arch and shelter had any architectural merit and he asked me to contact anyone who might be interested. I spoke to John Norman of our Society and he suggested that I contact Bob Kindred. Bob has kindly responded to my enquiry with the following e-mail.

Merv Russen

Thank you for alerting me to this. I was aware of the arch but not its provenance. The semi-circular arched head to the stonework is a puzzle as it is not usually associated with architecture apart from Norman arches - which are usually recognised for their antiquity and rarely dismantled or removed from the churches with which they are associated. The wall and arch are curtilage structures within the curtilage of the Listed buildings in Northgate Street and I would assume them to be safe from any ill-considered proposals without our prior knowledge.

The air raid shelter does seem to be an uncommon survivor, probably because it is of very robust construction and because it has not been in the way of any proposed extension to the premises it adjoins. The Council is currently preparing an inventory of buildings of special local interest and as this may be of historical significance I will draw the attention of my Conservation Officer to it. As it is in the Central Conservation Area it could not be demolished without consent so is currently protected to that extent.

Bob Kindred, Conservation & Urban Design Manager, Ipswich Borough Council

    Front cover of issue 186 Cover, issue 186

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