Many of you will already know that we have a Building Preservation Trust in Ipswich, but I suspect there are also many readers who will be wondering what the Trust is actively involved in these days. We were set up in the 1980s with generous interest-free loans from Ipswich Borough Council with the object of restoring and bringing back into use buildings of historic interest within the Borough. Over the years we have acquired and renovated a number of significant properties, the last one being Curzon Lodge at the bottom of Silent Street which was completed several years ago. These schemes were made possible by assistance from the Architectural Heritage Fund and by selling on the current project to finance the next one.
We have been looking for our next project for some time. This is a challenge for the Trust. Fewer suitable properties have become available, although some large properties in the town cry out for investment. The housing market has seen huge price inflation and our funding now seems very modest in relation to the costs of purchase and renovation. Partnership working may well be a possibility for the future. We continue to monitor and assess all historic properties at risk in Ipswich, and in this we work closely with colleagues from the planning department of Ipswich Borough Council. There is considerable expertise and experience within the IBPT committee available to support our next scheme.
Perhaps this will be the restoration of a Freehold Land Society (FLS) property. The FLS was historically of huge importance in providing Ipswich housing, and some of you will be aware of the many high quality buildings still standing with their ‘FLS’ plaques. The successor to the FLS is the Ipswich Building Society and we are working closely with them to identify and secure a suitable property. Our restoration would be an exemplar of what can be done to preserve the architectural features of the past and to include real upgrades in insulation and specification. We hope to include opportunities for apprentices from Suffolk New College to be involved, and there is considerable scope for the scheme to involve the local community and all those interested in heritage.
We also make sure that our headquarters – Pykenham’s Gatehouse – is open for visitors every first Saturday of the month from May to October, and arrange visits and activities for members and friends. We expect to be visiting Broomhill Pool in the summer and the restored headquarters of the Ipswich Building Society (Mutual House) on July 10th, and we will again be participating in Heritage Open Days in September. Our AGM in October is open to the public and all are very welcome. Further details will be included in the next Newsletter.
In the wider field of conservation last year we hosted a very successful event at Quay Place (the splendidly restored St Mary at the Quay Church) for our East Anglian Heritage Trust Network. We welcomed representatives from ten other trusts from the region; in addition we heard from speakers representing English Heritage, The Heritage Trust Network, and The Architectural Heritage Fund. We were also well supported by local bodies including of course The Ipswich Society, Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, and Ipswich Archaeological Trust. The day included a guided tour of the developments around the Wet Dock which included the panoramic view from the island site. Altogether we felt that we had presented a vision of our town which might in some quarters help to promote Ipswich as an excellent destination and a hub for a region with unparalleled delights to savour.
You may be interested to know that we have vacancies on the committee. If you would like to be involved in the future of the Ipswich Building Preservation Trust and have some time to spare we would very much like to hear from you.
Please contact Bob Allen (Vice-Chairman) (email@example.com or 01206 252474).