Town's oldest pub in line for revamp

IPSWICH: One of Ipswich's oldest pubs could be transformed into a sports bar, it emerged today.

IPSWICH: One of Ipswich's oldest pubs could be transformed into a sports bar, it emerged today.

The Old Bell Inn in Stoke Street is currently closed but developers are hoping to carry out a major refurbishment and expansion before reopening the ancient boozer.

Originally planning permission and listed building consent allowed expansion of the accommodation to include an 80 cover restaurant, new kitchen, six en suite letting bedrooms plus manager's living area.

But a new alternative scheme has been prepared, proposing a two-storey extension providing a sports bar.

Estate agents Fenn Wright said Ipswich Borough Council had confirmed the sports bar was acceptable in principle.

The Old Bell Inn is reputedly Ipswich's oldest pub and dates from the 16th century, when it was a regular stopping place for carriers and farm carts on their way across Stoke Bridge into town and was famous for its cock fights.

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It is said to be named after an old bell foundry that stood nearby. It was owned by the Tollemache brewery for many years and let to tenants at five shillings per annum.

It was considerably reduced in size when its left hand portion was taken down to make way for the construction of Vernon Street.

The grade II listed building has a bar area, pool room, dining room, kitchen and WC, with lounge, five bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper floor.

Fenn Wright partner Alistair Mitchell said: “The proposed second scheme gives even greater scope to an entrepreneur with vision.

“Given its location close to the waterfront, within easy striking distance of the various new commercial and residential developments and the new university campus, I am sure this will prove a lucrative project.

“The Old Bell Inn is a splendid old building and sympathetic renovation will bring it a new lease of life.”

Tell us your memories of The Old Bell - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail