Coventry’s “Toy Museum” being restored by Midland Conservation
A project to bring a much-loved historic building in Coventry city center back to life, known for decades as the ‘Toy Museum’, has begun work on the site.
Coventry Historic Trust secured grants of £180,000 from Historic England and £100,000 from the Architectural Heritage Fund to start the next chapter in the story of Whitefriars’ Gate in Much Park Street.
Conservation and restoration specialists Midland Conservation Ltd. was commissioned to carry out the initial work on the Grade II* listed building, which consists of repairing the roof, exposed stonework, windows and doors, and securing the structure of the building.
The five-month restoration program is underway as part of a larger project to convert Whitefriars’ Gate into bespoke visitor accommodation and offices as part of existing planning and listed building permission for Coventry City Council.
Whitefriars Gate is 14e Century postern gate of Whitefriars Monastery, the Carmelite convent located next to the London Road ring road roundabout.
On the Dissolution of the Monasteries the gatehouse together with the main convent buildings became the property of John Hales in 1538. The gatehouse was adapted to provide two separate cottages. A rear extension was built in the early 18e century with two other cottages including a weaver’s attic.
Much of Park Street suffered bomb damage during the Second World War, and the other surviving medieval buildings were moved to Spon Street, leaving Whitefriars gatehouse isolated in that part of the street.
The building’s last resident was Ron Morgan, a potter and former councilman. His love of children’s toys led him to open the building as a museum from 1973 to 2007, and the building is still affectionately known to many in Coventry as the ‘Toy Museum’.
Graham Tait, assistant manager of the Historic Coventry Trust, said the adjacent part of the building was damaged by fire in 2009 and was later repaired, but the building had been empty and unused since.
He said: “We are really delighted to see this work begin as it will meet the urgent repair needs of this important ‘at risk’ building and provide a solid structure for future fit-out work, which will provide long term sustainable use. of the building.
“The future development will provide a unique opportunity for people to stay in this much-loved historic building as well as access for all at future Heritage Open Days.”
Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Heritage at Coventry City Council, said: ‘We have worked with Historic Coventry Trust on a number of projects including Charterhouse, Drapers’ Hall and Lychgate Cottages and restoration work standards are excellent.
“I am sure that with the same attention to detail, the Trust will be able to breathe new life into Whitefriars’ Gate. We all have fond memories of the building when it was the Toy Museum and it will be great to see it back in use.
Louisa Moore, Head of Partnerships Team at Historic England, said: “Historic England is delighted to support the repair and repurposing of one of Coventry’s treasured medieval buildings. Over the past five years we have worked with Historic Coventry Trust, Coventry City Council and other partners on the Coventry Heritage Action Zone – this project will be the culmination of the work that has been done so far. present to transform Coventry through heritage.
Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, added: “As one of AHF’s Heritage Development Trusts, Historic Coventry Trust has done a fantastic job of bringing historic buildings in Coventry to life over the years. of recent years.
“We are delighted to have provided a grant for the capital works of Whitefriars’ Gate, enabling the Trust to restore another much-loved building and continue to play an important role in the town’s heritage-driven regeneration. “
Jason Graham, Director of Midland Conservation Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be entrusted once again by Historic Coventry Trust to bring one of the city’s most beloved buildings back to life.
“The “Toy Museum”, as it was fondly remembered, sadly closed its doors the year MCL was established in 2007, as we celebrate our 15e year in October, it will be a privilege to be part of the team ensuring the future of this historic building so that the people of Coventry can enjoy it again.