Published: 10:00, 23 May 2015
A massive crane will be needed to move a 400-year-old house six metres away from a busy road.
The 100-tonne machine is being commissioned after a two-month delay restoring and reinforcing the timber frame of Black House ready for the move.
It is hoped the historic building, which was compulsorily purchased by Medway Council in the 1990s, can be moved away from the edge of the Lower Rainham Road to where it would have stood when the road was just a single carriageway. The move will happen next month.
The first phase of the project is being co-ordinated by the council, the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Preservation Trust and architect David Paine.
Mr Paine has designed the new-look Black House, which will include a large extension and thatched roof, and is sinking his and his wife Jennifer’s savings – and the money from the sale of their home – into the project.
He says the move, which is likely to take less than an hour, may be an anti-climax to some but will be a “Eureka moment” for the couple. They are sharing Mr Paine’s parents’ home in Gillingham while the work is carried out.
Mr Paine said: “We have spent a significant amount before even putting a spade in the ground, so to get the structure in the right place, where we can start the build, will be a magic moment.
“There may be a few tense moments, but the structure is good to go.” He says the cost of the project so far runs to “tens of thousands” of pounds. However, he has no intention of ever leaving once the work is finished.
He told Jennifer his one-off project would be complete by Christmas. However, with the timber frame needing more work than thought, it is likely the project will run into 2016.
A Medway Council spokesperson said: “While we currently own Black House, ownership will be transferred to architect David Paine, who is funding and carrying out the works needed to relocate and restore the building.
“We are pleased this Grade II listed building will be restored to its former glory by someone who has a real passion and understanding of how to sensitively complete this project, and all works will be overseen by the Spitalfields Trust.”