I should like to comment on your article in the JEP on 27 March regarding our plans for Millbrook Lodge. Your article may give the wrong impression to those who don’t have the relevant facts. Rather than “Tear down” the building, Jersey Water are trying to save this important historic building by painstakingly moving it, stone by stone, to a new location. The article also gives the impression that Jersey Water exercises poor stewardship of the heritage assets in its ownership, this accusation is unfair and unfounded. Over the past 10 -15 years Jersey Water has saved a number of important historic buildings including Blampied Farm, Tesson Mill, Le Mourier Cottages, Le Mourier Farm and Sycamore Cottage by working closely with the planning department and private individuals wishing to take on their restoration and refurbishment. This was all achieved at no cost to the public or Jersey Water’s customers. Sadly the case of Millbrook Lodge is substantially more complex, meaning that a different solution has had to be developed.
Millbrook Lodge was built between 1890 and 1900 at the entrance to our depot in water works valley and has been uninhabited since 1996. Unfortunately, half of the building is built on rock and the other half is built on fill material which is up to 9 metres deep. Since the date of construction, due to the variable ground conditions the building has suffered serious differential settlement and the building has literally ‘broken it’s back’. This has caused significant structural weakness; the floors have a 1in10 slope, the doors and windows are now out of square. In short, the building is in a dangerous structural condition. This sad fate was determined from the day the building was constructed over 110 years ago and is not attributable to neglect by Jersey Water.
The significant structural problems of the building and the variable ground conditions mean that the cost of restoring the structure in such a way as to guarantee protection against further ground movement is simply prohibitive. The problems with the building are compounded by the fact that the house is located at the entrance of our busy depot, a location which is unsuitable for a domestic family sized dwelling.
To overcome the seemingly intractable problems associated with restoring the building in situ, Jersey Water has developed a carefully considered proposal to save Millbrook Lodge by faithfully reconstructing it on a site very close to its current location, at the head of Millbrook Reservoir. Our proposal, which is supported by the Constable of St Lawrence, has significant benefits as it maintains the important historical link between Millbrook Reservoir and the building, the house would be given a new lease of life, free from the risk of further structural damage and maintaining a much needed unit of family accommodation. Importantly, this will be achieved at relatively little or no cost to Jersey Water’s customers and the States of Jersey (as our majority shareholder).
We recognise that moving the building may erode some of the structure’s historical integrity but we firmly believe that this is a relatively small price to pay if it is the only practical means by which this building can actually be saved and continue to provide visual attraction and a reference to the Island’s and Jersey Water’s important industrial heritage in Waterwork’s Valley.
Howard N Snowden
Managing Director & Engineer
Sent to Editor on 28 March 2014
The letter to the Editor was published in the Jersey Evening Post on Monday 31st March 2014