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Trust opposes Royal Naval Club delisting

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Royal Naval Club at 28 Pender Road in Sandys Photo DavidSkinner

The decision to delist the old Royal Naval Club building at the entrance to Dockyard has prompted opposition and concern from the National Trust.

The structure, which dates back to the early 1820s, was taken off the list of protected buildings this month by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy.

Senator Fahy told The Royal Gazette it had been a difficult decision, although the structure was in a “considerable state of disrepair”.

He also revealed that plans were afoot to refurbish and repair the club’s three neighbouring listed buildings; the Bungalow, Star of India and Moresby House.

“These decisions are difficult because, clearly, the architectural and cultural heritage they represent is of the utmost importance,” said Mr Fahy.

“There are some economic realities to consider, though. In this case, at a minimum, the building needed a new roof and, indeed, it is very likely that only the facade could have been retained.

“This is not to condone deliberate negligence on the part of building owners but, here, I am aware planning permission and a building permit are approved already for work that will ensure the restoration and reuse of another listed building, the Bungalow.

“In addition, the Star of India has planning approval for its rehabilitation too.

“In due course, we anticipate having all three of the remaining listed buildings repaired and inhabited. In that way, some balance is being achieved.”

Jennifer Gray, chief executive of the Bermuda National Trust, told The Royal Gazette that the trust had hoped the America’s Cup might provide opportunities to renovate the old structure.

She said that the trust had submitted a formal objection to the Ministry’s proposal to delist the building.

“The trust is concerned that the Royal Naval Club at 28 Pender Road has been delisted,” she added.

“The Royal Naval Club and its neighbour to the north, the former Moresby House at 26 Pender Road are both fine buildings, regardless of their condition through neglect.

“We had sincerely hoped that the America’s Cup would have provided the ideal opportunity to renovate and find a new use for historic buildings that have been long neglected, such as these in the Dockyard area, rather than to tear them down.”

The Royal Naval Club — one of a cluster of three old naval buildings at the entrance to Dockyard, was built in the early 1880s and served as an officers’ and then as a naval ratings club and canteen.

Ms Gray said that the old club and other early old naval buildings should be “treasured” and demolition by neglect should not be encouraged.

She added: “It has much the appearance and scale of sizeable British and American railway stations and provides a variety to Bermuda’s architectural heritage.

“The Dockyard has been the focus of a heroic restoration and preservation effort in the past three decades and now is not a good time to turn away from this conscious effort.

“Other than the merits of this particular building, the Trust strongly objects to the delisting of buildings which have been allowed to deteriorate — it negates the whole principle of listing.

“The best thing to do is not always the easiest.”

Royal Naval Club at 28 Pender Road in Sandys Photo DavidSkinner
Royal Naval Club at 28 Pender Road in Sandys Photo DavidSkinner