International rescue for the building world
It holds 2,000 years of history but Chiltern Open Air Museum has even more of our past to uncover. JO-ANNE ROWNEY visited the museum to find out more
CHILTERN Open Air Museum (COAM) is not your average museum. There aren’t glass cabinets full of fossils or dusty old documents.
Instead what greeted me when I visited the attraction, in Chalfont St Giles, was a green open space full of buildings – each with their own story.
COAM is a registered charity, that acts as a sort of Thunderbirds – International Rescue for the building world, ‘rescuing’ buildings about to be demolished.
I met with Kathy Burrows, a volunteer for just over two years to take a look at what new additions could be on the way to COAM.
As we walked down the
3D PUZZLES: Gordon Cocks and John Hyde-Trutch have worked on many buildings including this Haddenham Cottage and Iron age replica round house main gravel path Kathy pointed out that none of the buildings at the museum were originally built there.
In 1976 the museum was founded solely to rescue ordinary houses, and workplaces from around the Chiltern area.
Each was moved bit by bit, before being painstakingly being put back together. Think of a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle.
“These are living breathing buildings,” Kathy tells me.
“It’s not just bricks, and timber. They help us tell the history of these people’s lives.”
It is not just the buildings that are ‘living’ the museum continues to collect more as they hear of them.
The very reason that I visited was one of the museum’s latest acquisitions – The Jackson Studios.
Currently a pile of bricks at the side of the lambing field, the intention is to get enough money through crowdfunding to assess the materials and eventually restore them to their former glory.
The building is from Maple Cross, and dates back to 1745.
It was used as a recording studio by Jack Jackson, who made radio shows for the BBC and television up to 1963.
“It’s amazing to think that the pile of bricks has so much history,” said Kathy. “The team can look at this and see where each piece goes and how it should be put back together, which is impressive.”
British acts that worked in the original studio, include Motorhead, who