Development and walkers from Geoff Knight, Ramblers Footpath Secretary (Ipswich & District)

Your article in October Newsletter of The Ipswich Society is interesting and wide-ranging. I would like to home in on one group of people likely to be affected by the outcome of any development.

Over the last three years there have been two Public Inquiries under the Transport and Works Act relating to the Main Railway Line in Suffolk and the Felixstowe Branch Line – effectively the Trimleys. There has also been the matter of Planning matters relating to Sizewell C. The Northern By-Pass is stirring again with all that might affect.

What all these developments have in common is finding a way to move people and traffic along their chosen (or to be chosen) route.

What they all signally fail to offer is any worthwhile planning compensation for those who have walked the paths interrupted or threatened by these developments and there are 47 of them.

As a result of the Felixstowe Public Inquiry, which has reported, a king-size bridge has been constructed at Trimley and five footpaths diverted – mostly close to the railway line. No underpass has been suggested by Network Rail. There was virtually no appreciation of the reasons why people walk and what might be a good alternative to any lost route. The opinions of the objectors were noted, and largely ignored. All the places where vehicles can, however infrequently, cross remain unaffected. It is only footpaths that are affected.

Walking is reckoned to be good for health – it’s good for social interaction too. Dog-owners make much use of the network of paths. There are a host of formal and informal groups of walkers. They are not walking to get anywhere; they have not usually a train to catch! It can be exercise; it can be a walking conversation; it nearly always has a view, some plants or crops to be seen, birds and some native mammals.

Can I ask your readers to make sure the planners are aware of what walkers would lose by unimaginative planning? Making accommodation with needed improvements is one thing, removing a delightful walk is quite another. The loss may be difficult to quantify but it would be felt deeply.


Ransomes and Rapier from Mervyn Russen

I was interested to read the articles by John Alborough and Barry Girling in recent issues of the Newsletter about buffers manufactured by Ransomes and Rapier discovered in far-flung regions of the world.

I discovered machinery by R and R a bit closer to home whilst on holiday at Didcot Railway Centre, home of the Great Western Railway Museum. It is a turntable for turning locomotives originally made for the Southern Railway in 1935 (see next page, with a notice showing details as an inset). It was apparently moved to Didcot from Southampton Docks.      

Thomas W. Mundt (mentioned on the notice board) was an engineer working for the Dutch State Railways who invented this variety of turntable which was a continuous girder type supported at three points.

In a 1921 advertisement Ransomes and Rapier Ltd describe themselves as ‘Specialists in Railway Traversers and Turntables’.


Zombie Sites’ in Ipswich from Graham Day

Within the central area of Ipswich there appear to be some sites which are available for development, but nothing ever appears to be happening and, as such, they do detract from the street scene somewhat.

There may be at last some developments regarding the former County Hall in St Helens Street. However in the near vicinity, at the corner of Grimwade Street and the Rope Walk, No 25 Grimwade Street and the former County Hall Social Club appear to be in a fairly advanced state of dereliction. Another site near the Lord Nelson in Fore Street has seen no movement whatsoever.

It is for me particularly sad with regard to the former Social Club. I was working in the Clerk’s Department at County Hall between 1969 and 1971, and I believe the club opened its doors in 1971. As staff we were invited along to the opening which was hosted by the then Clerk of the County Council, Cecil Lightfoot. It was an excellent occasion and over the years the Social Club went from strength to strength; I remember going to band gigs over the years at the club  right up until the new millennium.

The decamping of Suffolk County Council to Endeavour House then sealed the fate of the club premises. The only activity in recent years was a homeless lady who made her home for a  while in the porch. Now the site is fenced off, but with no sign of any activity and trees and bushes are sprouting through the structure as if in direct competition to the canopy of the Amazon rain forest!

I realise that there are always financial constraints on developers, that planners may be in the process of negotiating a scheme with a potential developer prior to the granting of planning permission, and there is additional uncertainty for everything due to Brexit!

Surely, however, something can be done  to develop these zombie sites.


Patrick Taylor from Geoff Knight

Having read several articles from Patrick in the Newsletter I wondered whether there might be something of an appreciation after his recent death. His activity as a ‘conservation architect’ was considerable and always with an ecological bent.

I first knew him as a mathematician and a rambler and more recently with the Chamber Music Society. His book All Else Fails is a cornucopia of his varied activities and talents. We all received one at his funeral in the Guildhall, Hadleigh – a fitting place to celebrate his life.

[In July 2011, Patrick gave a Winter Illustrated Talk to the Society based on his book Toll-houses of Suffolk. -Ed.]