It has been a long time coming but finally we have made a start on the refurbishment of 1 – 3 Ock Street, Abingdon – on – Thames, Oxon. The reason for the delay in starting has not been planning, or funding, or matters of design, but simply that we have been so busy at Kemp & Kemp that we had to park our plans for the building for a few months. Now we are determined to press on, and finally the work was started last week.
The first stage will be the strip out. The lighting and power circuits are to be renewed, as will the heating system, with the domestic water supply to be adapted and modified. So all the old installation, save for the existing boiler, will have to be stripped out. The prices are in and the contracts will hopefully be issued this coming week. More on that in the coming weeks.
The next stage after that will be the building strip out. There are internal and external walls to be removed, windows to take out, new ones to install, and much making good. The building has been neglected for many a year and is in much need of a great deal of TLC. The services and building strip outs will be the start of that process.
In the meantime we have been having the sash windows overhauled. Some were already in working order, but not many. Painted over, jammed, sash cords broken, or cut and in a generally neglected state, most of the windows were incapable of being opened. Maintenance work undertaken on them in the past had been clumsy to say the least, causing more harm that good. Some of the windows were even double sashes, with the inner sash since removed. At the time they simply cut the sash cords and pulled the sashes out. A form of joinery cannibalism! Not that we are complaining too much, because the net result when the windows were opened up this week, is four redundant lead counter weights, totalling 60 lbs in weight, c.£80 in value.
Another bonus has been the discovery of built-in shutters to one of the downstairs front windows. Steve, our joiner has taken great care over the window refurbishment. He discovered the shutters on finding a heavily painted hinge on what simply looked like a section of panelling. But, with a little care and some patient easing, 300 year old shutters complete with their original ironmongery were revealed. Sadly they are the only ones left in the building.
As part of the refurbishment project we invited year 4 pupils from Rush Common School to visit the building and learn a little about its history, and what life in Georgian Abingdon would have been like. They were a lively and engaging group, and since their visit they have drawn pictures and written stories about the building. I intend to feature their stories as the tale of the refurbishment unfolds. The first such story has been written by Max, who clearly recognises that as a small boy in Georgian times he would have been put to work, even at a tender age. A good education was only available to those who could afford it:
I woke up in my small house. I went downstairs. I ate my eggs and sausages. Then I went to 1-3 Ock Street to clean the dusty chimney. It was a shame I don’t get paid much.
Next I saw the big blue door. My hand struck the door with fear. Finally the door opened and I walked into the house. The man said “Boy, that is the fire”. So I went up the chimney. Then the man just put on the fire.
The chimneys are still there, and they are no doubt still dusty, but don’t worry Max, we won’t be asking you to sweep them.
Watch out for weekly updates on the buildings progress.For more information on Kemp & Kemp LLP visit: http://www.kempandkemp.co.uk