Skeleton roof of Bridge Cottage, Uckfield, clearly visible as work progresses

The skeleton roof of Bridge Cottage, Uckfield, is clearly visible on a sunny evening through plastic covering the building while work progresses out of sight at, and below, ground level.

A video recorded in week nine of the project to restore the cottage shows builders underpinning the walls to support ancient brickwork.

It also shows a hitch in proceedings when seven water pipes are discovered side-by-side during the course of work.


Bridge Cottage disappeared from view under the frame of scaffolding at the end of January. The protective cover stops rain getting in to damage the structure following removal of tiles and while renovation continues.

Mick Harker, chairman of the Uckfield Preservation Society Bridge Cottage committee, said that on stripping the roof back to the original rafters a few ‘horror stories’ were found.

“In a building of this age you do expect to find rotten timbers where either the water or beetle has got in. However, in our case we have found what I call ‘woodworm holding hands’ as there was absolutely nothing holding quite large pieces of structural timber together,” he said.

“We also found that some timbers had been cut away because, presumably, they were in the way when the inside was subdivided into rooms.

“Discovering these two areas meant that suddenly we had a very unstable structure on our hands. Not quite waiting for a butterfly to land on the roof to cause it to collapse, but near to it.”

Mr Harker said it took quite a time for a structural engineer to design a solution to fit in with the building, the planned use for it and one that the planning and conservation officers were happy with but that had now been done.

“A new green oak truss is being constructed with stainless steel corners, ties and supports for rigidity all held in place with modern bonding materials that blend into the background.

“So now, as you exit River Way and look at the structure in the daylight you will see, not only the old rafters sitting there like a rib cage but new rafters as we build the northern extension, over the old shop.

“Once they are in place then we can start adding the sheep’s wool insulation and covering the roof up. Until we have a weather-tight structure, Uckfield’s largest ‘tent’ will remain.

“Just before we re-tile the roof there wil be an opportunity for everybody in the community to be part of this historic project.

“We will be holding an open day when anybody can come along, sponsor a tile for £1.50 and write their message on an actual tile before it is put in place ont he roof. Something for future generations to discover.”

Originally the scaffolding was expected to come down in April or May with a 12-month programme of works on the building due to come to an end in September.

More than £1 million was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the Grade II listed Bridge Cottage and turn it into a Heritage Centre for Uckfield.

The preservation society plans to organise a range of activities there enabling all sectors of the community to understand and appreciate their heritage.

There will be educational programmes, hands-on heritage activities for all ages, local history and craft events, and a heritage hub for historical research.

Key periods of the cottage’s history, such as the late medieval, Tudor and Victorian will be used to help bring British history to life.

A space will also be created for use by local groups as a meeting place.

Bridge Cottage, next to the River Uck, was built in about 1436. It is a single-aisled Wealden hall house of larger than average size.

The identity of the original owner is not confirmed but it is known that the occupier in 1570 was Thomas Maunser and that the building passed to Arthur Langworth and Edward Orwell, who were officials of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bridge Cottage

Bridge Cottage before it disappeared behind hoardings and scaffolding.

See also:

Looking back: The day Bridge Cottage was left to its ghosts

New look inside and out at the Ringles Cross pub, Uckfield

Kerb stones go in as Uckfield station car park takes shape

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