Homes rise from the ashes

By Liz HearnshawRESIDENTS who watched in horror as fire ripped through their 17th Century cottages more than 12 months ago have moved back into their rebuilt homes.

By Liz Hearnshaw

RESIDENTS who watched in horror as fire ripped through their 17th Century cottages more than 12 months ago have moved back into their rebuilt homes.

The two thatched cottages in Euston were reduced to shells last September after the blaze, thought to have begun in a wood burner, took hold, devastating the Grade II listed buildings.

But 14 months later, following a £150,000 refit, the semi-detached homes - thought to be the oldest estate houses in west Suffolk - are again ready to welcome back tenants.

The thatched roofs have been replaced with tiles, to improve safety, while new bathrooms have been added during the refurbishment.

Dennis and Jean Lambert and their nine-year-old son, Neil, have moved back into the same house they left in tatters 14 months ago, while the second home will now be taken on by the daughter of original residents Raymond and Irene Vaughn.

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Christopher Spicer, manager of the Euston Estate, which owns the homes, said: “We decided to spend the extra money to get them tiled instead of thatched, which is much safer.

“It does look a little bit less 'chocolate boxy', but when faced with the choice we have to put the safety of our tenants first.”

He added: “It is nice to be able to restore the cottages and that members of the original families can move back in.

“Although the homes still have the same feel, we have also upgraded them at the same time, with the bathrooms moved upstairs for example. You could say the whole thing has been an ironical twist of fate.”

At the time of the blaze, fire officers said it was the age of the homes and the style in which they had been built that had saved the structures.

But due to the historic value of the properties, special permission was needed to rebuild the homes, delaying the start of work until April this year - with waiting proving one of the most difficult parts of the project for Mr Spicer.

“It was hard because it took months to get permission and we had to look at the devastation and live with the smell for six months before we could get to work,” he said.

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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