A Cliftonville property built at the end of the 19th century has been brought back to its former splendour following an 18-month restoration project.
A team of 13 from DG Joinery and architect Sam Causer have been working on the intricate restoration and refurbishment of 12 Arthur Road.
The now stunning building was in a poor state of repair with parts of the property literally falling down.
Its transformation has included the restoration of original features, such as mouldings, cornices, bannisters, flooring, Victorian tiles and fireplaces and spectacular stained glassed windows.
The property, bought by brothers Christopher and Mark Walker in 2013, had been owned by the Gregory family for more than 70 years, who had retained many of the original features that make the house so special.
The house was built in the 1890s and, along with number 28, is distinct from other properties because it is double-fronted, stands three-storeys high and, unique in the road, has a stainglassed orangey – added after the original build – above the ornately columned porchway.
The property first appears on the 1901 census under the title ‘Kennington Lodge. The householder was Emmanuel Levy, who lived with his two daughters and three servants.
In 1940 the house was sold to the Frederick Hotels chain and just after World War Two it was bought by the Gregory family.
Originally the family ran a guesthouse but in the 60s they converted the business to holiday flatlets with up to 50 guests at any one time. That business ended in the 1980s and the property was used as a family home.
The most recent conversion has seen the 10 bedrooms reduced to five- all with beautiful en-suites containing roll-top baths, the walls stripped back to the lime plaster, period furniture, much of it bought from dealer Ronnie Scott, put in place – including cast iron radiators – with doors, windows, floors and tiling restored.
The flooring and walls will now remain in their natural state for a period of years so visitors on open days can see the full effect of the restoration.
The brothers received a Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) grant – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Thanet District Council – of £355,577 towards the cost of bringing the property back into use after it fell vacant and became uninhabitable.
A historic fabrics survey allowed them to understand how the decoration has changed over the years. Unusually for a THI, funding was given to the owners for some of the interior work due to the high quality of their historic preservation.
THI funding can be used only for work that is visible and accessible to the public and the owners have committed to opening the building to visitors at least 8 days per year following the completion of works.
The first opening was last weekend when more than 300 went through the doors to explore the property as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme.
The surveyor estimator for DG Joinery said: “People are able to see the age of the building and the restoration of original features from circa 1910, including fireplaces and flooring, panels and mouldings.
“It has been testing as we have never before used so many original and traditional methods. I can’t believe we are now at the end!”
Visitors can now see the restored original Victorian tiles on the front path, the recreated grand front door, terrazzo flooring, the stunning dining and sitting rooms, stained glass windows at the front and painstakingly recreated sash windows at the rear and a remodelled kitchen area with an amazing concrete island.
Deputy Leader of the council, Cllr Lin Fairbrass said: “Thanet District Council commissioned the work through the Dalby Square Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) project. The THI, which is funded 75% by the Heritage Lottery Fund and 25% by the district council, has given over 40 grants towards work to historic buildings in Dalby Square and Arthur Road over the last five years – leading to a transformation of the image of the area.
“The project at 12 Arthur Road was influenced by the success of the Grange in Ramsgate, an historic building holiday-let owned by the Landmark Trust. The Arthur Road house will allow the world to see both the quality of architecture that exists in Cliftonville and also its wealth of history.”
The property will now be used as a holiday let, an appropriate nod to Cliftonville’s history as a upmarket seaside resort that once counted the likes of author Oscar Wilde amongst its clientele.
Photos Debbie Smith