Eton's oldest building to undergo £9million 'transformation'

ETONN 133999-1

The Cockpit is a timber-framed Grade II listed building located at 47-49 High Street

A Berkshire-based renovations specialist has been tasked with 'transforming' Eton's oldest building with a £9million refurbishment.

The Cockpit is a timber-framed Grade II listed building located at 47-49 High Street and has become a landmark of the town.

It was believed to have been built in the mid-15th century and is the oldest surviving structure in the area. It is known for being the home of tallow chandler William West, who began making candles at The Cockpit in 1661.

Fast forward to 2022 and Structural Repairs, a Berkshire-based repairs specialist, has been tasked with renovating the building by carrying out 'urgent and critical repairs'.

The structure is said to need 'extensive work' and 'niche expertise' to make it safe and secure and bring it back to its former glory. 

Kellie Botha, office manager at Structural Repairs, said: “As we’re based in Berkshire, we’ve long had a deep interest in The Cockpit, and we were thrilled when plans were announced to renovate the building.

"However, work on the project ceased, and last year The Cockpit sadly became one of 20 buildings to be added to the Heritage at Risk Register.

"Fortunately, The Cockpit was sold, and we’re thrilled to be working with the new owners to restore the building and protect an important part of Eton’s local history and heritage”. 

Over the years, The Cockpit has held many purposes. It once belonged to the College of St George, before being transformed into an inn, a tearoom, and even an abattoir.

Today, the building is occupied by William West Candles; a company that uses traditional processes to make candles with scents inspired by the local region. 

It is anticipated that a number of large-scale works will be necessary to renovate, repair, and restore The Cockpit, including brickwork repair, timber repair, and work to the traditional lime plaster and rendering.

Additional challenges are expected to emerge as the team will be required to implement solutions that align with heritage and conservation standards due to the building’s Grade II listing status.

Overall, the team predicts that repairs will take about a year to complete in full. 

William West Candles has announced plans to move all candle making into the building to honour the structure’s history, and begin hosting candle making classes and workshops to enable the public to experience what life may have been like for William West and other tallow chandlers back in the 1600s. 

To find out more about Structural Repairs, visit www.structuralrepairs.com   

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