Cowe redevelopment entering its final phase

The £1million-plus restoration and repair of the historic former Cowe buildings in Berwick has reached an important milestone.

Thursday, 24th November 2016, 10:55 am
Updated Friday, 25th November 2016, 8:34 am
The development of the Cowes building on Bridge Street in Berwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

The roof work is now complete so county councillors Gavin Jones, Isabel Hunter and Jim Smith, Townscape Heritage Initiative officer Annette Reeves , architect Alan Swan and quantity surveyor Mark Sanderson were invited on a site visit to view the progress.

Richard Schofield, project manager, said: “It might still look like we’re a long way from completing the project but we’re now working on the finishing touches.

West Street

“The roof is now water-tight and the next stage will be the complete rendering of the external walls.

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“We hope to have the scaffolding down by the middle of next month.”

The project must be finished by the end of March to meet funding conditions.

The Grade II listed buildings, located on Bridge Street, Love Lane and West Street, are an important part of Berwick’s architectural, historic, cultural and commercial heritage.

Inside the 'blue' building

The 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.

Through the Berwick Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), Arch is carrying out essential repairs to the Love Lane building (green) and comprehensive repair and restoration to Bridge Street and West Street (blue), providing a ground floor space suitable for a shop or café / restaurant and four two-bed apartments both for private rent from Arch.

These works are funded by Northumberland County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arch as part of the Berwick Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

Part of the buildings were found to be in such poor condition that they had to be removed but as much as possible has been preserved, most notably some impressive fireplace surrounds and even some 17th century wallpaper.

West Street

One of the major drawbacks, however, has been the closure of West Street to traffic and pedestrians for the past year.

“We’ll open it as soon as we can, even if it’s just for pedestrians at first,” said Richard. “It’s unfortunate but West Street is very tight and there’s no way it could be reopened at the moment.”

Inside the 'blue' building