Woolworths, Poundland and The Botanist: The changing streetscene of Ipswich as businesses come and go
Where one door closes, another opens.
Perception in Ipswich is that the high street is dying – and with that in mind, SuffolkNews has decided to look at both vacant and prominent buildings in the town centre, what they once were and what they’ve become.
Have we forgotten any?
The most recent prominent closure in Ipswich is that of Yates, in Tower Street.
The pub closed on September 2 after six years, having opened in 2017.
It was previously the Robert Ransomes Wetherspoons – but, did you know it was a Yates before Spoons took over?
Hopping over to the Carr Street, we come to the former Co-op building, which dates back to 1907.
Back in 2021, plans were approved to turn it into a school – which took a step forward a few months ago.
The Co-op shut its doors back in 2010.
Opposite the Co-op lies a building that has been vacant since 2019.
This unit once contained Argos, which is now located inside the Sainbury’s in Upper Brook Street.
Further down Carr Street you’ll find Emmaus Suffolk’s newest store, which opened last Monday.
This store had lain vacant since 2020, when its previous tenant went bust. But before this, it was Poundland, before it moved a few units down.
Next door to Emmaus, you’ll find Carr House, which was once the Co-op travel agents, and opposite you’ll find B&M, which used to be QD, before it shut in 2013. After this, it was briefly a 99p store.
Next to B&M is the former Friterie Ipswich. This was perhaps most famous as T-Junction, but was also home Susie’s Pie ‘N’ Mash.
A few doors down you’ll find the Carr Street Poundland’s final resting place.
This outlet closed on March 11, having called it home since 2010.
However, this building was probably most famous for housing Woolworths between 1923 and 2008.
Just next door is a unit which home to many shops through the years, but was best known as JJB Sports, which shut in 2011.
Most recently, it was a Suffolk Age UK Home Store, and before this a 99p store.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom: Vernon Fox is gearing up to open in the vacant unit.
Opposite, you’ll find Fresh Start Café, which was Maplin before the company collapsed in 2018.
Also in Carr Street, you’ll find the Ipswich Microshops, which opened in 2021.
Before this, it was fashion retailer Peacocks.
It was a sad day when Orwell’s Butchers closed – meaning there were no butcher’s stores left in the high street.
The store shut in 2020 after 34 years and remains vacant to this day.
At the end of Carr Street, you’ll find I Love Noodle, which opened in November last year.
The building was vacant for four years, after Subway – which was located there before – was gutted in a fire and closed in 2018.
In Upper Brook Street you’ll find a long-vacant unit.
Q Ball Snooker Centre was a hit with locals back in the 1970s.
Heading down Butter Market, you’ll find the former Jessops, which closed in 2020.
It has been proposed that the post office in Carr Street move into this unit, but a decision has yet to be reached.
In addition, you’ll also find the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which closed in 2020. The building remains vacant.
Also in Butter Market, you’ll find Woodgreen, which opened in the former Joules earlier this year – and next door, you’ll find Bonbon, which moved into the former Pattiserie Valerie last year.
Before this, the eatery was located a few doors down, opposite White Stuff, which itself used to be The Summerhouse pub.
Over in Arras square you’ll find the husk of a former family favourite.
BHS shut its doors in 2016, having moved there in the 1990s.
Another high-profile closure was that of Superdry in the Buttermarket shopping centre.
The store shut in May this year.
Also in the shopping centre, there is a large vacant unit.
This housed Boots before it closed in 2020, having been there since the centre first opened in 1992.
Onto Tavern Street now, where you’ll find the iconic Great White Horse Hotel.
This hotel was a famous inspiration for Charles Dickins’ The Pickwick Papers.
It shut in 2008, but reopened earlier this year.
The right of the building once housed a Starbucks, and the left was Cotswolds.
Opposite this, you’ll find the historic Croydons building.
It started as Crodyons Jewellers and eventually became Preston & Duckworth, which shut in 2004, and moved around the corner.
Since then, it has been a Blacks and a Jack Wills, before becoming the Tesco Express it is today.
Further down you’ll find two former retail giants.
H&M closed last year, while GAME moved from its large shop in Tavern Street to inside Sports Direct back in March.
Also in Tavern Street is Hotter, which closed in 2020. Next door is Paperchase, which also closed in 2020 and remains vacant.
Before HMV moved into Sailmakers shopping centre, it was located in what is now Superdrug in Tavern Street.
Also in Sailmakers, you have River Island. This used to be Dorothy Perkins, before it moved to Burtons. River Island used to be located where One Below now sits.
Speaking of Burtons, this shut in 2020, and was replaced by Diechmann.
Ipswich’s Cornhill contains a number of iconic buildings.
The first is The Botanist, which opened in 2022, and is located in the former post office building. It previously housed Lloyds TSB.
Another historic Ipswich building is the former Grimwades, which has been vacant since 2012, most recently home to Clinton Cards.
Ipswich Borough Council is currently trying to buy the building from its owner, and has plans for what it could become.
Grimwades itself was open between 1844 and 1996.
Opposite Grimwades is the Debenhams building.
Since it closed in 2021, owners Unex have yet to secure a tenant.
Another high-profile closure this year was the town’s last tobacconist.
M W Ashton closed back in February, having been a town stalwart since 1946.
Heading to Westgate Street is where we find our next shop.
Mensware store Tessuti closed in May.
It opened in 2017.
Finally, in Westgate Street, we find what used to be Monsoon.
The store closed in 2022 and is currently being used as a street art gallery.
Finally, to end on a high, we have Franklins.
This Ipswich institution moved into its new home in Westgate Street earlier this year into the former Superdrug next to Greggs.
It moved from St Matthew’s Street in January.
There are many more shops in Ipswich that have come and gone over the years, including Waitrose next to the Corn Exchange, Somerfield, now Specsavers, among others.
Which ones do you miss? Let us know.