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Celebrating 170 years in your community

Written by Ipswich Building Society

2 Dec 2019


170th anniversary, Freehold Land Society, Heritage, History

3 min read

In 2019, Ipswich Building Society celebrates 170 years since we were first founded as the Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society back in the December of 1849.

How it all began

The idea of building societies as we know them emerged in radical Birmingham in the 1840’s under the energetic leadership of James Taylor. The idea was to pool member’s savings in order to purchase plots of land for borrowing members to purchase in order to confer them the right to vote, as back in those days one could only vote if you were a man and owned a freehold property with a minimum value of forty shillings.

Building our community

From our founding until the early 20th century, we laid down roads and built hundreds of houses across a number of estates in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh, Framlingham and Aldeburgh. The majority of these houses are still standing today. Rival societies did likewise in other parts of the country, helping to build valuable housing stock as the population exploded at the end of the Victorian period.

Surviving through the ages

We’ve survived and thrived through the good times – and the bad. We’re just one of 43 building societies left in the UK, down from a whopping 1,723 in 1910 and 114 just 30 years ago. In fact, we’re one of only a handful left in our region and the only building society headquartered in Suffolk.

We’re fiercely independent, proudly mutual and always looking for new ways to serve our members not just in Suffolk, but wherever they might live. 

Different time, same values

It’s fair to say the world has changed a bit over the last 170 years – but our values remain the same. We were founded with the aim of giving a voice to the ordinary working man by enabling them to own enough land to be able to vote in elections.

This wasn’t just limited to men however – equal rights for both men and women were established from the point of our founding, some 60 years before women got the vote.

Today, we’re continuing to roll up our sleeves and help out in the community through volunteering, sponsorships and building relationships with local charities.

And of course, we still provide a safe place for members’ savings while helping people across England and Wales to buy and own their own home.

Here’s to another 170 years!

This article was published under our previous name of Ipswich Building Society. We changed our name in 2021 – find out more.

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