The Ipswich Society
About the Ipswich Society
The Ipswich Society is a community of people who care about the appearance and character of Ipswich, its past and its future.
Founded in 1960, the Society is a charity affiliated to the Civic Trust. The Society celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2010.
Its non-party political status means that the Society is happy to cooperate with the Borough Council when the town will benefit, but that there are also a number of occasions and issues when they differ from the Council's approach. The Society's aim is always to be constructively critical.
From its inception, the Society announced its intention to look to the future, as well as wishing to support conservation of Ipswich's valuable historic past. For instance, in 1960 at the first Annual General Meeting it was agreed to set up three study groups to consider the following:
- A street improvement scheme - which led to their support for the Fore Street Improvement Scheme of 1961 with its repairs of historic buildings and planned colour schemes;
- The effects of the proposed inner ring road - which in the event stopped at Cromwell Street because the economic conditions and transport philosophy changed at a national level;
- Improvements to the river and its surroundings - where the Society completed two phases of riverside improvements with tree planting to soften the flood protection measures recently built.
What the Society has done
Specific actions which contributed to conservation of the historic town centre include:
- Support for the Borough Council's opposition to the demolition of the Great White Horse;
- Playing a key role in saving the Sailors' Rest in St Peter's Street in 1970, when two Society committee members visited the building on the day of the planning inquiry and jumped up and down on the floors, including the attics, to prove that it wasn't on the point of falling down, as had been alleged!
The Society's campaign for pedestrianised streets and for recognition that old buildings can be seen as assets rather than as slums to be cleared were particularly important contributions during the 1960s and 70s when such views were much less prevalent than they are today.
The Ipswich Society today
The Ipswich Society continues to scrutinise important planning applications. The intention has always been to cast an independent informed eye on these proposals with a view to securing civic benefits. In thousands of cases the Society's views have been communicated to the Borough Council and, when relevant, to neighbouring local authorities and the County Council.
The Society has always been pleased to be represented on the Borough Council's Conservation Advisory Panel where planning applications affecting Conservation Areas are looked at closely.
Planning matters to do with economic development, transport, leisure services and regional policy have occupied much of the Society's attention. With the interests of Ipswich close to its heart, the Society considers it fitting that it should take an active interest in all these wider matters.
Ipswich Society Promotions
To help promote good design and craftsmanship in the town, the Society makes Annual Awards to owners, architects and builders for their work on new buildings or for refurbishments of older buildings.
To draw attention to the town's historic legacy, in 2001 the Society created a series of Blue Plaques commemorating the connections between buildings and distinguished residents of the past, for example Thomas Gainsborough and Robert Ransome.
The Society has also organised for its members hundreds of visits to other venues in England, and there have been many annual study trips to France, Belgium, Holland and Germany to see what Ipswich could learn from our neighbours.
The Society's quarterly Newsletter presents a comprehensive review of all its activities. The Newsletter goes to all Society members, including Corporate Members, and to leading Officers of the Borough Council.
More information about the Ipswich Society is available on its website: www.ipswichsociety.org.uk.
Last Updated: Tuesday 17th April 2012