left The main reason was Fore Street's location to the east of the town centre, near to the new Civic College. The main motivation for the royal visit to Suffolk in July 1961 was the official opening of the college, the biggest ever development carried out by Ipswich Borough Council. The campus, designed by Ipswich architect Birkin Haward, rose from an area of near-derelict land, once an area of poor, densely-packed housing of St Clement's parish.
So, once the Queen's motorcade had reached the College on 21 July 1961, it was logical for it to return to the town centre via one of the town's most historic highways.
The route taken
1. The Royal yacht Britannia moored in the Stour estuary, just off Shotley Gate and the Queen's barge brought her ashore to visit HMS Ganges naval training school.
2. The Queen's maroon Rolls Royce, approached Ipswich from Shotley peninsula and as it crossed the Borough boundary at Bourne Bridge a 21-gun Royal Salute boomed out from Alexandra Park.
3. The ancient approach to the Anglo-Saxon town's centre would have been followed, heading north from Stoke Bridge, via St Peter's Street, St Nicholas Street, Queen Street and the top end of Prince's Street where a huge crowd had gathered to wave her through.
4. The motorcade travelled ‘the wrong way' down Tavern and Carr Streets, past Major's Corner and into St Helen's Street, right into Grimwade Street, arriving at the College approach road where she was greeted by a fanfare of the Herald Trumpeters of the Royal Artillery.
5. The official opening was timed to the second (as shown in the printed programme) but it is recorded that the Queen tarried an additional 5 minutes in conversation with Mr Frank Metcalfe, the Principal. This must have caused her aides some discomfiture.
6. The motorcade set off once again: left into Grimwade Street and right into Fore Street. The improvement scheme and street decorations came into their own for the few brief moments that the vehicles passed the waving, cheering crowds.
7. Over the Spread Eagle junction and along Upper Orwell Street to Major's Corner, the retinue turned left into Carr Street and retraced its route to Cornhill, down Prince's Street and, presumably, all the way along to Portman Road and the Football Ground. Here 16,000 (some say 8,000) schoolchildren from the surrounding area and 740 ex-service men and women and pensioners roared their approval.
8. To Belstead House for a private lunch, then (at 2.42 pm) on through Sproughton, Bramford, Great Blakenham, Baylham, Needham Market and eventually to Stowmarket.
9. The last destination was Bury St Edmunds, then the Rolls Royce sped back to Shotley and the Royal party rejoined Britannia. At 7.15 pm the royal yacht steamed out of Harwich Harbour and returned to Portsmouth.
10. The work carried out during the Fore Street Facelift for the brief passage of the Queen's retinue was not ‘just cosmetic' but greatly improved the street and pavements and probably saved several historic buildings from major structural disrepair. We owe a debt of gratitude for the survival of this important part of the town's history to those Ipswich Society pioneers for their vision and the ability to enthuse others in the town to achieve so much in so little time.
See also Fore Street maps showing Listed buildings and Public houses.