Last week for Ipswich market on Cornhill as contractors ready to start
- Credit: Archant
This is the last week that market traders will operate from Ipswich’s Cornhill for at least a year as work to rebuild the town centre is due to start.
From next Tuesday – January 30 traders will operate from Princes Street, between the Old Post Office and Town Hall, down to Giles Circus and into Queen Street.
The largest pitches, the fruit and vegetable stall, the fish stall and the clothes and bags stall will be nearest the Cornhill.
A new “food court” for the coffee stall, snack stalls, and other street food will be created in Queen Street – when that road was rebuilt last year electricity connections for stalls were built in to the surface.
New market stalls have been delivered to the borough council which runs the market and the stalls should have a bright new look when it opens at its new location.
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However stallholders are concerned that the move could be devastating for their business.
Mick Catchpole, who runs “Coxy’s Fruit and Veg” stall in front of the Old Post Office said he feared customers would not be able to find the market in future – and he is only moving to the top of Princes Street.
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He said: “We find that people just won’t move – sometimes if you just move a stall from one side to another people think it has gone. A lot of us are worried about what will happen.”
His concerns are shared by some other stallholders – but they accept they will have to move while the work is carried out.
Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said: “We shall be closely monitoring what happens to the market after it moves – and if there are problems we will be able to make changes as and when necessary.
“We really want the market to succeed and we will be supporting the traders and encouraging shoppers to use it.”
Mr Ellesmere said there was no firm decision on whether the market would return to the Cornhill once the work was complete – but there would be room for stalls once it is rebuilt. As well as the new stalls, the council had also offered discounts to traders.
Ipswich Vision chair Terry Hunt said his organisation was committed to improving links between the Waterfront and the town centre, and the new location for the market could help create that bridge through “The Saints” independent shopping streets.
Cornhill work to start next week
Work on the £3.6m project to revamp the Cornhill is to start next week with the first hoardings sealing off the paved area going up.
The work is due to take about nine months – and should be completed in time for the Cornhill to reopen and be the focus of this year’s Christmas celebrations in the town. The lights’ switch-on should be very special this year.
Although the cost has gone up, all the proposed features on the Cornhill will be installed – including a water feature that is expected to be especially popular during the summer.
A new artwork will be installed near the former Grimwades store in what is expected to become a popular picnic area with the opening of the new branch of Pret A Manger on the corner of the Cornhill.
A formal ceremony marking the start of the rebuilding work is expected to take place in early February after which the Cornhill is set to become a building site for most of 2018.
Ipswich market has had many homes around the town centre
The first Ipswich markets were probably held in Anglo-Saxon times, and occupied different sites around the town centre over many centuries.
The modern Ipswich market can trace its origins to the opening of the Corn Exchange in the early 1880s – by the end of that decade it had moved into what is now the Grand Hall and was a fixture there for nearly a century until 1970.
From then it moved to various locations around the town. Its first new “permanent” home was the ill-fated Greyfriars development which residents and traders hated.
It moved out of there in 1977 to a temporary site in Crown Street (where the swimming pools are now) to Tower Ramparts in 1981 (where Sailmakers is now) and to the Civic Centre car park in 1984.
In 2002 an Evening Star-led campaign prompted the council to allow the market to move to the Cornhill. But will it return after this year?