Work starts at Southwick's oldest house

WORK to save the oldest house in town started on Tuesday, writes Michelle Nevell.

Monday, 5th March 2007, 7:16 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 11:44 pm

Manor Cottage, in Southwick Street, Southwick, was nearly demolished and turned into a car park 35 years ago.

It was saved at the 11th hour by the Southwick Society, which turned it into the Manor Cottage Heritage Centre with educational resources for schools, but it has been in dire need of repair ever since.

Thirty years later '“ and a 90,000 project aims to return the 15th-century timber-clad building to its past glory. Two rooms on the west wing were demolished 40 years ago and will now be rebuilt and used for storing archives and displays.

There will also be a new entrance hall and disabled access. The grade II listed building was a family home until the 1960s, when it was taken over by the former Southwick Urban District Council and used for storage.

In the 1970s, the authority said it was beyond repair and part of the historic building was pulled down.

Some work has already been carried out by volunteers and the new phase is being funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and cash left in the will of a founding member of the society.

On Tuesday, Southwick Society chai-rman Mary Candy dug up the first bit of earth. It is hoped the project will be finished by mid-summer, when the next phase of work on the inside of the property can begin.

Ms Candy said: "This is really exciting, as we have been planning this work for a long time and now things are starting to happen on the ground.

"This is the start of a new era for the centre. Not only are we replacing a lost part of the building, but we are also providing disabled access to part of the cottage and the new wing will include specialist storage for our archives."

Founder-member and secretary Nigel Divers said: "We are all delighted to see this work start, as we have been working towards restoration of the cottage for many years.

"When we took it over, its future had been uncertain, it was in poor repair and actually had ivy growing on the inside. It wasn't quite a forest growing through the roof, but it wasn't far off.

"The society stepped in to put its conservation ideals into practice, despite our very limited resources.

"It was always our intention to restore the building, including the demolished rooms. It is a dream that people have had for a long time and we are lucky to be here to see it happen."