Eden, Cumbria, The Lake District – A natural choice for business

Heritage work under way in Alston town centre


20 July 2016

Work has started on the restoration of the first property in the Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme, which is a result of £1.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and support from Eden District Council and Alston Moor Parish Council.

Ryder House on front street is undergoing repairs to its traditional lime pointing and the original historic shopfront is being restored to its former glory. 

Ryder House is the first of eleven architecturally-important properties on Front Street & Market Street within Alston’s conservation area to benefit from the scheme.  There is also a varied programme of heritage events within the community alongside more specific skills and training opportunities over the next four years.  In March 32 people enjoyed an evening seminar with guest speaker Roger Curtis, Historic Scotland’s Technical Research Manager, on repairing, maintaining and improving traditional buildings which proved to be very popular, similar events are planned for the coming year.

Jennifer Campbell (Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme Project Manager) said “It’s fantastic to see actual improvements to the properties starting to happen, a further four owners are progressing with their applications and will also be on site soon.  This is a great start towards enhancing the historic townscape of Alston by restoring and reinstating historic architectural features and details to many properties.”

Ryder House was built around 1860 and was owned by Thomas Bramwell jeweller and silversmith, who was born in Garrigill in 1835, he opened a watchmakers and jewellers shop at the property.  He became a very popular photographer and in the early 1890s he opened a portrait studio in the rear of the premises. Thomas Bramwell’s photographs include various town and landscape views which he sold in the shop, many also being made into postcards. Thomas died in 1907 and his son ran the business until 1925 when the premises were then taken over by J.H Hodgkinson, ‘The Chemist’.

Various historic photographs show the shop front window at Ryder House divided into three curved top panes and can still be seen today, much of the present shop joinery is original and will be repaired and reinstated by a specialist carpenter thus retaining it as part of the townscape for future generations.  The photographs also show a decorative feature which has sadly been lost over the years, an ornate carved console bracket topped off with a finial at each end of the shop front. These finials are historically important and a specialist wood carver will be commissioned to reproduce these carved console brackets and finials to accurately reinstate this unusual and skilled carpentry.  The work at Ryder house in due to complete in the autumn.