Ambitious plan to rebuild bombed Dutch House
IT stood in a prominent position in Bristol city centre for almost 300 years. And now it has been proposed that the time has come to rebuild the Dutch House on the corner of Castle Park.
The original black and white timber-framed building on the junction with High Street and Wine Street was destroyed in November 1940 following the first blitz on the city
But Nigel Howe, of Oak Frame Training Forum, believes that rebuilding the Dutch House on the site where the former Bank Of England building currently stands could be the ideal project for regenerating the site and giving apprentices the chance to hone their specialist building skills.
Plans for the redevelopment of the area came to a halt due to the recession and the agreement with the preferred developers Deeley Freed and freeholders Bristol City Council expired in December.
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Proposals made to redevelop the site back in 2006 were unpopular because they involved building on part of the green space.
Mr Howe believes he may have the solution for the site by turning back the clocks to the way it looked between 1676 and 1940.
The Oak Frame Training Forum is a national heritage training group offering special apprenticeships.
The first ten apprentices are currently going through the programme learning about traditional framing carpentry techniques. Mr Howe believes that rebuilding the Dutch House could be the ideal opportunity for the Bristol-based scheme to give the special apprentices the chance to work on a major project.
The timber framing apprenticeship is run alongside others to help train people in a range of heritage and traditional skills for building repairs and rebuilding old structures.
Mr Howe said: "I live in Bristol and we are involved in local projects and would like to set up a training centre in Bristol for these national apprenticeships.
"Bristol wants to be the Green Capital of Europe but rather than having a little eco house I would like us to rebuild the Dutch House and St Peter's Church on the edge of Castle Park.
"Until the Dutch House was destroyed it was the key landmark for Bristol city itself and there is something pretty special about rebuilding a fine oak timber building.
"It would last longer than a lot of modern buildings.
"This site is ripe for restoration. There is a building there ready to be demolished but if we are going to put something back lets put back something that was a wonderful structure."
Mr Howe is now looking for financial backing to see if he can make his idea a reality.
"This is a case of putting the idea out there and running with it.
"This could be a fine building but also could be our training centre but also for wattle and daub and other traditional building skills."
Stephen Wickham, the vice chairman of the Bristol Civic Society said: "We would express guarded enthusiasm for the project but would want to know more about it."
Bristol City Council confirmed that there are currently no plans for the development of the site, since the exclusivity agreement ran out in December.
A spokesman said the market at the moment cannot produce a "viable development scheme" and that the authority remained the "facilitator for any future development".