Bury St Edmunds: Operation begins to salvage historic facade of Cupola House

THE BATTLE to save the facade of a 17th-Century building which was ravaged by fire began in earnest last night.

THE BATTLE to save the facade of a 17th-Century building which was ravaged by fire began in earnest last night.

Cupola House, which is home to Strada restaurant, in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, has suffered major structural collapse as a result of the blaze which was still smouldering last night after taking hold on Saturday.

At about 8pm a 40 tonne, long-reach crane began removing up to a quarter of the facade in a bid to prevent any more of the Grade-I Listed building from collapsing.

Station commander Ken Williamson, of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said they would be working to extinguish any hotspots which were revealed.

“They will try and take the building down as delicately as they can,” he said. “We are going to try and leave as much in place as we can and remove the unsafe part of the structure.”

Once the fire had taken hold there was significant structural collapse to the rear of the five-storey building and the unsupported front facade buckled.

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The front of the building became increasingly unstable throughout yesterday, a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said.

People have spoken of their “devastation” about the damage to the Grade-I Listed building.

Paul Romaine, who renovated the building from 2003 to 2004 before selling it to Strada, said: “The facade, if it can be saved that would be wonderful, but even if it cannot there were some features on the facade such as the bosses and Listed balcony that could be retained, and this is a perfect opportunity on this site to recreate something for the town that pays homage to the original building, but takes on a contemporary twist.”

He added: “Every effort should be made to take an initiative to put something back that is sympathetic to the original.”

Last night’s salvage operation followed a meeting involving interested parties including the fire service, structural engineers and the local authorities.

An English Heritage spokesman said they were in discussions with St Edmundsbury Borough Council about the next steps “but these will depend upon a thorough appraisal of the condition of the building and how much historic fabric may potentially be salvageable”.

Firefighters are expected to be on scene for a number of days.

No-one was hurt in the blaze, which is not believed to be suspicious. A full fire investigation is taking place.

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