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Mystery surrounds future of Ipswich's Cotswold Outdoor

PUBLISHED: 06:55 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 26 April 2019

The future of The Great White Horse Hotel is currently unclear. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The future of The Great White Horse Hotel is currently unclear. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

There are questions over the future of the historic Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich - as a new advert has emerged revealing the Grade II listed building is up to let.

Tavern Street pictured in 1910. Picture: DAVID KINDREDTavern Street pictured in 1910. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Found on the corner of Tavern Street and Northgate Street, The Great White Horse Hotel welcomed its last guests more than 10 years ago after serving the town since 1518 as The Tavern.

Since its closure, it has been converted into a retail unit which has recently been home to Cotswold Outdoor.

A Starbucks coffee shop also spent more than a year next door, before closing down in September 2018.

In an advert posted on the website of Francis Darragh Chartered Surveyors, they state the town centre shop is “up to let”.

Tavern Street, Ipswich in January 1956. The Great White Horse Hotel is on the right. Picture: DAVID KINDREDTavern Street, Ipswich in January 1956. The Great White Horse Hotel is on the right. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

The advert says that the unit, which is located from 41-49 in Tavern Street, is held on a lease for 10 years from April 13, 2011 until April 12, 2021.

The advert states: “Our clients are seeking to sub-let the property by way of a new sub-lease to expire on April 9, 2021. Rent available on request.

“There is a fixed service charge payable – details of which are also available to interested parties.”

According to the retail advert, the premises comprises of a ground floor and first floor space.

An Edwardian view of the interior court at the Great White Horse Hotel in Tavern Street, Ipswich. Lord Nelson spent one night at the hotel in 1800, and Charles Dickens was a guest, several times, decades later. It closed as a hotel in 2008. Photo: CONTRIBUTEDAn Edwardian view of the interior court at the Great White Horse Hotel in Tavern Street, Ipswich. Lord Nelson spent one night at the hotel in 1800, and Charles Dickens was a guest, several times, decades later. It closed as a hotel in 2008. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

The property is next door to Three and close to a number of popular retailers.

Towards the back of the historic building, a new 89 room building, called easyHotel, opened its doors earlier this year.

Cotswold Outdoor were approached for comment regarding the future of its Ipswich branch, but representatives were unable to comment on the specific store at this time.

The company behind Cotswold Outdoor are expected to announce information on their finances tomorrow.

History of the Great White Horse Hotel

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The earliest record of the Ipswich White Horse Tavern can be found in 1518 – and it is the establishment after which the town's principal shopping street is named.

The building's current look dates from the Georgian era, although many of its rooms date from much earlier times.

It was put on the map by Charles Dickens who wrote about it in his classic novel The Pickwick Papers after visiting it while covering a notoriously corrupt by-election in the 1830s.

The Great White Horse Hotel soon became the hotel to stay in Ipswich for the great and the good.

Stars appearing at The Gaumont, including The Beatles, stayed at the hotel – as did many others who visited the town.

But when the then owners Trust House Forte built Copdock's Holiday Inn on the edge of town in the 1960s, they decided they would have no need for the historic building.

They planned to demolish it and redevelop the site, however the Ipswich Society fought the proposal – and they won.

But the hotel company sold the building, and its use as a hotel declined over the years.

In the latter years of the 20th century its ground floor was converted into shops, de-converted, and then converted again.

With its small rooms and narrow corridors it could not compete with modern hotels – and while the ground floor units have remained busy, the hotel rooms have been closed now for nearly nine years.

The large Cotswold Outdoor now takes place in the unit downstairs, but the upper floors have been empty since the hotel closed in 2008.

Plans were approved in 2017 for a development including a business centre with start-up suites for new businesses, and an extension to the Starbucks cafe which used to have a unit in the building.

However, Starbucks closed its restaurant at the end of September last year.

Francis Darrah Chartered Surveyors were also approached for comment.

Cotswold Outdoor have today released a statement on the future of their UK stores – see the statement here.

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