March 8 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Just before the BBC gardening show Ground Force hit our screens, builder Tommy Walsh bought a derelict Victorian cottage in Great Dunmow as his first development project.
But due to the success of the programme – which also starred Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock – it took him 10 years to transform the Grade II listed building.
Along with the help of his father, Tommy, who designed a garden for Nelson Mandela while on the show, put in the hours whenever he could and rebuilt around 60 per cent of the cottage, in The Close.
He said: “I’d been working as a builder for other people for years but decided to do a renovation project for myself. When the building was initially sold to a developer in the 80s he’d wanted to demolish this part and turn it into parking, so it was in a sorry state.
“I bought it at auction for £29,000 and I was determined to keep its period details and its quality.
“But then Ground Force came along things were so busy and I remember me and my dad would come here and do little pieces of the renovation whenever we had a spare moment.”
“We probably rebuilt about 60% of the house and when the heritage people came to inspect it they said it was an improvement on the original!”
Tommy and his family had planned to use the cottage - which is the former schoolhouse to the Victorian workhouse designed by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott – as a weekend home but due to other commitments he has rented it out.
However, the three-bedroom property is now on the market for £299,950 with Mullucks Wells estate agents. They can be contacted on 01371 872117.