Above: Awards 2017 Commendation: Whitehouse Community Primary School, Ipswich. Darren Fellowes, Katherine Williams, Cath Anderson, The Mayor, Cllr Sarah Barber, Tanya Griffiths, Cllr Paul West, David Rhymes, Sarah Hammond, Beth Licence, Simon Girling – Director SEH (French) and John Norman, Chairman of The Ipswich Society.

We were very pleased, on the evening of Wednesday 15 November, to present our Annual Awards. This year's nominations had been only in the order of twenty or so and the quality of them was considered by some to be somewhat middling. However, we did manage to come up with four winners for which Commendations were awarded.

As in the past, the audience for the ceremony at St Peter’s on the Waterfront was over a hundred persons including nearly thirty invited guests associated with the nominated projects.

It is heartening every year to meet the representatives of the projects because their enthusiasm for our ceremony and the honour they feel in being invited to share this occasion with us is gratifying.

This year the presentation of all the nominations was given by our Vice-President, Bob Allen. During the course of the hour he spoke it was evident that a great deal of deliberation had been taken by our adjudication panel in this year's awards. The presentation itself was put together by our Vice-Chairman and, as last year, the novel introduction of a map to locate the nomination helped the audience. The photographs accompanying each element of the presentation further reinforced in us a sense that there was immense variety in the nominations, not only in structure, but also in quality. We have Tim Leggett and the Vice-Chairman to thank for the photographs.


A Commendation was awarded to The Gates, just off Victoria Street.  This fresh, bright, smart addition of quality housing is to be welcomed in this part of the town.

In 1963 Anglia Television broadcast a film about slums, their chosen location: Victoria Street, Ipswich and some depressing scenes emerged.  Ten years later all of the interconnecting streets between Bramford Road and London Road were closed to through traffic and rush hour 'rat running' stopped.  The area improved, helped by improvement grants and other investments and it became a pleasant place to live.

More recently, however, the area once again became deprived and depressed, with scenes reminiscent of the past.  With this as the background it was a very brave developer who chose to create 'The Gates', a development of nine houses in back-land off Victoria Street.  The Gates  is commended, not only for the investment in this rundown area but for the quality of the development and its contribution to Ipswich.  Congratulations, therefore, to the developer, David Saunders of DH Saunders Property Ltd, Ipswich. The development is a real nod to modern design and has been achieved with a generous amount of access space along the frontage. The large properties present a striking face to the gated close and should herald further improvement.


The Commendation for The Old Bell recognised the care and thinking undertaken by the proprietors in restoring a significant building in our town.  Roy and Matt of Gwinnell & Sons rescued a neglected piece of the history of Ipswich, appreciated the importance of the conservation of the structure and set a standard to which others in that part of town will have to match or exceed. 

Their efforts in bringing The Old Bell back into use at considerable expense was not the first (or most expensive) re-use of a listed building, but they saw the value in iconic and prominent buildings for their offices.  Converting an old pub into a funeral parlour was a stroke of genius, an ideal use when nothing much else (in this location) would have worked.  It marks a striking gateway point to the riverside and an impressive exit landmark in an extremely complicated andbusy hub.


The award of Commendation for the refurbishment of the detached north Ipswich house in St Edmunds Road is to acknowledge the way a run-of-the-mill late twentieth century structure has been transformed into a modern, contemporary house.   The collation of varying but complementary materials and colours and the use of large areas of glass present a striking new face on the street.  There is a lesson here for those of the town who might sneer at modernism and quail at the prospect of rusting Corten steel, raw concrete and splashes of glass rearing up infilling gardens and on odd sites. The place for contemporary interpretations of architecture is here and now – the owners’ (Jonathan and Julie) statement amidst the grandeur of north Ipswich is audible and harmoniously welcome.


The Commendation for the annexe at Whitehouse Community Primary School, providing six additional classrooms, was co-ordinated by Suffolk County Council, designed by Concertus and built by SEH French. We recognised the project as: ‘An energetic, engaging addition to the school environment.  It was fun and joyous in relating the colour and texture of the materials to the classes within, for pupils to enjoy texture and shape in the solid form of their own building.’

Councillor Paul West, SCC Cabinet member for Ipswich said: ‘We are thrilled to have been recognised by the Ipswich Society for this award. The new classroom block at Whitehouse Primary School has provided much-needed additional classrooms which have been well received by the many children and teachers who use them’.

The growing population of this local school demanded a new classroom block. The result is a thoughtful and sparkling edifice which is useful and fun, giving delight with its external face to  many of the children who will use it.

The Mayor, Cllr Sarah Barber, and the Chairman of the Executive Committee, John Norman, presented the awards and we were able to have a very pleasing refreshment break with food and drinks; members and guests had a lengthy opportunity to discuss the projects.

Tony Marsden