Happy days in Civic Centre typing pool

FEW people were sorry to see the Civic Centre finally disappear from the Ipswich skyline in recent weeks.

David Kindred

FEW people were sorry to see the Civic Centre finally disappear from the Ipswich skyline in recent weeks.

This piece of 1960s architecture was not one of the town's best features. Many who worked there said the best thing about working in the Civic Centre was that once inside you could no longer see it!

A letter in the Evening Star recently prompted Ann Race (previously Cooper) of Kesgrave, to send her memories of working there.

Anne said: “I was the Secretarial Services Supervisor when the Civic Centre was first opened in the early 1970s and the petite lady Christine mentions was my deputy, known as 'Bubbles' as she had short curly grey hair.

“She had for many years been the typing supervisor at the Town Hall and retired shortly after we set up the new secretarial services.

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“The typing pool was set up to cater for all the departments, which were now gathered together in one building, previously dotted around the town and girls came to me from many of these offices in Ipswich.”

“Deadlines had to be met getting all the reports ready for regular committee meetings. This was top priority. We had a huge Rank Zerox duplicating machine, which could produce reports separated into 40 different sets, very fast and efficient and at the time state of the art!

“Correspondence was typed for Housing, Environmental Services, Building Services, Town Planning, Committee Clerks, Electoral Registration, also reports and spread sheets for the Treasurer's Department.

“The Legal Department was a very busy section and documents and deeds were typed, checked and stitched up with green tape. Much of the day-to-day letters were dictated by members of staff using an internal telephone network connected from each department on different floors in the Civic Centre on to tape machines, which sat on each desk in the typing pool.

“The calls went from machine to machine as the decks became free. This also was a new process at the time which all the team enjoyed.

“We had some giggles when tapes got worn or broken and had to be Sellotaped together as a temporary measure and voices got distorted!

“New staff members from all round the country took up new jobs in the Civic Centre and came to our typing pool to learn how to use this marvellous new dictation facility!

“There were no computers or personal laptops then, just electric typewriters, so a lot of work with deadlines to be met had to be accurate, but there was always time for chat and laughter as the girls shared their highs and lows as in all offices.

“It was encouraged that time should be spent away from the machines to give the girls a break, cloakroom times were not monitored, but work dodgers were not popular by the majority who were hard working.

“It must be borne in mind, that at the time the Civic Centre was built in the early 1970s, much of the equipment we had although new and the best that was on the market, by today's standards was very primitive, but we all enjoyed our time in the typing pool, working as a team and getting a lot of satisfaction from a job well done.

“A great bunch of girls, I thank them all for the support they gave me and I send them very best wishes.”

- Did you work at the Ipswich Civic Centre? Do you remember the Paternoster continues lift system that took staff members from floor to floor? Write with your memories to Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail info@kindred-spirit.co.uk