The Stables: Reworking a Grand Design
It’s been nearly a year since we started work on our building project The Stables: Reworking a Grand Design. The new Biomass boiler system is operational, the Visitor Reception building is up and running and the new Carriage House Café is open. Our biggest building project to date is now coming to an end. This project has been focused on improving the visitor facilities in the Stables Courtyard. Transforming these facilities has been complex as we have worked carefully and sympathetically within the historic buildings and landscape whilst ensuring the new developments are right for Attingham and what you, our visitors need and want when you visit.
Background to the project
After many years of planning and raising funds the £3,000,000 The Stables: Reworking a Grand Design building project got underway in spring 2016 and has involved building a new Visitor Reception, production kitchen, servery and a series of additional seating areas for the Carriage House Café, and building and installing a new biomass boiler district heating system to serve the Courtyard and Mansion. This has been a vital investment in our visitor facilities—they’re now truly fit for purpose for the 466,000 visitors a year coming to Attingham.
Prior to building work taking place improvements to visitor facilities in and around the Stables Courtyard had already been made including, hard surfacing the over-flow car park to increase parking on site, installing new toilets in the north end of the Stables, and moving the Visitor Reception to a temporary site and changing the visitor route into the courtyard to improve ‘bottle necks’ from visitors arriving and leaving.
Biomass Boiler System
Our new biomass district heating system was built as part of this project and installed during spring and summer 2016. It became fully operational at the end of September 2016 and now heats the Mansion and Stables Courtyard buildings.
The biomass boiler system building is joined to the back of the new Visitor Reception. Thanks to our new system we’re no longer using 51,000 litres of oil every year and we’ve removed 3 oil tanks and 4 oil boilers from the site. We’ve placed the use of oil with sustainable woodchip from the estate. This saves 129 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it will save us around £18,000 on fuel bills every year too. We can use these savings on our conservation work at Attingham to keep it a special place, for ever, for everyone.
A new Visitor Reception
Our new Visitor Reception was officially opened by Director General of the National Trust, Dame Helen Ghosh on Friday 31 March. The new Visitor Reception has a much wider canopied entrance area for visitors arriving at Attingham, meaning we can ‘fast track’ regular visitors and National Trust members though with a minimum of waiting, and a larger ‘reception’ area to serve non-members and to help orientate and provide information to those new to Attingham.
The new Carriage House
The new Carriage House Café includes a new production kitchen, meaning that for the first time hot lunches can be served, as well as providing a wider choice of hot and cold food, savoury snacks and sweet treats. The seating area has been extended with a series of spaces within the historic building to seat 150 people indoors with an outside area seating a further 220. Different counters inside the new café will provide a quick ‘grab and go’ service for visitors wanting to take refreshments with them on their visit, as well as a main counter serving the full menu.
Over the next few months we’ll be finishing up work in a few areas. We’ll be moving the Stables Shop back to its original place in the Courtyard, so that the Bookshop can then move back to the Groom’s Rooms—with the addition of a ‘garden’ shop on part of the ground floor. The Shop and Bookshop had been temporarily relocated to different areas in the Courtyard during the project, but will return to their original spaces at the end of May.
Work will also begin to extend the Dog Walkers’ Rest, to include the adjacent two stables ‘bays’. The Dog Walkers’ Rest is a seating area adjacent to the Carriage House where dogs and owners are able to sit undercover and enjoy refreshment from the Carriage House Café (assistance dogs are welcome in the Café). For any dog walkers visiting by themselves, they will be able to tie their dogs up at a ‘10 minute tie-up’ point in the Stables while going into the café to order their refreshments. Additional shelter over the outside seating area of the Dog Walkers’ rest has already been installed - two large ‘jumbrellas’ now cover this area offering shelter on the colder days and shade on the warmer ones.
We hope to have the remained of the work finished by the end of May.
Thank you for your support while the building work has been taking place—we hope you enjoy the ‘new’ Stables Courtyard!
The significance of the Stables
The Stables is a Grade II* listed building and was designed by George Steuart, for the 1st Lord Berwick in the 1780s, and as such we’ve carefully balanced the improvement of visitor facilities with the conservation needs of what have been described as ‘one of the finest stable blocks belonging to the National Trust’.
In order to carry out the project we’ve been working with Historic England, Natural England and Shropshire Council in order to ensure we have made the plans sensitive to both the buildings and the landscape.
Want to find out more?
For more information about the 'The Stables: Reworking a Grand Design' project please contact the property on 01743 708170 where you can be directed to a member of the project team.