Bids for two major projects
Those of us who have been concerned that High Street Museum is an under-appreciated treasure in town and that Suffolk Record Office in Gatacre Road is running out of space will be delighted to hear that our local authorities have vision and initiative even though their Government funding is being increasingly squeezed. IBC has committed up to £6.25m for the enlargement and linking up of the Museum with the High Street Gallery, former Art School and Wolsey Studio. Similarly SCC is prepared to put in £5m and UCS £1m plus the land to create a new heritage centre alongside the University. Both projects will depend on even bigger sums coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other national bodies. But there is a good deal of political, economic and arts consensus which is essential for such serious bids. Success will enhance the status and appeal of our town and county.
Keeping it going
Those of us who walk through Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre frequently see the changes every time as the re-building work progresses. Locally based firm Barnes Construction and their sub-contractors deserve great credit for difficult working on such a scale while most of the shops stay trading.
The official re-opening and celebration of the restoration of Holywells Park took place on a hot day, Saturday 18 July. The new visitor centre, cafe and 'orangery' were very popular. This Parks for People project was funded by a £2.8m Lottery grant and financial support from IBC and the Friends of Holywells Park. Once again, we were reminded that the major parks of Ipswich are an outstanding part of our heritage. Does any comparably sized town have more in size or number?
Buttermarket Shopping Centre
The conversion is well under way. It is a hugely more expensive job even than that at Tower Ramparts because most of the complex will be completely re-modelled to create a 16-screen cinema. Existing shops, New Look and TK Maxx, will move into reconstructed premises on the ground floor.
17 Tower Street
The former County Council offices have been bought by St Mary le Tower Church to be used as a community centre (church music school, parish hall, cycle cafe, etc.). This is surely an appropriate local connection. Ipswich Education Authority was originally based here before the County Council took over responsibility for education in 1974.
We all know that pubs are closing at an unprecedented rate, and have been doing for a number of years. What came as a bit of a shock is that the Real Ale pubs which have been staging a bit of a revival of late have been hit by the same downturn in customers as the fizz houses did previously. Pubs as we used to know them are surely disappearing; the only ones likely to remain are those that are food-led, particularly those that fall over themselves to offer cheap meals. (Note: I'm crying into my beer as I write...)