We have been busy as always at THI HQ, so this blog entry is an update on the last couple of months: where we’re up to, what’s happening next….
Was It Something I Said?
We’re in the middle of a big change-over at THI HQ.
We have hired Lyndsey-Jane Kevan as the THI Skills Co-ordinator. Lyndsey will take on the community outreach and engagement and employment, skills and training parts of the THI for the remaining three years of the project. This is great as I have been gamely doing bits and pieces towards this bit of the THI until recently, but Lyndsey will be able to put far more time and energy into the outreach and employment bits, allowing me to focus on the buildings and public realm sides of the THI. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have more time to blog too!
Our first-ever Historic Environment Intern, Chris Han, is soon to complete his twelve-month contract working with us on the THI and the wider conservation of Knowsley’s historic environment. The combination of work experience and studying towards an MSc in Building Conservation and Regeneration at UCLAN have helped Chris to land a post at Keppie Massie Chartered Surveyors in Liverpool. This is what the THI is about – helping people into work. We wish Chris all the best for his career!
Chris’s departure coincides with our next Historic Environment Intern starting a year’s work experience and study. Daniel Longman (a published author no less) will start with us in August. We’re hoping that in a year’s time Daniel will have landed that dream conservation job. Welcome aboard Daniel!
Finally, I’m really sad to have said good bye to our Conservation Officer, Chris (Christine) Anders who has retired from Knowsley Council after 12 years fighting the good fight for our heritage. Chris was instrumental in making the THI happen – she was behind Knowsley’s Stage 1 and Stage 2 bids to the HLF to secure the funds for the THI (and previous projects like the Conservation Interpretation and Skills Project and the Milestone and Crosses Project) on top of her regular day-to-day work. I hope what we deliver in Prescot on the back of her hard work will make her proud.
Just this week, the works to resurface and improve Atherton Street went out for tender to a shortlist of firms.
The timeline for work on Atherton Street has shifted back slightly from previous blog updates. We have taken the decision to start works in January 2016 and finish by May 2016. The works could be on site earlier, but that would mean works being paused over the run-up to Christmas, which would be no good for nearby businesses, the Methodist Church or the taxi rank.
The road will be resurfaced in granite setts, with granite kerbs and granite paving slabs to the pavements. New stone seating will surround the tree at the top of Atherton Street. The road will stay open to one way traffic and the highways boffins at Mouchel have managed to squeeze in an extra parking space.
We have already visited the individual businesses along Atherton Street and the nearby bits of Eccleston Street to let them know what the plan is, and have posted the same information to residents of these same stretches of road. A board detailing the work is on display in the window of Prescot Heritage Hub and at the Museum, Library and One Stop Shop on the upper concourse of the Shopping Centre.
Apologies for the plan being on its side, but it would be tiny the other way around! High Street is at the bottom, and the large tree at the junction of Eccleston Street and Aspinall Street is at the top. The circles and arrows numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the above plan correspond to the next four ‘visualisations’ of what the street would actually look like.
‘Eccleston Place’ is the nickname the designers have given to the space around the tree. We’re not planning to change any street names.
With the work at 40 High Street (Prescot Dry Cleaners) now having completed in what seems like the dim and distant past- (April 2015), the next two THI building projects are nearing completion.
The four new flats at 29-31 Eccleston Street (Millican Optician) are now not only completed, but occupied – without the building owner even having to advertise! It was done by a combination of word of mouth and people seeing stories about the project in the most recent edition of Knowsley News. All that is left to be done is the complete replacement of the shopfront, which will be the most dramatic change to the outside of the building. The shopfront being behind schedule is for a good reason – the work is being done by a bespoke joiner who works on the basis of quality rather than quantity – exactly the types of craft skills that THI projects should be supporting.
Above and top: The first floor of 29-31 Eccleston Street, before and after the THI-funded conversion works. I am happy to report the flat is let and this is now somebody’s front room, with a great view over the Halifax Bank (the former Lyme House Picture House).
Below and bottom: the second floor of 29-31 Eccleston Street, before and after the THI-funded conversion works. As the ‘before’ photo suggests this room had been empty and disused for a very long time indeed. A transformation that BBC’s ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ would be proud of!
11 Market Place (let to Mabel Doll) is also nearing completion. It has gone beyond its original timescale, but we have found that the beam over the shopfront needed replacing and the entire roof needed replacement rather than repair. The shopfront and the installation of the windows (which were ordered six weeks ago, but every quality window manufacturer is backed up with work) will be the final pieces of the repair and restoration jigsaw.
11 Market Place. The chimney has been rebuilt, the roof-re-covered in slate, the front elevation repointed. All that’s left are the new sash windows and minor shopfront works. Our THI Banner is in there somewhere!
Planning permission has recently been given for THI projects at 19 (let to Andrew Louis Estate Agents), 54 (let to Age UK) and 56 (let to Max Speilman) and the architect, Atelier MB, is now busily discharging the planning conditions, putting the finer details on the scheme and putting the works out to tender. If all goes to plan our THI Partnership Board will be considering the grant applications in September.
We are also expecting 7 and 9 Leyland Street (Renaissance Skin and Beauty) to go out for tender for a shopfront and window scheme in August.
The owner of 44 Eccleston Street (let to Pound Bakery) has decided to join the THI party and is in the process of putting together an outline grant application with one of the THI approved architects.