The Bath House - New chapter beckons for iconic seafront property
PUBLISHED: 13:34 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 08 February 2019
One of Norfolk's most iconic seafront properties is getting a new lease on life.
The bright yellow Bath House which sits just a stone’s throw from Cromer Pier is being converted into four new homes after it was sold for £1.2m last year.
The buyer was Jane Kinnaird, 55, who said she wanted to give locals a chance to live in the 1814 building.
Ms Kinnaird, from Coventry, said: “I thought if I could turn it into four properties with gorgeous seafront views, then they would be more affordable for local people, so they could enjoy living in them. Obviously I can’t guarantee that as it depends on who buys them at the end of the day.
“But they had been trying to sell it for years and it was never going to become a single home again. You needed someone to give it a change of use and a single purpose.”
Ms Kinnaird said the Bath House would contain two ‘houses’ over two stories and two apartments, one on each floor. Each home will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sitting room and kitchen. She said she did not yet know what the asking price would be for the homes, which would hopefully be on the market this summer.
“I really don’t know Cromer all that well so it will depend on what the estate agents say.”
Ms Kinnaird said the financing arrangements meant they had no time to waste.
She said: “It’s a pretty quick turnaround. I’ve got £1m on bridging loans, and it’s £10,000 a month just to own the house, never mind do it up and sell it on, so it’s a risky project for me.
“I’ve done projects in the past where the end value is less than it’s cost me to do them, but if I didn’t do them those buildings wouldn’t have been saved.”
The Bath House was originally a reading room, but become a spa when bathing facilities were added in 1824.
It was later used as a private home and the a hotel, before being converted into a luxury residence.
Ms Kinnaird said she didn’t previously know much about the building, but learned about it from Matthew Boycott, the builder she is working with.
“I didn’t know it but my builder put me onto it because he’s been coming all his life for holidays.”
The Bath House: A potted history
Although it has had different uses over the years, Cromer’s Bath House will always be famous for having been a retreat for wealthy Victorians to ‘take the waters’ out of the public eye.
But its days as a spa ended when it was damaged in storm, and it was rebuilt in 1836 to become the home of schoolmaster Simeon Simons.
In 1872, brewer and wine merchant James Chapman converted it into a hotel and added the west wing for use as a billiard room.
The Bath House was used as pub/hotel throughout the 20th century, and was bought by Dr Barry Connell and his wife Anji in 1999.
They originally planned to turn it into a spa suite, with restaurant and bedrooms, but instead converted it into a private home, prompting a planing dispute.
Before Ms Kinnaird stepped in the Bath House had been on the market for years, and in 2012 it was advertised for £1.35m.
In 2016 there was mixed reaction from locals after speculation Libertines musician Carl Barat wanted to turn it into a nightclub.
New owner: Who is converting the Bath House?
The building’s new owner said that although she didn’t know Cromer before, she had always had a love of life on the coast.
Ms Kinnaird said: “I was born in Devon and grew up near the seaside, very close to Dawlish, so it’s really nice for me to come here. Cromer is a lovely place.”
She started a career of converting properties about 35 years ago, beginning with changing two small cottages in Coventry into a two-bedroom home.
Among her projects since have been a number of other heritage listed buildings, including a Grade II* detached house in Birmingham.
But her biggest undertaking has been the conversion of the Menagerie, a lakeside mansion near Coventry that was built in 1771 for Lady Craven, once Europe’s wealthiest woman, as a replica of a menagerie built for Marie Antoinette.
Ms Kinnaird said: “That was completely derelict when I bought it. There was no roof, no upper floor, just four slimy walls. I completely restored it using all the original building skills that had been lost.”