116 High Street Boston, Lincolnshire

Having nearly been lost forever, this wonderful building has been saved. Its loss would have left a big, gloomy hole in Boston’s historic streets, but its revitalisation inspires confidence that Boston’s heritage is vital to its future.

Where: Lincolnshire

Years on register: 1998-2012

Varied past and bleak future

A townhouse, a bank, a Diocesan Home for ‘fallen women’, a potato merchant’s establishment. 116 High Street Boston has had a varied past, but its future looked very bleak indeed after 25 years of vacancy and neglect.

This impressive Grade II* listed building was built as a private residence during the early 18th century. Boston was Lincolnshire’s Georgian boomtown. To service the bustling port’s growing commercial importance William Garfit established Lincolnshire’s first bank at 116 High Street during 1754, and subsequently expanded to the adjacent 114.

The Garfit family moved on in the 1890s and 116 changed hands several times until a potato merchant moved in. This led to several unsympathetic changes, such as concreting over the garden, but the problems became much worse when the building became vacant. It suffered vandalism and theft. The roof was damaged, letting water in and causing rampant wet and dry rot. Poor past structural alterations compounded by a lack of maintenance threatened to pull the building apart.

 

II6 High Street Boston before repairs
II6 High Street Boston before repairs – a dangerous building that attracted anti-social behaviour and blighted the area © Historic England

Direct action and compulsory purchase

Unfortunately, the owner did not make the necessary urgent repairs to save this important building, so, with Historic England’s backing Boston Borough Council took direct action. First an Urgent Works Notice was served, allowing the installation of structural scaffolding to keep the building standing. Eventually the Council compulsorily purchased 116.

Building preservation trust gets funding and community support

Following compulsory purchase Heritage Lincolnshire, a building preservation trust, took on the building in 2008.

With considerable financial and technical support from Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Architectural Heritage Fund, and additional funding from the European Development Fund and John Paul Getty Jr Trust, the Trust began a programme of repairs that would lead to new community uses for 116 High Street.

Local residents and members of the High Street Neighbourhood Group helped to build support for the project, wishing to see a notorious eyesore and magnet for anti-social behaviour transformed into a building that Boston could be proud of.

116 High Street Boston following repairs
116 High Street Boston following repairs © Historic England DP160254

How we made a difference

Historic England not only provided a substantial grant for repairs, but also brought authority and technical advice that gave all partners confidence that this difficult project could succeed.

William Garfit House

Even after securing the necessary funding, the trust had to overcome many technical challenges during the 15 months of repairs and construction work. The building really was on the brink of loss.

Having managed the rescue, Heritage Lincolnshire passed the building on to the Lincolnshire Community Foundation who have encouraged rental by social and community enterprises, such as the charity Age Concern UK. Now know as William Garfit House, the Georgian building and the newly restored green space to the rear are real assets to the community.

Without the level of support received from Historic England (then English Heritage) the project would not have been completed. An urgent works grant was also crucial in preventing collapse at an early stage of the process, preventing further deterioration and loss of historic fabric. Historic England were a supportive and flexible partner, with staff working collaboratively with Heritage Lincolnshire and the team to deliver the conservation of the building.

Liz Bates, CEO Heritage Lincolnshire

Get involved

Heritage Lincolnshire and its Building Preservation Trust work hard to preserve and protect Lincolnshire’s stock of historic buildings.

Find out more 

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