Three historic cottages in a Midland town have been saved with the help of a £730,000 lottery cash boost.
There had been fears that the Weavers Cottages in the Horsefair area of Kidderminster could be lost forever after being seemingly ‘left to rot’.
Plans to restore the dilapidated cottages and bring them back into use as houses were approved earlier this year, with a bid submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund to aid the scheme.
Now the long-awaited news that funding has finally been awarded has been announced, and work is expected to start next year.
The cottages are examples of a time when houses included workshops for the production of worsted, which pre-dated growth of the carpet industry.
They are unique survivors of the Horsefair area of Kidderminster and its industrial heritage, and the funding will enable them to have a new lease of life as homes. Derelict for many years, the Grade II listed properties were in danger of falling down, with the earliest believed to date from about 1709.
They are now to be refurbished to modern standards while retaining their historic fabric.
Officials with the Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust said they were now working with the Kidderminster Civic Society and Kidderminster Museum of Carpet as well as schools and colleges to develop a programme of activities aimed at bringing alive the social history of the town, its evolution as an industrial centre and the importance of architecture. Open days are to be held to enable people to see work in progress and learn about building conservation skills.
Bob Tolley, chairman of the trust, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant, and I am particularly pleased having lived for most of my life in the Kidderminster area.
“The oldest of the cottages has been a part of the Kidderminster landscape for the past 300 years, and it is great to know that we are a step closer to preserving these important buildings for people to be able to appreciate now and in the decades to come.”
Reyahn King, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands, said that the cottages were of ‘exceptional heritage importance’.
Yvonne Leishman, managing director of the current owners of the properties, Wyre Forest Community Housing, said: “We are pleased that the trust has been able to secure the grant, and will continue to support the trust in bringing about the refurbishment as soon as possible.”
Tenders are to be invited for the building work which is expected to start next summer, and the cottages will be ready for new owners to move in by the end of next year.