19 things Ipswich will remember about the 2010s
PUBLISHED: 19:30 27 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 01 January 2020
From transport misery and Cornhenge to Ed Sheeran and Elmer, here's what we'll look back on when we see in the new year.
Ipswich Museum began the decade with the opening of a new Egyptian exhibition. But 2011 was not such a good year for the museum, when Rosie the rhino's horn was stolen. Rosie was given a replica horn the following year. In 2014, the museum's beloved replica of a mammoth was named Wool-I-Am, with the help of Radio Two listeners.
In 2010, the former Ipswich Art School opened as a gallery. Its debut exhibition was drawn from the Charles Saatchi collection. Since then, it has held a number of exhibitions, including a collection of brick versions of town buildings, following the Big Lego Build; and Clangers, Bagpuss and Co, featuring the much-loved children's television characters.
Chantry Park held a star-studded weekend of music in 2014, featuring Jason Derulo, Jessie J, the Backstreet Boys and McBusted amongst others. Five years later, in 2019, the park prepared for its biggest gigs yet. Ed Sheeran returned to his home county this August to perform three concerts to more than 40,000 people each night, bringing guests Lewis Capaldi and Passenger, with Stormzy delighting gig-goers with a surprise appearance on the third and final night.
Ed is also the subject of the Made in Suffolk exhibition, featuring everything from family video footage of him growing up to his awards, which is running at the Wolsey Art Gallery in Christchurch Mansion until May 2020. The gallery has held several other major exhibitions this decade, including Kiss & Tell, featuring Rodin's famous sculpture The Kiss, and the Aspire exhibition, including John Constable's striking painting Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows.
After an absence of two years, Mabel the tawny owl, or one of her offspring, was spotted in Christchurch Park last month, much to the delight of visitors. Park-goers first spotted Mabel in her perch in one of the trees back in 2007, but she hadn't been seen for the last two years until the latest sighting. Whether the owl is Mabel, or one of her offspring, she's a welcome sight to visitors. Bright green parakeets have also been spotted in the town centre park this winter.
Several of the town's parks benefited from improvements during the 2010s, notably the renovation of the Stables and Orangery in Holywells Park in 2014. The much-loved paddling pool, and the play area, at Bourne Park were upgraded last year. And a lot of work has gone into Christchurch Park's ponds, and the Round Pond got a new fountain last year.
In the summer of 2016, Ipswich hosted its first Wild in Art trail, Pigs Gone Wild, which saw 40 big pig statues and 30 smaller ones pop up around the town to raise money for St Elizabeth Hospice. Locals and visitors followed the trail around the town, filled in their sticker books and helped to make £200,000 for the hospice. This year, Wild in Art was back with Elmer's Big Art Parade, coinciding with St Elizabeth Hospice and the loveable children's character's 30th birthdays. When the trail of colourful Elmers came to a finish, they were sold, making £260,000 for the hospice.
There were many shop closures during the decade, with BHS the biggest. And the old BHS store, which shut in 2016, is still vacant to this day. But the 2010s saw the redevelopment of both the town's shopping centres. Tower Ramparts got a makeover in 2015 and is now named Sailmakers. The Buttermarket, which was redeveloped in 2017, now houses an Empire cinema, bowling alley and a number of restaurants and shops.
Throughout the 2010s, Mediterranean restaurants popped up all over the town, starting with Alaturka - now famous for its Turkish cuisine and belly dancing nights, and followed by Ottoman, Casablanca and Ararat. Already well served by Chinese and Indian restaurants, residents can now eat their fill of hummus, mixed grills and baklava.
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With the A14 over the Orwell Bridge closed on numerous occasions during the decade, causing the town centre and other routes to become gridlocked, there were once again calls for a northern bypass to be built. Before being elected as MP for Ipswich, Conservative candidate Tom Hunt spoke to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the northern bypass. "I said it was needed to ease pressure in Ipswich," he said. Meanwhile, fellow Conservative Dr Dan Poulter, who was re-elected as MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has this year been fighting against proposals for the northern bypass.
If it's not the roads which are the problem, it's the trains. And they don't seem to be getting any better. New trains were introduced on rural routes just this month, but cancellations soon followed. However, Greater Anglia insisted that signalling problems were to blame and not the trains. The Ipswich to Peterborough service could be suspended until early 2020.
Games at Ipswich Town Football Club have not always made the best viewing over the last decade, under six different permanent managers. But after the 2018/19 season, it finally felt like there was some optimism and that the club had a direction. Despite the relegation to league one, it felt positive, with a mix of home grown youth and experience within the team. Despite the recent bumps in the road, many fans still have hopes for a positive season.
This year was more successful for the town's speedway team. The Ipswich Witches were back in the Premiership and made the grand final. Sadly they lost out after the second leg to the Swindon Robins. The team and supporters will be hoping for success in 2020.
For much of the decade, the Winerack, the skeleton of a building on Ipswich waterfront, blighted the landscape. Finally, this year, work re-started on the development, with one, two and three-bedroom luxury apartments now available to buy.
Last year, the Cornhill was redeveloped, introducing steps and a fountain and - who can forget? - plinths which ended up being dubbed Cornhenge. Looking a bit like a cross between the monolith in Space Odyssey 2000 and Stonehenge, the development and the plinths caused much controversy in the town. Eventually, after the council were not happy with the finish on the plinths, Cornhenge was removed, never to return.
During the period of austerity, Suffolk builder Gareth Brenland set up Tiffers The Bus Shelter, housing homeless people and helping them to get back on their feet again. Their outreach bus also visits Suffolk towns, including Ipswich, to supply homeless people with food and drink, sleeping bags and clothing. Gareth is now trying to raise money for a hostel, where people can be given training as well as refuge.
Families in Need, or FIND, the Ipswich food bank, found that demand for their food parcels had increased so much that they needed a bigger base. After the redevelopment of former changing rooms at Gainsborough Sports Centre, the food bank moved in. FIND sent out 5,000 food parcels last year.
The end of the decade saw the opening of vegan eateries Hullaballoo and Hank's Deli. Hullaballoo, which was originally based in Cemetery Road, moved to town centre premises in St Peter's Street in 2019. Hank's Deli opened in Lloyds Avenue this year. Following the success of its late-night openings, Hank's will be opening a pub at the former Grinning Rat in St Helen's Street early in 2020.
At the end of this year, the people of Ipswich voted on their favourite biscuit. The Pacitti Company, who launched the Ipswich Biscuit competition, invited local residents to sample the final 10 and they voted for their favourite. The competition was won by 15-year-old Eleanor Tadesse, who created a lemon biscuit. She will work with the Pacitti Company to develop her recipe and the Ipswich Biscuit, which will go into production in late 2020.