Many of the buildings we work with have had an interesting life and the building at number 20 West in the Old Town of Hastings was no exception. What made this project more interesting and more challenging, was its size and its Grade 2 listed status.
Originally built, early in the 1800s, as a group of three one-up one-down homes, number 20 West Street was converted to a public house at some stage in the 19th Century. Evidence of the original one-up, one-down layout could be seen in the plan form and also in the way the joists were laid out to provide space for very steep and narrow stairs, more akin to a ladder than the stairs we are familiar with today. The front elevation, shown in the photograph above, also shows the original front door positions to the two units facing the beach and the photograph below shows the unit to the rear.
Our client wanted a house with an optimum provision of rooms, ideally three bedrooms. The layout suggested this would be relatively easy to achieve but we had to investigate the ‘story’ of the house to support our suggestion for the installation of a new stair to the conservation officer.
The images below show the open-plan living and dining space with views towards the beach. A new stair positioned at the end of the space provides access to the bedrooms at the front of the house. The original stair in the unit to the rear was retained to provide more private access to the master bedroom.
The open plan approach was taken to avoid providing cramped and gloomy spaces, an approach followed through to the kitchen, which can be seen through the opening in the separating wall in the photograph below. The opening allows physical and visual connection from kitchen to dining and living room whilst still providing separation.
The upper floor contains the master bedroom, with ensuite and its own access stair, and two further bedrooms, with shared shower room. The photographs below shows the view through the original connecting door to the master bedroom beyond and from the master bedroom to the shared shower room.
The project at 20 West Street was quite modest in size and was completed in a short time frame, due mainly to the efforts of a very focused developer client. The conversion will help secure the future of a key piece of Old Town urban fabric.