Late summer 2015 is a possible opening date for the restored Bridge Cottage in Uckfield.
Earlier this month UckfieldNews.com reported that the historic building was in line to receive nearly £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A grant of £23,300 has been awarded to Uckfield and District Preservation Society to progress its plans for a full grant to carry out the work. Report here
12-month building project
Town councillors were told by Cllr Mick Harker that the preservation society would have to jump over another hurdle before getting the grant to carry out the work. If all went well it would be the end of August next year when work begins with a 12-month completion date.
Cllr John Carvey told members of the council’s general purposes committee: “When it is finished it will be truly, truly amazing. It will be a thing to be very proud of.”
He praised Cllr Harker, in his role as chairman of the Bridge Cottage committee of the preservation society, for the work he had done on the project.
Bridge Cottage is owned by the town council and leased to the preservation society.
Bridge Cottage is a Grade II listed building which the Uckfield and District Preservation Society (UDPS) aims to restore into a viable Heritage Centre. The society has full Listed Building consent, planning permissions and building control approval for the project.
Part of the plan includes the addition of a small, westerly extension that will both provide space for a kitchenette and protection for some of the exposed external medieval timbers. Such an extension requires excavating for new foundations in an area where parts of the early medieval building once stood.
Because of the uncertainty of the extent of these medieval foundations and the potential impact on the cost of the main, restoration project, UDPS instigated an Enabling Project to carry out early ground works in this area.
Work began at the beginning of August under the watchful eyes of an archaeologist as first the paving was removed and then the subsequent layers down to the level required in the final project. In the process, early 1970s flower bed foundations were discovered along with a gas main, two drains and, finally a fraction of the original medieval foundation.
The amount of foundation discovered was disappointing as it was evident that some of this foundation had been there in the 1970s when a previous excavation had taken place. Part of the foundation had been lost in an earlier time, probably in the 17th century, when a rubbish pit had been dug.
Although the top of this pit was examined, the majority of the pit extended below the depth we wished to excavate.
Unfortunately no major finds were discovered although a large amount of fragments were taken away by the archaeologist for examination. Their detailed recording report is due shortly.
The medieval foundations were protected before the area for the new foundations were shuttered and the concrete foundations poured. The new walls were then built up to damp course with a brick topping and the whole area inside filled with a loose material. Finally, after three weeks the brick paving for the whole area was restored.
Both the Wealden planning officer and the conservation officer visited the site and approved both the works and the choice of materials.
This is an exciting step forward for the project as it removes considerable uncertainty from what is a complex project on a heritage building.