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Ipswich: Farewell to the club that NEVER rocked!

PUBLISHED: 16:14 28 November 2012 | UPDATED: 16:20 28 November 2012

The Greyfriars development in 1979 before redevlopment saw much of the empty site demolsihed and other parts modernised.  ST FRANCIS TOWER
IPSWICH

ES 28.4.03

The Greyfriars development in 1979 before redevlopment saw much of the empty site demolsihed and other parts modernised. ST FRANCIS TOWER IPSWICH ES 28.4.03

IT was the nightclub that was supposed to bring magic to the Greyfriars centre in a roundabout way – but ultimately proved to be a disaster.

IPSWICH: Roadworks around the town centre should be eased from the end of this week as the festive season approaches.

Work on the Travel Ipswich programme aimed at improving roads to and around the town centre is on schedule – and some of the worst pinch-points will be eased.

Portman Road reopened yesterday with the completion of work with the junction of Princes Street and Fonnereau Road is due to reopen on Friday.

The heaviest work at the Civic Drive/Princes Street junction should be completed at the weekend – allowing both lanes of the roads heading to the junction to be used during peak hours.

Project manager Clive Wilkinson said the work was going well – the county felt the disruption had been no worse than expected and that traffic had continued to flow reasonably well.

Suffolk County Councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor accepted that the timing for the work was not ideal.

He said: “We would have liked to start it earlier in the year, but we had to wait until the civil service signed off the scheme and that always takes longer than you would hope.

“But given that we could not start until September, things have been going pretty well.”

The Travel Ipswich scheme is due to continue throughout next year, with the last projects due to be completed during the spring of 2014.

And now the last remnants of the roundabout nightclub are being flattened as work to transform the junction continues.

When Greyfriars and Civic Drive were built in the mid-1960s, the idea of putting a nightclub in the middle of a roundabout, accessed from an underpass, seemed like a great idea and one which captured the spirit of the era.

It opened at the end of the decade, and attracted interest as the Merlin – although it soon became clear that punters weren’t that keen on walking through a dirty, smelly underpass to get to a venue that constantly reverberated to the sound and smells of traffic going around it.

During the early to mid-70s, the venue took on a number of different guises.

It was the Lafayette nightclub which might have sounded exotic, even revolutionary, but still failed to attract the town’s clubbers.

And it was also at one stage called The Roundhouse (clever, eh!), before briefly becoming an Oriental restaurant.

None of these ventures lasted long – but then none of the businesses that opened up in the Greyfriars centre lasted long.

By the time the 1979 picture was taken, any hope that the building could be an entertainment centre for the town were already effectively over.

In 1984 the Greyfriars’ Centre was largely demolished to widespread acclaim – it remained the most hated building in the town.

The building at the centre of the roundabout was locked up. At one stage part of it was used as a store by the borough, but the top section was then demolished and it was turned into a “normal” roundabout.

Now the remaining part of the building is being demolished – it should be gone by the end of the week – and not a tear is likely to be shed.

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