Carpenter's SOS to Islanders to help restore art deco house
A carpenter who bought a unique Sheppey house has
revealed that he desperately hopes to restore it.
He told reporter Emma Grove how
unexpected costs may prevent him from fulfilling his dream and
appealed for Islanders’ help.
Mark Soper paid £192,000 for number 362 Minster Road after it
sparked a bidding war at an auction last July.
The rambling, 1920s art deco property is in a bad state of
repair and when it was sold by Clive Emson auctioneers.
Amongst piles of old newspapers, books and classical music
sheets, a concert piano was found inside.
The piano was later donated to the Blue Town Heritage
After years worth of undergrowth was cleared from around
the outside of it, the building which was shrouded in mystery for
so long can now be seen by passers-by.
Mr Soper, 38, who lives in Newington, said he bought the house,
which was built in the shape of a piano, with his father William
after falling in love with it.
He said: “It’s a building with a beautiful and outstanding
design. My wife Martine and I fell in love with it.”
However, a structural engineer told the pair that the house is
so dilapidated, it would cost in excess of £100,000 to renovate –
much more than they had anticipated.
He said he is putting his cards on the table and being honest
and open about the fact he does want to make money out of it, but
his dream would be to bring the property back into use.
“It’s very dilapidated and everything has a ceiling price so we
have to work out how much money we can invest,” he said.
“At the moment we are just evaluating everything – we have got
to find out how much it’s going to cost.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful property and if it’s done up it
could be outstanding.
“It would be sad to knock it down and apply for planning
permission for houses.
“I don’t want to rip it down but we have got to be
The house, which was built around 1925, sits on a site which is
almost a quarter of an acre.
Upstairs there are four bedrooms and a bathroom and impressive
Downstairs there is a living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry,
toilet and cloakroom.
In the kitchen is an intercom system to allow residents to
contact the other rooms.
In the grounds, there is a garage at the back of the property
which is completely overgrown.
Many of the original fittings remain inside, and Mr Soper
says he would aim to keep these where possible if he was to restore
He especially hopes to keep the stairs and do them up, as they
“Look at it – it’s a dream and I really do want to save it,” he
“It’s like stepping back in time, like a museum.
“I know my art deco and my architecture – this is where it all
started, this is what pushed forward the future of building.”
Mr Soper and his dad have already spent almost £8,000, on top of
the purchase price, just to get the site to the state it is
Once all the undergrowth was cleared and they were able to get a
structural engineer in, they found it was in a much worse condition
The main problem is it needs underpinning and they want to do
this using the piling and rafting method.
However, this is an extra unanticipated cost and they are
hoping a local company will be able to help them out by offering a
Their budget at the moment for the overall revamp is £60,000,
but that needs to include the piling and rafting.
Mr Soper Snr said: “The bottom line is that whatever we put
underground is lost money which we could be spending on the
“If anybody out there has any good knowledge of piling and
rafting and can give us a decent quote then we would love to hear
It’s a mammoth task.”
Mr Soper Jnr said: “It’s not impossible but we didn’t realise it
was going to be such a catastrophe.
"It’s just the piling and rafting we need help with.
"Everything else we can do. If that costs too much we will have
to go to plan B which I don’t want to do – we want to save it.”
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