Couple to restore historic cottage

PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 November 2006 | UPDATED: 22:21 28 May 2010

Ian and Tina Walker, with their daughter Lily, in front the cottage which will become their home after renovation - Pic: Brian Purdy

Ian and Tina Walker, with their daughter Lily, in front the cottage which will become their home after renovation - Pic: Brian Purdy

An historic fenland cottage, formerly on the register of buildings at risk, is being lovingly restored by a couple who moved from the Scottish highlands to take on the challenge. Ian and Tina Walker are living in a caravan next to Thatcher s Cottage, at F

An historic fenland cottage, formerly on the register of buildings at risk, is being lovingly restored by a couple who moved from the Scottish highlands to take on the challenge.

Ian and Tina Walker are living in a caravan next to Thatcher's Cottage, at Fieldside, Coates, with their three-year-old daughter Lily, while work is in progress.

The couple were looking for a renovation project when they spotted the decaying building for sale on the internet. After lengthy negotiations they were able to buy the oak-framed cottage, which is a listed building. They have also been helped by Fenland District Council which was keen to see the building saved because of its special architectural and historical interest.

A joiner by trade, Ian has worked on many interesting buildings, including stately homes, but Thatcher's Cottage

is special because, once completed, it will be the Walkers' family home.

Now the couple are looking for information to help them trace the cottage's history which they believe could go back many hundreds of years.

Mr Walker said: "It dates back at least 275 years but I believe it goes back a lot further because of features in the structure."

The upper floor of the two-bedroom cottage dates back to medieval times while the ground floor was significantly changed in the Victorian era.

Mr Walker regards being able to work on the medieval frame as a privilege. "They were very clever and skilled people, very knowledgeable people who didn't have the tools we have today," he said. "The joints are very high quality and their skill levels were phenomenal."

He is determined to save as much of the original structure as possible. "I will literally save everything I can," he said. "I have been able to save some of the beams by putting new sections in."

Floorboards and floor tiles will be removed and cleaned before being re-laid so as not to alter the character of the cottage.

A temporary roof will be put in place but the thatchers are already booked to put on the permanent roof in April next year.

The couple bought the cottage from Helen Dolby who lived close by. Her family were thatchers and rented out the cottage to tenants until the 1960s.

- The Walker family would be interested to hear from anyone with any knowledge about the history of the cottage.

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