2007 Yearbook

INSTITUTE OF HISTORIC BUILDING CONSERVATION YEARBOOK 2007 44 I N R E V I E W the THI was already half way through its three year duration. As a result a number of schemes were already up and running and at various stages of the grant process, and getting to know the town and its THI area was not straightforward. However, I was most fortunate to be involved in one particular scheme, Tabor Chapel, from the start. Located on the main road into Maesteg, this Grade II listed chapel was derelict and on the verge of collapse. Thankfully, a conservation-minded developer bought the property and keenly approached ourselves for a THI grant. Following lengthy discussions with the owner, the architect and Cadw, a high quality conservation scheme was prepared to sympathetically convert the chapel into seven flats. The scheme was to retain and repair all external elevations while maintaining as many of the internal details as possible in the design and layout of the flats, including the decorative cast iron pillars and large classical windows, for example. Following a year-long works programme monitored by myself this was successfully achieved. The property is now let to local residents and is a greatly improved gateway building for the town. In addition to this scheme, Maesteg has profited from a number of other regenerated places; a vacant public house has reopened for its original use, Maesteg Town Council Offices have been restored and repaired and serve the community more effectively, and a number of other historic properties have benefited from re-roofing, new traditional shopfronts and the reinstatement of other original features. By the end of the scheme in March 2006, the THI had proven to be a great success, aiding the regeneration programme within the town centre. CAREER BREAK At this point, as my contract had, in principle, come to an end, I decided it’s ‘now or never’ and so took myself off travelling around South East Asia. I started in China with the Great Wall, Forbidden City, terracotta warriors and a three gorges cruise along the Yangtze. I then travelled down to Thailand, up to Laos, along the Mekong River, and across to Vietnam to take in the wonders of Halong Bay and Ho Chi Minh City. From here I travelled to Cambodia to the high point of my trip, Angkor Wat. Even after three days ‘temple touring’, I was still in awe of the place and found wandering around the various complexes very inspiring. Moving on to Malaysia and Penang, I visited the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. The restoration of this mansion had won the top award in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2000. The visit offered a fascinating insight into different styles of architecture and conservation practices abroad. Learning to dive in Indonesia followed, but my trip then came to an abrupt end when I contracted typhoid and I had to return home. BACK TO WORK After a summer of rest back in Britain, the world of work and reality called me back to Bridgend in September. My first task was to complete and submit a Stage II bid to the HLF for a second Maesteg THI that would commence in April 2007. If successful, this second THI would allow further funding in excess of £1.2 million to be injected into Maesteg town centre. At the time of writing, the outcome of this bid is awaited. And so to my current job as temporary Buildings at Risk Officer. To date I have found this role incredibly interesting and am visiting areas and buildings within the county that I didn’t know existed. Preparing the database and surveying each property has again expanded my knowledge of the interpretation of historic buildings. I am very fortunate that Bridgend County Borough Council is paying for me to study for an MSc in the conservation of historic buildings on a part time basis at the University of Bath. I started in October and am enjoying the course content and the freedom to specialise it offers. For example, I chose to write my first assignment on the key influences on the gothic picturesque movement, with particular reference to its affect on the design of the cottage ornée. I am really looking forward to the remaining 18 months of the course and, before long, to becoming a full member of the IHBC. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang, a Chinese courtyard house built by the consul of the Ching Dynasty in the 1880s, and carefully restored in the 1990s