Since I wrote part 5 yesterday, I’ve been studying the opening sequence of Tim Heath’s/The Blake Cottage Trust’s website. I was so angry at the casual way the state of the cottage was talked about that I skipped over the opening sequence, which was perhaps even more important. For in it headlined ‘How do you choose an Architect?’ Tim Heath’s plan to pull down half the cottage or what he called ‘accretions that have been added to the building over two centuries’ and to build ‘a multipurpose building in the liberated space that would expand our curatorial boundaries and be an architectural jewel to draw people to the village in its own right.’
He admits he has already approached four architectural firms to compete for the privileged to build this new gem and says he will choose which of them it is to be and that ‘the appointment will be formally announced in September’. Obviously he means to do it.
Now apart from the fact that those of us who live in the village want whatever money there is available in the Blake Cottage Trust kitty to be spent now to start the repairs and not frittered away on competitions for architects, there is also the fact that he is completely wrong about this new building being a draw that will bring visitors to Felpham. If visitors come to Blake’s Cottage and I hope they do, they will come to see the house that Blake lived and worked in and anything else built in the garden will simply be – to use Tim Heath’s words – an ‘accretion’ that they will hardly notice. Given all this I think we have two jobs ahead of us in the village, one is to press for the repairs to begin forthwith and that has started already, the other is to insist that any new building shouldn’t even be considered until Blake’s Cottage itself is ready, running, successful and making a profit.
Do please leave a comment when you’ve read this and tell me what you think. Given the fact that the Blake Cottage Trust consists of only three men and that there must be hundreds of people in the village who want to preserve the cottage, some of whom would have given money to the first appeal, I think we should remember Shelly’s rousing battle cry:
Rise like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many – they are few.