Cambridge Edition May 2023 - Web



AND KEY A determined mother-and-daughter duo have been hard at work restoring one of Cambridge’s iconic buildings to its former glory – Miriam Balanescu meets Victoria Li and Elizabeth Huang to learn more Lock House

C ambridge is a place where history of the city’s streets with its passers- by. Jesus Green Lock House is a building that will be imprinted at the back of many of our minds, having walked, run or cycled past it a million times. Though most of us will probably have never paid it much attention – especially since it’s been left empty and neglected now for decades. Two people set on changing this are mother-daughter duo, Victoria Li and Elizabeth Huang. Victoria moved with her husband to Cambridge in the 80s and was instantly smitten with the riverside home. “We saw the Lock House many years ago when we were passing,” recalls Victoria. “I saw a lady working in the garden and thought, ‘What a beautiful house – but we will never be able to afford to buy it.’ Thirty years later, we were fortunate to get it.” The property, which has been vacant things often go unnoticed: from architectural adornments to tiny plaques designed to share the since the 2000s, has sat on the market for years without budging, leaving it looking worse for wear. “There are a lot of features that are very unique which appeal to us in a slightly mad way, but would put off a lot of more sensible people,” says Elizabeth. “It’s in a particularly public place, there is no parking, there are always families, cyclists, runners and dogs going past. If they wanted to, people could just look in through the windows.” “The beautiful, iconic building was still in my head from so many years ago,” adds Victoria. With fresh determination, she and Elizabeth planned a full renovation project, taking the building and essentially starting from scratch – transforming the

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED Jesus Green Lock House, dubbed the ‘ugly duckling’ by its hard-working renovators (above); and said masterminds, Victoria and Elizabeth (below) lock-keeper’s house from ugly ducking to magnificent swan. Documenting their progress on Instagram, they then caught the attention of the producers behind Channel 4’s Renovation Nation . “We agreed to take part because we thought that there were never any British Chinese on TV,” says Victoria. “Also, we’re probably the most unlikely people to do this sort of work.” Elizabeth adds: “It was such an interesting look into how they make these programmes – often the really small things, like I never knew they often have to film you doing something twice so they can get the shot from the inside of the house and from the outside.”

Victoria and Elizabeth planned a full renovation project


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