Cabman's shelter returns to former glory

FOR years it has been left to rot and considered nothing more than an eyesore. But today, a treasured landmark of Ipswich is making a welcome return to its glory days.

FOR years it has been left to rot and considered nothing more than an eyesore. But today, a treasured landmark of Ipswich is making a welcome return to its glory days.

The cabmen's shelter from Christchurch Park is sitting pride of place in the park after making a grand entrance on Sunday .

It had spent more than 20 years covered by tarpaulin after being ruined in an arson attack. But after more than a year of hard work from craftsmen as part of a £100,000 restoration, it is now inside the Westerfield Road entrance to the park.

Park manager Sam Pollard said: “It's great to have it back. It's probably been forgotten by most people because it's been such an eyesore for so long. Now I'd say it looks even better than the original.

“There's still a few week's work left to do. It was too risky to transport it as a whole entity so the roof and its tiling and other finishing touches will be completed now it's in place.

“It's the first real sign of the £4.4million we are spending in the park over the next year and a half.

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“We are also building a management building, with an education centre and toilets, a new kiosk, and we are dredging the ponds and relaying footpaths.

“It's a big investment, largely down to the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

The shelter originally sat on the Cornhill but in 1985, when roads started to be developed for car traffic, it was towed by a steamroller to the park.

Its history was remembered yesterday as a steamroller and horse and cab accompanied the shelter on its journey via St Margaret's Green, Bolton Lane and Westerfield Road.

The shelter, dated 1892, has been restored by charghand Peter Shemming and joiner Robin Smy at a base at Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate. It was transported to the park by a low-loader lorry.

Mr Shemming said: “The restoration has gone perfectly, it looks just how we envisaged it.

“It's been a privilege to work on and I'm grateful people turned out to see it.”

n. Do you think it was a good idea to restore the shelter? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The shelter was originally a place for Victorian cabbies to sit and have a hot meal as they awaited their next fare. Their horses waited outside while the men sat around a warm fire.

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