The letter by Shirley Sadler about the paucity of information concerning the manufacturing industry in Ipswich was most pertinent. She acknowledged the work that we do at the Ipswich Transport Museum in preserving plans, photographs and documents relating to these industries and also the actual exhibits relating to companies such as Ransomes, Rapiers, Cranes and Reavells.
Early this year we were pleased to accept a fully restored example of a very high specification compressor built by Reavells in Ipswich in 1968 for the then new nuclear submarines. They were built regardless of cost. It was poignant that the restoration was carried out on a voluntary basis by a team of workers at Compair Reavell so it will survive as a tribute to them as well as to the company.
Recently the Ipswich Transport Museum lost its company secretary and publicity officer and restoration planner, Peter Bannister, aged just 57. He left a generous bequest to the Museum and plans were developed to use this money as 'seed funding' to secure a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the Museum. A necessary pre-requisite for such an application is to have at least 30 years remaining on any lease. Ours runs out in 2026 so we approached Ipswich Borough Council to negotiate an extension. Imagine our disappointment when we learned that they could only extend it by a few years. Why? Well, IBC owns all of the land surrounding the Transport Museum, including Holywells School. IBC anticipate that this will re-locate, providing them with an opportunity to re-develop the entire area.
Faced with this difficulty, the Transport Museum have used Peter's bequest to purchase an industrial unit in Quantum Park, Whitehouse Road, Ipswich which will be used as a store. This will allow the existing storeroom at Cobham Road to be re-developed as further exhibition space.
In the meantime the clock remains ticking towards 2026. It has been suggested that the former tram depot in Constantine Road might become available but that has three problems. The first is that it, and much of the land around it is owned by Ipswich Borough Council, so we could face the same problem in the future. The second is that Ipswich Buses still operate from this site and have no current plans to move. The third is that the site will require considerable expenditure in order to provide accommodation to the same standard that we have at present in Cobham Road.
In parallel with these developments we have been working closely with Ipswich Museum in High Street in conducting a collections review. This is expected to lead to their collections of transport and industry being transferred to the Ipswich Transport Museum. A large number of such items are presently held on loan at the latter as Ipswich Museum does not have the space to store or display them. A transfer of ownership would make logical sense but will probably need Council approval. Such a transfer would not prevent items being loaned back to Ipswich Museum for temporary exhibition purposes.
Hon Archives Manager, Ipswich Transport Museum