This long, painful saga about what is to be done (or not done) with Blake’s Cottage is still ongoing. Tim Heath is still chopping and changing in what he says about the place. There seems to be no end to it, despite people like me trying to sound a much-needed warning.
There is an article in the current edition of the ‘Private Eye’ which among other useful things, reports that Mr Heath now ‘refuses to talk to the media about plans for the building,’ but adds that a new trustee, one Jonathan Mullard, who the Private Eye say has a ‘civil service background’ has now become the spokesman. What he says is interesting because it is yet another twist and turn. ‘He reckons refurbishment of the cottage, demolition of an adjoining modern extension and a new build for a gallery and activity space, will cost around £3m.’ This new building is what Tim Heath is really interested in, this is the wool he’s been pulling over everybody’s eyes since the cottage was bought in 2015. It has been described by Tim Heath in such a variety of ways over the years, that it’s difficult to keep pace with what’s being said.
To start with Peter Johns, another BCT trustee, said it was going to be a study centre and visitor centre, later it was described as a ‘retreat for those who want space to ask important questions about their lives.’ Later still it was described as ‘multifunctional, having a secure space for small but important exhibitions, spaces for conferences and ALTERNATE SPACE FOR A SECOND RESIDENCE’. Later on still in January 2017 I had a meeting with Peter Johns and asked him why the half a million pound building that Tim Heath wants to build in Blake’s garden is now being called a ‘residence’ and who is going to live there? His answer revealed yet another use for the building. Tim was not going to live in Blake’s Cottage. He could assure me about that. It was Tim’s dream to purchase Blake’s part of the property at 17 Molton Street and if the cottage could be repaired and/or the second residence built, it could earn sufficient money for Tim’s dream to be realised. I remembered then that right at the start Tim Heath had declared that he wanted to join the two houses in a single creative project. Or to put it another way, he wants to be the man who owns both Blake’s surviving houses and it looked very possible to me at that point that he would use the cottage to earn the money to buy the house.
By February 2017, one of the people who had been working with me to push for the repair and restoration of the cottage, said he was beginning to despair of ever getting through to Tim Heath. ‘I simply don’t understand him,’ he said. ‘He says one thing and does another.’
This in essence is the key to understanding the man. We must judge him not by what he says, either to the press or on the Blake Cottage Trust website, but by what he does, or even more destructively doesn’t do. His words are mostly airy fairy dreams. Take a look at this revealing little offering.
‘Lets skip over the tedious business of raising funds to repair the cottage and consider our glorious future and the scores of geniuses that will come streaming out of the door in a thousand years time.’
It takes considerable study to disentangle all the things he says because they are so much at variance with one another and that is the key to why the cottage has never been repaired in all the years it has belonged to the Blake Cottage Trust.
Muddle, prevarication and plenty of wool to pull over people’s eyes. And God alone knows how we are supposed to deal with that. I have done what little I can by producing a booklet called ‘If Blake’s Cottage had a voice it would cry help!’ and selling as many copies as I can with the help of the Post Office in Felpham. I have very little hope that Jonathan Mullard – the new kid on the block in the Blake Cottage Trust and the Blake Society – will be able to deal with it either.
All I can do is spread the word and disseminate the facts.