Community centre up for sale
A COMMUNITY building where one of Britain's most famous actors first trod the boards has been put up for sale.Sir John Mills - who this month would have been celebrating his 100th birthday - made his acting debut at St John's Hall in Princes Road, Felixstowe, in play called A Paper Chase.
A COMMUNITY building where one of Britain's most famous actors first trod the boards has been put up for sale.
Sir John Mills - who this month would have been celebrating his 100th birthday - made his acting debut at St John's Hall in Princes Road, Felixstowe, in play called A Paper Chase.
It was to launch the actor on a showbiz career which spanned more than 100 films in which he was renowned for playing plucky soldiers and sailors in such classic war films as In Which We Serve and Ice Cold In Alex.
He won an Oscar in 1971 for playing the village idiot in David Lean's Ryan's Daughter.
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St John's Hall has been put up for sale by a charitable trust - with bidders making sealed bids for the Victorian property.
It is not known how much it is likely to sell for, but some observers say it could be more than £100,000, though planners are unlikely to give permission for it to be demolished.
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The property has been a well-used community building since 1900 by St John's Church for its activities and organisations, plus brownies, girl guides, cubs, mums and toddler groups, and for theatre productions and public meetings.
Richard Bannister, of chartered surveyors, auctioneers and estate agents Bannister and Co, who are handling the sale, said there had been considerable interest in the building and bids had now closed.
“There have been developers, certain religious and non-religious groups, operators of children's nurseries, theatre and music groups,” he said.
“It is an ideal hall for all sorts of activities and many people would like to see it continue as a community building.”
Although a developer could apply for permission to demolish the 2,275 sq ft hall and build a house on the land, they would need to satisfy Suffolk Coastal that it is no longer needed as a public building or for recreational community use.
The new owners of the building - which also has a kitchen, toilets and storage - are expected to be announced next month.
Sir John Mills appeared on stage at the hall in 1928, playing a gardener in The Paper Chase with the Vicar's Amateur Dramatic Society. He also understudied the leading man in the play.
At the time he was living in Gainsborough Road, Felixstowe, and working for RW Paul, the corn merchants in Ipswich, commuting every day from Felixstowe to Ipswich by train.
What would you like to see St John's Hall become? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk