Old museum looks for new use

DERELICT and in need of restoration, the Old Museum Rooms building is sitting empty.Owned by a Hertfordshire-based solicitor, the Grade II listed building has remained unused and is on the buildings at risk register.

DERELICT and in need of restoration, the Old Museum Rooms building is sitting empty.

Owned by a Hertfordshire-based solicitor, the Grade II listed building has remained unused and is on the buildings at risk register.

But the Ipswich Society, which works to promote Ipswich's built environment, would like to see it repaired.

Vice-president Peter Underwood said: "The Ipswich Society Museum has been concerned about it as an important building historically.


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"Ipswich was one of the first towns to have a town museum built for the purpose.

"It is inexcusable that it has been left in this state. It is a listed building. It is a disgrace that it should be getting in such a state.

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"The cost of restoration is mounting and whoever takes it on will have quite a big bill."

A spokesman for Ipswich Council told the Star that it is believed the building has been empty for more than ten years.

He added: "The Old Ipswich Museum is on the at-risk register and I think it is officially described as poor.

"Of course we would welcome suggestions from interested parties to bring it back into use."

The building in Ipswich's Museum Street was originally opened as a museum in 1847 before its collection was moved to the High Street site towards the end of the Nineteenth Century.

Designed by local architect Christopher Fleury, it is a red-brick building with a classical-style stucco front.

At one point it was even used as a dance hall.

The Old Museum Rooms, currently owned by Bishops Stortford-based solicitor Maxwell Charnley, has been on the market for around 12 years.

Ipswich-based agent Reader Commercial has had the 5,500sq ft property on its books for around 12 years.

Martin Reader, director of Reader Commercial, said: "We have had a number of enquiries – from nightclubs, office buildings, a dance floor, a fitness gym, for archival storage.

"One of the main obstacles to selling it the lack of car parking.

"It was bought at the height of the market, but after the market crashed in 1990 it has become difficult to sell.

"If it was to be let, it would be refurbished to a shell standard. Or it would be sold as it is for about £400,000."

Mr Charnley was contacted several times by the Star, but he refused to comment.

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