What’s under the scaffolding?
The transformation of the iconic building at 32 Waterloo Street, the former home of the Mercury office, into the new head office for Weston Town Council, marks a significant moment in our town’s history. This building, a beacon on the Boulevard, which stands as a testament to our heritage and the ongoing commitment of Weston Town Council to preserving it.
The elaborate Dutch Baroque style of the building, infused with Spanish architectural influences, reflects the work of Victorian architect Hans Fowler Price. Price’s sketches from Spain and Europe heavily influenced his designs, making 32 Waterloo Street a unique landmark in Weston’s architectural heritage. The Grade Two listing underscores its importance, not just locally but as a prized asset of national heritage. Faced with the threat of losing the building’s roof and gables due to water and wind damage, and eroded timbers, extensive remedial and structural work has been undertaken. The dedication of the team, including John West, Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, was crucial in this endeavour. They meticulously mapped the structure, replicated stone details, and rejuvenated the building with new life while preserving its original character.
A notable addition to the restoration comes in the form of two new statues adorning the front of the building. Because they were so badly eroded research was undertaken to see what the statues might have looked like. A1 Camera club researched the South West Heritage Trust Archive for any drawings by Hans Price. Despite extensive research in Taunton, Weston library and the Royal Institute of British Architects little was found. The artistic skills of the master masons have created a delightful pair of replacement statues: a Victorian boy and girl.
The significance of 32 Waterloo Street extends beyond architecture. It represents a piece of our collective memory and a touchstone for the community’s identity. The building’s restoration is a visible symbol of Weston Town Council and North Somerset Council’s commitment to honouring and preserving our town’s unique streetscapes and architectural heritage.
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, chairman of the working party said “As you stroll along the Boulevard, look up and appreciate the rich tapestry of architecture that defines our town. The rejuvenated 32 Waterloo Street stands as a reminder of our past and a beacon for the future, inspiring us to protect the legacy that makes Weston-super-Mare truly special. We look forward to the removal of scaffolding and full appreciation of this wonderful edifice.”