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House damaged in Rushmere blaze had been sold to Essex property firm

PUBLISHED: 18:25 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:25 31 October 2017

The burnt remains of a derelict thatched cottage in The Street in Rushmere St Andrew.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The burnt remains of a derelict thatched cottage in The Street in Rushmere St Andrew. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Contractors who had worked on the conservation of a derelict Rushmere building have expressed their sadness after it was damaged in a thatch roof fire last week.

Fire in a derelict thatched house on The Street, near Humber Doucy Lane. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING Fire in a derelict thatched house on The Street, near Humber Doucy Lane. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

More than 60 firefighters tackled the blaze which struck at the two-storey building in The Street, Rushmere St Andrew, on October 24, which took two hours to bring under control.

The home had been empty for more than a decade after owner Norah Baldwin died aged 94. Her husband, Ipswich butcher Charles Baldwin had died 10 years prior.

Alan Powell, 74, of Beech Road in Rushmere St Andrew, used to look after all of Mr Baldwin’s properties in Ipswich, and had been helping renovate it in 1994.

He said: “It’s such a shame it’s gone.

“Charles was very proud of the house. It was very old fashioned.

“I felt quite sad actually because he used to do his garden, he didn’t have a gardener in. A lot of hard work has gone into that house.

“I was shocked, I thought ‘god almighty’.”

Mr Powell said the homeowner Mr Baldwin was a “lovely bloke, a real eccentric”.

Mrs Baldwin left the house and surrounding land to a consortium of charities, which had aimed to develop the area for 14 homes.

However, campaign groups in the village objected to the plans because the land was due to remain green space, and the destruction it would have on trees which had been planted in memory of loved ones.

However, it has now emerged that the charities have since sold the land on to a private property development firm based in Essex in July 2016.

A spokeswoman from Suffolk Coastal District Council said: “We are sad to see the loss of this building. Although the building has sat empty for over a decade, the protection of it, along with the adjacent property, has been an ongoing concern by our conservation and environmental health teams.

“The recent fire has not resulted in the loss of a listed building but does represent the diminution of the stock of fine heritage assets in the district which is very regrettable.”

The district council confirmed it had already threatened enforcement action to the new owners in a bid to prevent further vandalism and weathering.

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