Town Centre Updates

In the 1990s I lived in a village 20 minutes from Ipswich and every now and then I would drive into the town with my mother and my toddler daughter to visit the shops. Just off the Buttermarket was the newly built Buttermarket shopping centre that opened in 1992 and I remember visiting one of its main shops ‘Owen Owen’, a department store, now long gone.

The Buttermarket has been some kind of street since the 15th century, but by the 20th century it had become a shop-lined urban road with passing traffic and pavements for pedestrians. However, over the course of the last 25 years the Buttermarket has been completely pedestrianized with vehicular access being time-restricted and permitted for deliveries only. It has made it a quieter, cleaner and safer space for shoppers, but even before the year of Covid lockdowns the numbers of people visiting and shopping were on the slide.

The Buttermarket during Lockdown 3 – 11 March 2021

Pedestrianization has been one tool in the box of tools urban planners and town councils have used to encourage visitors and shoppers to town centres. Along with the Buttermarket more recently, in 2010, the top of Queens Street at the junction with Princes Street was also pedestrianized and in the process Giles Circus was created. It has become a meeting point and the redevelopment has even included some trees.

Left photo: Giles Circus and the Corn Exchange, Right photo: Queens Street.

In normal times this area has regular market stalls, but when I passed through last Thursday on the way to the bank all was very quiet indeed.

Top photo: 1960s photo (Archant Press). Left photo: 2021 Parr’s Bank building (1899, listed Grade II) from Giles Circus now with trees. Right photo: 2021 Corn Exchange (built 1882, listed Grade II), Princes Street, Ipswich.

Hopefully, from 12 April onwards life and energy and bustle will return to the town centre even if some well-known retailers will no longer be reopening their shop doors.

Still, for the time being here is a charming bronze dog, Butch. He is part of ‘The Famous Giles Family’ sculpture erected in honour of ‘Giles’, the well-known cartoonist Ronald Carl Giles, who used to work in an office overlooking this road junction in Ipswich.

Butch, the dog, detail from ‘The Famous Giles Family’ aka ‘The Grandma’ statue, Miles Robinson, bronze, 1993.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

13 thoughts on “Town Centre Updates”

    1. I think the blue sky is making it look a lot better than it is in real life. I think many loyal Ipswich natives would find it hard to say the town is beautiful. The dog is a sweetie though.

  1. Great photos Agnes. The streets look eerie, just like our centres during lockdown. The quietness was wonderful and the lack of traffic to dream about. I love that dog sculpture.

    1. Yes I have appreciated the quietness. However, the traffic now in this third lockdown is almost back to normal. People okay in their cars, but not so keen to be near other folk in the town centre.

      1. We have been so lucky and currently have had no new cases in our state Victoria for over 2 weeks. The nightly news keeps showing the UK, USA and other European countries and it still seems bad there but also getting worse in SE Asia and South America. International travel will be on hold for some time. Vacinations are just starting here.

      2. Yes, well over the weekend here there is now talk that perhaps international holidays from the UK might not be permitted this year. I suppose the silver lining of all this could be some benefit to the climate crisis. We can only hope.

  2. While this peace is very attractive, town centres are meant to be community hubs of commerce, trade and social interaction, so here’s hoping for better times …

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