Buxton Crescent spa project to finish 12 years late

Crescent, Buxton Image copyright Elliott Brown
Image caption The Crescent was originally built to exploit Buxton's reputation for healing spring water

Everything which could have gone wrong with the renovation of a landmark building has, the developer has said.

Work began on the Crescent in Buxton, Derbyshire, in 2003, with an initial completion date of 2007 now pushed back to 2019.

The budget to restore the Grade I 18th Century spa complex has also more than doubled to more than £50m.

The current Duke of Devonshire said once finished, the building will be the "jewel in the crown" of Buxton.

Developer Trevor Osborne said the project had faced rotten timbers and multiple protected springs.

Image caption Developer Trevor Osborne said builders found at least 23 springs, all of which had to be protected

The Crescent had stood empty since 1992 when Mr Osborne took it on, intending to convert it into a five-star hotel.

He said there had been huge problems - a lot of the building had rotted so it was being reinforced with steel and new timbers.

"I think when I agreed to take this project on I must have been young and foolish," he said.

"It was difficult to come up with designs which would safeguard the water.

"When I took the project on I was advised there were three springs - we found at least 23.

"We have had just about every difficulty you could have with a building project like this."

Buxton Crescent

  • The Crescent was built in the 1780s by the fifth Duke of Devonshire as the centrepiece of his Georgian spa development
  • The county council took over half the building in the 1970s and used it as offices and a library
  • High Peak Borough Council has owned the other half of the building since 1993
  • The Natural Baths were run by High Peak Borough Council as a public swimming pool from 1937 until 1972

Source: Derbyshire County Council

The huge budget leap has been borne by the lottery, development grants and Mr Osborne's own company.

"That hurts a bit, but long ago I ceased to think of this as a commercial venture," he said.

Image caption The Buxton Crescent & Thermal Spa Heritage Trust - as well as a Friends of the Crescent group - was launched on 20 June to preserve the Crescent buildings

The current Duke of Devonshire, whose ancestor built the Crescent, said: "He and his wife had spent a lot of time in Bath and I think he tried to emulate that.

"I'm afraid when it was built by my ancestor, it was not built to a very high standard, so (the developers) have had to put that right.

"I think it will be the jewel in the crown, and that's some crown, Buxton's a really wonderful place. I think it'll put Buxton and Derbyshire even more on the map."

An event was held in the Crescent's Pump Room on 20 June to mark the joint launch of both the Buxton Crescent & Thermal Spa Heritage Trust and the Friends of the Crescent group to support the regeneration and the future of the building.

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