Votes needed for Quay Place to win prestigious Historic England award ahead of opening
A Grade II-listed medieval church on Ipswich Waterfront which is undergoing a £5million renovation is up for a prestigious national award for its efforts.
The Quay Place development being run by Suffolk Mind and the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) was awarded a £3.4m Heritage Lottery Fund grant in November 2012, before work got underway in April 2014 to restore the venue as a wellbeing and heritage centre.
Now, as the final touches are being made ahead of its October opening, the renovation is one of just four projects in the country up for a Historic England Angel Award for best rescue of a heritage site.
Ginny Idehen, Quay Place manager said: “To be already in the four in the country shortlisted for the best rescued is great, but if we were to win it would be so good for Ipswich because there are so many projects along the Waterfront and town that any further acknowledgement would be absolutely fantastic.
“What will really be the success criteria is how much gets used, but with the bookings we have so far it’s a promising start.”
Remarkably, Quay Place is the only one shortlisted not to have already opened, with members of the public being urged to vote for the centre, which will feature rooms to hire for clubs and classes, businesses, conferences, learning, arts, social activities and therapies such as massage.
A cafe will run during the day, as well as hosting events such as markets or plays and counselling rooms.
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The building was in a state of disrepair after various challenges to the structure throughout its 700-year-plus history, including water from the adjacent Waterfront being soaked into the stone pillars, causing them to lean, a strong odour coming from the water, and an unexploded bomb landing in the church during the Second World War.
Suffolk Mind, CCT and specialist contractors Bakers of Danbury have had to overcome the wealth of challenges using historic techniques and painstakingly detailed processes, alongside modern methods.
The flint exterior for the church’s extension has been precisely carved to match the existing walls, metal plates put into the existing columns to prevent them from toppling and key repairs to the roof beams.
During the early 2000s the problem was so severe that keyholders to the building had to weigh the rubble they scooped up by the pillars and record it with geologists so that the developers would know how much the columns had lost.
Mrs Idehen said: “It’s just amazing, we feel so proud. Bakers opened it up for the heritage weekend and we had just short of 1,000 people over the weekend, which was amazing,” adding that the positive feedback from visitors has been promising for the developers.
To vote for Quay Place as best rescue of a heritage site, visit www.historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/angel-awards/shortlist-2016