THE RESTORATION of Stratford’s Old Toll House is complete.
The £450,000 project, led by Stratford Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT), began in 2016 to bring the Grade I listed building back to its former glory.
Specialist historic building contractor Stone-Edge has now put the final touches to the building, which was officially opened by Mayor Victoria Alcock last night (Thursday).
The building will be open for public viewing today (Friday) until Sunday (September 10), daily from 11am to 4pm, as part of the national Heritage Open Days.
Built in 1814, the Old Toll House is a local landmark, but over the last 30 years it had fallen into serious disrepair and was added to Historic England’s register of buildings at risk.
Restoration works have included the installation of a new roof and internal mezzanine floor, two new staircases, new plumbing and electrics, and a new water supply.
One of the biggest parts of the project has been replacing weathered stonework, with more than 300 pieces of new stone required to repair the exterior of the 19thb century structure.
Another notable addition is a new toll board on the Clopton Bridge side of the building. The original board was removed when the building ceased to be a toll house, around 1839, and was presumed lost, but traces of the fixings remained.
No images of the original sign survive, but the new one is based on equivalent historic examples. The list of toll charges is accurate as these survive in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archives.
Now works are complete, the upper levels of the building will be let as office space and the basement area will be used as a public display area, telling the story of the Toll House and the history of the riverside area.
SBHT chair Kevin Bond said: “We are absolutely delighted with the quality of the restoration and refurbishment works which have transformed what was a neglected part of Stratford’s heritage.
“One of the added bonuses of the project has been the amount of public interest in the restoration works, and we are delighted to be able to open the doors of the Old Toll House for three days as part of the Heritage Open Days festival.”
The Old Toll House is SHBT’s first project. As well as restoring the Toll House, bringing it back into use as office space will provide the trust with an income to help rescue other historic buildings in the county.
The trust is now looking for its next project and is calling on members of the public for suggestions as to what it might be.
The Toll House project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Stratford District Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and a range of other grant-giving charities.
Visit www.stratfordhbt.co.uk to find out more about Stratford Historic Buildings Trust.