The proposed schedule of Works for 16 High Street (the Queen Anne Building) in Hungerford – the job is under way

The deteriorating status of the building next to the Co-op in Hungerford High Street (variously known as Queen Anne House, 15 High Street, 15a High Street and 16 High Street) has been occupying the minds of local residents and councillors for many, many years. Former Mayor Martin Crane was, in conjunction with Hungerford Town Council and its ward members, a tireless advocate for getting the owners (the Co-op) to repair and maintain this elegant town-centre structure prior to the Jubilee weekend in early June 2022. More recently, the baton has been taken up by Geordie Taylor, founder of the Hungerford Self-isolation Network during the pandemic. West Berkshire Council has also made its opinions known.

As reported in Penny Post on 7 April, these efforts have finally produced results. Two days previously, a Co-op spokesperson told Penny Post that “a programme of works is expected to start on 19 April and conclude before the town’s Jubilee celebrations.” The works did indeed start abound then and the facade is currently (4 May) shrouded in tarpaulin and criss-crossed with scaffolding, behind which work is presumably progressing. There’s a slo a cherry-picker parked outside the shop: possibly this is to enable access to the building, which the Coop also owns, on the other side of the store: the cherry picker is needed as the stairwell was removed some years ago to make way for the tills so the only access is currently via the first-floor window. It remains to be seen to what use this can be put given this interesting access challenge. It may be that its current occupants are mainly pigeons.

Penny Post was given details of what the works on the Queen Anne building will hopefully involve. Note that the list below is what WBC’s Conservation Officer has recommended be done. I understand that this has been substantially agreed by the Co-op and their contractors.

  1. Repair and replace any roof tiles. If replacement is required use an accurate replica tile.
  2. Prior to repainting, clean and prepare all external joinery, including window cills, central doorcase on front elevation, and dentil eaves cornice, removing in the process any flaking paint, replacing all rotten or perished timbers with replacement woodwork to match the existing so as to ensure all external joinery is in an appropriate condition for repainting.
  3. On completion of step 2 above, repaint all external joinery with exterior wood primer, exterior undercoat and exterior wood paint, the finished colours to be similar to the existing.
  4. Repair and restore all sash windows. Areas of rotten or perished timber shall be replaced by piecing in new matching treated timber which is an accurate replica of the original design in terms of pattern, detail and profile.  Replace any broken or missing glazing with new glass to the appropriate specifications. Putty/joinery surrounds should be renewed so as to ensure all external joinery is in an appropriate condition for repainting. Replace sash cords, partying beads and pulleys where necessary. All wood shall then be cleaned, prepared, primed, and painted in an undercoat and exterior wood paint in accordance with paint manufacturers’ recommendations.  The finished colours to be similar to the existing.  Where existing windows are beyond repair, the specification of any new replacement windows must be approved by the Council’s Conservation Officer, prior to manufacture.
  5. Prior to repainting clean out all of the guttering and downpipes. Restore or replace all damaged or missing gutters, rainwater down pipes, hoppers, waste pipes and soil and vent pipes to the main building in matching materials, i.e. cast iron for cast iron, and in a like-for-like manner. Ensure that all rainwater and waste pipes discharge correctly into below-ground drainage. Clean and prepare all metal work (including all soil and rainwater goods and tie bar plates), removing in the process any rust and flaking paint, so as to ensure all metal work is in an appropriate condition for repainting.
  6. On completion of step 5 above, repaint all metal work with exterior metal primer, exterior undercoat and exterior metal gloss, the finished colour to be black.

We also understand that Hungerford Town Council has requested that the Co-op also do appropriate work to pigeon-proof the roof of the building. The town’s residents and retailers will know that pigeons are a major problem in Hungerford. In August 2021 the Town Hall (owned by the Town and Manor) suffered a major flood as a result of pigeon droppings blocking the gutters, resulting in £50,000-worth of repairs and the partial closure of the building for over six months.

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