By Connor Steel
GOSPORT TOWN CENTRE is showing a splash of colour this winter after work was completed on restoring the exteriors of six historic buildings over recent months, with another four buildings set to be revamped later this year in joint project between the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme and councillors.
This project was successfully launched in summer 2022 and work is nearly complete on its flagship scheme; focusing on the Royal Arms Hotel’s distinctive facade on Stoke Road. The Grade II listed building has had its decorative wrought iron and stained-glass canopy restored after many years, along with smaller renovations.
Historically a pub used by submariners on shore leave before closing early in the century, the building rear is now supported accommodation for young people with disabilities. The original bar area at the front of the site is likely to be transformed into a café or community spaces for those in Gosport, whilst decorative plastering work looks set to finish later in the year when it is warm enough to use specialist lime mortar on the exterior.
The funding was secured to action this restoration through the HSHAZ programme, which is led by Gosport Borough Council and Hampshire Cultural Trust. A further £1.86 million of Government financing was given from Historic England, with the four year project looking to transform high streets and provide opportunities.
Five other buildings have further received work in the Town Centre; which covers important brickwork repair, new flashings, new windows, new glass leadwork, restored paintwork, new doors and new signs. This does include two sites on Stoke Road; confirmed to be Blitz Photography and Lowery’s Property Sales & Lettings.
Later this year a total of four other buildings on Stoke Road will receive a similar revamp as the local council hopes to improve turnout to an often quiet shopping area. This have been confirmed as being TD Wargames & Models, Masons Barber Shop, the New Bengal and a currently vacant building address of 29 Stoke Road.
Three stores on North Cross Street have received this work over recent months; which have been named as the Goodwin Studio, Electro-Trade and the Bridal Hall. Exterior signs have further been placed on 33 Green Bottles, Team Crunk and Dimensions Different; the whole selection of local businesses seeing visual boosts.
More stores situated in the High Street area and North Cross Street are set to receive fresher signage under the scheme, with applications closed for the Historic England-funded shopfront grants. However the council are planning to use its own generated funds to make around £200,000 of grants available in the near future.
Furthermore the HSHAZ team is working with architects, sign-writers, and business owners to help increase take-up of traditional hand-painted signs, in a bid to brighten up and enhance the character of the local town centre. Businesses can enquire about signage by emailing email@example.com to see if they can support.
A full quote from council leader Peter Chegwyn and Historic England’s HSHAZ lead can be explored via this online link; which also features individual photographs of all revamps across the Town Centre. Readers may also visit www.gosport.gov.uk for further updates or breaking announcements on the ongoing developments.
PICTURED BY GOSPORT BOROUGH COUNCIL: The front entrances to 33 Green Bottles on North Cross Street, the craft bar being one of many local businesses to receive new signage under new revamp project.