George Clarke unveils incredible transformation of ramshackle stable

Pensioner spends £170,000 transforming a ramshackle 120-year-old stable into a ‘unique’ home on George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations complete with horse stall TOILETS – and viewers give him ‘top marks’

  • Retired solicitor Bernie, 70, from Bristol, featured on last night’s George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations
  • Pensioner bought a dilapidated building in Hessle, five miles north of Hull, in April 2019 for £125,000 
  • He had an initial budget for the project of £150,000 and a proposed time-frame of just seven months 

An ‘eclectic’ pensioner who bought a 120-year-old ramshackle stable was given ‘top marks’ by viewers after transforming the property into a ‘unique’ but  ‘beautiful’ retirement home – using almost entirely reclaimed and salvaged materials. 

Retired solicitor Bernie – described as ‘eclectic’ by his daughter – from Bristol, featured on last night’s episode of Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations where he was seen giving his property a makeover. 

The 70-year-old bought the dilapidated building in Hessle, five miles north of Hull, in April 2019 for £125,000, with an initial £150,000 budget for the project and a proposed time-frame of just seven months.

But a string of misfortunes – including unforeseen reinforcement needed for the roof as well as the Covid pandemic – meant Bernie’s dream home project hit delays and took up extra cash, pushing the final building budget to £170,000 after taking two-and-a-half years.

Retired solicitor Bernie (pictured left) – described as ‘eclectic by his daughter’ – from Bristol, featured on last night’s episode of Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations as he gave his property a makeover

He bought the dilapidated building (pictured) in Hessle, five miles north of Hull, in April 2019 for £125,000, with an initial budget for the project of £150,000 and a proposed time-frame of just seven months

But a string of misfortunes – including unforeseen reinforcement needed for the roof as well as the Covid pandemic – meant 70-year-old Bernie’s dream home (pictured) project hit delays

The build (pictured) also took up extra cash, pushing the final building budget to £170,000 after taking two-and-a-half years

Complicating the already major renovations was the fact that Bernie lived around 200-miles away from Hessle in Bristol. Pictured, the bedroom afterwards

Complicating the already major renovations was the fact that Bernie lived around 200-miles away from Hessle in Bristol. Son-in-law Andrew acted as project manager. And in addition, Bernie split from his partner Jenni – a therapist and healer – during the project.

Eventually, the building work took around two-and-a-half years to complete as Bernie refused to budge from his vision of upcycling old materials – including Edwardian toilets and cisterns in the horse stalls – instead of using all new items to complete the lengthy renovations.

The stables, which were built at the turn of the 20th century to serve Thorncliffe – a large villa owned by a local wealthy fruit importer – were in a ramshackle state and earmarked for demolition after being left to rack and ruin for over half a decade.

But Bernie persuaded the villa’s owner to sell him the property. He said: ‘When we spoke and I said “I just love it as it is, I don’t even want to extend it, I want to keep it as it is”, I think that made it possible.’

Son-in-law Andrew acted as project manager. And in addition, Bernie split from his partner Jenni – a therapist and healer – during the renovation. Pictured, the stables 

The stables, which were built at the turn of the 20th century to serve Thorncliffe – a large villa owned by a local wealthy fruit importer – were in a ramshackle state and earmarked for demolition after being left to rack and ruin for over half a decade (pictured)

But Bernie persuaded the villa’s owner to sell him the property (pictured). He said: ‘When we spoke and I said “I just love it as it is, I don’t even want to extend it, I want to keep it as it is”, I think that made it possible.’

His daughter Jess and her family also have a home in the original grounds of Thorncliffe House, which tempted Bernie away from his Bristol home so he could be closer to his family.

After his first visit to the site, presenter George Clarke said: ‘It’s fantastic, all in its original position, you’ve got all the little details and features everywhere, it’s a brilliant space, it really is.’ 

The two-storey stable had a basic structure – the ground floor featured two large spaces with a room inbetween, and the top floor was one large room. 

Bernie converted the ground floor into a living area and kitchen, and the master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. He turned it into three rooms – a guest bedroom, a shower room, and the living room. 

His daughter Jess and her family also have a home in the original grounds of Thorncliffe House, which tempted Bernie away from his Bristol home so he could be closer to his family. Pictured, the living room following the makeover

After his first visit to the site, presenter George Clarke said: ‘It’s fantastic, all in its original position, you’ve got all the little details and features everywhere, it’s a brilliant space, it really is.’ Pictured, the house once renovated

The pensioner managed to find numerous salvaged materials – including Edwardian ceramics for the bathrooms – and York stone for the outer and inner flooring, which he traded for his 1954 Hillman Minx car. Pictured, the house after the transformation

Speaking about the delay in finishing the property, Bernie said: ‘It’s much more important to get the building right so I can sit and enjoy it how it is than to say I must do something to a schedule. I don’t want to be thinking “I wish I’d done that,” I’m just going to stick to my guns.’ Pictured, the dining room following the renovation

But along the way, he hit numerous hiccups. In November 2019, the direction of the building took a new turn when it emerged that the roof beams – which Bernie was raising to make the ceiling of the top floor higher – were basically holding the whole structure together.

This meant a steel frame had to be put in place to reinforce the building. Not only was this frustrating for purist Bernie, who wanted to stick to traditional materials like wood, it also added many months of additional work.

By the time the initial target completion date of January 2020 rolled round, the stables were still a building site.

Then the Covid pandemic hit, and the site ground came to a stand still, with project manager Andrew estimating that around 12-14 weeks worth of work were lost.  

However, once works restarted, Bernie was able to get moving, though he was hit with further delays due to Covid.

Bernie’s ultimate goal was to be in by his 70th birthday in December 2021 – and he achieved that, beating his target by several months. Pictured, the bedroom after the makeover

When George came to visit the project after its completion, he was totally blown away by what Bernie had achieved – and by his innovative use of original materials

He managed to find numerous salvaged materials – including Edwardian ceramics for the bathrooms – and York stone for the outer and inner flooring, which he traded for his 1954 Hillman Minx car.

Speaking about the delay in finishing the property, Bernie said: ‘It’s much more important to get the building right so I can sit and enjoy it how it is than to say I must do something to a schedule. I don’t want to be thinking “I wish I’d done that,” I’m just going to stick to my guns.’ 

His ultimate goal was to be in by his 70th birthday in December 2021 – and he achieved that, beating his target by several months. 

When George came to visit the project after its completion, he was totally blown away by what Bernie had achieved – and by his innovative use of original materials.

Notably, these included the original metal stable gates, which the pensioner kept in place, surrounding his bed.

On the whole, social media users had a positive reaction to the property transformation, with some praising Bernie for his approach to upcycling and maintaining the property’s original features

However, some viewers couldn’t help but notice the unusual item on display in the bedroom – his grandfather’s ventriloquist dummy

‘This is one of the most unique bedrooms I’ve ever seen,’ said George. He also complimented the rest of the home, saying: ‘You couldn’t have done a better conversion and restoration job.’  

Speaking about the house after moving in, Bernie said: ‘It actually has done what I wanted, and so often in life, you strive for things, but it doesn’t necessarily give you what you hope. This is peace. It gives me back far more than I have given it.’

On the whole, social media users had a positive reaction to the property transformation, with some praising Bernie for his approach to upcycling and maintaining the property’s original features.

One viewer said: ‘Bernie on the show is awesome! Doing things properly and not letting anyone tell him different. If you want real character, then that’s how you do it.’ Another added: ‘He’s done a lovely job. Top marks.’

However, some viewers couldn’t help but notice the unusual item on display in the bedroom – his grandfather’s ventriloquist dummy.

One Tweeter wrote: ‘Beautiful renovation the courtyard is gorgeous not sure about the bed in the stable bit and that dummy at the bottom of the bed is a thing of nightmares… #remarkablerenovations.’

Another commentator agreed, writing: ‘Loving what’s he’s done but not sure about the dolls at the end of the bed. They would freak me out #childsplay #chucky #remarkablerenovations.’

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