Historic York building with links to Charles Dickens enjoys £1 million makeover

Trinity Cottage behind 69-71 Micklegate. Inset: Charles Dickens
18 May 2020 @ 11.19 am
| Business

The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company has played a significant role in a £1 million restoration project with a strong connection to Charles Dickens.

York Handmade have been working in conjunction with York Conservation Trust to renovate 69-71 Micklegate in the city.

The building was once the office of 19th century railway engineer John Birkinshaw, whose clerk Richard Chicken was a famous eccentric regarded by many, including respected York historian Hugh Murray, as the inspiration for Mr Micawber. 

Mr Micawber, one of Dickens’ most memorable creations, is a leading character in his classic novel David Copperfield. Richard Chicken worked with Dickens’ brother Alfred in the railway engineer’s office.

Alun Nixon of York Handmade Brick commented: “It was both a pleasure and an honour to work on such a prestigious project with York Conservation Trust. York is a city brimming with history, but it was still a fascinating surprise to discover this Dickens connection.”

Shops and apartments

69-71 Micklegate, York. Photograph: YorkMix

The firm supplied £20,000 worth of old clamp blend bricks to build Trinity Cottage, together with a boundary wall, at the rear of 69-71 Micklegate.

The building is now completed and is a holiday let, managed by Wheelwrights, whose offices are in 69-71 Micklegate itself.”

Guy Armitage, managing director of York Handmade, added: “This has been our second recent high-profile collaboration with the Conservation Trust, following the acclaimed restoration of 14 Lendal, now occupied by the House of Trembling Madness.”

The Trust bought the Grade II* listed building – a Georgian remodelling of an earlier late-medieval timber-framed building – in 2013. In 2014 it announced plans for a major £1 million renovation of the building, but the redevelopment was held up by the need for listed building consents. 

Now work on 69-71 Micklegate has been completed. The main building comprises two ground floor shops, with three apartments above and Trinity Cottage at the rear, where a modern extension has been demolished.

Guy Bowyer, architect with the York Conservation Trust, said they were very happy with the quality of bricks and service received by York Handmade. 

“We are lucky to have such a good local resource for high-quality handmade bricks and we are happy to keep working together in the future.”

Other York Handmade projects in the city include York Art Gallery, York Racecourse and De Grey Court for the University of York St John.