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The former High Street office of two of the Conservation Society’s founders in 1970 has been converted to six flats. Your editor emailed Barrie Hudson at his present lair in Aberdeenshire for a comment. He replied:
“Doug Smith, now unfortunately passed away, and I, trading as Hudson and Smith, purchased 66 High Street in the late 1960s from Mr Snell of Palmer and Snell, estate agents and surveyors, who had practised there. It dates perhaps to the middle of the 19th century. In 1974 it was listed Grade II.”
The three-storey building was originally a town house, making a pair with number 64 (the Curtain Pole) across the lane: both have ashlar facing and a heavily moulded cornice.
“Two tenants that I remember, but who had left when we purchased the building, were the Upper Brue Drainage Board and Harold Alves the architect.
“In 1978, when I escaped to Scotland, I sold my share of the building to Doug. [The offices continued to be used by similar architectural partnerships; the most recent, Collier Reading, moved to Wells in October 2014 when the lease ran out.] Doug’s widow Angela then sold the building for development.”
Angela Smith, who lives at Priddy, was sad to let the property go. She said: “Before I sold, I involved a friend of Doug to do all the planning side of things. Because it was listed, we didn’t want any problems with the council. The fellow who did the plans was someone we had trained as a young man: Kevin Smith” (no relation).
She chose to sell to Habershon Land Ltd, a small development firm recently set up in Wells by William and James Habershon. William is a Millfield old boy and was formerly a surveyor with Cooper and Tanner. “I was quite impressed with previous properties they had done,” Angela said.
Their finishing touch for the building is a new name on brass plaques by the doors: Wilton House.