Restoration planned for fire hit Royal George

Friday 11th March 2022 11:00 am
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A FIRE-hit historic town centre house has been covered in scaffolding and sheeting while its owners seek permission to press on with the Grade II-listed building’s restoration.

Built in the 1730s and occupied in its early days by the commander of the local militia, Royal George House suffered extensive damage last September when the roof caught fire during maintenance work.

Workers and residents of the building’s retirement flats fled for safety while townspeople watched in horror as flames leapt from the roof of the imposing three-storey structure, which stands on Monk Street across the road from St Mary’s churchyard.

Fire crews from as far afield as Aberbargoed and Merthyr rushed to the scene in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, September 21, to join the fight to save the building, with damage being mainly restricted to the roof, although the rest of the house suffered extensive water damage.

In a report to planners, KODA architects and historic building consultants said: “In late September 2021, through general maintenance of the building, a fire started in the projecting timber cornice band along the southern elevation and propagated quickly through the roof.

“As the fire spread, slating battens failed and the external weather face of the roof covering has fallen, collapsing large areas of the ceilings.

“The roof structure together with attic contents and ceiling structure is largely missing in the southern end of the building.

“At the northern end of the building, the ceiling structure is largely intact but varying in condition with ceiling covering missing.

“Towards the north east of the building, the ceiling is largely intact, however from the aerial photograph the weather face of the roof is missing.”

The consultants say that photographs they have provided of the damage are “limited to accessible areas of the building only or easily accessible areas”.

The Georgian building, which stands in the town’s Parade and Monk Street conservation zone, operated as a hotel during the 19th and 20th centuries, firstly as the Ivy Bank and then the Royal George, but was largely derelict by the 1980s, until being restored and later converted into retirement flats and offices.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales told planners the building had been listed in 1952 for its “exceptional interest as a fine town-house of around 1730”.

“The tragic fire of 2021 destroyed the greater part of the roof. The schedule prepared by Koda Architects provides a drawn and photographic record of the surviving remains of the lost king-post roof-trusses,” they said.

“Further recording will not be necessary before the remains of the fire-damaged trusses are removed in preparation for the reinstatement of the roof.”

Architectural historian John Newman described the building as “one of the town’s finest 18th century houses.”

The cost of restoration work is expected to run into many thousands of pounds.

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