Gallery: Turning back the clock as stables and orangery at Holywells Park undergo major restoration
A charming little building, the Orangery in Ipswich’s Holywells Park hasn’t seen the light of day for several years.
Clad in corrugated tin, The Orangery – once part of a country mansion owned by the Cobbold brewing family – was semi-derelict and had been a target for vandalism. In one corner a tree had taken root, broken glass littered the floor, its paintwork was peeling and it was in a sorry state of repair.
Today, the cladding is still there but inside the Orangery is undergoing a restoration that will bring it back to life.
You can already see the difference a lick of paint has made to the lovely Victorian ironwork and how the building is taking shape.
The restoration of the Orangery is part of a wider project to regenerate and invest in Holywells Park.
Project manager David Burton said the £3.5million project was given £2.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, with contributions from Ipswich Borough Council and Friends of Holywells Park.
He said: “We submitted an application just over two years ago to renovate the park and buildings. The vision is to turn what was an operational base for the park’s team into a visitor centre and community facility as well as improve the park.”
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Mr Burton said the main elements of the project is the restoration and development of the stable block and the restoration of the Orangery.
The mansion was demolished in the 1960s and only the Orangery and stable block survived.
Mr Burton added: “We started on the site in February this year and construction work should be completed by December this year. Then there will be a three-month period of fitting out the stable block and Orangery to open up to the public in Spring 2015.”
The new facilities will include a café, visitor’s information centre, education facilities, offices, new toilet facilities and an outdoor performance space.
It is expected the Orangery, which will be protected by several CCTV cameras, will be used for events and exhibitions by a number of community groups.
As he prepared for the monthly progress meeting with the team of architects and builders, Mr Burton said the project is about halfway through and on schedule.
He said: “December is the 200th anniversary of when the Cobbold family moved to the mansion, so we want to meet that target for finishing the construction work.”
Nick Haseltine, project architect with London firm Thomas Ford and Partners, said: “It is a lovely little traditional country house stable block. It is relatively unaltered and in quite good condition.”
Inside the stable block, the tack room and stable stalls have survived.
Mr Haseltine said: “It is a simple structure and quite utilitarian. Our job is to modernise it and change its use. It is lovely to see old buildings like these coming back to life. The Orangery is a real jewel of the park.”
The clock in the 60ft tower is also being restored.
Once completed, the project is expected to increase visitor numbers to the park by at least 100,000 to well over half a million people a year.
Nick Wilcox, Holywells Park manager, said the project will make a huge impact on the park.
He said: “There will be enormous benefits not just for the local community but for people from all over Ipswich and Suffolk.
“Holywells Park is one of three flagship parks of Ipswich with a mixture of woodland and park land and a series of ponds each flowing into the other. There is also a very popular play area.
“We have been doing a lot of work before the lottery grant to develop the park and engage with visitors. This project will make it more welcoming for the people of Ipswich and beyond.”