Moving historic houses

To preserve historic buildings from decay and demolition, the last resort can be to physically move the building from its original location to a new one. Some old buildings such as those in Stratford can be restored, opened to the public, or looked after as a positive addition to the surrounding area, reminding people of the history of a particular village or town. However, due to urban modernisation and neglect of old buildings, some houses become obsolete in their current locations and it is difficult to save them without taking them out of their contexts. Some think that moving a building removes its historical context, rendering it pointless, however there are several interesting examples of building relocation.

The Essex Arms was a pub built in the 17th century in Hereford and was a listed half-timber house, which became a storage warehouse after 1969 and fell into disrepair. Eventually, as it became increasingly dangerous, it was threatened with demolition along with several other historic buildings in 1972. This prompted a public appeal, the Hereford Civic Society was founded and it was decided that it could be demolished as long as it was rebuilt in a new location. It was methodically taken apart and rebuilt in Queenswood Country Park and is now a cafe.

Another building in Hereford, the High Town house was threatened with demolition due to improvements in the area and a plan to build a new £300,000 shop. The black and white timber framed building was built in the 17th century and had once been part of Marchants Grocers. There was a huge public appeal to save the building and it was finally decided that the new shop could be built, as long as the old house was incorporated into the new facade. Over the course of one weekend in 1965, the whole house was moved on rollers, pulled from its location and wrapped in polythene sheeting. 18 months later it was put back in its place, set in the front of a 1960s shopping street. Crowds came to watch the house being moved and it was filmed by Pathe news and you can watch the amazing film here.

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