Restoring Ipswich’s historic Old Post Office
In early 2019, Ipswich Borough Council announced its plan to restore the town’s landmark former post office. The Grade II listed building was first opened in 1881, survived two world wars and, during the 1940s, contributed to the UK’s war effort through its finials, which contained strategic metals. Since then, the Old Post Office has housed banks and various other institutions. The restoration project, it is hoped, will attract new occupants and contribute to the rejuvenation of Ipswich’s town centre and its economic fortunes.
In mid-2020, RSK joined the project through Ipswich-based tbf Scaffolding, an RSK company. It was tasked with the first, vital aspect of the restoration project: framing the building with scaffolding so the precise restoration work, including stonework, could be safely completed. A budget of about £1 million was allocated to restoring the roof and repairing internal fixings.
The Old Post Office is owned by Ipswich Borough Council and has remained empty since 2015, when Lloyds Bank vacated the premises. The restoration project is part of Ipswich Vision, the town’s regeneration and improvement plan. The Victorian building is a major fixture in the town centre, and local officials are eager to end its disuse. The council expects that its search for a tenant will be easier when the Grade II building is restored to its former glory. In awarding tbf Scaffolding the contract, Ipswich Borough Council noted its history of safe, successful projects with the authority.
Although the coronavirus pandemic interrupted on-site work, the tbf team successfully installed scaffolding between lockdowns. Restoration focused on repairing the roof and other parts of the building as well as some alterations to return the post office to its original state. While a stonemason prepared decorative carvings off-site, engineers and construction workers removed fittings installed during the 1990s when the building was converted to a bank.
Local paper the Ipswich Star quoted officials from the restoration report who said that the post office “is one of our main heritage buildings in the town centre … a major refurbishment and repair of this building [will] bring back historical features”. Local councillor Sandra Gage described the project as “really important for the town – it offers us hope for the future”.