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Former First Floor Club and Fire & Ice bar in Ipswich town centre is to become apartments and penthouses

PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:00 04 November 2016

Former nightclub is being converted into luxury homes.  Owner Joe Fogel with contractor Levi Draycott of TLC Building Services

Former nightclub is being converted into luxury homes. Owner Joe Fogel with contractor Levi Draycott of TLC Building Services

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Work has started on transforming a former Ipswich nightspot into luxury homes but many of the original features will be retained by the new owner.

Former nightclub is being converted into luxury homes.  The First Floor Club is being transformed after the club bars and other eqjuipment has been cleared.Former nightclub is being converted into luxury homes. The First Floor Club is being transformed after the club bars and other eqjuipment has been cleared.

Essex-based businessman Joe Fogel bought the former First Floor Club in Tacket Street at auction. He has now started work on converting the upper floors of the building into homes, studios, two bedroom apartments and penthouses.

Most of the properties in what will be known as Charlotte House will have views across Christchurch and St Pancras Church opposite.

The singing Postman at the First Floor Club with Ken Bean (fouth left).The singing Postman at the First Floor Club with Ken Bean (fouth left).

The First Floor Club was opened by local businessman Ken Bean in 1966 - the year England won the World Cup, and it was a mainstay of late night entertainment in the town for many years in the 1970s and 1980s.

There was disco music, lively stag and hen parties, live bands and comedians, and even a casino for a time.

Ipswich Town football legend Mick Mills celebrates his 21st birthday at the First Floor Club in early January 1970Ipswich Town football legend Mick Mills celebrates his 21st birthday at the First Floor Club in early January 1970

Ken was usually there himself, and “the face of the club” Maria, would be on the door, greeting familiar clubbers with “Hello Darhling”.

Many people went on dates there, and some met their life partners at the club.

Some of those who celebrated Mick Mills' 21st birthday party at the First Floor ClubSome of those who celebrated Mick Mills' 21st birthday party at the First Floor Club

Local people will have their own memories of the First Floor Club, which later became known as Fire & Ice before eventually closing in July 2010.

The builders have begun by stripping out the bars and other night club paraphenalia. The office still had club paperwork on the desk, as if it had closed only the night before, Joe said.

Now the only reminder of the building’s club days are the odd dark red and black painted walls.

There are three floors and a large basement area.

The top floor, perhaps where servants lived in much earlier times, seems little changed from its Victorian origins. Even the plasterwork looks original.

There are lots of doors, nooks and crannies, even a couple of safes in the walls, and several flights of stairs.

“It is a real maze,” added Joe,

The plan is to provide homes, mainly on the upper levels, and to use the ground floor for refurbished retail units or commercial space.

There will be one studio apartment, four one-bedroom homes and 12 two-bedroom apartments and penthouses.

The basement will include a bicycle store for residents, and probably other storage paces too.

Despite the early stages of the project, there had already been a level of interest, added Joe.

Joe has completed some other, smaller, property conversions and restorations in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, also providing town centre homes.

“This is the largest project so far,” he said. “It is a real character building, and although it is not listed it is in a conservation area. We want to keep as many original features as possible,”

Some earlier features would have been lost during its nightclub days, but there is a surprising number of original fireplaces.”

Now that obscured windows have been revealed, the enormous space inside has been revealed.

Before the project is complete, scaffolding will be going up, and the exterior brickwork cleaned and new windows installed.

“It is an absolutely stunning building. We want to get it back to its original beauty.”

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