Toll House, Stratford-upon-Avon
What’s So Special About This Place?
The ten-sided Toll House was built in 1814 and is attached to the fifteenth century Clopton Bridge, a Scheduled Monument. Within 25 years the levying of a toll had ended and the building and adjacent area, known as Avon Wharf, was bought by James Cox, a timber merchant. The Toll House is most associated with the subsequent 150 years of use as an office within Cox’s Yard. It is an iconic small structure occupying a prominent position on a busy road into the town. After Cox’s business closed in 1997, the former Toll House no longer had a use.
Why Was The Building Under Threat?
Designated among the most important and exceptional 2.5% of our national built heritage, the Toll House is Grade I listed and was on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. The interior had lost its upper floor. Stratford District Council, which owned the Toll House, had kept it wind and watertight, but under increasing financial pressure, needed to find a way to ensure its sustainable future.
How Was It Saved?
The Stratford Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) was formed in 2012. AHF’s early stage grants enabled the Trust to employ a small team led by a conservation-accredited architect to carry out an options appraisal and identify a sustainable new use. Accessing funding for the capital works was not easy, but after the Trust proved that the office use was viable by securing a tenant for upper floors, Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a Heritage Enterprise grant. This was then matched with Historic England funds and small grants from the District Council and charitable trusts. The awards enabled SHBT to start the physical restoration and refurbishment work. During the works, Historic England was closely involved in the scheme, helping the Trust to minimise costs while conserving historically significant materials. The Trust’s persistence and determination to succeed paid off. Building works were completed in October 2017 and the property has been removed from Historic England’s At Risk Register.
How Is The Building Used Now?
The restored building has been converted to an impressive double height office space, combining original features, such as the fireplace and cupboards, with a modern curving glazed staircase to the mezzanine level. The basement allows free access to anyone wanting to see inside the building and houses a free public display area with an exhibition about the history of the building and the town’s industrial heritage, based on the extensive community research undertaken during the project.
How Did The AHF Help?
The AHF Support Officer was responsible for bringing together the key partners that were needed for the development of this project and was instrumental in the establishment of SHBT. Throughout the project the Support Officer offered support and advice that were crucial to the success of the project. The AHF provided early-stage development grant funding of £17,750 and a working capital loan of £70,000, repaid once other funding was received.
“The Architectural Heritage Fund supported Stratford Historic Building Trust and the Toll House project from the outset, funding an options appraisal in 2013 and then providing small amounts of grant aid at critical moments to enable us to maintain project momentum. During the delivery phase AHF also provided a loan facility which significantly reduced the risk to our project cash flow.
Although not a major funder in cash terms, the AHF’s enabling role was incredibly valuable – providing practical advice, liaising with key agencies like Historic England and generally encouraging and supporting what was a small and very new organisation. I can honestly say that without their support it is unlikely our project would have succeeded.”
Chris Rice, Project Co-ordinator,
Old Toll House Restoration Project
Project: The Toll House, Clopton Bridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Client: Stratford Historic Buildings Trust
Listing: Grade I and attached to a scheduled Ancient Monument
New Use: Office and community exhibition space
Find out more at http://www.stratfordhbt.co.uk
Architect: Mark Evans Architect Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: Greenwood Projects Ltd
Building Contractor: Stone-Edge
Project Co-ordinator: Chris Rice, Museum and Heritage Consultant
Interpretation: Escape Arts Ltd
Other Project Funders:
Heritage Lottery Fund – Heritage Enterprise £232,400
Historic England £197,850
Stratford District Council £30,000
Other grant giving trusts £69,750