The Rising Crown? I Had a Dream
The Hadleigh Regeneration Plan has been stymied by the withdrawal of the County Council from the possible library redevelopment. So why not go it alone?
This time, we could again include keeping the Fire Station tower building and, this time, most of the outer appearance of The Crown (which most people want).
The community, if someone steps forward to lead this, could raise funds independently of the financially strapped council, to buy and refurbish The Crown; to create what it wants in its place. This would allow the community activities at the Fire Station to move to the Crown site (and then for the Fire Station site to be redeveloped for modern local housing, just as the council and the residents and developers all want).
Why Refurbish The Crown?
The council accepts that we need a new community hub, so why not re-use the Crown, retaining its slate rooflines and historic High Street façade? The Salvation Army managed it excellently with their cottage, so could it be possible with the redundant pub? There is not a demand for a pub, but what if the inside were to be gutted, a later two-storey extension eventually built to the west and the whole fitted out as first floor artist studios and offices. Add a ground floor community hall for functions and meetings of local organisations; and why not a community coffee bar at the front for somewhere for the townspeople to gather (“as a sort of HOFS Plus”).
Any later western extension might house part of a revamped library, if the County Council asked us nicely.
At its height, The Crown Inn had been the place for the community to celebrate VE Day in 1945, but now it remains just a faded dream. The earliest pictures we have remind us that until the bypass was built in about 1930, the Crown faced onto the old High Street, a new south face having been added in 1899. Let’s fight to keep the historic character of the old High Street as much as we can. Our heritage would be all the richer for it, rather than just more sterile high rise buildings taking its place.
The first registered innkeeper at the Crown was John Penney in 1769 and old plans suggest that a small original building was extended to the north and east and refaced over the years to expand to meet the demand from local residents and from perhaps travellers or residents as boarders.
So, it might be appropriate if the old pub garden, car park and stable block could also be used for housing to meet the needs of local people. How about a range of linked two-bedroom houses? Let’s call them “Crown Cottages” and build them with some character of their own. Roses around the door might have to be optional, but hanging baskets might suffice.
As to The Crown itself, how about renaming it the “Hadleigh Crown Centre?” (A little more friendly than referring to it as the “Hadleigh Town Centre Hub”!)
I am no architect, but I have drafted an overall layout plan which seems to me capable of retaining a reasonable amount of Hadleigh’s heritage and character while meeting modern needs.
So now it is over to the rest of the community to make my dream come true.