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First to take advantage of Boston shop fronts grant scheme

Work has begun on the first Boston town centre shop to take advantage of a grant-funded scheme to repair, renovate and reinstate. Hoppers jewellers, at 49 Market Place, applied for and will receive a 50 per cent grant towards the cost of repairs to sash windows which may be more than 200 years old.

Leverton specialists, M.G. Dales Joinery, will also reinstate time and weather-worn high-level guttering and lead work and give the frontage full redecoration.

Work goes ahead on one of the upper floor sash window. From left: Conservation Project Officer Laura Hodson, Hoppers' Boston shop manager Matthew O'Callaghan, joiner Paul Mills and M.G. Dales Joinery manager Rob Wright.

Shop manager, Mr Matthew O'Callaghan, explained that Hoppers, which has operated from the shop for around the past 40 years, was spurred on by the recent improvement to the Market Place.

He said: "We decided it was about time the building was restored to its former glory. The improvement to the Market Place and the introduction of the grant scheme made it the right time to do it."

Hoppers frontage

Conservation Project Officer Laura Hodson with M.G. Dales Joinery manager Rob Wright, left, and Hoppers' Boston shop manager Matthew O'Callaghan in front of the Market Place shop which has received a 50 per cent shop front improvement grant.

Mr Rob Wright, of M.G. Dales Joinery, said his task was to make good the ravages of time to create a faithful reproduction of what had been there when it was new - up to 200 years ago.

He said the sash windows were in a poor state of repair and the sash cords had perished. The original weights have been salvaged and are being reused.

"Everything will go back pretty much as it was to last another 200 years," he said.

The work began at the end of August and is expected to be complete by the end of October.

Other property owners in the town centre are now being urged to follow Hoppers' shrewd example and make applications for grants - the cash is limited and will be awarded on a first come-first served basis.

Conservation Project Officer Laura Hodson said: "We are hoping, now that work is progressing on the first building, that more applicants will develop their plans and specifications and gain the necessary consents for work so that Boston Borough Council can assess them and offer grants to approved schemes."

The grant scheme was launched by English Heritage and the council to encourage property owners in and around the Market Place to come forward and improve the appearance of their own premises to complement the recent refurbishment of the Market Place. Grants are available for repairs, and priority is given to schemes involving the reinstatement of traditional shop fronts that will enhance the historic building and therefore the quality of the town centre.

Up to £650,000 may be available over the next five years.

Property owners can get in touch with Laura to gain advice about work that will be eligible for a grant and to discuss opportunities to improve the condition and quality of their properties. Contact her on 01205 314339 or email laura.hodson@boston.gov.uk

The grant system will be kept as simple as possible and will be on the basis of a straight 50 per cent of eligible costs for repairs and 90 per cent for reinstatements.

Reoccupation of the upper floors, and reinstatement of some of the better-quality shop fronts and traditional window forms are all needed to make the place attractive and vibrant again.

Eligible buildings are in Bridge Street, Church Close, Church Street, Cornhill Lane, Customhouse Lane, Dolphin Lane, Emery Lane, Grants Lane, High Street, Main Ridge West, Market Place, New Street, Petticoat Lane, Pump Square, Red Lion Street, Sibsey Lane, South Street, Spain Court, Still Lane, Strait Bargate, West Street and Wormgate.