A private investment client Curzon Property Ltd contacted me and asked me to photograph and document the journey and progress throughout a complete renovation of a fabulous Victorian property in the centre of historic Lord Street, Southport.
The large building has an interesting history and one that became more familiar, relevant to my background and coincidental than I would have thought.
Most recently the ground floor shop front was Mister Smith's, which many Southport residents will recognise as the gentleman's clothing store that recently closed down.
Any time a well known and well regarded store closes it's doors is a sad day, but when a thoughtful and respectful investment company takes over that considers the history and importance of the building moves in, it can only be good news.
Yes, there will have been job losses with the closure of the shop, but from what the director of Curzon Property Ltd has told me, there will be so many more options available depending upon what is decided by the company and granted by the planning department. I have heard some of the exciting plans that are available for this building and Southport can expect another sad closed, boarded up property to become thriving businesses providing opportunities for many.
Many of the rooms had the usual lowered false ceilings common with the era's of the 80's office decors. Sadly they had hidden the gems that lay above including the incredible ceiling coving and ornate decorations. The large areas were divided into smaller office spaces with partitioned walls, and each small space reminded of better days with 1980's decor, furniture and in some places, calendars left hanging reminding us of the days the office staff collected up their belongings and moved on.
Many of these offices were once occupied by the famous Southport brand "Hatch & Fielding" which anybody from the local area will know were probably the first and certainly best known estate agents in town.
The reason that is a strange coincidence and relevance to me personally is that my first real job as an estate agent was not for Hatch & Fielding, but my employer at that time, Ian Crane worked for them and valued them greatly as the company that brought him through the ranks to become a successful local independent estate agent. Another previous colleague and friend Gill also worked for Hatch and Fielding and has told me has fond memories of working there and remembers the building very well.
It was only as I was photographing so many of these incredible architectural features, albeit in a ruined state of disrepair, and I was discussing with my client about the history of the building, and what he had found in some of the historical documents and incredible discoveries from within the building that made me realise the connection between the past and the present......I was documenting, as a self employed photographer, the offices that my previous employer had worked in around 30 years ago.
It was certainly interesting taking photos of that fabulous victorian property over the course of the first two visits. I still have two more left to document the final stages of the renovation and I look forward to each one.