New lease of life for former Mess Hall in Second World War

Peter Bridgewater at Alfriston garage developement (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170921-100850008
Peter Bridgewater at Alfriston garage developement (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170921-100850008

A garage workshop in Alfriston which was used as a Mess Hall for Canadian and British soldiers in the Second World War has been given a new lease of life by a developer.

Peter Bridgewater of PGB Build has converted the former garage and workshop in the village’s Star Lane to a stunning development of five houses and a walker’s bothy holiday let within the Walkers Rest development, the majority traditionally crafted from brick, flint and slate.

Peter Bridgewater at Alfriston garage developement (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170921-100920008

Peter Bridgewater at Alfriston garage developement (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170921-100920008

Peter said he had enjoyed finding out about the history of the village garage.

“The barn is built on the South Downs Way, the ancient pilgrims’ path running from Winchester to Eastbourne and it was the idea of walking that led to us in applying to the South Downs National Park Authority for residential development to include a walker’s bothy in our plans: affordable overnight accommodation for up to two people, walking or cycling the South Downs Way, with a maximum of three nights.

“The original barn was an attractive flint and brick barn beneath a slate roof with several phases of development, alteration and addition over many years - but it poor condition.

“The garage owners’ house opposite was built in the 1960s and extended in the 1970s.

Peter Bridgewater at Alfriston garage developement (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170921-100819008

Peter Bridgewater at Alfriston garage developement (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170921-100819008

“The exact date of the main barn is not known, as flint barns of this type are vernacular. It’s probably early 19th Century.

“Cartographic research reveals a barn on the site on the Tithe Map 1843, together with a range of buildings to the north of the site. The Ordnance Survey Map, 1899 shows a small structure added to the west of the main barn. The 1925 Ordnance Survey details significant expansion of the site, with a removal of the northernmost range of buildings.

“In the 1920s it became a motor car workshop. During the Second World War, it was used as a Mess Hall and entertainments venue for British and Canadian soldiers.”

Peter said the garage owners were John and Diana Lower, who ran the garage as a family business for 50 years until John retired. At one time it had MOT servicing, general motor maintenance, petrol sales, roadside recovery and taxi service.

Changes to regulations meant they stopped selling petrol about 20 years ago.

Peter has been developing houses for the last 20 years and prides himself on small scale developments with attention to design, detail and quality.

Two of his developments have won Sussex Heritage Awards - a barn conversion in Milton Street and a new house in Meads village.

The homes at Walkers Rest are currently being marketed by Reid & Dean in Eastbourne’s Cornfield Road.