The Crown for the town
Work has begun on the new 4-storey Crown Court. Situated just off Princes Street and between Russell Road and West End Road, it promises to be a striking architectural contribution to the town. We have had few attractive modern buildings since Willis 30 years ago. And most of those have been publicly funded - two new schools at Ravenswood and Piper's Vale, and the extension to the library in Old Foundry Road. Let's hope the private sector will be more adventurous and produce some beautiful modern buildings around the Wet Dock and elsewhere.
The hole in the middle
The longer it stays empty the more the Mint Quarter seems an unintentionally comical name for this large area in central Ipswich. Yes, NCP and their partners Helical Retail have been badly held up, most recently by uncertainty over the ownership and then the future plans of Woolworths. The result has been the prolonged unsightliness of the car parks - an uneconomical use of prime urban space where a multi-storey car park could accommodate that number of cars on a fraction of the land. And it's also led to the decay of the west side of Upper Orwell Street. But Woolworths are said to be showing some interest now and Helical might submit plans this spring.
Dr S J Plunkett wrote an outstanding article for the Society's book, Ipswich from the First to the Third Millennium. It was called Municipal Reform and Civil Progress in l9th Century Ipswich and and showed that Ipswich was a pioneering town in providing a scholarly stimulus for its working people as well as its middle classes. He has followed that up with a heart-warming article Dr John Ellor Taylor: Guide, Philospher and Friend in Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History (Vol XL, Part 2, 2002).
Dr Taylor was Curator of Ipswich Museum from 1872 to 1893 and therefore "the driving force behind the creation of the new museum in High Street in 1880-81 ". His selfless dedication to scholarship and education makes us realise that the highest standards can be, and must be, compatible with what we now call "outreach".
Sir Trevor Nunn is a member of The Ipswich Society. As he retires from running the National Theatre, he might find a few minutes to read this Newsletter. But he probably won't, as he's sure to have numerous other projects lined up! In five years at the National he has overseen the presentation of 58 new plays and personally directed 20 productions ranging from Shakespeare and Chekhov to big musicals and the Tom Stoppard trilogy. We congratulate him.