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Thursday, 26 July 2012 22:27

Boston Castle, Grade II Listed and completed in 1776 by the Earl of Effingham who was a keen supporter of the American Independence movement at the time, has undergone a £860,000 restoration under the auspices of 265-year-old building restoration firm William Anelay, Paul Hewitt Architects and other conservation consultants on behalf of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Friends of Boston Castle.

The Earl named the former shooting lodge in honour of the Boston Tea Party, the catalyst revolt against a tax on tea imposed by the British that led eventually to the formation of an independent United States of America. The Earl actually banned the drinking of tea in protest!

The 28 week refurbishment, carried out by Anelay, has been made possible by just over £590,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with the remaining funds coming from Rotherham MBC and Landfill Tax money from Biffaward. The project started in mid August 2011 with the handover taking place in March 2012. The venue was officially opened on the 4th July 2012, America’s Independence Day!

Semi-derelict and unused for the past decade, the castle is situated in Boston Park which is popular with walkers due in no small part to its fantastic views over the Rother and Don valleys.

The site has been transformed into a centre from which visitors can explore the heritage of Boston Castle and surrounding areas and is also an important resource for local education provision as well as playing host to cultural activities organised by the Council. A small outdoor amphitheatre, directly in front of the revamped entrance, is another exciting addition to the on-site facilities.

The restoration has turned the castle into an attractive event space, illuminated at night time, that is commercially available for hire for local groups and businesses.

Contracts Manager Chris Quinn explained: “There were four facets to our work here encompassing demolition and salvage, construction of a new two storey extension, refurbishment of the existing property and associated external works.

“We started off by demolishing the existing WC block and a Victorian extension attached to the main castle building. One remaining wall was left standing that will form part of the new extension.

“Rotherham Red Stone was reclaimed from the site and used for repairs to the original main building. New stone was used for the new build element which consists of a beam and block ground floor with concrete blocks used for the internal plastered and decorated walls complemented by a render and salvaged local stone exterior.

“The new build extension also includes an accessible platform lift and toilets. The existing Castle now has new timber staircases, doors, sash windows and other associated features installed topped off by a traditional timber roof.” added Chris.

The existing building was in a poor state of repair and subsequently all redundant fixtures, fittings and damaged structures were stripped out including a steelwork viewing platform that was placed on the roof of the castle during the second world war to provide a platform for fire watchers due to the castles elevated position over the town.

Chris went on “We made good and repointed all damaged and missing masonry on the external walls and renewed the timber roof structure together with the incorporation of a terne coated stainless steel roof covering.

“Mechanical and electrical services were then installed throughout the existing castle and new build,” added Chris.

Councillor Amy Rushworth, a Council Cabinet Member for Lifelong Learning and Culture and chair of the Boston Castle Project Board, commented: “The castle is of historic importance to Rotherham. It is a major landmark which deserved to be restored to its former glory. It will be hugely valuable in terms of educational activities.”

Janet Worrall from the Friends of Boston Castle and Parklands echoed those words: “The Friends group is delighted that after eight years of campaigning and some disappointments along the way, the restoration of Boston Castle is all complete.

“The story of this historically important building will not be forgotten. It has been Rotherham’s landmark since 1776 and has now been preserved for future generations,” she added.

Charles Anelay, a Director with William Anelay, commented: “William Anelay has worked on many historic venues around the UK similar in nature to Boston Castle where there is a great deal of pride and interest taken by local people.

“Our historic architecture must be able to engage with and inspire local communities. The refurbishment of Boston Castle has created a venue that everyone can be justifiably proud of and we’re pleased to have contributed to such an important project.”

It’s clear that Boston Castle has been transformed into a venue that will bring pleasure and enjoyment to visitors of all ages regardless of their choice of beverage!

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