Kindred Spirits: Do you remember when Fore Street was restored for Queen’s visit to Ipswich in 1961?
The Queen’s arrival in Ipswich in 1961 marked the first official visit by a reigning monarch for four centuries.
Her route was to take in Fore Street, which for centuries was the main road linking the town centre with the east side of Ipswich, but before it was ready to welcome a Royal guest the road needed a makeover.
Here we feature some photos of the visit and now we are calling on you to share any images, or memories, you may have.
The Ipswich Society is planning an exhibition about the restoration and royal visit in October and would like to feature and contributions you may have.
Robin Gayland wrote: “On Friday, July 21, 1961, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Ipswich to open the newly-built Civic College which stood off Grimwade Street to the east of the town. It was almost exactly 400 years since Queen Elizabeth I had made a similar progress through Suffolk and it was the first official visit of a British sovereign to the county since that time.
“The 1960s heralded a new era of hope and prosperity, with technological advances and a shift in global politics. In 1961, four years after prime minister Harold Macmillan’s “The British people have never had it so good” statement, the country was thriving. Post-war austerity was beginning to ease, modernist buildings were seen rising from bomb sites and slum-clearance areas, just as the Civic College did.
“Following the opening ceremony at the Civic College, Her Majesty’s motorcade was to travel along almost the whole length of Fore Street, one of the ancient thoroughfares of the town linking the docks with the eastern parts of the town centre. It became clear that the general condition of the buildings in the street, many of which were of historical interest and value, was dirty and in a neglected state of repair. Fore Street itself was a major route for heavy traffic which added to the problem.
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“In February 1961 an improvement scheme was inspired by The Ipswich Society, itself barely a year old, at a meeting with the occupiers of Fore Street. The idea was taken up with considerable enthusiasm and a committee was elected to carry it into effect.
“A co-ordinating architect, Birkin Haward, was appointed and asked to empanel the necessary number of young architects to draw up proposals. This he did with great enthusiasm, believing that here was much of architectural value springing from 16th and 17th century origins and connected with the maritime trade of that period and since.
“The Ipswich Society is staging an exhibition, ‘The Fore Street Facelift 1961’, running from 2 to 16 October 2015 at the UCS Waterfront building, Ipswich, Suffolk.
“The exhibition will show original architect drawings, colour schemes and material surrounding that historic day in July 1961. It will also cover the historical importance of Fore Street when the centre of the town was around the northern quays of the dock and to childhood memories of the street in 1920, when it was a major shopping area. Given its close links to the maritime activities on the dock, it is unsurprising that Fore Street boasted many public houses and alehouses as well as pawn shops and other less salubrious premises.
“A remarkable amount of work was achieved in a short space of time and an Ipswich Society-sponsored short film records the whole project and will be shown as part of the exhibition.”
• In September the Queen becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history, overtaking Queen Victoria, and to commemorate this, we are planning to feature the Queen’s local visits during her reign since 1952 in a special publication.