Things are changing quickly so thought some before and after images might be worth a look. Keep an eye out for more of these as things change!
A few shots of the less than lovely bits. They will be lovely. It’s just going to take a little bit of time …
The basement is looking much tidier than it was before – but still quite hard to believe that in a little over a year these spaces will all be crisp and clean!
Amazingly a number of lovely features have remained pretty much intact despite the building’s decay. This relief over a ground floor door of what was originally the reading room shows Minerva, Roman goddess of intellectual activity and patroness of the fine arts and crafts. She is depicted introducing fine arts to crafts, the owl is her symbol.
Exciting progress as the middle ‘fill in’ structure is removed in preparation for the main scaffolding. This area was originally a courtyard between the front and rear buildings and was evident is OS maps as late a 1902 – it seems to have been enclosed after this as a map from 1929 shows the area covered. This is the first time we’ve been able to see the full rear elevation since then. When the building is finished this central area will have a glazed roof to let light into the basement and provide an open public space where visitors will be able to learn more about the building and its heritage.
When the building reopens this will be a way into the building at the front! These shots are underneath the ramp which was added in the 1960s – which is going to be removed as the original frontage is reinstated.
You can just see the original steps down at the end of the passage – these will be restored and a small platform lift installed to ensure access for all. At the other end the original steps up to the front door will be reinstated and new railings made to match the dentist’s building next door – you can just see the profile of them in this picture.
Just noticed this on the first floor – didn’t dare press it just in case…
Fire extinguishers ready in case of emergencies – fingers crossed they’re never needed
The builders have brought existing toilets back into use – this area will eventually be where the lift goes so they will have to move to less colourful temporary facilities as the project progresses!
Exciting discoveries as work begins on site. Two fire places were behind the plaster in the rear building – these are above the two fireplaces that were already evident on this back wall in the basement.
The back building is thought to have been built slightly after the main front building but may have been constructed on the foundations of an earlier building – looking at the side by side fireplaces this room must have been subdivided at some time. And upstairs in the front building look at the lovely grate that was covered up in the back room – although it doesn’t seem to lead to any chimney!
As demolition continues anything that could be reused is being carefully saved. As the building is listed all work is carefully monitored by Historic England andany original materials that can be salvaged will be reused in the restoration.