Housing now – for the elderly – “Bell House” Great Wakering

Extract from ‘Rochford News’ Issue 15 pages 8 - 9

The latest grouped flatlet scheme has just been completed at Great Wakering. The project, designed by the Architect’s Section of the Town Planning Department, has been built for the Council by J. H. Cottam Limited, on land in the High Street adjacent to the White Hart Public House. Particular care has been taken with the design to ensure harmony of scale and proportion with the neighbouring buildings. Traditional yellow stock facing bricks from the nearby Milton Hall Works have been used throughout.

The building is two storey, traditionally constructed in a horseshoe layout with a south facing landscaped inner courtyard. Thirty-eight completely self- contained flatlets and two wardens’ flats are provided. The flatlets are each suitable for a maximum of two persons, with living room, separate bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and lobby. The living rooms of all but two of the ground floor flats will have direct access to their own patio. One flatlet has been designed specifically for disabled persons with a generous circulation space and a specially equipped kitchen and bathroom.

The centrally sited main lounge will provide residents with the facility for pursuing leisure and social activities. Its features include a laminated timber beam roof with boarded ceiling, first floor gallery, brick fireplace and chimney, glazed doors to a paved and planted sitting out area and an adjacent fully equipped kitchen. A passenger lift, toilets with facilities for the disabled and a warden’s office adjoin the lounge.

The scheme also includes a shower room, laundry room complete with commercial washing machine and tumble drier, separate drying room, workroom for hobby activities and facilities for hairdressing. The emergency call system will enable each resident to call and speak to the Warden from three separate positions within each flatlet and other key areas. Emergency lighting and fire alarm systems with smoke and heat detectors are incorporated. All flatlets are pre-wired by British Telecom for -residents’ own telephones if required. Central heating is provided by radiators heated from a centrally sited gas-fired boiler plant.

The history of a large part of the site from the early 19th century is set out in the Deeds of the property and has led to the naming of the scheme. The previous buildings, demolished several years ago, were until early this century, a public house called “The Bell”. The Deeds commenced in 1807, when the occupant was William Cripps and they state that the premises were previously called “Buntings” consisting of “The shop, stables and outbuildings with a little orchard and now called The Bell”. In 1821, Mrs Tamer Potton became the tenant until 1851 when the premises passed to a William Cross. Mrs Esther Elisa Rose took over in 1869 and appears to have remained there until 1905 when George Wood, Solicitor, acquired the property. It was sold almost immediately to Seabrooke & Sons Limited of Thurrock Brewery, Grays for £2,600. They sold the property in 1908 after which it was no longer used as a public house. From that time on, the house was formed into three private dwelling houses, two being known as “Bell House” and “Bell Cottage”.

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