Category Archives: Wisbech Castle

Wisbech Castle Project – 9th June

Wisbech Castle Project – 9th June

Another full day of volunteering at the Castle as a bunch of fine folks worked hard on various different jobs.

Starting at 7.45AM the work continued until 6PM and included painting lots of the white woodwork inside, jet-washing the basement courtard and steps, cleaning and jetwashing the wooden shed, moving lots of accumulated rubbish to the skip, general cleaning and maintenance.

Out in the gardens the lawn was fed, bushes and branches trimmed, paths cleared.

A dozen people beavered away at different times as the project continues to move on.

We had a visit from a team of archaeologists from Peterborough who were keen to look at the vault. They stayed for a tour of the house and expressed admiration for the place and the work being done.

Throughout the day tourists came to the gate and peered in (and we showed them around). It was great to see that all the tourists were gushing about how nice Wisbech is to visit and how excited they were to be able to have a peek at the Castle Project.

I’d like to express my thanks to the amazing volunteers who continue to work so hard so often. I would, however, like Dave Topgood to stop painting everything I am about to touch.

Wisbech Castle Working Party 6th June

Wisbech Castle Working Party 6th June

Changes and improvements are coming thick and fast now.

The contractors upstairs have all but finished. All that remains is to get some new carpet in and do a little work on the kitchen and the top floor is all ready.

Volunteers have been hard at work elsewhere. The wooden floors in several areas have been cleaned and waxed and look amazing. The Fendick Room has been cleaned, organised and looks brilliant.

A lucky find in the Ground Floor bathroom has meant that we should be able to get that ready at much lower cost than we ever thought. The area has been cleaned and prepared.

In the Basement floor, a volunteer has repaired and painted the walls in the storage room and is well on the way to completing the boiler room / kitchen as well.

We now have our new external tap fitted for the garden, and have been donated a work sink which will be installed shortly.

In the gardens a huge amount of work continues to be done. Volunteers have been pressure washing the old benches ready for rubbing down and varnishing. They look so much better already!

The contractor in the Pump House has completed the work required. It has all been repainted inside and out, the rotten wood replaced and the structure brought back to a point where it looks great inside and is usable for at least a few seasons.

The Castle has also announced its first open-to-the-public event, which will be during Rose Fair on the Saturday – a Victorian Tea Party in the gardens.

Work Continues At The Castle

Work Continues At The Castle

Work continues apace yesterday and today.

The Gardening team have planted all sorts and the gardens are now generally looking lovely.

Some volunteers have been working on getting the fountain back in order. Looks like it will need a new pump installed, but otherwise still seems to function well.

The Pump House is being painted and repaired. This is broadly just a job to make it functional again, as it will need a larger and more extensive refurb in two or three seasons time, but It’s coming on great and looking much better. The crumbling rotten wood panels are being replaced and made safe.

In the house the tradesmen working on the top floor are close to finishing the refurb. All it should then need is some new carpet and it will be ready to use.

Other volunteers have been beginning to catalogue and sort the many things in the Medworth Room.

On the Ground Floor, a brilliant volunteer has been hard at work painting one of the small rooms which is destined to become the freezer room for wedding catering.

A volunteer who is a professional plumber is securing and installing a new industrial sink for our workshop area and an external tap for help the gardening team connect their houses. A volunteer who is a professional electrician has already installed external electric points for attaching tools and is working on emergency lighting in key areas and lighting for the front of the house.

We expect to have some portions of Wisbech Castle open for Rose Fair. There’s still a long way to go, but we should be proud of the fantastic amount of work our many volunteers have already achieved.

(The reason I don’t name any volunteers is because so many people are now helping and I don’t want to accidentally forget anybody. We will, however, be cheering and thanking our volunteers in an official way later in the year – more news on that later.)

– Steve Tierney

Wisbech Castle Project – 14th May

Wisbech Castle Project – 14th May

An interesting day today with some eventful happenings.
 
We had volunteers in cleaning, organising and painting. Managed to do all the painting prep work on the “Boffey” – the area we are using as our workplace and tool shed then got a decent coat of paint on most of the areas inside. Looking so much better in there!
 
Elsewhere, we had workmen quoting for the front room that we hope to use as the Castle Office, workmen quoting on the complete refurb of the Pump House including decorating inside and out and the construction of a disabled toilet and seating area. We began considering how we will repair the current main floor toilets – which are the most damaged part of the building – and turn them into high quality WC for visitors.
 
General cleaning and upkeep was done in the areas we have already worked on.
 
An architect who has offered to do a free new plan of the entire building was shown around to do some preliminary work.
 
Work was halted briefly when volunteers went to assist with an accident on the crescent, where an elderly gentleman had fallen in the road. Cllr. Billy Rackley managed traffic while the man was carefully helped to the side of the road and emergency help called. A gentleman from the Fixings & Plastics Centre in Tinkers Drove, i’m sorry I didn’t catch his name, was quick to offer valuable assistance and first aid, as were several other local people. It was a real case of the community pulling together to help somebody who was in need of assistance and was lovely to see.
 
In a few hours we really got a lot done. We also find people see us in the Castle and they wander up to the gate and ask questions about the Project and how it is progressing. There is a real excitement about it and we are looking forward to getting parts of the Castle open for public access as soon as we can. Almost certainly there will be some activity during Rose Fair.
 
– Steve Tierney

Wisbech Castle Project – 12th May

Wisbech Castle Project – 12th May

I was at the Castle this morning for 8AM to let the guys bring the trailer/skip into the rear gate. The thing was huge and it took some care to get it through even that wide entrance. There was about half inch clearance either side and the tractor driver who brought it was an amazing driver to make it work

After that I got a sausage sandwich and a cuppa and sat on the balcony in the peace and quiet. What a beautiful mornng..

Volunteers arrived for 9AM and we all pitched in to the next batch of work. Some folk worked at the front entrance, jet washing, weeding and cleaning. Others were on the Ground Floor clearing out cupboards, and doing more cleaning and scrubbing. Yet more volunteers were putting the rubbish we’ve already accumulated into the trailer at the rear of the garden.

We have had a local plumber offer to installing some of the bits we need for free, which was very generous and welcome.

We have got to the point now where we’re ready to begin some light decorating and painting. We also need to start clearing out the vaults. So next week that’s where we’ll be at – preparing wood, painting and clearing out the vault.

Tomorrow the gardening team are back, working their magic on the grounds.

It’s all coming on!

Some random pictures of interesting stuff in the Castle:

Wisbech Castle Project – 10th May 2018

Wisbech Castle Project – 10th May 2018

A team of Working Party and other volunteers spent several hours at Wisbech Castle today.  We had determined to work on the ground floor and since we had a good turnout we were able to work on several rooms at once.

The Old Kitchen, which was absolutely full to the brim of furniture and stored stuff was the focus of much activity.  Everything was removed from the room so that it could be given a very thorough clean.  Items of value and interest were put in safe storage and other stuff removed to the waste area.   The fireplace was also cleared and all the antique implements cleaned and displayed.  Piles of chairs and other things that had been just dumped in there for storage were organised and stored in an accessible and tidy way in a more suitable location.

The Utility / Room was also completely emptied and deep cleaned – which is really, really needed.  Cupboards and drawers were cleared of rubbish and made ready for new use.

Furniture that needed repair or refurbishment was identified and kept separate for the work to take place at a later date.

The downstairs storage room, which was so full of junk that you couldn’t even open the door, was completely emptied and the contents evaluated and stored / reused / removed depending on its nature.  We were pleased to find a jet washer buried under the pile of fold-up tables in there, which is great as it was one of the things we had thought we would need to buy.

While the team were working we had visits from the Fire Safety Officer (to check the building was safe and to make any recommendations).  We also had a plumber who has offered the Castle Project a discount service, to quote on some of the things we would like to see done.  And a local electrician who had offered to check the electrics for us for safety (and whose report is broadly that all is well!) and who kindly fixed some broken electrics while he was there.

All in all a really good few hours work.  There’s a lot to do, but focusing on the building a room at a time, and with a large team of volunteers, means that things get done quickly.  It is really useful that our volunteers have a range of skills and knowledge.

I’d like to thank the many volunteers who came today.  The Wisbech Castle Project is coming on really well and it can only happen because you are giving your time and talent to help it.

Photos (c) Roger Rawson

Working in the Scullery

Working in the Scullery

This morning we took a small team to the Castle to do some preliminary work that was necessary before the Garden Volunteers arrived this afternoon.

We did not invite the whole Working Party because we wanted to make sure that the site was ready for volunteers to be able to use it. Which meant clearing out the scullery, cleaning the loos, cleaning windows and skylights, clearing out lots of refuse, sweeping, dusting and cleaning.

We installed a fridge, kettle etc so that volunteers can get a tea /coffee while working. We replaced lots of bulbs that had blown. We angle ground off padlocks to which keys are long lost and replaced them with new padlocks for which we have secure keys.

It was a good few hours work, but we now have a whole area which is clean and ready, which has facilities for volunteers to use while they are working, which is a secure area to store tools and the like.

This afternoon the garden team are going in to make a start (thank you, everybody).

And as of next week we will begin the work for real, inviting all volunteers to help us bring the Castle back to life.

UPDATE:

I popped by at 5PM to see how the gardens were coming on.

Wow!

These brilliant volunteers in the Garden Team have made an awesome start! Already looking much much better.

Thank you so much, everybody.

 


Organising and sorting


After the gardening team’s hard work


The Scullery, cleared and cleaned.

Wisbech Castle Working Party Visit

Wisbech Castle Working Party Visit

Volunteers from the Wisbech Castle Working Party joined Councillors and a few special guests for a thorough exploration of Wisbech Castle, its grounds and its vault, today.

I had previously predicted that they would all fall in love with the place once they got a good look around it, and from the smiles and incredible flow of ideas, I believe most of them did!

It was nice to be able to show that, despite rumours to the contrary, the place is broadly in good nick – of course some work needs to be done but the vast majority of it is superficial, involving some elbow grease and some tender loving care.

I’ve also begun work on the Castle website, although that has a ways to go since I don’t presently have much content.  It will grow though, for sure.

The team are really a wonderful bunch, with all different skills and expertise.  People were suggesting things left, right and centre, and most of us are really keen to pitch in and get started.

We cannot do this until 4th May, for legal reasons, but we are really looking forward to getting on with the job and turning the Castle back into the powerful, vital and exciting asset that it should always have been.

Thank you to the various folks who took these photos, including Alan Wheeldon, Tony Bennett and Roger Rawson.  The photos are (c) those guys.

Wisbech Castle Project – From the Fenland Citizen

Wisbech Castle Project – From the Fenland Citizen

https://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/21-are-for-turning-wisbech-castle-into-a-must-see-attraction-and-a-great-community-asset-1-8448805

Two years of ‘hard graft’, a lot of imagination and a dedicated band of supporters will see Wisbech Castle transformed into a community asset the whole town can enjoy. That was the promise made at the first meeting of the Wisbech Castle Working Party Group on Tuesday night.

Twenty-one volunteers keen to get stuck into the project to breathe new life into the Georgian building took on an assortment of tasks with the aim of getting at least part of the Castle ready for use over the Rose Fair weekend in July. Mayor Steve Tierney chaired the meeting and outlined the task ahead which includes clearing rooms of clutter and debris, redecorating as well as building work to repair water damage.

He said Cambridgeshire County Council, who have given the Castle to the town council to manage for the next 34 years, have already been out to carry out urgent repair work to guttering and in particular to a down-pipe which was causing water damage to one wall. Coun Tierney also promised the team would become even more excited with the project once they have an opportunity to go round the building later this month and start seeing potential uses for the various rooms – from the vaults to the second floor office areas. “It really excites me to see the potential every time I go round the building – this is a real opportunity to create something special for the town and for the area as a whole. I want the Castle to be a reason for people to visit Wisbech – a must see attraction,” he said.

Working groups were set up to tackle individual schemes from tidying the extensive gardens to clearing rooms and redecorating. Local planning consultant Peter Humphrey was among the 21 to attend the meeting in Wisbech Town Council Chamber. Other volunteers included a professional gardener, an architect and people with business and social media skills as well as councillors. A tour of the building is being organised for the working party to enable them to see the task ahead for themselves and to allow an opportunity to start brainstorming ideas for the various rooms.

Suggestions already include making it an ideal wedding venue, introducing an escape room experience, opening up to local schools with rooms set out telling not only the building’s history but also that of the town. It was agreed to try to involve the College of West Anglia in the various aspects of the project such as potentially creating displays, possibly even helping with building work utilising construction students giving them hands-on experience, and also encouraging the college to use it as a venue for exhibitions. Another suggestion involves turning the Old Pump House into an old fashioned tea rooms, and using the gardens for corporate events.

Coun Tierney said: “This is an exciting project, it is going to take two years of hard graft and a lot of imagination, but it will be worth it. I just can’t wait to get properly started.” He added the working party will be the engine room for the project, doing the actual physical work, and for those keen to support but do not want to commit to working on the scheme a ‘friends of’ group is being set up, which will enable people to help in more flexible ways.

Read more at: https://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/21-are-for-turning-wisbech-castle-into-a-must-see-attraction-and-a-great-community-asset-1-8448805

Twenty-one people volunteer for the Wisbech Castle Working Party group taking on tasks from gardening to decorating and general maintenance.

Further Thoughts Wisbech Castle 

Further Thoughts Wisbech Castle 

The first meeting of the committees that will run the Castle have been scheduled for 3rd April.
 
Myself and a handful of Councillors, along with the Town Clerk, did a walkaround of the Castle this week, and we will be arranging the same opportunity for members of the Committee and Working Party very soon.
 
So having done the walkaround these are my observations:
 
Yes, it needs a lot of work. There are some areas which will need builders and craftsmen in fairly soon to address structural issues before they spread problems elsewhere in the buiding. But the the majority of the building really just needs what it appears to have lacked for some time – some tender loving care.
 
There are quite a lot of nooks and crannies that just need a LOT of elbow grease. Rooms and alcoves which are filled with junk, dirt and rubble – which need clearing, cleaning and painting. We can get on with this fairly quickly using volunteers while professionals are working on the more urgent and serious things that need addressing elsewhere in the building.
 
We were told “the keys aren’t very well labelled.” This was quite funny. There is a huge box of keys with no labels at all and loads of locked doors. It is going to take quite some time to work out which keys fit which locks and probably to replace locks in rooms where the keys are permanently adrift. But many rooms have more than one point of access so it’s not that we can’t get into them, only that routes in and out are presently a bit of a trek.
 
This is a truly incredible building. Walking around it, despite the fact that it has been allowed to fall into a poor condition, the opportunities and possibilities spring out at you from every side. It is really quite remarkable and I am very very excited about the potential to bring it back into full use.
 
My expectation is that the Working Party will be running with quite a few different ideas at once, and that different individuals will lead on different projects. Ideas are already flooding in and we’ve not even met yet.
 
It is absolutely vital that we get the urgent repairs done soon, both to protect the building from further deterioration and to bring parts of it back into use as soon as feasible.
 
It’s also vital that we don’t sneer at any ideas, no matter how wild, because this place is incredible and it can (and will) incorporate many different functions and services and interesting facets for the people of Wisbech long into the future. The Working Party will need to consider, work through and be creative at every turn. It will also need to be cost-effective, of course, and I make no apology for saying we hope that we will get lots of volunteers for the graft and for the planning and that we will rely on the goodwill of the people of the Town to help the whole project grow and prosper.
 
I don’t know where all this will lead. But I anticipate that it is going to eat my life for the next couple of years, and probably the lives of other people who are as passionate and excited about the project as I am. Do I think it will be a huge money-spinner? No. My first aim is to try and get it so that it’s able to stand on its own two feet, physically and financially. I know that’s not easy and previous folk who have run it have failed to do so. But that’s not a reason to be utterly negative.
 
To this day people are sad that we lost the Octagon, and the Canal and any number of other past assets. Without wanting to enter into that debate, the Castle Committee and Wisbech Town Council have acted to prevent the Castle joining that lost list.
 
Because what this is about, first and foremost, is protecting one of the Town’s most loved and memorable assets for future generations. I don’t think we could just stand by and let it go. I hope you agree.