Construction

Bobby’s is watertight for first time in over 50 years thanks to £5.6 million investment

Andy Birt, Director at Bobby's.

By Andrew Diprose [email protected]

Published: March 11, 2024 | Updated: 11th March 2024

One of Bournemouth’s best-known buildings has been made watertight for the first time in over 50 years thanks to a £5.6 million investment.

After two and a half years of constant renovations and building works, extensive roof and fabric works at Bobby’s have been finished.

Lewis Rogers, of Spetisbury Construction who is Site Manager at Bobby’s, said: “Making the building watertight has been one of our biggest challenges, it hasn’t been watertight for decades.

“As well as reroofing the entire building, we’ve also been working hard to protect the tenants already in situ, this is one of the major challenges of working on an open building.

“We had more than 50 buckets up on the fourth floor to catch any leaks, and when we had those storms, we were going in throughout the night to empty the buckets to try and prevent any disruption to those below.”

Building work has been split into a number of phases over the last two and a half years to ensure the building remains open.

Andy Birt, Director at Bobby’s, said: “With its prominent position in town, we knew from day one that it was vital the lights remain on whilst the renovation works were carried out.

“Bournemouth’s not had an easy few years but we’re not giving up on it.

“We are all incredibly passionate and determined about the future of the town and are all certain that we will see a bigger and better Bournemouth evolve and develop over the coming season and the following years.”

As some projects come to a close this month, others are just beginning as new tenant, The Botanist, starts fitting out its restaurant and bar on the fourth floor.

Lewis said: “Getting the fourth floor ready for The Botanist to start fitting out has needed specialist craftmanship.

“This floor was originally Bobby’s Tea Rooms with beautiful high-rise views over the town centre and lower gardens through ornate original full elevation metal-framed Crittall doors and windows.

“Wherever possible, we’ve been restoring and reviving the building’s original features and this proved quite the challenge with the fourth floor.

“They don’t manufacture these windows or doors any longer, these were the original Crittall windows from around 1915 and are so rare that there’s only three organisations in the whole of the UK that can restore them.

“Every part of this project has been worked on by specialists and I for one am very appreciative of the dedication from the developers, Verve Properties, to restore the town’s history.

“Any other developer would have ripped out those windows but thanks to their dedication and vision, they’re still here and will be for generations to come.”

As well as using local building contractors, Verve Properties also instructed Footprint Architects and Whitefox Chartered Surveyors, both based in Bournemouth.

Darren Frias-Robles, Managing Director at Whitefox Chartered Surveyors, said: “The mission that Verve set was for us to roll back to the original Bobby & Co look and embrace the character of the building as it was established in 1915.

“The design team have worked tirelessly to discover original installations and it’s been a real journey of exploration trying to uncover how it all would have looked over 100 years ago.

“One of our first projects, was creating a new entrance that can be used by all tenants of the building.

“When it came to demolishing and removing the construction around one of the main entrance vestibules into the ground floor of Bobby and Co, we were surprised to uncover an original brass shop front.

“We’ve now restored the original brass work and installed new doors with leaded glass lights.

“We also uncovered original reeded glass panelling along the shop front which again, in that area, we have restored.”

The restoration of the original brass work is set to continue around the entire building over the coming months revealing more of the building’s original façade. 

Transformative work will also be carried out on the right side of the frontage, where Bobby’s expanded into the neighbouring building in the 60s, to completely rejuvenate and create a new feature fascia.

The front of the building is also set for further renovations in the section tenanted by Franca Manca which is being tiled and having its permanent signage installed.

Andy said: “The Bobby’s listed heritage façade is the very backdrop to Bournemouth.

“In addition to the restoration of the original brass and glass fretwork and Franca Manca’s frontage, we’re also continuing work on the restoration of the building’s many balconies facing into the square, and at the back of the building, a new terrace is being built for the latest tenants, Gozney, to enjoy in time for the summer.

“Heading into phase three is very exciting for all of us.

“We’re now looking ahead to a fully open and completed building by September this year.

“The Bobby’s building will, once again, be at the heart of Bournemouth and we hope that our continued investment and commitment to the town will encourage others to do the same.”

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