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BlogBadmintonCourt

posted by Natalie Paddick

Badminton Court Development
 
Some years ago we worked on a development in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. I don’t have many pictures but I thought I would give you some of the history of the property and an over view of the project. This was a money on money deal ...”Show Me The Money”!! ... Back in the day .... Which was fun ... Being hideously young and always being full of enthusiasm we were up for the challenge ....
 
Badminton Court was originally the Weller family Brewery in the mid 17th century. The beer was called  “Weller’s Entire”. At that time the company employed approximately half the men in the town of Amersham, Buckinghamshire. In 1929 it was sold for £360,000.00. The company then owned 132 licensed properties within 35 mile radius of Amersham. The purchasers Benskins of Watford, wanted the licensed pubs not the brewery, so they closed the brewery causing much distress to the locals and the area.

The building was then used for a variety of purposes, including boxing matches and for games of badminton ... And so launched it’s new name! Like a lot of large buildings troops were billeted there during the war.... However in 1949, Goya the cosmetics firm took over the building moving it forward, renovating the site and furthering historical development. Goya cosmetics were quintessentially British. The chief chemist was Ernie Joyner with head of sales being Douglas Collins. These two gentlemen were visionary; spear heading the popularity of Goya Cosmetics in the United Kingdom. Douglas Collins was an intuitive business man under his leadership Goya flourished; in latter years the company was taken over by Beauty International and subsequently they closed down in 1981. So Badminton Court was converted into apartments and offices.    

Circa 1984 a developer brought the premises, which initially raised great concern as to what his intentions were with the local landmark. He wanted to turn it into a premier Head Quarters Office Development with a Pent House Suite for himself. Over the following years there were many ‘over the top’ and expansive plans put forward by ‘this developer’ who had the sort of vision that was very acceptable at this time ‘more means more’. With wild budgets if there were any budgets at all! He disliked the correct work ethic style that came with architects, so employed us in the late 80’s to understand and interpret the developers artistic vision to quirk up the building and bring it up to the 1990’s hedonistic style. Basically interpreted into ..... anything goes as long as it is expensive, over the top and involved some sort special effect painting on the wall! ....   

We worked together redeveloping the site, drawing up new and exciting designs; which were eventually passed by the planners.... And so the work began ..... Italian tile panels were attached to the walls, tonnes of cobble stones were brought in from London to lay in exotic patterns in the courtyards. Heavily ornate arches were erected in brick and stone, not for any particular purpose? .... Fabricated steel staircase formers were installed in the building at vast cost, then clad with inlaid mahogany with hand carved handrails installed by specialist joiners. No expense was spared .... It would seem the more it cost the better the developer liked it.... Beautiful ceramic and polished stone and terracotta floors were laid though out the buildings and in fact outside on the terraces beside the River Am that flowed beside, and in part under the site. This developer was an eccentric man who it would seem money was no object!............  

I was brought onto the project to undertake some of the Interior Design, including the office furniture and the residential furnishings for the Penthouse suite and reception area’s. Sourcing the mirrors and paintings. I was given a brand new black sports car on loan to drive and a wodge of cash to spend..... I really excel in this department!!! I spent many happy days driving around London purchasing beautiful items. I was wined and dined by the companies eager to be part of the project. Employing a specialist art critic to help me locate the most exquisite paintings, prints and maps. The only problem with this otherwise fun project was the developer himself! Who was prone to extreme personality swings. He could go from ‘bon ami’ to volcanic hysterical temper tantrums of which we were all witness .... It was a bit like working with a shorter more rotund version of Basil Fawlty, with a bit of Beelzebub thrown in for luck!... Never a dull moment!! I am pleased to say that the worst extremes of his behaviour, were not aimed at us!


And so the project surged forward and was eventually finished, the offices were put on the market for sale and achieved higher per square foot prices than prime locations in the heart of London..... The sales went well and the properties were sold on.... The quality of the project was shown when on completion the Secretary of State determined it should have Listed Building Status.... Not Bad!!!! ... It was fun to have been such a large part of the design.... However ...  As to the developer .... One dark night he disappeared into the fog ... And according to the “History Of Amersham Area on line” he went bankrupt..... To quote Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street ... “Greed is Good!” .....  I’m not in agreement with that ... Just saying .... 


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