Old building gets new lease of life

ONE of Ipswich's most remarkable old buildings has become home to the latest in a long line of occupants dating back to the late 1800s.

ONE of Ipswich's most remarkable old buildings has become home to the latest in a long line of occupants dating back to the late 1800s.

A new restaurant has opened its doors at the former Arlington dance hall site in Museum Street, following extensive renovation of the Grade II listed building.

Ken Ambler, the man in charge of Mortimer's Seafood Restaurant before it was sold to a national chain, has restored the Victorian building to reflect its fascinating history

The restaurateur, who trained as a chef in Toulouse, has launched Arlingtons as a French style braserie, offering customers what he fells is a unique product incorporating an eatery, coffee house, and sandwich shop.

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Mr Ambler set up Mortimer's in Duke Street in 2002, after buying the former Eastern Electricity substation two years earlier, but sold the 21 year lease there to the Loch Fyne chain for half-a-million pounds in 2005.

Together with wife Elizabeth he has also run restaurants on Ipswich's waterfront and in Bury St Edmunds.

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Mr Ambler, who has spent more than two years on the project, said: “I think we've given the area new life by bringing back a building that was pretty much doomed.

“The building was second on the town's 'at risk' register but we were keen to get it off the ground and the council have been very cooperative.

“Arlingtons should appeal to anyone on the high street, solicitors, and even people wanting breakfast in the mornings. It's not a high class restaurant but people can buy high standard food on a budget.”

Mr Ambler brings a trusted team of chefs and waiting staff to the sprawling building, which was designed by Christopher Fleury who also drew up plans for Ipswich School in Henley Road.

The 600 square metre structure opened to the public as Ipswich Museum in December 1847, but the museum moved to new and bigger premises in High Street in July 1881.

Since then it has been an auctioneers, estate agent, and home to the Arlington Bowling Club.

Most people will remember it as the Arlington Ballroom which was the last tenant of an intriguing building and is still evident by the open plan second floor dining area.

What do you think of the building's new look? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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