A LANDMARK Stratford building is finally set to get a new lease of life.
The Stratford Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) submitted a planning application this week to refurbish of the historic Toll House.
The plan is for the restored building – which will include a new entrance – to be used as an office and exhibition space. And there are also plans to hold occasional summer exhibitions outside the 200 year-old building highlighting the industrial heritage of the waterfront, and the transport links of the late eighteenth and early 19th century provided by turnpike roads, the canal and Avon.
The Stratford Society – of which the SHBT is an offshoot – has for many years been looking at ways to save the 19th century building which sits at the town end of the Clopton Bridge. Previous ideas have ranged from a hairdressing salon to a holiday let, but lack of funding put any further progress on hold.
Architect and SHBT trustee Roger Davies is spearheading the current project.
He said: “It is an iconic building. I walk past it every day and always think what a great little off ice it would make.
There was talk of it being included as part of the refurbishment of Cox’s Yard in 2007, but sadly it was left on its lonesome and nothing was done.
“We have a lot of work still to do but we have a lot of support for the restoration.”
The project is set to cost around £500,000 and has already received support grants from the Architectural Heritage Fund, Stratford District Council and the Stratford Society.
SHBT is also preparing grant applications from English Heritage – which has placed the Toll House on its building At Risk list – and The Heritage Lottery Fund.
Stratford Mayor Ian Fradgley is among many keen to see the building restored.
He told The Observer: “As soon as something happens the better.
“The Toll House has long been a sore spot, but Roger and his team have a plan to go forward, and hopefully it will become something the town can be proud of.”
It is hoped the project will be completed by 2016.
The Toll House was originally built in 1814 as a money spinner for the town. Horse drawn coaches and wagons had to pay to cross Clopton Bridge and even those on horse back and those with cattle and sheep had to pay.
But the life of the building was shortlived. In 1816, the Toll House roof was reported to be in poor repair and by 1820 the whole building had fallen into ruin. In 1839, due to a loss of traffic, the levying of tolls came to an end.
When Cox’s Yard timber business closed in 1846 so did the Toll House, which was left unused and semi-derelict. The building was bought by Stratford District Council from Warwickshire County Council in 2001.