Gallery: Shocking pictures show how Ipswich’s Grade II listed County Hall has fallen prey to vandals
For decades it was the beating heart of local government for the whole of Suffolk.
But today the former County Hall in St Helen’s Street Ipswich is home to down-and-outs and drug users.
The Grade Two listed building, an imposing landmark on the eastern approach to the town centre, has been trashed inside with fireplaces torn out, wire stolen, and wooden panelling partially stripped.
The imposing council chamber, in the corner of the building, has been long abandoned and a tree grows in through a broken window.
The pictures were taken by a pair of photographers who specialise in taking pictures of urban buildings, showing how important they are to the town.
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What they found when they got in through an unsecured entrance shocked them.
One of the photographers said: “Inside the whole place has been trashed. It is totally unsecured and there was no problem getting in at all.
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“Once inside it was shocking to see. There are mattresses inside so it is clear that people are living there and there are signs of people using it to take drugs.
“We heard what sounded like some people behind a closed door so we thought was best not to disturb them.”
The photographer had shown the pictures to a friend who shared his interest in old buildings.
“He suggested we contacted the Star because these pictures are so shocking,” he added.
The pictures were taken on August 12 – and came as a surprise to Ipswich Borough Council who had met with the building’s owners earlier in the year to try to ensure it was secured.
The borough was so concerned about the state of the building, which was the county council’s headquarters until it moved to Endeavour House in 2004, that it was placed on its “Buildings at Risk” register earlier this year.
A meeting with its current owners, who are based at Dunmow in Essex, had tried to ensure the building was secured.
The roof remains solid, but the photos show considerable damage inside.
Councillor with responsibility for planning and development at the borough Carole Jones was shocked to hear of the state of the building.
She said: “We had thought it had been secured. This is dreadful news and we shall have to see what can be done – I know the police are concerned about the building as well.”
There are no immediate plans to redevelop County Hall, which was sold by the council shortly after it moved out of the building.
Labour’s Bryony Rudkin was leader of the county council at the time of its move to Endeavour House.
She was appalled by the state of the building: “It’s never been exactly a beautiful building, but it is very imposing and it has a great deal of history there.
What should happen to County Hall? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org