'Enormous' rebuild of fire-hit Betley Court begins

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Betley CourtImage source, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption,
Betley Court was built in 1716

Work has begun to restore an 18th Century manor house which was destroyed in a fire.

About 40 firefighters tackled the accidental blaze at Betley Court, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, in August 2019.

Work to restore the exterior of the property is expected to take up to a year, then internal works can start.

Dr Nigel Brown, whose family has owned the property since 1978, said it is an "enormous undertaking".

Image caption,
Work on the exterior of the building is expected to take another year

"There was very little remaining," said Dr Brown, who is managing the restoration.

"You could see all the way from the cellar to the sky so it was an enormous undertaking... it took a while for us as a family to say, 'yes, we could do it'.

Image caption,
Dr Brown said there was "very little remaining" of the original building

"What we want to do is enhance it, make it something that is suitable for the 21st Century, but not throw away the beauty that was there in the past."

At the time of the fire, about 20 people lived in the flats in the converted Grade II listed manor house.

Image caption,
Dr Brown said they want to "enhance" the beauty of the original building

Dr Brown's wife, Su Hurrell, added: "When we were first able to come in, there was 6ft of debris in all of the ground floor where the roof had come in and the rooms upstairs had collapsed in, so it was just unrecognisable."

Stonemasons and carpenters are now rebuilding the manor house and once the new roof and windows are in, work will turn to renovating the interior.

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