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See behind the scenes of a restoration project hoping to revamp an historic Ipswich bank

PUBLISHED: 10:43 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:43 26 April 2017

Restoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich

Restoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich

Archant

A restoration project pledging to breathe new life into a former Ipswich bank could soon see the historic building transformed into a different kind of landmark.

Restoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich

Chris Brook, head of retail operations, opens the door to one of the strong rooms in the basementRestoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich Chris Brook, head of retail operations, opens the door to one of the strong rooms in the basement

Mutual House – which sits at the top of Princes Street in an area now known as Giles Circus – is currently under scaffolding and plastic sheet wrapping.

It is ready to be revived – and will undergo a floor-to-roof renovation by new owners, the Ipswich Building Society, over the next few months.

Bosses hope to restore the building, once home to a historic bank after being built in 1901, back to its former glory to become the company’s new flagship branch.

Business writer David Vincent went along for a sneak preview of the project.

Restoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, IpswichRestoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich

The building was originally designed by Victorian architect Thomas W Cotman, who designed many prominent buildings in Ipswich and Felixstowe, including Lloyds Bank on the Cornhill.

I went along for an preview and tour of the project with Chris Brook, the head of retail operations for Ipswich Building Society, and Joanne Leeks, head of marketing and brand. Outside, the exterior stone and brick is being cleaned and the roof and steeple on the turret room are being repaired.

In the stonework, when one Chelsea Building Society sign was removed, a Parr’s Bank sign was revealed.

It was a name I wasn’t familiar with, but apparently it was a big player in the marketplace in the 1900s.

Restoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich.

The turret roomRestoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich. The turret room

By 1914 there were more than 400 Parr’s banks and branches and in 1918 it merged with the London County and Westminster Bank which later, as Westminster Bank, merged with the National Provincial Bank to form NatWest.

Apparently the manager of Parr’s Bank and his family lived above the shop.

Some of those rooms, with high ceilings and big windows, are to become apartments in the later stages of the project.

“It is a lovely old building and it is a shame to see this all covered up,” added Chris.

Restoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich

One of the stair wellsRestoration to create new flagship office in Princes Street, Ipswich One of the stair wells

The development plan will bring the building society operations to the ground floor and part of the first floor, with a new disabled access entrance to Princes Street – making two entrances, and with a customer lift.

Another existing entrance to Princes Street, and its stair well, will lead to the upper floors were five new apartments for town centre living will be created.

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