This, the 219th edition of the Newsletter marks the 60th anniversary of the Ipswich Society. I’m sure you will have gathered by now that there are a variety of events to mark our diamond year. It is, however, essential that we do not forget the contributions the Society has made to the health and cultural wealth of the town over the years.
One of the outcomes of the ‘Cubes on the Cornhill’ venture (which will have taken place by the time you read this – see page 9) is that we could mount an exhibition of photographs of buildings lost to the proposed inner ring road in 1960. The only part of this project to be completed was Civic Drive and the dualling of Cromwell Street, with the new road ending against the Tudor buildings of St Nicholas Street.
The Ipswich Society campaigned to save these, and other buildings in the path of the proposed road, for example those in Lower Brook Street, but the real saviour was a change in Government policy in terms of town growth. The additional 125,000 ‘London Overspill’ residents which had been proposed were no longer destined for Ipswich.
Cromwell Street became a car park and the dualling of St Matthews Street, Crown Street and St Margarets Street was limited to a very short stretch close to the roundabout. Bond Street and Grimwade Street became one way but their northern and southern ends were not linked as had been originally intended.
Perhaps this inner ring road might have been the answer to Ipswich’s growing traffic problems, but at what cost? An historic building, once demolished, is lost forever. And as we know from elsewhere (and from St Matthews Street), dual carriageways are a barrier to the free flow of pedestrians, they are uncomfortable for cyclists and are not favoured by the bus companies who want stops close to where their passengers shop.
You will read in my Annual Report my comments about the Society’s stance on the Northern Bypass, perhaps there is a connection between decisions made 50 years ago in abandoning a possible solution to our traffic problems and those being made by Suffolk County Council in 2020. As I suggest in the report, the solution is not to build more roads but to travel less (particularly by private car).
We should spend the money that would have been expended on the Northern By-pass making the alternatives acceptable, convenient, comfortable and available.
The other important news which is happening as I write, 23 February, is a fire at the former Tolly Cobbold brewery on Cliff Quay. To suggest that it was a fire waiting to happen is perhaps stating the obvious, but no more so than Fison’s in Paper Mill Lane – which was possibly an even more important building. Unfortunately, most of the copper mash tubs and other non-ferrous artefacts had already been stolen but I understand that the E.R. & F. Turner steam engine, built in 1746, was still in place.
It is a sad state of affairs that we rely on the building owner to take due care of these valuable historic assets when we know that they would, deep down, rather have them out of the way.