£5m project to restore St Mary at the Quay church on Ipswich Waterfront nears completion

Loyd Grossman, Churches Conservation Trust chairman looks at the work in St Mary at the Quay church

Loyd Grossman, Churches Conservation Trust chairman looks at the work in St Mary at the Quay church which is being transformed in to a community space and talks with David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

Work to convert a 570-year-old church near Ipswich Waterfront into a 21st century wellbeing centre is nearing completion.

And now the £5m-plus project at St Mary at the Quay has been shown off to leading figures in the world of British heritage.

Broadcaster Loyd Grossman is chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust and paid another visit to the church with is being converted into Quay Place, a wellbeing centre run by Suffolk MIND.

The conversion will cost a total of more than £5m, with £3.4m coming from a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

As well as building an extension to the church, which is totally in character with a building dating back to 1450, the work has also focussed on shoring up the structure of the building.

During a tour by members of the Churches Conservation Trust architect Richard Molyneaux pointed out where pillars had slipped of the vertical and new steel supports had been added to ensure the structural integrity of the building.

Quay Place is due to open its doors to the public in August – but the official opening will follow later in the year. Mr Grossman said it was very important that new uses were found for redundant churches which were, in many cases, the largest buildings in their communities.

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And he was impressed that so many redundant churches in Ipswich town centre had been brought back to life – St Nicholas, St Stephens, St Lawrence and St Peter’s church have all found new uses over the last 20 years.

Mr Grossman said: “If people use historic churches then they can remain alive in the future. It is really wonderful to see what is happening here (St Mary at the Quay).

“As well as giving a great new use to the church it is also helping to regenerate this important part of the town. It will be really good to come back when it is finished in a few months’ time and see it in action.”

As well as providing therapy rooms, Quay Place will also have meeting rooms and a cafe open to the public.