The renovation of Abbey Mill in Winchester, which will soon be home to Hugh Fearnley Whitingstall’s new restaurant, is well underway.
The partially listed mill, which dates back to the 18th century, is owned by Winchester City Council and will be tenanted by River Cottage; Hugh’s ever-burgeoning company.
Gentle Consulting, a construction management company, are the principal contractors for the restoration of Abbey Mill. We spoke to Colin Bates, the firm’s Construction Manager, to find out how works were progressing.
Works on site began in September 2013 and are due to complete in May 2014; despite being delayed for a few weeks due to bad weather and flooding Colin told us that the £1 million development has run smoothly. He added:
“We manage, on behalf of Winchester City Council, a variety of package contractors including a general builder, ground works contractor, decorator, mechanical and electrical contractors, landscaping contractor, underpinning and piling contractors, as well as overseeing the architects.
“Our role is to carry out numerous structural works because the building was in a bad state of structural repair. These works include roofing works, a small extension, new staircases, piling, part decoration and general strengthening of the building. We will also install the WC’s using specialist joinery techniques.
“After this is completed in May we will hand over to River Cottages who will employ their own shop fitters to finalise the restaurant.”
The venue straddles a tributary of the River Itchen and offers impressive views of the water. When completed the three-storey restaurant will boast an external dining area with space for 44 covers; this space overlooks the river and provides diners with a picturesque setting to enjoy their meal.
The Lower Ground Floor comprises a reception, a delicattessan which will sell River Cottage’s very own produce, an open range kitchen and a dining area with room for 35 diners. The floor also contains food stores, preparation areas, wash up spaces and cold rooms.
On the Upper Ground Floor diners will be greeted by the restaurants bar and a further dining area which holds space for 56 diners. As well as this, the floor contains a glass wash area, a cold cellar, WC’s and bathrooms. The First Floor holds the staff space including changing rooms, offices and meeting rooms.
Colin Bates of Gentle Consulting added:
“It is a very prestigious project and so we are very pleased to be involved with it. We have an ongoing relationship with Winchester City Council and so we have an interest in finishing on time and in budget for them.
“The building is extremely interesting. We have worked with Winchester City Council’s Conservation Department as the building is partially listed. The front of the building holds an ornamental portico which overlooks the river; refurbishment works were carried out on this feature including roof repairs, specialist stonework and redecoration.”