Bids for two major projects
Those of us who have been concerned that High Street Museum is an
under-appreciated treasure in town and that Suffolk Record Office in
Gatacre Road is running out of space will be delighted to hear that our
local authorities have vision and initiative even though their Government
funding is being increasingly squeezed. IBC has committed up to £6.25m
for the enlargement and linking up of the Museum with the High Street
Gallery, former Art School and Wolsey Studio. Similarly SCC is prepared
to put in £5m and UCS £1m plus the land to create a new heritage centre
alongside the University. Both projects will depend on even bigger
sums coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other national bodies.
But there is a good deal of political, economic and arts consensus which
is essential for such serious bids. Success will enhance the status and
appeal of our town and county.
Keeping it going
Those of us who walk through Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre frequently see
the changes every time as the re-building work progresses. Locally based
firm Barnes Construction and their sub-contractors deserve great credit
for difficult working on such a scale while most of the shops stay trading.
The official re-opening and celebration of the restoration of Holywells
Park took place on a hot day, Saturday 18 July. The new visitor centre,
cafe and 'orangery' were very popular. This Parks for People
project was funded by a £2.8m Lottery grant and financial support from
IBC and the Friends of Holywells Park. Once again, we were reminded
that the major parks of Ipswich are an outstanding part of our heritage.
Does any comparably sized town have more in size or number?
Buttermarket Shopping Centre
The conversion is well under way. It is a hugely more expensive job even
than that at Tower Ramparts because most of the complex will be completely
re-modelled to create a 16-screen cinema. Existing shops, New Look and
TK Maxx, will move into reconstructed premises on the ground floor.
17 Tower Street
The former County Council offices have been bought by St Mary le Tower
Church to be used as a community centre (church music school, parish
hall, cycle cafe, etc.). This is surely an appropriate local connection.
Ipswich Education Authority was originally based here before the County
Council took over responsibility for education in 1974.
We all know that pubs are closing at an unprecedented rate, and have been
doing for a number of years. What came as a bit of a shock is that the
Real Ale pubs which have been staging a bit of a revival of late have been
hit by the same downturn in customers as the fizz houses did previously.
Pubs as we used to know them are surely disappearing; the only ones likely
to remain are those that are food-led, particularly those that fall over
themselves to offer cheap meals. (Note: I'm crying into my beer as