Progress for the Park
Ipswich's greatest asset is its parks. So we were told in childhood if we were brought up here. The parks were said to be the one incontestable superiority we had over the Other Place up the A140. All the more welcome therefore that the procedure of getting grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund seems to be progressing well. The aim is to win 75% funding for a £4.2m restoration of Christchurch Park. That would include the restoration of park shelters, cleaning up the Wilderness Pond and Round Pond, tree planting, a new refreshment kiosk and repairing footpaths and edging. But those footpaths and edgings, and indeed the grass itself, will need to be more carefully protected when ground-churning events like last November's funfair and fireworks take place. Christchurch Park is our premier park because of its wonderful central location and its Mansion, and therefore justifies special investment. But it's dangerous to allocate nearly all of the biggest events to this one park.
Suffolk College organised its usual enjoyable graduation ceremonies last October, with an interesting range of celebrities also receiving honorary degrees. John Motson, now doyen of BBC football commentators, recalled his football-starved years at Culford School and forbidden attractions of Portman Road. Having graduated to the commentary box, he enjoyed reporting on Ipswich games. But slightly sheepishly (it's that coat) he remembered two gaffes. "Paul Mariner has now scored 35 goals, exactly twice as many as last season." And at the Wembley play-off in 2000, "Tony Mowbray with the last kick of the game scored with a header."
Unearthing the past
Suffolk archaeologists haven't had many opportunities for big digs in Ipswich since the Buttermarket Shopping Complex site in 1988. But 2002 was better. They have investigated a Saxon cemetery in Elm Street and, more visibly, the site at the junction of Franciscan Way and Wolsey Street where some 30 skeletons dating from the 13th century were found. This site, originally intended for Fisons shiny black granite office block, has been re-scheduled for flats. The owners seem to have changed their minds, put it up for auction and then withdrew it when it failed to reach the reserve price. Surely buyers aren't scared of 800 year old remains?
Bin it thoughtfully!
Some of your Committee members have been pleased to be new recipients of brown bins for recycling vegetable matter. The bins have been very useful for disposing of all those autumnal dying off plants. Seeing the black bins surprisingly empty brings home the value of recycling - our Council will pay far less in Landfill Tax and the useful stuff will become useful compost. True, it was easier to dump it all into one black bin but we must play our part.
Follow that cat
The gallery at the High Street Museum has been used imaginatively to depict the history of Ipswich. Going round clockwise, you can follow the development of our area from the earliest beginnings to the founding of Gipeswic and to almost the present day. It's sketchy history, but the well chosen artefacts can inspire a deeper study - by both children and adults. The children's 'guide' is the cartoon Ipswich Cat. Not quite sure why a cat. But he works, and even members without children or grandchildren could enjoy the display. And while there, you might feel happier now that the Ipswich Museums have regained national registration, vital for winning outside funding. We all know how provincial museums desperately need more financial support.
It won't SIT still
Suffolk College has announced the launch of the Suffolk Institute of Technology (SIT), one of only 18 in the country. It will provide courses in telecommunications, computing, digital art and business skills - all of which will help to spread new skills into the local and national business community. The aim is to recruit 700 students over the next three years. Our local economy should benefit in many ways.