Fenced-off Bartlet's uncertain future

FROM hospital to Colditz.Tough metal fencing today surrounds a much-loved Felixstowe convalescent unit which has been closed by health chiefs and is now facing an uncertain future.

FROM hospital to Colditz.

Tough metal fencing today surrounds a much-loved Felixstowe convalescent unit which has been closed by health chiefs and is now facing an uncertain future.

But vandals have already found a way through the six feet high steel mesh barriers placed around the former Bartlet Hospital to keep out intruders after tearing down four sections.

Today a security company was looking afresh at the measures after damage was caused on Thursday.

As it promised it would, the Suffolk Primary Care Trust acted swiftly after last week's closure of the hospital to protect the building.

The fencing is also designed to prevent cars from driving up the roadway from Bath Hill and taking a short-cut through to Beach Road East.

Most Read

In addition to the barriers and stark keep out signs, CCTV also watches over the outside areas.

Roy Gray, who chaired the group which fought to keep the Bartlet as a convalescent home, had voiced fears over security of the Bartlet, one of Felixstowe's best-known landmarks, once it was empty - especially as several of the resort's most notable buildings have gone up in flames.

The Bartlet itself is built on the site of the Bath Hotel, which was torched by suffragettes.

Mr Gray said: “It is good to see that action has been taken and the fencing and other arrangements look very effective.

“You cannot get through the roadway now, which is a good thing, and although you can still get round the front to the gardens the fencing stops you getting into the building.

“The Bartlet is very precious to the people of Felixstowe - we must not lose it.”

The PCT has said it takes its responsibility for the site seriously and the security and maintenance would continue until it was handed over to new owners.

The trust has accepted an offer from PJ Livesey Group for the building but the deal has not yet been completed. The company wants to convert the hospital - a grade two listed building - into luxury apartments but has yet to submit plans to Suffolk Coastal.

What should the Bartlet become? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Felixstowe in Flames

Felixstowe's most famous fire was the arson attack by suffragettes Hilda Burkett and Florence Tunks on the Bath Hotel - used by millionaires, minor royalty and statesmen - on April 28, 1914, which left the huge hotel in ruins.

In 1985, the timber-built house The Hermitage was destroyed. Today a wood-clad block of flats in a similar style stands on the corner of Undercliff Road East and Beach Road East.

Firefighters fought in vain to save the old Ranelagh Theatre on the clifftops in Ranelegh Road, while also having to stop the inferno spreading to the nearby Norseland School. Today it is the site of a sheltered homes complex.

Beach House was gutted by fire in December 1989 just after a marketing campaign to sell it. It had to be demolished and its site was used for a massive complex of flats.

Already earmarked for demolition, the Herman de Stern - a former convalescent home, community centre and theatre - was devastated by fire in summer 2005, ending campaigners' hopes of saving it. A group of children were arrested but no charges were brought.

Dougie Goodall's old fishing hut - currently owned by the Fryer family - was burnt to the ground this year. The hut, with its famous lean, had stood on the shore for 60 years.