Family visit towering legacy

A PROUD brother and sister have made an emotional pilgrimage to Ipswich's Civic Centre in honour of their father, who designed the building in the 1950s.

A PROUD brother and sister have made an emotional pilgrimage to Ipswich's Civic Centre in honour of their father, who designed the building in the 1950s.

Pauline Michell and her brother Nicholas Selley returned to Ipswich for the first time since the centre was constructed to view the project their father Frederick Selley spent hundreds of hours designing.

Ipswich Borough Council officers opened the doors of the 12-storey building in Civic Drive to Mr Selley's family and agreed to give them a full tour yesterday .

"Sadly my mother and my father have died and we feel we owe it to our father's memory to see what's there," Mrs Michell said.


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"I think we owe it to him to see it before some of it goes.

"It was absolutely splendid. We came home with lots of information and a feeling of pleasure but tinged with slight sadness that we hadn't done it before," she said.

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Frederick Selley won the contract to design Ipswich's new civic centre following a competition for the best design.

He was a partner with north London firm Vine and Vine Architects and had invested a huge amount of time in developing a winning bid.

"It was a big national competition," Mrs Michell, who lives in Mill Lane, Exning, said. Mr Selley tavelled to Ipswich from his home in Bath.

"He worked on it for years. I can remember my father coming home from the office, bringing the plans and working through the night for months and months.

"They were overjoyed when they won the competition. My father was immensely proud."

Plans for the complex originally included a garden court, a welfare department and a health department.

The building has been the council's headquarters since the early 1970s but the authority is set to move out by the end of next year because of the excessive costs it faces to repair the tower block.

The council's workforce will move to new premises at Ipswich Village and the civic centre could be replaced by a supermarket.

Frederick Selley died in 1995, aged 83, and after hearing about the council's plans to move from the ageing building Mrs Michell said the family wanted to see their father's legacy in Ipswich before it disappeared.

They have not seen it since the family travelled to the town in 1957 when the plans for the building were unveiled.

Mrs Michell, now 67 but a schoolgirl at the time of the unveiling, said: "It was nice to see it, having not seen it since those days."

Terry Shemming, Ipswich Borough Coucnil's central services manager, said: "We were really pleased to welcome the family to Civic Centre and show them around.

"This has been our home for many years now - it has been mine since the early 1970s - and I was glad to share my experiences with the family today."

What do you think of Civic Centre? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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