it's not historic... but you can't ignore it)
A major feature of the Waterfront Regeneration Scheme
in Ipswich (better known to us as the Wet Dock) is the area of
Cranfield's Flour Mill. The 23 storey block
which now occupies the site has become a new 'eyecatcher' from all over
the town and its environs. Not to mention the skeletal structure next
door! Here are some photographs of the
building from a variety of viewpoints.
The lettering here must be one of the biggest fonts on
this website. An added 21st Century touch is that it reads vertically
on this very vertical building and at night, as well as single large
spotlights shining vertically on the various faces, the characters
themselves are underlit.
The Mill rises like a rocket ship: The view from just
south of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre and looking across Dog's Head
Street (home of the 'Edme
Bakery' lettering) into Turret Lane and the Old Cattle market Bus
Station. The former Atfield & Daughter shop, now called Angle (but
known to the historic buildings enthusiast as 'The
Sun Inn') is to the
left, the edge of bar/restaurant is to the right. Behind is St Stephens Church.
The Mill is framed between the jaws of Lower Brook
Street (just outside The
Suffolk Victoria Nursing Institute), one of the most ancient
thoroughfares in the town.
A bit further down and The Mill soars above everything.
Another example of recent lettering which has found its way onto this
website can be found in St Helens Street.
Above: St Peter's Church on an April
evening in 2011 and behind it
soars The Mill with its lettering underlit, close-up on the right.
[UPDATE 7.12.2018: Tony
Marsden sent this remarkable photograph of the oh-so-young 'The Mill'
tower in June 2010.]
courtesy Tony Marsden
On Monday 28
October 2013 gale force winds ripped polystyrene cladding and membrane
from the waterfront face of The Mill's
23 storey tower block.
Cranfields Flour Mill
Ironically, perhaps, The Mill (still largely
empty in 2012) towers high above a stump of the
original 'CRANFIELDS FLOUR MILL' which stands
opposite St Mary-At-Quay Church.
Perhaps it has been left in a
semi-derelict condition to celebrate the desultory state in which the
dockside follies were left when the Irish banks – which
were funding much of the Waterfront Generation, apparently
– went into meltdown in 2008. Good times. Cheers.
A very big employer in the town, Cranfield's was in operation from the
1880s to about 1999. The former flour mill was largely demolished and
the first foundations for the £70 million site were laid in June
2007. The site is now home to The Mill, the tallest building in
Suffolk, described somewhat questionably by The East of England
Development Agency as 'a cultural and architectural beacon for the
town'. The Mill includes the new £7.9 million Jerwood
(this link shows an historic printed Cranfield Bros sack and other
images) which was
supported with a further £1million of funding from
EEDA. It provides the first custom-built dance facility in the East of
England and a headquarters for dance agency DanceEast. The DanceHouse
was officially opened on 30 October 2009.
The skeletal concrete structure visible to the left of the image below
remains a steadily decaying testimony to 'property development' hubris.
Locals have taken to call it 'The Winerack'. Composed of
internal-quality concrete which is not designed to withstand extreme
weather conditions (unlike exterior concrete) it has become clear that
this whole construction will require demolition if anyone scrapes
together the money to attempt to complete the dockside 'regeneration'
on this part of the Wet Dock. Some cynics opine that it was better,
more honest, when the brutalist maltings and mill silos lined the Wet
Dock and before the jetties and millionaires' boats obliterated the
Taken from the interior of St Mary-At-Quay
Church on the same day in 2008, are glimpses of the building work in
progress. Below left: tall cranes over the site of the the 'Winerack'
and a notable gap in development, soon to be filled. Below right: the
church window tells its own story. The upper parts with darker glass
survived the bomb-blast in the World War II bombing; the paler sections
had to be replaced. Through the window the evening sun bounces off the
plastic sheeting of the Winerack developement with, to the right the
lettered 'Cranfields Flour Mill' stump.
And, below, against the uglification of the soon-to-be 'Winerack' block
is the 'SM [key]' monograom of St Mary-At-Quay Church.
[UPDATE April 2019: Who would
have thought that it would be eleven years after these photographs were
taken before work was underway to clad and fit out the concrete
skeleton of 'The Winerack'?]
For further images of these buildings and of the
northern quays during the 2005/6 Waterfront demolition and clearances
see our Waterfront regeneration
Cranfields offices entrance
Below is a remarkable photograph of the corner of Foundry Lane with
College Street, from the Ipswich Society Image archive (see Links). The former offices of Cranfields on the
corner of Foundry Lane with one of the silos behind. The whole of this
site was cleared in 2005 and the Mill / Jerwood Dance Studio project
constructed on the site. We are assured that the stonework of the
Cranfields office entrance (apparently formerly the Burtons offices) is
stored, with the expectation that it would have been re-erected like a
piece of sculpture, as part of the Waterfront Regeneration Scheme – all
stalled by the global crash of 2007/8.
image courtesy Ipswich Society
The Question Mark
Burton Son & Sanders. Paul's
Ground-level dockside furniture
island', the northern quays
John Good and Sons
New Cut East
R&W Paul malting
A chance to
Wet Dock 1970s with 2004
Wet Dock maps
illustration of the laying of the Wet Dock lock foundation stone,
the Wet Dock
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission