Ipswich: Bank celebrates rich heritage as it reopens following £1million facelift
A flagship bank branch was officially opened today following a £1million facelift.
Lloyds TSB’s historic branch in Ipswich’s Cornhill, which was originally built to serve Ipswich Port, has been transformed from a traditional-style bank with glass and wooden counter barriers to an open-plan design more in keeping with modern banking.
The handsome listed building, which includes bas-reliefs of Neptune reflecting its maritime heritage, is home to more than 40 staff, some of whom work for the bank’s Suffolk group, the regional headquarters which runs Lloyds TSB’s network of branches across Suffolk and into Essex. The branch, which has been in existence for 227 years, was closed for two and half weeks while the works took place.
Perry Bettis, local director of the Suffolk group, said the idea was to open up the space.
“To me it was definitely old-fashioned banking - this is more modern,” he said. “I think the world’s moving on in banking.”
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Cashiers will still be available, but when the site is less busy they will not be confined to their desks and will be able to move about.
“The idea is we have little queues in every area rather than one big queue,” he said. “It’s a major investment, but I think it’s what our customers want and it’s more open for the customer.”
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Branch manager Matt Newman, who grew up in Ipswich and is one of the bank’s youngest managers at the age of 26, said they wanted to celebrate the bank’s heritage with the opening, which included invited guests.
“It’s important. It has been here for over 200 years serving the community of Ipswich. This is a really iconic building, a grade 2 listed building.”
It was now more customer-focused, he said.
“The screens could be seen as a bit of a barrier,” he said. “I personally am delighted, but the biggest feel-good factor for me is the feedback we have had from our customers. It’s much more open.”
Mayor of Ipswich Hamil Clarke, who performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said: “One of the roles of the mayor is to protect old businesses and encourage new ones and one of the oldest ones in the town is Lloyds banking group which has been her for over 200 years. I hope it will be here for another 200 years.”
Jayne Rowley-Evans, Business Connector for Ipswich, organised the opening event which included the official London 2012 Olympic torch and a look back at a “through the years experience” which celebrated the rich heritage of the bank. The opening was also about looking to the future, and helping Britain prosper again, she said.
“The refurbishment is part of the bank’s commitment to its branch network and has been serving customers in Ipswich for over 200 years,” she added.
Next in line for a major refurbishment is the bank’s Colchester branch, where works are expected to cost in the region of £1.6m and will take place in November.