Civic centre going, going, almost gone

GOING, going and almost gone.Ipswich Civic Centre was once a towering testament to the best and worst of 1960s architecture, looking down on the town's constantly changing landscape.

Colin Adwent

GOING, going and almost gone.

Ipswich Civic Centre was once a towering testament to the best and worst of 1960s architecture, looking down on the town's constantly changing landscape.

Now, these crumbling concrete remains are all that are left of the monolith that has gone the way of other buildings of its vintage such as the original Greyfriars development.

After nearly a year of painstaking work to bring down the edifice floor by floor, the demolition is almost complete.

Civic Centre, the home of Ipswich Borough Council for more than 35 years, took four years to build and has taken only ten months to tear down since the official de-construction began in early May last year.

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Misty-eyed reminiscences are redundant though, as its' passing heralds a new era of hope and rejuvenation.

When the site is finally cleared the old will make way for the new in the shape of the Westgate Centre, which will feature a supermarket, bars and shops.

Earlier this year developer Turnstone was also said to be considering a second phase of the regeneration with an eight-storey hotel being muted for the area.

Reflecting on the past and the future Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant said: “This is truly the end of an era for Ipswich. The Civic Centre was one of the most prominent, yet unloved, buildings in the town.

“The community in Ipswich has moved on and we look forward to seeing an exciting new development which will be an integral part of the town centre.

“The Westgate Centre is central to the regeneration of the Ipswich as a prime shopping centre and it will be great to see work start on the exciting new development for our town.”

Ipswich police station, which is also on the same site, will also be moved in time.

The Elm Street base is now outdated with senior figures in the Constabulary looking around for a place which will meet the needs of 21st Century policing in the town.

The old crown court, which adjoined the police station is also long gone. Justice is now dispensed from a modern glass-fronted building in Russell Road, beside Ipswich Borough Council's relatively new base in Grafton House.

However, before we can look too far ahead, one last series of tasks must be carried out this month to ensure the remains of the council's former nerve centre are finally torn down to pave the way for progress.

Are you sad to see the Civic Centre disappear? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

Worked started on the Civic Centre in 1966.

It was officially opened to the public in November 1970.

The first section of the Civic Centre site to be opened was the spiral car park in the mid 1960s.

The car park is the only part of the original site which still could have a long-term future.

Civic Centre had 160 rooms and 14 storeys.

It was Ipswich Borough Council's nerve centre for 36 years.

The council shut its doors at the Civic Centre for the last time on September 8, 2006.

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