How one couple are painstakingly restoring Butley Water Mill
- Credit: Archant
Timbers have been salvaged from buildings on Tottenham Court Road by a couple keen to create a luxury holiday let and preserve an important part of Suffolk’s rich agricultural heritage.
Essex-based developers Ken and Sarah Baines are converting the five individual holiday apartments at the former Butley Mill into a luxury holiday house offering views over the reed beds to the Ore estuary.
Mr Baines said: "The mill was in the ownership of the same family, the Hewitts for many years. I think it operated until 2003 and in 2006 it was converted to holiday lettings."
As a result, some of the equipment, including the wheel and the mill stones, are long gone but there is still plenty of evidence of the mill's industrial heritage including the sluice gate leading from the mill pond.
It is these features, and other elements inside, that the couple hope to preserve as they continue their project.
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Mr Baines added: "We bought it in May last year. It was a lot of small rooms, so we are changing that. Eventually it will be a single, five bedroom holiday let.
"We are passionate about maintaining the buildings and bringing them into life really. It is still a working mill but it is working in a different way.
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"We have employed local tradesmen where we can, and had a lot of help from family and friends. We do a lot of it ourselves."
The couple are paying extra attention to detail to ensure a high-end, sympathetic finish.
"It is a labour of love. We are not restricting our budget. If something needs doing, we do it. We are not very commercial about it.
"We have been sympathetic. Where there are brick work repairs we have used lime mortar."
His wife added: "It is a lovely project to do and hard work to get it all right. It is beautiful, out of the way and relaxing here."
Mr Baines, a chartered surveyor, has completed previous building and conversion projects, and at Leigh-on-Sea has gathered a wide collection of architectural and social salvage, from pieces found in demolished buildings to chopper bikes.
That ethos is displayed in this project.
An enormous wooden dining table in the kitchen area has been made from timbers salvaged from a building in Tottenham Court Road and a glazed bar backdrop was found in the Grand Hotel, Leigh-on-Sea.
Somehow they work well in this lovely setting.
He said: "Kitchen units are salvage and re-purposed. We have saved bricks and timbers, removing the nails to be used again.
"We would rather do that than go to the builder's merchants."
As they complete the rooms they are including salvaged and up cycled items and furnishings, and works by local sculptors and artists too.
A large Hovis bread sign, from the side of a shop, hangs on one wall next to a piano,
Outside on the deck an industrial trolley - it could have been from a mill, has been turned into a herb garden.
The house is part ready and available this summer, with the whole house being completed at a later date.Details from Suffolk Cottage Holidays.