Restoration group given keys to historic dockside building

Community activists are celebrating after being handed the keys to a historic building on a former Hull dock.

A charity set up to open up the 140-year-old Winding House on Victoria Dock will be applying for £250,000 funding to turn it into a community space, rather than see it knocked down or turned into flats.

The group, The Winding House Ltd, has been trying for the past eight years to make headway with its plans for the building, on one of Hull’s most popular estates, but previous bids for funding have failed.

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It is the only remaining building in the area that dates from the dock’s heyday.

After two years the group has finally secured a 25-year lease from Hull Council for the building and hopes to have unemployed people working to clear it out over the summer.

A planning application, approved by councillors meeting at Hull’s Guildhall on Wednesday, involves internal alterations, putting in new windows and installing a new roof, but does not propose enlarging the building, as a previous plan did in 2006.

The main chamber will be used for Sunday services by Victoria Dock Church, which currently uses the estate’s village hall, with the cafe serving people on the estate as well as those following the heritage trail. The charity has had peppercorn rent on the building in Southbridge Road since 2009.

Mr Wragg said: “Perseverance pays off. The council has sealed the roof and cleared out one chamber but there’s no access into the other chambers, so the first thing to do will be to clear out the pigeon muck and everything else, then turn it into community rooms, which the church is going to use and a community cafe.”

Secretary Debbie Burman said: “It has taken us two years to sign the lease to agree the terms and in my opinion it has been far too long. We will now be able to do work on the Winding House and keep it water-tight and make it more secure. We still feel strongly that the Winding House in its footprint is worth preserving.

“We couldn’t get it listed, but feel if we hadn’t done what we have done it would have been turned into flats and that was something people on Victoria Dock felt very strongly shouldn’t be done.”

She added: “We are going to approach all manner of organisations.

“We are not under any illusions, it will be a long, hard slog, but at least we have made a first step on the journey as we have signed the lease and we now have a legal entitlement to start putting things right in the building.”

Vicar of Victoria Dock Church Rev Jason Taylor said: “We want our own place for Sunday, but we genuinely want to improve the offer for the community on Victoria Dock, which lacks a bit of soul.

“I don’t mean there’s no faith or spiritual soul, but it lacks a bit of community soul.

“It will preserve a wonderful building and my hope is that it will be a place where people can gather, meet friends and access services.

“My dream is that when people think they need a breakfast club, medical advice, benefits advice, the Winding House becomes the go-to centre for the Dock.

“We need support from everybody on the Dock; we need people to muck in as much as they can and hopefully we will end up with a really lovely facility that people want to use.”

The Winding House was built to house a steam engine to operate huge chains that hauled ships up the slipway for repairs.

In the 1970s it was used to break up ships as well as a submarine, with the metal sent to the smelters in Sheffield for recycling.

The engine was removed in the 1950s and is now preserved at Hull Marina, but Mr Wragg said: “It will be a big job and hopefully when everything is finished we will bring the engine back and out it in front.”

If people can help to fund the restoration, they should contact Graham Wragg on [email protected] or 0794 0163137