The first of Bedford Borough’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) building works has been completed.
Today, the restoration of 19-21 High Street, currently home to ‘Blue Monk’ has been unveiled. Repairs include a newly painted front and comprehensive works to reinstate the fine Classical-style architectural design and detailing of this mid-C19th historic building.
One of the most striking improvements is the stunning restoration of the original lion-head stringcourse, which runs along the façade of the building. A number of these lion-heads were beyond repair, requiring replacements to be cast and installed alongside the originals to restore this iconic decorative feature.
Layers of paint were removed from the window pediments and half column pilasters, revealing the elaborate original detailing of carved animal heads and fine floral designs, which highlight the quality of craftsmanship and exquisite architectural design of this building.
The project was made possible with the support of the property’s owner, his designer and contractor who worked closely with the Council’s HSHAZ team.
Bedford Borough Council, in partnership with BedfordBID and SEMLEP, was awarded £1.76m by Historic England as part of their High Street Heritage Action Zone project after successfully submitting a funding application. Further improvements are already being delivered on 58 and 107 High Street (the north side of Silver Square and Goldings).
Councillor Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning, said: “This astounding restoration work is almost literally a monumental achievement. To see the scaffolding come down on the Blue Monk building uncovering such beautiful architectural restoration is brilliant and these restoration works are part of a programme which is helping breathe new life back into the High Street, while maintaining the original historic features. I can’t wait to see more properties restored and would like to thank the owners and team and all our partners involved in all this work.”
Christina Rowe, Director of BedfordBID said: “This marks the start of what is planned to be a welcomed programme designed to repurpose and revitalise some of the wonderful historical buildings in the town. Teams have worked in extraordinary circumstances and credit should also be given to all those contributing to deliver this important project for Bedford.”
Tony Calladine, East of England Regional Director, Historic England, said: “The restoration of the Blue Monk building is a remarkable achievement and testament to the skilled craftsmanship of those involved. This striking building is a wonderful feature of the Bedford high street and will no doubt become a social destination for local people. It shows how the restoration of historic buildings can revitalise areas in a unique and characterful way.”