By Steve Hayes 20/03 Updated: 22/03 11:06
PRIZE-WINNING heritage site Chedham's Yard will finally open to the public on June 16 - it has been revealed.
Volunteers have been working on the historic blacksmith's and wheelwright's yard in Wellesbourne for nearly six years after it won the BBC Restoration programme back in 2006.
The victory entitled a project to restore the yard to £1 million of funding but it was then beset by delays after being hit by floods in 2007.
It wasn't until a year ago Chedham’s Yard won charitable status, which allowed organisers to get going properly on restoration and building work.
Since then an education centre has been built, which will also house a shop and cafe, and the 200-year-old workshops have been completely restored.
The news of the official opening came as Wellesbourne MP Jeremy Wright visited the yard to see how work was progressing on Friday (March 16).
Mr Wright said: "I am delighted this remarkable project has finally come to fruition. It has faced some major challenges but, thanks to the hard work and determination of its trustees and volunteers, it is set to become a real heritage highlight."
Bill Chedham worked in the yard until the 1960s, but his blacksmith and wheelwright work dried up.
In 2001 he asked the parish council if they were interested in buying it. They saw its potential as a museum but did not see how they could afford to restore it until they entered and won the BBC’s Restoration Village competition in 2006 which gave them access to funding.
Now the work is almost complete, the artefacts will be returned to the yard and the blacksmith and wheelwright workshops will be presented as time capsules of the 200-year history of the yard.
"This is a tremendously imaginative project which will provide a wonderful educational resource," added Mr Wright.
"The restoration has been done very sensitively and the education centre is completely in-keeping with the setting. There is now even a carefully tended garden, which will mean the site is not just interesting and informative but a very pleasant place to be. The trustees and volunteers deserve much praise for their efforts."
Chedham’s Yard will open to the public on 20 Saturdays a year, with five special event days and an annual total of 50 group visits allowed on weekdays.
It will soon be possible to book through the website at www.chedhamsyard.org.uk or on 01789 842770.
Anyone wishing to volunteer to help with the running of the yard can also do so via the website.
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