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Anxious funding wait for Tim Stead's house with a wooden heart

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Published
image copyrightSean Begley
image captionThe Tim Stead Trust needs £450,000 to buy the home he created in the Borders

A bid to safeguard a house with a unique wooden interior for the nation is facing an anxious funding wait.

The Tim Stead Trust (TST) hopes to secure £450,000 to buy The Steading near Lauder in the Borders.

It has applied to the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) which is currently considering the proposals.

Nichola Fletcher, who chairs the TST, said if the bid was unsuccessful the house could be sold on the open market which would be a "huge tragedy".

Artist and designer Tim Stead was renowned for his work with wood with public commissions including furniture for the Glasgow restaurant Cafe Gandolfi and the Papal Throne for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Edinburgh in 1982.

image copyrightSean Begley
image captionThe group wants to open up the house and its contents to the public

The Steading became his family home in 1980 and he refurbished the interior and created all the furniture and fittings out of local wood before his death in 2000.

The trust was formed in 2015 with a view to safeguarding the property and its contents and has examined a range of possible funding sources to purchase the building from Mr Stead's widow, Maggy, who is supportive of their efforts.

"For myself I say it is the best outcome that the TST acquires the house and the collection," she said.

However, if the NHMF funding bid fails, it could end up being sold on the open market in the new year.

image copyrightHistoric Environment Scotland
image captionThe Steading has been described as a "wonderful place to come to be inspired"

The trust hopes to buy the house to open it up to the public as a "complete centre for everything Tim Stead stood for".

"He is very visual and tactile in his work and without seeing the pieces and feeling them it is difficult to enthuse," said Ms Fletcher.

"As soon as they walk around the house everybody just says: 'Wow, I see what you mean now.'"

The property was given A listing by Historic Environment Scotland earlier this year which was followed by the bid - assisted by the Art360 Foundation - for NHMF support.

image copyrightMaggy Stead
image captionTim Stead crafted the interior of the house out of local wood

If successful in buying the property, the trust would then seek further funding for its plans to develop it.

One element would be to safeguard and preserve the building and its contents and make them accessible to the public.

It also wants to provide educational opportunities, encourage wood working skills and organise workshops for people of all abilities.

"It is a wonderful place to come to be inspired," said Ms Fletcher.

image copyrightHistoric Environment Scotland
image captionThe property contains hundreds of items designed by the artist

However, without funding she said the site could face a very different fate.

"At the moment a lot of what is in the house is protected by the category A listing," she said.

"But there are a lot of pieces in there which are iconic pieces - made for that house, made for those spaces - which will go."

image copyrightSean Begley
image captionThe property was given a category A listing earlier this year

She said it could mean that an "awful lot of what makes it what it is" would no longer be in the building.

"That would go off to auction," said Ms Fletcher.

"That would be a huge tragedy, it would be pretty heart-breaking."

image copyrightHistoric Environment Scotland
image captionMs Fletcher said the work in the house was "very visual and tactile"

The NHMF, which was set up to safeguard the most important national heritage at risk, said it was currently developing its response to the coronavirus crisis and was only accepting applications from "urgent cases".

"We have received a project inquiry from Tim Stead Trust which is currently under review as to whether it can be accepted as an urgent application," a spokesperson said.

The organisation added that it was unable to provide any further detail on when that decision would be made.

All images are copyrighted.

Related Topics

  • Art
  • Lauder
  • Wood

More on this story

  • Tim Stead house in Lauder may open to public

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