Cambridge Edition May 2023 - Web



the project. With the onset of spring, they are now getting started again in restoring the house to its historic glory. “We always wanted to do a renovation that would really respect the history,” says Elizabeth. “The way we’d like to bring the house back to its former glory is by actually staying quite faithful to things like the existing floor plan, features like the fireplaces and the windows, and actually trying to amplify how beautiful the old design is, rather than making any radical changes.” In the 90s, when the final lock-keeper moved away, the house was gutted and converted into bedsits, each room given its own sink, cupboard and tiny shower – changes that the team are now working hard to reverse. They also visited archives to find out more about the original design. “Some people were saying to us, ‘Oh, are you professional developers? Are you property flippers or something like that?’” NO WALK IN THE PARK Situated alongside the constant movement of the towpath, with views of the River Cam, Jesus Green Lock House has been in need of some TLC. The duo are the perfect people for the job, taking pride in returning it to its former glory

instead of replacing the old-fashioned boiler with just a newer boiler, what if we put in a heat pump?” says Elizabeth. “Then suddenly, these really elaborate considerations come in. We had to get special consent for it. It has different implications for the radiators you use, the insulation your house needs. I think [the builders] just think we’re completely crazy – but it does matter to us.” With the stacking costs of materials and the new property tax, Victoria and Elizabeth have a new sense of urgency towards completing the Lock House. The kindness of the community – having amassed a kind of fame both locally and further afield – has kept them driven. “At times, we’ve been quite stressed by the project and overwhelmed with the to-do list. But people from the community have been so generous with their support and enthusiasm,” Elizabeth beams. For Victoria, the cornerstone is the idea of finally seeing her home turned from ugly duckling into a stunning swan: “I had that image and it keeps us going. Eventually it will be a beautiful place – and it will be a better place.”

laughs Elizabeth. “Mum and I have always been quite practical and have liked to do projects like painting or fixing things. “It has been quite a steep learning curve: suddenly someone’s going, ‘Where’s the rewiring plan? Where are the switches? Are they two-way, three-way?’ Saying all these things about insulation that are very technical, and all of this terminology that builders love to use.” Drawing on their passion for environmentalism, the project has been sustainability-first. “It’s certain that we are very enthusiastic DIY-ers and also nature lovers,” states Victoria. “I believe that if we love nature, the Earth, then they will be kinder to us. That’s why we don’t want to throw away anything we could reuse, recycle or upcycle again.” This meant the project has taken a little longer. “It definitely made our lives more complicated. We said actually,

We are very enthusiastic DIY-ers and also nature lovers


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