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Ipswich Old Post Office work suspended – but stone carvings taking shape

PUBLISHED: 16:30 23 April 2020

Scaffolding was put up on the Old Post Office on Ipswich Cornhill last month. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Scaffolding was put up on the Old Post Office on Ipswich Cornhill last month. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

Work to restore Ipswich’s Old Post Office building on the Cornhill has had to be suspended during the lockdown – but away from the town centre some new elements are being lovingly created for when contractors can move back on site.

One of the new stone carvings that will be placed in the restored Old Post Office. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILOne of the new stone carvings that will be placed in the restored Old Post Office. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Scaffolding was put up around the Victorian building in early March – just before the lockdown started – to start work repairing the roof and the outside fabric of the building, which is owned by the borough council.

The £1m restoration is aimed at ensuring the fabric of the building is in perfect condition before the borough starts looking for a new tenant – or tenants – for it once the work is complete. However that might prove to be a tough job in the post-lockdown world.

While there is no work going on at the building at present, off site a stonemason is preparing new decorative carvings that will eventually be installed.

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Among the work that will be carried out is removing a rooflight that was installed in the building during the first half of the 20th century which has caused some problems with leaks over recent years.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “The scaffolding was put up, but we had to suspend work at the end of last month when the lockdown was imposed because it was not possible for the contractors to carry on with the work while observing the guidelines on social distancing.

“A small amount of stonemasonry work is going on in a studio – but at the moment it is not possible to say when work on the Old Post Office itself will get under way again.”

He said the council and contractors felt it was not possible to carry on work on the building while the current restrictions were applied – although the situation would be reviewed if there was a change to the lockdown advice from the government.

The Old Post Office building has been unoccupied since Lloyds Bank and the Wharf moved out in 2015 and the council took the decision to carry out the repair work while it was empty so contractors would not have to work around tenants.

Although the economic situation after the lockdown could be challenging, the council hopes that its prime position on the Cornhill will attract interest from potential tenants once the work is completed.


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