An unusual property in a lost jewel – that’s how Tim Roake describes his early-Victorian home packed with period features but remodelled and updated.
He has lived in the semi-detached four-storey property for three years, occupying the ground and lower-ground floor with three of his four children – Kerenza, 18, James, 15, and Ben, 12. As the owner of this apartment, he is the lease-holder for the two properties above him although they are completely separate.
“It’s a unique house in Berwick there’s nothing like it in the town. I bought it because I was single and wanted somewhere for my children,” said Tim. “The house was converted to flats in 1964 and I think the lower front rooms had three huge oil tanks in with boilers.
“I thought I would convert these and embarked on a larger-than-expected project. The lower-ground floor now has a bedroom about 5m x 4,5m, with natural light through a side window and two front windows.
“There’s a brand new bathroom and walk-in shower room, as well as a second sitting room which we’re using as a bedroom for Ben. Beyond is a utility room and beyond that, I’ve put in a door, is the cellar which is used for storage – it has all the paraphernalia of a family of four.
“A brand new boiler was put in just last week which has made a huge difference to the energy efficiency. Would you believe we had an old electric boiler with four cylinders which ran at 3kWh hours each, it was suicidally expensive – the EPC went from a G to a D!”
Tim thinks the house was built around 1840 and it has lots of period features, such as working shutters, deep skirting boards, bay windows, cornicing and coving. His favourite room is the sitting room.
“It’s 6m x 5m and south-facing with a marble fireplace and big double-glazed windows, high ceilings and skirting boards and coving. It’s only an electric fire but it’s capable of being converted to an open fire or wood-burning stove. It’s very attractive.”
Mains gas is not laid on to the street but Tim has paid to be connected up to the supply. “It required about 60m of 64ml pipe from the road into the house,” he said. Other big changes include the existing driveway being diverted; instead of running straight up to the imposing pillared front steps, it now turns at a right angle from the side fence. It has also been gravelled. This move has opened up the garden which Tim has been working on recently. “I have planted some cedar trees, a blue-green and a more conifer-like cedar, which will grow to 20-odd metres over time, and also planted a magnolia to give a bit of privacy and a beautiful red oak which is going to be absolutely spectacular.”
Tim is a teacher and has just finished a temporary contract in Newcastle: “The house is situated a five-minute walk from the station linking Newcastle and Edinburgh – it’s only a 45-minute train journey and 50 minutes to Edinburgh. We’re equi-distant between Edinburgh and Newcastle.
“Berwick is a little jewel that has been lost. You can do anything in Berwick that you can do in the city, maybe not as many restaurants or theatres, but apart from that we’ve got all the water sports in Berwick, we’ve got the sea, the coast, beach and forest walks, forests, cycling, mountain biking, fishing and boat trips on the Tweed and hill walking in the Borders.”
Although he has enjoyed his time in Berwick, and still owns another property in the town, the attractions of the big city may prove too tempting. “I don’t know where I’m moving to but I do like Newcastle,” he said.
- 26 Castle Terrace, Berwick, is for sale at £350,000 through Smiths Gore, tel: 01289 333030.