HMS Grafton to be honoured by Ipswich

DESPITE being sold off to the Chilean navy, HMS Grafton's connection with Ipswich will continue when its name is given to the new headquarters of Ipswich Borough Council.

DESPITE being sold off to the Chilean navy, HMS Grafton's connection with Ipswich will continue when its name is given to the new headquarters of Ipswich Borough Council.

The authority today revealed that its new building in Russell Road will be named Grafton House in honour of the town's favourite warship.

The name was chosen following a painstaking process to find a fitting name for the new building. It was decided the honour would be an appropriate tribute to the much-loved ship as it nears its decommissioning in March.

Judy Terry, Ipswich Borough Council's culture and leisure portfolio holder, said: “When we heard it was going to be decommissioned I asked if we could get the bell from it so anyone who served on the Grafton would feel Ipswich was still their home. Then the idea of the name came along.

“A few other ideas were floated around but it just seemed the obvious one when we found she was being decommissioned.

“Ipswich has had a very close relationship with the Grafton and it's poignant that it is being decommissioned at about the same time the building is being finished. We'd like to feel the crew always have a home in Ipswich.”

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The Russell Road headquarters will place the borough council directly across the road from Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters. The council will have four of the five storeys in the new building once it vacates Civic Centre, in Civic Drive, and it will rent them from owners Northern Estates Ltd.

The building will be opened in the summer, when the official naming ceremony will take place.

But it wasn't just the town's link with the type 23 warship which swung the council in favour of the name. Mrs Terry said there was also a strong desire to recognise Ipswich's long history with naval pursuits, including that of Admiral Lord Nelson, who was High Steward of town from 1800 to 1805.

The council has also revealed it was putting together plans for Ipswich's first statue of Nelson to be erected adjacent to its new home and attempts are continuing to secure the bell from the Grafton to create a more tangible link to the warship and its crew.

HMS Grafton was the first ship to be affiliated with Ipswich since 1989 when HMS Olympus was decommissioned

The ship has a crew of 174 with accommodation fro 188

The Grafton was awarded the freedom of Ipswich in 2000

The Grafton is one of the quietest warships in the world - designed to track down submarines while remaining undetected herself.

The 12th type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy, she was pensioned off as part of a series of defence cuts and will be decommissioned in March

She is due to arrive in Ipswich for the last time on January 19

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