Coffee Morning at ‘Drim Cong’ Alexandra Road, Farnborough
by ‘Tricia Thomas
On 6th October 2011, my husband Brian and I invited members of the Society to hear Brian talk about the renovation of our home, an Arts and Crafts
house which, when we bought it, had fallen into a state of complete dilapidation.
We moved in twelve years ago, to the then owners’ surprise. The comment was ‘You aren’t going to LIVE in it?’ Well yes, we were.
The initial task was to identify priorities. Making the house waterproof was clearly an essential task, as lead flashing had been stolen from the flat roof to the bay in the music room, resulting in a huge hole in the floor due to someone having sawn through not only the floorboards but also the joists. Brambles and ivy were coming through the windows. Upstairs in the third bedroom, polythene sheets and buckets on the floor were containing leaks from the S.E. chimney stack; underneath in the kitchen, a boiler had been placed on the floor and the flue inserted into the side of the chimney stack, which had to be rebuilt. The Conservation Officer, Alison Davies, at Rushmoor B.C., was extremely supportive of our aims and the Council agreed to our renovation with grants for various stages of the work, which had to comply with the requirements of the Conservation Area in which the house is situated.
The next major work was to the electrics. There was hot water from an immersion heater but the electrics showed evidence of having been one of the earliest to be installed in the country. Wires crossed in the same sheath and, had they touched, that would probably have been the end of our dream. At one point Brian and our son Lewis had just one lamp on a cable which was hoisted up the stair well at night! Lewis is qualified in electrical work and was a great help. We had a number of sympathetic skilled workmen who renovated pointing with lime mortar, replaced window leading and re-enamelled the bath, the last done by a young man who did work for English Heritage. The window frames were of the original oak and were amazingly sound. Secondary glazing was added to
conserve what little heat there was in the house, and in the plumbing, discreetly hiding pipes wherever possible. Later two keen Polish workers stripped the flooring in the music room, hall and drawing room, revealing beautiful oak with inserted strips of mahogany round the edges.
It was eighteen months before we knew where the bottom of the garden was. In all 27 trees/saplings were removed plus an enormous quantity of undergrowth, much work being done initially by two of my former Polish students. The front of the house was a sea of muddy sand and delivery people were threatening not to call! A drive was laid by two highly qualified people who had done work for the R.H.S. Family members qualified in landscaping also helped to relay the garden. After Brian’s talk, we watched a film showing the house as it was when we first moved in, then we conducted tours so that the members could see for themselves the results of all those years of hard work: our beautifully restored Arts and Crafts house.