Three shop fronts on Bedford’s High Street have now been restored to their former glory.
The work has been carried out through Bedford Borough Council’s Bedford High Street Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
The completed projects are Rajkot, Newsfayre and Anglia Cars, at numbers 123-125 High Street, Golden Aces Amusements at 119-121, and Coffee with Art at 82.
These shops have achieved the first full shop front reinstatements using THI grant funding, as part of a package of measures to rejuvenate the High Street.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “These restored shop fronts look fantastic and reveal the impact that this heritage-based regeneration project will have on Bedford High Street.
“In the week that other major regeneration projects get underway for the new bus station and new riverside public space, it is great to see the results being achieved by local businesses using our High Street THI project.”
In 2013, the northern end of High Street was the focus of restoration activity, with works completed to repair the exterior of three buildings, vacant floor space brought back into use and shop fronts restored to their former glory.
The shop front of Golden Aces closely replicates its previous Victorian one, captured in a photograph of the property published in 1906.
The hand-painted signage on the side of the building revives a faded High Street sign, which was discovered on close inspection.
Coffee with Art is a new café on the High Street that has transformed a previously neglected Grade II listed property. The shop front and external decoration reinstates the look and feel of the property based on historic photographic evidence from Bedford’s archives. The new tenants have given their imagination free rein on the interior.
The co-owner of Coffee with Art, Ian Tarvit, said: “Linking in with the THI has enabled us to provide a stunning new shop front as reminiscent of the original shop front from the 1920s. This has helped improve the look of the High Street which is important for all businesses and has also given us the foundation to produce a unique and stunning coffee shop.”
The Rajkot restaurant, Newsfayre and Anglia Cars, which all share one shop front but display separate signage, now exhibit a gleaming, restored shop front, complete with its traditional pilasters and corbels. The first floor has also been converted to residential accommodation, making good use of the empty floor space and helping to bring more people and life to the High Street.
The co-owner of Newsfayre, Samat Lakha, said: “We are grateful for the work and so happy with the results, it looks beautiful. We enjoyed working with everyone involved in the project and our customers also followed our progress and say they love the way the building looks now.”
The THI team is currently working with numerous other property owners and with more grant applications awaited, 2014 is shaping up to be a busy year for the THI project on the High Street.
For more information on THI projects, and to be kept up-to-date on their progress, visit www.bedford.gov.uk