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Report - East Suffolk County Hall, Ipswich - April 2016

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by WildBoyz, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    History

    East Suffolk County Hall, otherwise known as Ipswich County Hall, was constructed between 1836 and 1837 by William McIntosh Brooks. Built before the reign of Queen Victoria, the imposing design of the Grade II listed building is based on a ‘mock Tudor’ style, rather than a Victorian style. The County Hall was originally the area’s gaol and law court. However, following extensions in 1906, built by J. S. Corner and Henry Miller, to add council offices to the site, the building became the Headquarters of East Suffolk County Council. While the County Hall was gradually transformed, so that it boasted stained glass windows and fine wood panelling, it still continued to hold a number of prisoners in its cells; of course these were nicely hidden away to avoid spoiling the pleasant atmosphere of the building. In 1974 the building became the Headquarters of Suffolk County Council when most of the county merged to form the non-metropolitan County of Suffolk.

    The Council opted to move out of the building in 2003, to relocate to a more modern site; the County Council leader at the time, Bryony Rudkin, described the building as being too ‘unattractive’ for its intended role. The move took place in 2004, when the Council moved to Endeavour House, the former TXU Corporation building. In 2005 the old civic site was purchased by a private owner who proposed to build flats on adjacent land. Originally, when a deal was being negotiated, the owner of the premises was supposed to preserve the historic building; this was part of the condition of the sale. However, after the construction of the flats, the County Hall has been left to fall into a critical state, as described by surveyors. Over the years the old building has attracted many vandals and thieves and this has left the interior in a bad condition. All of the copper piping and lead was stolen, and most of the building’s glass has been smashed, including the clock faces on the main tower, leaving the clock mechanism to rust as rainwater can easily get inside. Although the site has since been secured (sort of, given that we managed to get inside), there are currently no plans for restoration.

    Our Version of Events

    After the pub, and milling around Ipswich for an hour or so, we stumbled across a large awe-inspiring building; this, as it would turn out, was the former County Hall. At the time, however, we didn’t know this, it simply looked cool and we wanted to see what surprises it had on offer inside (things to photograph, not copper). At first glance, the place look as though it was sealed up tight; we spent a long while checking out all of its nooks and crannies, searching for even the smallest gap that might look hopeful. On the verge of giving up, we had one last quick look around the building. It was at that point we realised the way in had been in front of us the whole time…

    Feeling excited, one by one we all stumbled inside the building. Almost instantly, however, we were greeted by stripped corridors and rooms. The scene was very disappointing to say the least. Those ‘vandals’ certainly went to work on this place, there was barely anything inside. While there are a few bits of evidence that some construction work was going on at some point, the rest of the building is filled with three main objects: dead pigeons, pigeon shit and broken glass. If you count mould, then you have four things to look at.

    Still, ever the optimists, we decided to continue our self-guided tour anyway, on the off chance we might find something interesting. After a bit of roaming around we did eventually find some stained glass, a couple of historic fireplaces and two nice staircases. Downstairs, where we found a few tiled and stone rooms, is pretty good too. The building feels less damaged down there for some reason. As for the rest of the site, we couldn’t help but feel as though this would certainly have been one very impressive structure back in its day; I could picture the grand carpets, dark woods and chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. It’s a real shame the Council’s ignorance has resulted in the deterioration of this fantastic building, all because they desired something more ‘trendy’ by contemporary standards. It’s almost ironic that they blame the vandals for its present condition, what did they think was going to happen when they moved out?

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  2. HughieD

    HughieD 28DL Regular User
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    Fantastic stuff Wild Boyz. You nailed that. What a great building. Love the stained glass, fireplace and wooden panelling in that place.
     
    WildBoyz likes this.
  3. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Thanks mate :thumb We were quite surprised to find the stained glass still mostly intact. The fireplace in that room is very cool too.
     
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