Another month, another THI building project completes. This particular project has been our longest-running one by some stretch. I reported about the works starting and the buildings’ history in October 2014 and a post that included photos of the completed flats in the upper storeys in July 2015.
That July 2015 post breezily declared that the last phase of work to the building was the installation of the traditional shopfront.
Well, I am pleased to report that this final stage of the project is now complete, and it has been well worth the wait in my opinion:
“The details are not the details. They make the design.” (Charles Eames)
The above quote couldn’t be more true in this case.
The aim of the shopfront restoration was to reinstate the idea that although Millican’s Optician’s shop extends across both no.29 and no.31 Eccleston Street, these are in fact two different buildings that were constructed about forty years apart and were only joined together in 1997 when they were made into a single shop complete with a shopfront that spread across both buildings.
Before the THI works started: two buildings, two empty upper floors, one big shopfront.
After the THI works completed: two buildings, four flats, two shopfronts.
Working with Steve Geary from Ainsley Gommon Architects we came up with a design that reinstated the different heights of the shopfronts (reflecting the different heights of the two buildings) and used slightly different details to the two shopfronts to give subtle differences between the left and right hand halves of the building. The older right hand half was given more of a Georgian character with its moulded cornice and more classical detailing – a nice surround to the Georgian six panel door that was installed as the front door to the flats.
The Georgian-style 31 Eccleston Street. No.31 dates from around 1780-1800 (we think)
On the left hand side we had a few indications of the historic details that were once there via historic photos and a piece of the old shopfront that was quite literally lying around in one of the rooms over the shop. I am still not quite whether to call this ‘Neo-Regency’ or whether it nods towards Art Deco, but this surviving piece of the shopfront showed up on early and mid-twentieth century photos of the building. We reinstated these to the shopfront and went for a ‘freer’ traditional style seeing as limited details were known and what we did have appeared to date from the 1920s.
The early twentieth century style 29 Eccleston Street – based on known historic details in old photos and found upstairs…
Mark Semeria, the joiner (more accurately, cabinetmaker) who subcontracted the shopfront restoration work has done a splendid job with mouldings, panels and cornices but for me the ‘piece de resistance’ is the lamb’s tongue moulding to the shop windows – complete with an angled corner mullion, a detail that only ‘shopfront nerds’ will spot or appreciate, but it’s there!
The angled lamb’s tongue mullion – a nightmare for Mark to design and build, but rather pleasant to look at!
The shopfront is the most obvious sign to a passer-by that all the repairs, conversion works and restoration have taken place. The bonus is that the shopfront greets you as you leave the Shopping Centre.
Other THI Buildings News
The shopfront and window restoration work at 7 and 9 Leyland Street (Renaissance Skincare and Beauty) will take place over the course of this autumn (which is closer than you think in this heat!).
The planning applications are in for THI works at 44 Eccleston Street (former Poundbakery) and 21 Eccleston Street (Flossy’s Sandwiches) and the building owners are seeking tenders from potential contractors to carry out the works. We should also have the planning and Listed Building Consent applications soon for THI works to 9 Market Place (Whitehouse Estates).
We also have an outline THI grant application for 46 Eccleston Street (Girls On Top salon) and the Hope and Anchor on High Street which I will take to the THI Partnership Board for its consideration in the first week of August.
Extreme close up: The Hope and Anchor
In addition to the above there are five more buildings whose owners or tenants are moving towards the sorts of improvement that have been delivered at 29-31 Eccleston Street – and 19 Eccleston Street – and 54 & 56 Eccleston Street – and 40 High Street- – we’re getting there, building by building!