Hope for Butter Market premises
It is welcome news that plans are afoot to convert the former BHS site into separate units. Sad as was the demise of BHS, the buildings themselves never looked like a single department store from outside or inside. There are three separate shop fronts, at least. It's not clear how four restaurants could flourish here but any viable use would enhance the street scene in this important part of the town centre.
More awards for Ipswich parks
Green Flags are a national award for the country's best parks and open spaces. So this year's awards to Christchurch Park (now 10 annual awards) and Holywells Park (now 7 awards) are a wonderful reminder that our parks collectively have long been seen as one of the town's greatest assets. The 2017 summer of sunshine has seen the parks hugely appreciated by people of all ages, perhaps children especially.
Arts Council's NPOs
National Portfolio Organisations don't sound very appealing. But this is the name given by the Arts Council to organisations delivering nationally significant cultural work. The New Wolsey Theatre, Dance East and Eastern Angles have received this funding for several years but the total number of NPOs in Ipswich now is eight, more than any other town or city in the East of England. It reflects very well on the variety and innovation of our arts scene.
Increased numbers of tourists and visitors
Figures for 2016 show that there was a 2.5% rise in visitors to Ipswich. (Will 2017 be even better?) This is a welcome boost to the town's economy, with shops, hotels, restaurants, bars and cafés all benefiting. There may also be longer term benefits if visitors decide they would like to live or work here or perhaps start a business.
Hotels in Ipswich
A new 100 bedroom Travelodge may be built on the site of Pooley's Yard almost opposite the railway station. This would certainly be convenient for travellers by rail. The existing Travelodge in Duke Street is similarly convenient for the University and Suffolk New College. There are 15 hotels within Ipswich and 8 on the outskirts.
A 60 bedroom hotel is also proposed as one element of the Grafton Way riverside development, which would also include town houses, flats and live-work units.
British Sugar site at Sproughton
The huge concrete silos will soon no longer be a landmark. Demolition is expected to take about 16 weeks and the concrete will be further broken up and used as hardcore when IBC is able to develop the 130 acre site as a business park.
Offices into flats - but cars?
Proposals to convert offices on the corner of Arcade Street and Museum Street will be followed by many others in the area when Birketts Solicitors move into their new building in Princes Street. These offices could house many people in quite spacious flats. But the absence of on-site car parking must limit the types of residents who would be interested.
We no longer talk of European Grain Mountains but the reference could still apply to Ipswich Grain Terminal, one of the largest storage bins in the country of combinable crops. Over one million tonnes of grain is handled each year, 85% going to mainland Europe. Ipswich today exports some 25% of the UK's total wheat exports. To get the grain to the port from rural Suffolk up to 400 trucks par day trundle along Nacton and Landseer Roads following the summer harvest. This grain is a serious contributor to the UK's total exports, earning a substantial foreign income and contribution to the balance of payments.
Those of us who live on the Waterfront or close to it, for that matter, will have seen the excellent monthly magazine known as Waterfront life. Meeting the editor Richard Stewart recently, we realised that the aims of the magazine are similar to those of the Society - but very different from our Newsletter.
This smart glossy, upmarket magazine suits the subject matter which, of course, is our smart glossy Waterfront. It contains sections on a bit of history, many matters to do with business on the Waterfront, a useful recurring part dealing with student life and features about shopping in the Saints area adjoining the western end of the Waterfront.
Supporting and subsidised by local businesses this is a great addition to the Ipswich scene. Richard Stewart tells us that the success of the subsections suggests that there may be offshoots from Waterfront life as interest around the town develops in this worthy project. Other members in different parts of Ipswich may find a copy of a freebie magazine promoting their part of the town landing on the doormat in the near future; good luck.
In Issue 196 (July 2014) under the headline Looks like we got us a convoy we told you about driverless trucks, convoys of up to five vehicles in close succession that were undergoing test runs in Spain. You may have seen in the National Press recently that a similar scheme is to be trialled here in the UK (but with only three trucks, one with a driver and the others computer controlled). Well, driverless technology is now spreading to shipping and the world's first ‘crewless' container vessels are currently under construction in Japan. Rolls Royce are developing unmanned drone ships operating by GPS that will sail the worlds oceans without a crew and Norway is building a fully automated electric ship that gathers its power from solar panels.
That simply leaves one question, do such ships need a pilot to sail into Harwich Harbour and can they dock at Felixstowe without the aid of tugs? (NB. ‘Crewless' means nobody on the bridge; we assume that they still need a maintenance crew to keep the engine running. Currently, on a container ship the crew account for just over 40% of the running costs.)
Heritage Open Days 2017
It is seems to be tempting fate to describe the event on September 9 and 10 as ‘the best ever'. Surely, one day we will merely equal the previous year - or even have an average one? This major element of the Society's calendar owes its success to those from the many participating venues who open their buildings to the public, also to the numerous volunteers who help out in distribution of leaflets and booklets, also manning the venues, welcoming visitors and generally promoting our Society. Behind it all is the Society's Executive Committee, notably the Chairman and Hon. Secretary, and this year the baton in drawing all the information together and editing the HOD booklet passed from our Treasurer, Graham Smith, to Neil Thompson. Such a magnificent event, of course, ultimately relies on the large number of visitors who make it all worthwhile. (And support from the media was most gratifying, too.)