Hundreds turn out for Ipswich Town Hall’s 150th birthday party

Ipswich Town Hall celebrated its 150th anniversary. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich Town Hall celebrated its 150th anniversary. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

A century and a half of Ipswich Town Hall was marked with a big celebration on Sunday morning.

Ipswich Town Hall painted by Leonard Squirrell and held in the Ipswich Borough's collection. Picture

Ipswich Town Hall painted by Leonard Squirrell and held in the Ipswich Borough's collection. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

The Victorian landmark in the heart of Ipswich was officially opened on January 28, 1868 – replacing a smaller building that had gone up about 50 years earlier.

The even was marked by an open day, giving people the chance to wander around the public rooms in the Town Hall and look at some of the borough’s fine art collection.

This was the Ipswich Town Hall from 1841 to 1865. It had been converted from the remains of St Mildr

This was the Ipswich Town Hall from 1841 to 1865. It had been converted from the remains of St Mildreds Church with a new frontage. (Photo by William Vick). DAVID KINDRED COLLECTION.

There was the chance to enjoy a special birthday cake that had been baked to mark the occasion – cut by Anthony Cobbold, a distant descendent of the John Patterson Cobbold who was the mayor when the building was opened.

Staff member Lorraine Day was in full Victorian dress to greet visitors – and there were other activities including bread-making to keep younger visitors entertained during the day.

Anthony Cobbold cuts the Town Hall's "Birthday Cake". Picture; IPSWICH COUNCIL

Anthony Cobbold cuts the Town Hall's "Birthday Cake". Picture; IPSWICH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

The Town Hall had taken two years to build – the foundation stone was laid in April 1866 – and became the focus of the town’s civic life.

The previous town hall, built on the same site, replaced Guildhall that dated from Medieval times but these buildings had been unable to cope with the rapid growth of Ipswich during the 19th century.

Staff member Lorraine Day was on hand to welcome visitors in Victorian fashion. Picture; IPSWICH COU

Staff member Lorraine Day was on hand to welcome visitors in Victorian fashion. Picture; IPSWICH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

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The new Town Hall quickly became the focal point of the heart of Ipswich, and it was followed by the construction of the Corn Exchange behind it in the 1880s.

It continued to be the head office for Ipswich Borough Corporation until the Civic Centre opened in 1970. It was also the police station and the courts until new buildings for them were built in Civic Drive and Elm Street in the 1960s.

After the council offices moved out it became a public building with rooms for hire – but it still serves an important civic function.

Full meetings of the borough take place in the Council Chamber and the Mayor’s Parlour is used to entertain civic guests.

There is a popular cafe and exhibition rooms – and the council’s customer service centre is on the lower ground floor opening on to Princes Street.

The open day at the Town Hall was followed in the evening by the annual Burns Night Supper hosted by Ipswich Mayor Sarah Barber bringing a taste of all things Scottish to the heart of Ipswich.