Restoration passes new milestone

CHRISTCHURCH Park's restoration has been marked with the opening of new visitor centre marking the life of one of its best-known champions.The Reg Driver Centre is part of the park's £4 million Heritage Lottery Fund and Ipswich Council refurbishment project.

CHRISTCHURCH Park's restoration has been marked with the opening of new visitor centre marking the life of one of its best-known champions.

The Reg Driver Centre is part of the park's £4 million Heritage Lottery Fund and Ipswich Council refurbishment project.

Mr Driver was the first Chairman of the Friends of Christchurch Park, President of the Royal British Legion and an Ipswich Councillor from 1976-1990.

He was well known for organising the Remembrance Day events in the park every November.

He served with the Royal Corps of Signals during WWII, was a prisoner of war in North Africa and campaigned to have the names of those who died added to the cenotaph in the park.

Mayor Inga Lockington was at the ceremony with Mr Driver's wife, Peggy. Together they pulled the cord that revealed a plaque in his memory.

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Mrs Lockington said: “Not only will the building be used for educational purposes but it is of course environmentally friendly.

“It's a tribute to the hard Reg's work and fits in beautifully with the rest of the park. We've shown what we can do in Ipswich and hopefully we can now get funding for Holywells Park and Chantry Park.”

Anne Mason represents the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England. She said: “This is part of a substantial investment into the park.

“There are no less than 14 grade two listed buildings here as well as Christchurch Mansion itself. We are also in negotiations over projects elsewhere in Ipswich.”

The education and management building is near the rear of Christchurch Mansion and is another addition to a long list of building projects at the park, including the Brett Drinking Fountain, the Cabmen's Shelter and the Arts and Crafts Shelter in the Arboretum.

The newly-built visitor centre has been designed to blend in with its natural surroundings while providing modern facilities for both staff and visitors.

It has a fully equipped kitchen and public toilets, a conference and meeting room, manager's office and reception desk.

The intention is that the centre will quickly become established as a focal point and customer service area for the park providing helpful information to visitors who can take advantage of multimedia equipment and more traditional methods of gathering information such as leaflets and display boards

The centre will be open to the public throughout the year, except Christmas Day and New Year's Day, remaining open until 7pm in the summer months.

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