Friday, 30 November 2012

Mansion, Coniston, Cumbria

I've ignored reason and bought a lottery ticket because of this house. It's way over budget for the sort of properties I usually pick for 'wreck..' but too gorgeous to pass over. Anyway, I had my fingers crossed when I bought the ticket so that'll work.
It's not exactly a wreck - more faded and neglected, although a few more years of poor damp management is likely to do some damage.
Holywath House, in Coniston, is an 11-bedroom (yes, I did say 11) country house on an estate of over seven acres - served by its own hydro electricity system.
Part of the house dates from the sixteenth century and it's been owned by the Barratt and Hext family for 180 years.
The death of 92-year-old Major Hext, in 2010, led to a "Cash in the Attic" bonanza with his seven children putting around 600 weird and wonderful items up for auction.
Holywath has stunning original features - my particular favourite is the garden room, with these beautiful windows:


Lots of rooms have original panelling and fireplaces, including the stunning, 27ft by 19ft billiards room - imagine this as party room!


The Major served in France and Burma during the second world war but his retirement was rather more peaceful; he was a railway buff and built and for 50 years operated a miniature steam railway around the grounds of the house, much of which is still in place:


I found this video of a trip through the woods on Major Hext's railway, shot a couple of years before his death. The sound is especially wonderful:


Holywath House is on the market at £895k through agents Michael Hodgson. More details and pictures here.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Railway carriages for sale

There's a bloke who lives near me who renovates steam engines. The traction ones you can sit on, not the Thomas the tank-engine-sized things. He has a garden full of them.
Anyway, walking past that garden again made me think about vintage railway carriages and how easy it might be to buy a carriage 'wreck' to renovate and live in? Maybe on that cheap plot of land you've had your eye on?
They're not easy to find, and what's available changes from week to week so you need to check the sites  below regularly, but here are some examples.
C.A.R Services, a Shropshire business specialising in selling redundant train stock, currently has a gorgeous batch of carriages for sale. Including this restored, three car group of carriages (DMU Class 115), pictured top and below:


C.A.R also has this 1961 Mk 1 RBR (below). RBR means a restaurant buffet carriage which, in this case, means it also has a galley kitchen and pantry as well as the dining area - so a great space to work with.


Click to open the plans, below, to see what I mean.


Carriages average 66-feet-long, by just over nine-feet-wide.  C.A.R have useful information on their site, including this PDF guide to carriage types.
Carriage Exchange is an enthusiasts' site with a regularly updated list of sites selling train stock.
WNXX is also a train fan's with news, pictures, forums etc. It includes a private sales section for members to advertise their own stock. Right now, that includes this unrestored MK 2 carriage ("most of the copper has been robbed from the vehicle"):


The seller is looking for "offers in excess of scrap price" (about £2-£4k). Poor little Clarabel...
(PS: Fab inspirational photos of carriage restoration on RailHoliday's facebook page- click on 'Photos').

Friday, 2 November 2012

Auction oddballs - Bath, Luton and Hastings

Given the press coverage of the £750 house that sold for £14k, I thought I'd spin things around today and give you a flavour of what's happening with auction prices at the moment.
Auction properties are picking up a lot of interest. We're more willing to have a punt and hope for a bargain at auction, and that's reflected in the businesses and websites dedicated to property auctions.
However, don't assume auctions mean bargains - straightforward houses are generally selling for close to or within 20 percent of the guide price. And weirder properties, like the ones I've picked here, can sell for three to four times the guide price - as long as they're in the right location.
The pic at the top is a one room former telephone repeater station sold off by Luton Borough Council. I think 'dinky' sums it up, however it's in decent area of Luton and came with half-an-acre of land. The initial guide price started at £10k, that was later revised to £15-£20k and it finally sold for £62k.
Luton Council also sold this former store (below), with a surprisingly pleasant garden area, at auction. Again, good location and  it sold for £75k - three times the original guide price of £20k-£30k.


How about living in a cemetery? Below is the rather more imposing St James Cemetery Lodge, in leafy Bath.

At least this one is a proper house - two reception, kitchen, two beds and bath, plus a nice garden wrapped around two sides. It's beautiful building and the guide price of £60-£80k was a bargain for Bath. The guide price, or location, clearly attracted interest because it actually sold for £164k.
And what isn't selling well? Poor locations, real wrecks and big commercial buildings. Like this one - the old Observer Building, in Hastings (below).

The ex-print works is an enormous, eight storey building of over 41,000 sq ft and has stayed empty since 1989, while multiple owners have lodged various planning applications but never carried through to build. It was up for auction with a guide price of £200-£400k but failed to sell.  Details here and some rather scary Urbex pix here - but you can see the sea from its upper floors!