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Video/Gallery: The end of the road for Ipswich police station as bulldozers tear down upper levels

PUBLISHED: 13:22 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 13:22 29 June 2015

Demolition work has begun on the former Ipswich Police Station.

Demolition work has begun on the former Ipswich Police Station.

Archant

After nearly half a century as the focal point for law and order in Ipswich, demolition of the town’s former police station is now well under way.

Police station history

Ipswich Police Station, on the junction of Elm Street and Civic Drive, was built in the mid-1960s as part of a new municipal building complex that also included the Civic Centre, the Crown Court, and Ipswich’s spiral underground car park.

Historic streets were demolished to allow the creation of Civic Drive and construction work on the police station was captured in an aerial photograph in 1966.

The police station was formally opened by then Home Secretary (and future Prime Minister) Jim Callaghan in 1968 when it was the headquarters of Ipswich Borough Police.

In 1974 all Suffolk police were merged into a single authority and the station became the headquarters of the Ipswich Division of Suffolk Constabulary.

It continued to be the main base for police in the town for another 38 years. In the early 1990s an extra floor was added as police numbers in the town increased.

After the borough moved out of Civic Centre in 2006, the police started looking for alternative accommodation – and in 2012 most of its officers and civilian staff moved to Landmark House on Whitehouse Road into offices shared with the county council.

The last occupants, the Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, moved to a new police station in Museum Street last summer – at which time the ownership of the police station reverted to the borough council.

It was not in good enough condition to refurbish or update – so the decision was taken to demolish the building.

One of its last secrets was an underground bunker that would have acted as a control room for civil defence in Ipswich in the event of a nuclear war – however this would almost certainly not have offered any protection as it was only partially underground.

Contractors RG Carter have been preparing for the demolition for several weeks and the main work has now started in earnest.

The actual demolition was delayed a week after surveyors discovered an underground water main and other utilities beneath the building – and work was needed to make them safe before the heavy demolition equipment could start its work.

The first chunks from the top of the five-storey building came out 
last week and the entire site is due to be flattened by the end of the summer.

The building, and the site, is now owned by the borough – but eventually it is expected that it will be added to the neighbouring former Civic Centre site for a comprehensive redevelopment.

However that could be several years away and the current site could end up as a temporary car park for some time – which could be especially useful next year as the Crown car park is likely to be closed for most of 2016 to allow a new multi-storey car park to be built there.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said: “It is a building which has been part of the town for many years. Many who worked there will have fond memories of it – others might not have such fond memories of it!

“But it was not realistic to extend its life so it is important to clear the site and allow it to be redeveloped over the next few years.”


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