THE last remaining buildings on the site of the Harris meat factory family’s historic mansion in Calne are being restored to their former glory and converted into new homes.

Developer Stonewood Partnerships, along with its sister company Stonewood Builders, has begun work on renovating the Grade II listed buildings at the site at Woodlands in Calne, to be known as The Courtyard.

A former stable block will become four two-bedroom apartments and a one-bedroom apartment, while a former coachman’s cottage will be extended to become two two-bedroom cottages. The cottage was part of a former malthouse dating back to 1758 and had, in 1826, housed the town’s fire engine. The doorway faces into New Road and still faintly bears the words ‘Fire Engine House’ above it.

The site of the mansion once known as Woodlands will become 11 new homes grouped around a central courtyard and public space – seven three-bedroomed terraced homes, three three-bedroomed cottages and a one-bedroom bungalow.

The stables and cottage are all that remain of the buildings bought by Charles Harris in 1869. He demolished a former wool factory and schoolhouse facing towards Silver Street and built Woodlands, an elaborate Italianate family home.

But he only lived there for three years before he died, aged just 54. The family continued to live in the house until 1908. It was also used for functions for the staff from the C&T Harris pork processing factory, which at its peak employed more than 2,000 people in the town.

The Harris Social and Welfare Club moved into the stables and cottage, which were continually extended to add a bar, function room, offices and eventually a skittle alley between 1949 and 1976.

By 1983 the main house had come into the ownership of the Fatstock Marketing Board, part of the Fatstock Marketing Corporation which two years earlier had closed the Harris factory in New Road. The mansion was demolished that year.

The stable block and coachman’s house was offered to the newly formed Woodlands Social Club, which ran it until it closed in 2015 after going into receivership. The site has stood empty since.

Award-winning Stonewood Builders, which specialises in restoring listed buildings, will convert the older buildings into apartments while Stonewood Partnerships, which itself has won awards for its developments at Great Somerford and Holt, will build the new homes.

Lee Zeffiretti, contracts manager for Stonewood Partnerships, said the key task for the developer is protecting the heritage of the original buildings. Three impressive stone pillars between the stable block and coachman’s cottage, which were swallowed up by the modern extensions, will be returned to their original state once the newer buildings are demolished.

“There’s been a lot of add-ons over the years that have robbed the building of its original character,” he said. “Once we are back to the original building with its brick-paved courtyard entrance and pillars either side it will look more like its old self again.”

He said the roof tiles of both budlings will be removed so that felt and timber underneath can be replaced and repaired where necessary. “Then we will put all the original tiles back again,” he said.

Work on clearing out the interior of the old club, which have remained untouched since its doors were locked for the last time, will begin in August, as will work on the site of the old mansion, now the club’s car park, for the foundations of the new homes.

Mr Zeffiretti said the building team will liaise closely with people living in nearby Woodlands Park over noise, disruption and working hours. “We pride ourselves on being good neighbours and our site manager will be keeping them fully informed about what we are doing,” he said.

Two of the apartments will have private gardens and a former walled garden alongside the historic cottages will be restored and made into a public space.

“This is an ideal challenge for us, protecting and restoring buildings that have parts dating back more than 250 years and are an important part of Calne’s heritage,” said Stonewood Partnerships Managing Director Sam Smart.

“We are also creating beautiful new homes that reflect the history while embracing all the modern comforts, as well as being light, airy and welcoming. We can’t wait for the people of the town to see how we are preserving this legacy.”