The sugar factory in Ipswich was built in 1925. It was closed by British Sugar 76 years later. There are plans to turn the entire site into a housing with nature reserve.
I visited the factory with Speed and we spent around six hours exploring the place. A lot of the doors were bolted up and ladders were cut off. This meant that we couldn’t climb the huge silos. Undeterred, we did find our way into some of the buildings and tried to get to the top of what we could..
Please note: I have no idea what most of the buildings or things we saw were. So I have guessed. If you can update, please leave a comment at the bottom – thanks.
Ipswich has four of these giant concrete structures. They were used to store granulated sugar ready for onward movement/packaging etc. I can’t even begin to describe how high they were.
The first building that we managed to explore was some sort of testing area. There were two weighbridges in the main part, and some sugar samples in the office. One of the pieces of paper had “Certificate of Analysis” written on it, hence the “testing” assumption.
Outside was pretty much all pipes. Small pipes. Big pipes. Loads. They went everywhere.
They probably went to this.
Animal feed plant
This section of the factory was used to produce animal feed using molasses (an un-edible syrup from the crystallisation process).
Surprisingly it was full of chairs, lockers, canteen trolleys, disco lights, record players, signs and stickers.
Processing sugar needs a huge amount of electricity to power the various machines. Because of this, there is a power station on site (I think).
If this wasn’t a power station, then I don’t know what it was. There was a huge boiler…
Whatever it was, the top of it gave a damn good view of Ipswich.
More factory used to be on this wasteland, but it has been demolished.
In the next room we went to there was the largest rotating thing I’ve ever seen. It was attatched to some sort of coal powered furnace.
And in the same building was some sort of computer/control room. The room was totally sealed up – the table inside it looked as if people had just finished their lunch.. The room was also protected by some sort of halon fire extinguishing system.
I forgot to mention a locker room we found. Some people had written “In Use 22/02/01” on them – some of the items in them looked brand new! Likewise, there was a tool room nearby and things looked as if they were put there yesterday. Spooky.
We couldn’t get inside the main office blocks – they were fully locked up. But inside one of the production buildings there were a few offices.
One had a rather impressive display of Silver Spoon, Weetabix, Ambrosia and Coca Cola products in some glass cabinets. I didn’t really fancy sampling them though – the best-before date of 1999 put me off (and some spiders).
A few pictures of some of the buildings on site.
Considering how nice sugar tastes, the production of it stinks. Everywhere we went, something stunk. Random goop was no exception.
Other things of interest
There were loads of other random things. Here are a few of them…
One of the final rooms we went into was some sort of rest room. It was covered with some rather poignant messages from the final workers there, and was finally vacated on 9 February 2001.