The Success of Heritage Open Days, 12-13 September
From the feedback I have received from the participants there was a large increase in visitors. It was certainly helped by the fine weather, plus increased publicity in the local newspapers. The Mansion at Wherstead, taking part for the first time, received over 350 visitors. Broomhill Pool had 500 visitors and received many donations towards their Appeal. St Stephen's Church, the Tourist Information Centre, was fully booked for their tours. Over 1,000 people visited the Centre. There was a lot of interest in the other churches. I should like to mention St Peter's which is now converted into a heritage centre and rehearsal and concert venue for Ipswich Hospital Band and which had 600 visitors. St Lawrence Church, now a very successful town community facility and cafe, attracted a lot of attention with the re-installation of the bells. Unfortunately the belfry is not open to public viewing. St Clement's Church had 227 visitors, exceeding the total visitors during the past year. Visitor numbers at Christ Church, Tacket Street, were up by two-thirds.
The Willis Building had 811 visitors, following a warm recommendation in The Observer newspaper and Griff Rhys Jones said in the EADT that he would be visiting the building (but he didn't). The Unitarian Meeting House next door had in excess of 800 visitors. The new university, UCS, open for the first time, had over 300 visitors, and Ipswich Institute about 500. Arlingtons in Museum Street, the home of the original Ipswich Museum and now transformed into an attractive restaurant/bistro, had many visitors interested in the building.
One of the major attractions this year was the vintage bus travelling between Ipswich School and the Waterfront. This was supplied by Ipswich Transport Museum and the conductor on board was very popular with the children. 150 people travelled on the bus, which was completely free. This was my second year of organising the event and I would be interested in any feedback from our members regarding Heritage Open Days; contributions welcome.