Suffolk’s prettiest homes: A converted warehouse in Woodbridge
PUBLISHED: 12:53 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:53 21 August 2019
A converted warehouse in Woodbridge provides the perfect peaceful bolthole close the Suffolk coast | Words & Photos: Tony Hall
Having lived in a converted warehouse in Rotherhithe on the banks of the River Thames, before it was fashionable, I have always been curious about the trend for 'industrial urban chic' - loft living.
Mary and Andrew Whiteley's converted warehouse home in Woodbridge is not, as you might expect, on the wharf, down by the river, but in a narrow, one track lane, unsuitable for modern lorries or ancient carts, surrounded by pretty terraced cottages.
Mary and Andrew came upon it in 2015 when, following an inheritance, they were looking for an unusual property near the coast, which would be suitable as a holiday let.
The building had already been converted into a home and they immediately liked the warmth of the period brickwork, the first floor urban warehouse living space with great town views, the large skylight and the very central location.
Just three minutes walk from The Thoroughfare, the main shopping street, the river and the railway station it is also very quiet.
"It was built as a Wesleyan Meeting House in 1828," explains Andrew. "By 1830, it was the forth biggest in the Ipswich area, with a rapidly growing congregation, so some years later they built a larger building in St Johns Street, which is still there. Its use changed to a warehouse around 1873, thought to be a bonding warehouse."
According to Suffolk Record Office, William Pretty, who owned an Ipswich-based corset business took it over as a factory. William was husband to Edith Pretty, who lived at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, and initiated the excavations of the burial mounds in the 1930s.
Later the building was used as a warehouse for an ironmongery business, and was then converted to a dwelling around 1978.
"What is most interesting is that local people have both a pride and care for the building," says Andrew. "What happens to it matters and when we bought it the number of people who would stop and tell us snippets of the history was considerable."
Mary and Andrew currently live in a farmhouse but plan to retire to their Woodbridge bolthole. The couple moved to Suffolk after decades living in London, and Andrew now teaches art, photography and graphics.
Mary, a nurse who has travelled extensively, runs the Old Warehouse and manages a website for a jewellery designer in Suffolk.
Since owning the property they have enhanced its warehouse/industrial character. "All the copper heating pipes, leading to traditional cast iron radiators are surface mounted," says Mary. "Our builder, David Houchell from Woodbridge, was excellent and really understood the requirements.
"As this is conservation area, everything took time. We had to replace the old leaking skylight and insulate the remaining roof.
"Having a vaulted ceiling posed many problems, we had to suspend track lighting from the ceiling for each area. There are lots of different lights, so we resorted to doing a guide for the large control panel.
"We wanted the furniture to echo the industrial feel, such as this dining table made from old scaffold boards. The main living space is definitely my favourite and the Moose sign my little indulgence. I have added splashes of colour, with cushions and flowers to complete the picture.
"I love the afternoon sunshine which throws beautiful shadows on the brick walls. It's also a great delight sitting on a bench in our courtyard terrace watching life go by.
"Many locals, who have noticed the improvements we have made since buying, are extremely complimentary.
"That creates a really good feeling and we can honestly say it is both a delight and a privilege to be the custodians of this lovely building, which we enjoy sharing with others."
The Old Warehouse, Woodbridge is available for holidays lettings with Suffolk Secrets
T: 01502 722717