Having just had to replace our heating system, we were reminded that it is 25 years since our little washhouse was gutted. The middle floor having been converted to 3-room accomodation around 1930/31 (as far as we can make out but it may have been 1914/18), for a number of years in the early 1980s, the house was used as a warehouse for a local company, even for company barbecues. We were delighted when a chap turned up at the door one day to give us a large, mounted black/white photograph of the house as it was when he was a boy and visited his grandmother here in the 50s/60s, swimming in the millstream that used to run past just outside the front door! It even turned out that a woman I know had cared for the old lady who had lived here in her final years at the old-people’s home before she died in her 90s. Photo taken probably in the late 1960s
Again, probably 1960s, before the field in the foreground became flats for industrial workers, and with the mill to the rear left of the house; the ironworks in the background built in 1908 would still have been in working order. The walnut tree, left in photo, is still standing, despite new flats having been built there – around it 🙂
However, in about 1988, after the obsolete ironworks next door had been turned into loft apartments, a café/restaurant, gallery, gig venue and a series of small business premises, it was the turn of the old mill to be gutted and converted into three large flats and with a small extension to the north. At the same time, an architect fell for the little washhouse and took it on as a personal renovaton project – the whole house was gutted, leaving only the outer walls and inner beam construction and the whole was reconfigured into a small family home intended for 2-4 people. The attic floor became one large room, an additional window to the south made the greater portion of the middle floor into a sun-filled living/dining/kitchen area with a small bedroom and bathroom and the ground floor became a second bedroom/guest room/office, shower/laundry room, a small utility room and a cellar with a natural floor – the cellar couldn’t be underground due to the proximity to the stream – as well as a generous entrance hallway. While the façade was listed and no alterations were allowed (apparently the half-timbered construction, and especially the gable ends, are particularly fine examples of local 18th century style), inside the upper walls were cement-lined and the interior brought up to late 20th century standard, using solid oak throughout. The ground floor walls are stone, a couple of feet thick.
The little washhouse became a very fine home! Photo taken 2012
Built in 1770, 25 years is not very much in the life of this house, but how wonderful that it was given a new lease of life and perhaps it will stand for another 200 years, at least…