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Filmmaker Paul Joyce showcases refurbished Faversham Youth Centre in South Road, Faversham.

By Bess Browning

The famous “mystery buyer” of the town’s former youth centre has opened up the refurbished building exclusively for the eyes of Faversham News readers.

Paul Joyce, a filmmaker, artist and photographer, who has worked alongside Quentin Tarantino, Dennis Hopper, Robert Redford and Johnny Cash, bought the property on the corner of South Road during an auction in February.

Since the auction, he has transformed the grade II listed building, spending £140,000 on the renovation so far and restoring the Georgian property, now known as South House, to its former glory.

Former Faversham Youth Club.

Former Faversham Youth Club.

With a glimmer of the youth club still in every room, such as a basketball hoop in what was once a sports hall and now Paul’s art studio, the eccentric pensioner even featured on an episode of Homes under the Hammer earlier this year.

But a few months down the line, the building is even more spectacular than what was shown on the BBC programme.

Paul calls his £410,000 winning bid a “bargain” and says a property with this potential in London would be worth £3-4million.

Paul Joyce has bought the former Faversham youth club.

Paul Joyce has bought the former Faversham youth club.

He also says that his bidding war pushed out another eager buyer,
who was intending to turn the building into 12 individual flats – a use which would “ruin” it, says Paul.

He said: “I was told this building would be unsalvageable, that it was beyond repair. Well, they should come and take a look.

“A project like this is like a piece of artwork.

The former gym at the youth club which will now be Paul's art studio.

The former gym at the youth club which will now be Paul's art studio.

“Its Georgian features were completely hidden away or fully taken out before I moved in.

“There were originally 14 Georgian doors which had been taken out and thrown into a skip. I went out and bought 14 more Georgian doors to replace the fire doors which hung in their place.

“I wanted somewhere I could store my work in, somewhere I can do my research, a place to work and a place to live – South House is perfect.” 

"I wanted somewhere I could store my work in, somewhere I can do my research, a place to work and a place to live – South House is perfect."

The building, which dates back to 1790, has four huge rooms downstairs and four equally large rooms upstairs, with a wide entrance and circling staircase.

It is a manor house more suited to Downton Abbey than in our market town.

As a keen artist, the main gym has become Paul’s studio and he also has an exhibition room upstairs.

With a library downstairs, filled with thousands of books and CDs, and an open-planned, exquisite kitchen, Paul has turned the former community club into his ideal home.

He said: “I’m adding to its financial value, but more importantly I’m adding to its aesthetic, historical and cultural value.

Former Faversham Youth Club.

Former Faversham Youth Club.

“Within the next four months, we should be nearing completion.

“I have built and developed around 15 properties so I know what I am doing now. In walking into any building, I know within five minutes whether I would like to buy it.

“I had an instinct about this one.”

Paul, who volunteers at Oxfam in London and has helped them to find suitable buildings for development, has fallen well and truly in love with Faversham.

He has moved from Dulwich in London and has two sons and a granddaughter.

A new exhibition room for Faversham's youth club.

A new exhibition room for Faversham's youth club.

He said: “I love the town. It’s very pretty and has some great shops. I have bought more antiques in the last two months than I have in the last five years, and all of them have been from Faversham.

“There are very good reasons to be in Faversham.”

Paul says that anyone is welcome to contact him and ask to view the property and his studio.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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