Work has finally started on the £4 million project to transform Ipswich’s Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre – and should be finished by the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Barnes Construction has won the contract to carry out the work on the mall which will be renamed Sailmakers to celebrate the town’s maritime heritage.

The work is expected to take six months and already attracted top jeweller Pandora has been persuaded to sign up to come to the new-look centre later this year.

It has also prompted a complete refit of one of the centre’s most popular stores, Topshop, which was recently completed.

Gavin Ingram, Associate Director, LaSalle Investment Management which markets the Centre, said: “We are delighted to have awarded the contract to Barnes Construction who are a major local construction company with an excellent track record.”

Mark Hart, Construction Director at Barnes, was a pupil at Tower Ramparts School in the seventies. He said: “I was in the last year of Tower Ramparts before it was relocated to Stoke High to make way for the shopping centre to be built.

“It’s great to have been appointed to carry out the work and it has already brought back some good memories of my school days.”

Mike Sorhaindo, Manager of the Tower Ramparts Centre, said: “The plans, especially the investment of £4m into Ipswich’s town centre economy, have received a warm welcome from the members of the public I’ve met so far.

“The new design will give a real uplift to both the bus station and Tavern Street, and hopefully attract new retailers to our town. In addition our tenants tell me they see it as the start of an exciting new stage for the centre.

The improvements include new entrances. There will be new lighting and new entrance doors.

The Crown Street entrance, façade and windows will be remodelled, based on the sail-shape. The centre’s interior will also be given new life, reflecting the maritime theme. The central lift will be moved and new more accessible toilets will be installed.