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26 April 2009
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REGIONAL RUNNER-UP: Tollesbury Granary, Tollesbury, Essex

Woodrolfe Granary
Tollesbury Granary 

This much-used timber frame and weather boarded building has enjoyed a variety of roles since its construction in the mid 19th century. Once at the centre of the maritime activities linking Tollesbury and the River Blackwater, the building’s original purpose is not known.


The existing floor structure would not seem to support the idea that it was used originally for grain storage, though it probably shared some purpose with the nearby granary at Oldhall in moving grain and other goods up and down the Thames. Tollesbury itself has been a centre of habitation and water commerce since around 6000 BC.

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In the 1920s, as the barge trade declined, this quintessentially Essex-style building was radically altered and the timber frame modified from one-and-a-half storeys to two. New windows were added to the upstairs and the original half-hipped roof was replaced by a corrugated iron roof. The building enjoyed a number of roles over the next few decades. It served primarily as a place to build and service boats and their equipment, then as offices and then, during the Edwardian era boom in water pursuits, as a popular meeting place for the influx of yachting and boating crews.

The building finally fell out of use in the 1950s and since then has suffered repeated damaging flooding owing to the rising of tide and general sea levels. Largely because of the flooding, the granary has been on Essex County Council's Buildings at Risk Register since 1992.

Above the area of flooding, however, the timber frame is in good condition and plans for the restoration of the granary include elevating the building off the ground to protect it from further inundation.

It is hoped that the restoration and repositioning of the granary above the flood level will create a versatile multifunctional space with full disability access. It is to be a combined maritime, local and natural history visitor centre and educational resource centre.

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