Permission sought to demolish Albert Row

  • Special interest: Albert Row, 19th-century terraced housing along Malabar Road, Ireland Island, Sandys, in 2007 when the historic homes were still occupied (Photograph supplied)

    Special interest: Albert Row, 19th-century terraced housing along Malabar Road, Ireland Island, Sandys, in 2007 when the historic homes were still occupied (Photograph supplied)

Rare Victorian terraces outside Dockyard could be struck from the historic buildings register in two weeks’ time to allow owner West End Development Corporation to tear them down.

The notice to delist Albert Row as buildings of special architectural and historical interest was posted in the Official Gazette under the authority of Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs.

Objectors have until August 25 to lodge protests against the destruction of the terrace.

Mr Roban accepted Wedco’s request to downgrade the rundown houses late last year.

Albert Row is some of the last evidence of the once-thriving community that worked in the massive Royal Navy shore base on Ireland Island.

The Naval Dockyards Society in Britain has appealed for objections to be lodged to save the homes, built for Dockyard workers in the 1840s and occupied until 2014.

A similar block, Victoria Row, was torn down in 2016.

Ann Coats, the chairwoman of the society, said the homes were “extremely rare” around the world and the last of their kind on the island.

She added: “The buildings as a whole form an important element in the architectural, economic and social history of Bermuda.”

Ms Coats said: “They are almost the last survivors of very limited examples of housing built for dockyard workers — skilled tradespeople and others — as distinct from housing for dockyard officers.”

Albert Row, on Malabar Road, Ireland Island, Sandys, was Grade 2-listed in 2000 for “special interest and architectural and historical value”.

It once housed tradesmen when the Dockyard was a 19th-century industrial complex and Royal Navy base.

A Grade 2 listing requires that “alterations and additions should be limited to works that do not impinge on those parts of the building to be protected and preserved”.

The Naval Dockyards Society has said no maintenance of the houses was carried out after 2009, which allowed the buildings to be condemned.

Joanna Cranfield, Wedco’s business development manager, said last year the terrace was “dangerous and unhealthy”.

She added it would cost at least $10 million to salvage the houses and that no viable developers had volunteered to take on the job. But Ms Coats said no “objective condition survey or valuation of Victoria and Albert Rows, reflecting international heritage property values, has ever been presented by Wedco, despite many representations by the Naval Dockyards Society since 2012”.

Roger Bendall, a former Bermuda resident and NDS member who now lives in Australia, runs the Facebook page “The Historic Royal Naval Dockyard Bermuda, personal and family stories”.

Mr Bendall, who lived on Albert Row from 1936 to 1950, has posted memories on the area online, including “birthday parties, friends and neighbours, catching fish, the stairs my father built down to the beach”.

He said: “My father was a carpenter as well as a shipwright and using Bermuda cedar wood he made many household furnishings, lamps, trays, boxes for the family and for the neighbours.”

The proposal to downgrade the listed buildings at 6 to 12 of Albert Row gave “notice to the owners, occupiers and the public”.

Objections to the demolition proposal should be sent to the Department of Planning by the deadline date.

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Published Aug 11, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 11, 2020 at 8:22 am)

Permission sought to demolish Albert Row

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