“We are only custodians for those that come after.” wrote William Morris on the founding of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. This is applicable to those of us fortunate to live in Collins houses, as we will only be able to enjoy them for a tiny fraction of their 999 year leases!

When I bought my house in 1993, the previous owners, Mr and Mrs Cheeseman, had lived here for 50 years. I am so grateful to the Cheesemans that they did not remove the fireplaces with their beautiful handpainted Poole Pottery tiles, or the solid turned ebony door handles or the carefully designed built-in cupboards and kitchen dresser. Nor did they replace the sturdy cast iron gutters with flimsy plastic or pave over the gravel driveway or replace the brass bell-push.

It is possible to personalise and upgrade these houses for life in the 21st Century without destroying their special character. Please think twice before removing anything you believe may be original. Careful repairs and maintenance may not be as glamorous as a “make over”, but will ensure that future generations will also be able to enjoy living in these “houses of distinction”.

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