New life could be breathed into a pair of prominent buildings in Berwick this autumn, after funding was secured for their restoration.
A year after buying the Cowe buildings on Bridge Street, Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, has secured Heritage Lottery Fund funding to restore and repair the historic shops.
The listed properties, owned for generations by the Cowe family, include the original Berwick Cockle Shop as well as the premises of the wholesale business, which both closed in 2010.
The condition of the buildings has deteriorated since Wm. Cowe & Sons ceased trading, and residents have expressed concerns at their state of disrepair, particularly as they are situated in an important part of the town; at the start of the Lowry trail.
A spokesperson for Arch explained that the cultural and historic importance of the buildings added time to the process, but insisted that the proposed restoration works would address concerns as well as breathe new life into the properties.
Following urgent repair works earlier this year, which secured the buildings on a temporary basis, the first priority now funding has been secured is to carry out essential repairs to make the buildings wind and watertight.
These works will help restore the buildings’ special character including reinstatement of architectural features such as sash windows, shopfronts, chimneys, and masonry repair.
Supported by English Heritage as part of the Berwick Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) and Bridge Street Area Partnership Scheme, the works are due to begin this autumn, and will take around one year to complete.
Dave Ledger, Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council and Arch chair, said: “The Cowe properties are an important part of Berwick’s history and we would like to see these wonderful buildings back in use and contributing to the regeneration of the town’s economy.
“There has been a real revival in the fortunes of Bridge Street in the past couple of years, and we see the restoration and reuse of the Cowe buildings as completing the picture.”
A working group led by Arch will bring forward a plan to secure the long-term future of the buildings, looking at development options including residential, retail, food, tourism and artists’ workspace.