A fine romance in Hartlepool - couple find dream home
PUBLISHED: 17:58 13 June 2011 | UPDATED: 21:34 20 February 2013
It was love at first sight for Asma and Raheel Durrani when they originally saw their house in Hartlepool, complete with fairytale Gothic tower Words and pictures by Helen Johnson
The Durranis home in Hartlepool features a fairytale Gothic tower with strikingly angular bay windows.
Sitting in the tower window in their first-floor sitting room, its like being in the treetops, as sunlight filters through bright green leaves, and Mrs Durrani says: The sun shines in all day.
Its a striking feature, and the thing that first caught the couples attention. Mrs Durrani told me that her daughter told friends at school that she lives in the house with a tower like Rapunzel.
MrDurrani says: I saw this house as I was passing by to visit another. I saw the tower, and fell in love with it. I brought my wife to see it, and she agreed it had the wow factor.
However, he says the inside wasnt so attractive then. It was divided into two flats. But there were many original features, which we loved, so we decided to go for it.
It was built in 1887, for the owner of a match factory. He designed and built it purposely for his family. Ive got the original deeds, handwritten on parchment. Our surveyor knew the area well, and said that the factory owner had a big family, who worked with him in the factory, and lived in the house here. He wanted them all to be together and to keep a close eye on the factory.
But the factory burned down and the family lost a lot of money. So they sold the land which had their tennis court on it. Later, flats were built there.
When the house was built, the top floor housed servants. Mr Durrani says: There was a bell system for the servants, with a separate bell for every room. He retained the bell buttons for historical interest - they have no servants today. However, he says, they have no problem using the seven bedrooms. We have three children, a computer room, an office, a gym, and a guest room for visitors.
He goes on: When we moved in, I dont think we realised quite how much work there would be. One thing came after another. Outside there was no driveway, and everywhere was overgrown with bushes.
A partition wall at the foot of the staircase divided the house into upstairs and downstairs flats.
Mr Durrani says: The first job was to take away the partition to turn it back to one house. One of the bedrooms had been converted into a second kitchen, so we removed that and changed it back to a bedroom.
Building and plumbing works took a year. Mr Durrani says: Most of the original features were intact, but a ceiling rose and one moulding over a door were missing, so I had replacement mouldings made.
After the building works, the house had to be decorated and furnished. Mrs Durrani says: My sister-in-law helped me with all the shopping. We had to choose carpets, colours, furniture, etc.
It wasnt an easy job, as everything had to harmonise with the style, and size, of the rooms. Mrs Durrani explains: For this type of house you have to look for big furniture. I got one pair of settees that I liked in the shop. But when we brought them in here, they looked like toys.
Next they turned their attention outside. Mr Durrani says: There was an old coal store at the back that was falling down, and my parents helped us to remove it. They cleared the overgrown bushes, built a drive at the front, and a garage at the back.
In such a large home, the housework might be daunting, but Mrs Durrani says: The first thing is to teach the kids to clean up after themselves and put things away. After that, its straightforward. And I like it because theres space for the kids to play, so I dont have to take them out all the time.
And I like living here because its peaceful and quiet, and the people are very friendly.
Mr Durrani agrees. Its a big plus that everybody here looks after each other. Theres a Residents Association too, that meets once a month. And its economical of petrol to live here, as we can walk to the town centre, the park, schools and medical services - theyre all conveniently nearby.
In the school holidays, relatives visit. Mr Durrani says: There are lots here for them to do. Theres the seaside and Marina with Jacksons wharf. Last year there was the Tall Ships, and theres a historic church on the Headland.
Sadly, Mr Durrani says his parents health is failing now. They dont want to move - so I feel we should move closer to them.
So the Durranis home is for sale. Soon, some other lucky person will fall in love with that tower bay - and not have to live through the hard work of the renovation that the Durranis have so lovingly carried out.
The Durranis home is for sale with Manners and Harrison of Hartlepool.
Shrewsbury House, 129 York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DW