The current focus of the Charity is the repair of the building and then making it available for heritage, art, cultural, education and community events.
The first part of this project involves undertaking an Options Appraisal Study to look at what needs to be done to the building, how much this will cost and whether the project is financially viable. We hope to complete the study during 2007. For more information on this study, click here.
Once the study is complete we will then move on to planning the implementation of the project and fund raising the budget to complete the works.
The final stage will then be to carry out the repair and improvement work and the to open the building as a new community venue for Thatcham and its residents.
Sound building conservation is at the hard of the project to repair the building.
The following conservation policies have been formulated for the current and future management of the Old Bluecoat School and surrounding site:
- All surviving original fabric, as well as alterations dating from 18th/19th century, should be managed and maintained to the highest possible standard
- Wherever repair work is required, this should be carried out conservatively, as follows:
- In-situ repair of individual elements preferred over dismantling and re-building
- New materials or ﬁttings should be physically compatible with and sympathetic in appearance to the original
- Avoid restoration (ie the copying of conjectural or known elements/details) except where there is a good practical reason for replication
- A balance should be sought to ensure the fabric of the building is protected, the experience of the visitor/user is maintained to a high standard and the required income is generated
- Alterations and new works should only be carried out if essential and should be designed to minimise their effect, both physically and visually, on the existing fabric. As far as possible, original fabric should not be violated.
- Works to the exterior and setting of the building should be formulated to seek to reduce the current trafﬁc blight and physical isolation of the building from the town.
One of the most common misunderstanding is what the difference is between the terms Conservation and Restoration. This has not been helped in recent years by television programmes such as ‘Restoration’ that have used the term incorrectly. In the context of our project the terms are defined as:
Conservation (good) - Sympathetic repair of the building, saving as much original fabric as possible. Acceptance that we can never know what the building originally looked like so it would be pointless trying to replicate the unknown. Acceptance that the modifications made to a building over time are as much a part of its history and must be accepted and worked with rather than reversed.
Restoration(bad) - Trying to return a building back to an immaculate state by renewing everything that is not perfect and removing any unwanted historical changes to the building. Ignoring the fact that it is unlikely that anyone can ever truthfully know the immaculate state of the building that is being recreated. Ignoring the history of the building by trying to return it to some imaginary ‘original’ state.