Chairman's Annual Report 2016-17
I am happy to report a very successful and progressive year for the Society with a multitude of achievements. Perhaps the most important decision to have taken place during the year is the major change to the proposed layout of the Cornhill. The Ipswich Society cannot take all of the credit in persuading the Borough Council and the Vision Partners to ask the architects to reappraise their plans but the weight of criticism of the ‘level' platform and the steps required to access it was overwhelming. In an attempt to provide the Town Hall with step-free access excessive changes in level were proposed to the Cornhill.
A battle won but what is next for this important public space? In the July 2017 Newsletter will be an outline of the new proposals.
Last year's AGM (April 2016) was held at the Jerwood Dance House (Dance East) which gave members a chance to see inside the building. Speaker John Lyall was the architect of the very building we were in and able to comment on how successful it had become as a centre of dance in East Anglia. He also gave us an outline of other projects his practice had been involved in including work on the Olympic Park.
Our series of Winter Talks in Museum Street Methodist Church (one of the few ‘ideal' venues for this type of event) have consistently entertained around 100 members. This winter we have enjoyed talks from a couple of our own members as well as presentations on the Suffolk Coast (which is dear to the hearts of most Ipswich Society members). There was a slide show on the fascinating history of Shingle Street and a presentation on how the coast is slowly disappearing, the wind and tide eroding the cliffs and beaches, the need for the Ipswich tidal barrier (to protect Ipswich) ever more relevant as explained at the December meeting.
The Society nominated Holywells Park for a Civic Voice Award and although we didn't have great hopes we did take the opportunity to attend the awards ceremony (which was held in Portcullis House which stands on the banks of the Thames adjacent to Parliament). Much to our surprise and against strong competition it won. We were over the moon but perhaps not quite as ecstatic as Nick Wilcox (Park Manager) and Richard Sharp, Park Ranger who had joined us in London for the presentations. To enable members to see what the fuss had been about we held a Garden Party in the recently restored Orangery (in Holywells Park) during the summer.
Your Society organised and erected four new Blue Plaques, all for women which went some way to redress the gender balance across the current 18 plaques and added their descriptions to a new leaflet. There were monthly Society outings during the summer and by the time of the AGM the Society will have been to the Bell Foundry for the fifth time, the March visit just days before final closure.
The April Newsletter, which accompanies this AGM Notice, has details of the annual Society Awards presented last November to a capacity audience in St. Peter's Church. Of particular note is the conversion and restoration of St Mary Key into Quay Place. If you haven't been in for a coffee yet make it a personal target to do so.
This just leaves St Clement's as the remaining medieval church looking for a new use. A community interest company is currently working to turn the building into an arts and culture venue. The Ipswich Society is helping with a financial contribution and professional guidance from corporate members.
Heritage Open Days 2016 were a phenomenal success. I estimate that there were some 10,000 visits to the 30 plus heritage buildings and attractions over the two days.
The culmination of all this is that the Society remains healthy, active, organises events which are well attended and produces a regular readable Newsletter that is respected by members.
John Norman, Chairman, March 2017