The Restoration Man
About the Show
George Clarke helps rescue neglected architectural treasures across Britain
Series 1 Summary
Across the country, thousands of old buildings lie forgotten and neglected, tangled up by red tape and development restrictions. Many of these orphaned properties are steeped in history and are of outstanding architectural interest, yet are slowly being left to rot.
Architect George Clarke is passionate about our architectural heritage. In this series he travels the British Isles meeting the stubborn romantics who want to breathe new life into the architectural treasures he unearths on his journey. His mission is to help them transform these undervalued gems into brand new homes fit for 21st century living.
Filmed over two years Restoration Man watches as these wonderful buildings - from windmills and ancient towers to gate lodges and medieval churches - are transformed. But threatened by spiralling budgets and the credit crunch, plus the stresses and strains of working with old structures and confusing bureaucracy, none of these projects are an easy ride.
Episode 1 - Bath Lodge
George Clarke meets builder Mark Horton who wants to convert an 18th century folly into a luxurious family home.
For years Mark Horton has harboured a dream to live in a unique house. With this in mind he bought Bath Lodge. On the `Buildings at Risk' register for ten years the lodge is just a derelict shell, with no access road or utilities.
George is on hand to advise and support, as well as turn detective as he uncovers the history behind this mysterious building.
Mark is ready for the challenge, but disaster strikes three months into the project when the bank pulls Mark's loan. Pressure mounts with dramatic consequences on his health and the build itself.
Episode 2 - Church
George meets Gareth who, despite no previous building experience, plans to convert a disused church, all by himself, and on a shoestring.
Gareth Williams doesn't want to live in a bog-standard terraced house. He dreams of owning a unique home for his family and has bought a disused Victorian church in Pembrokeshire, which he plans to convert by himself to save money.
But the church sits in a graveyard surrounded by hundreds of dead bodies and that means lots of red tape. There is also the matter of Gareth's tiny budget, which forces him to source most of his materials off eBay.
George Clarke is on hand to help with designs and also offer the family much needed support as the stresses of this difficult build begin to take their toll.
Episode 3 - Windmill
Clive Bolton and his wife Jane have a dream of retiring and making their new home in a Grade II listed windmill in Anglesey.
Derelict since the 1920s, the windmill is situated on an island with picturesque views, but fierce winds. George Clarke discovers its rich history and helps tackle the many design constraints of this beautiful round tapered structure.
But the build suddenly comes to a halt as personal tragedy strikes the family.
Episode 4 - Towers
George Clarke takes on the enormous task of advising two stubborn romantics who own derelict military towers and dream of converting them into unique homes.
Artist Sarah McCombie has owned a Martello tower in Kent since 2004, and ex-army man Barrie Taylor became custodian of a Scottish castle tower in 2005. Although the years have gone by, their restoration dreams remain in limbo as progress has been very slow, and neither of them has secured planning permission.
George tries to give these dreamers a reality check, but getting them to listen is a battle in itself.
Episode 5 - Field House
Former childhood sweethearts Chris Kelly and Sue Hindle rekindled their romance eight years ago and have a dream of uniting their two families under one roof.
With this in mind, they fell in love with a tiny cruck-framed field house, with plans to convert it into their first home together.
But with four teenage daughters to house, they need to get planning permission for a crucial extension to make this dream a reality.
George Clarke is called upon to advise, support and help design a sympathetic extension. But as the stresses mount could it be that this fairytale doesn't have a happy ending.
Episode 6 - Gate Lodge
Scott Welch, a former heavyweight boxing champion and star of Guy Ritchie's smash hit film Snatch, has spent 20 years harbouring a dream that he would someday own Thorington Gate Lodge in Suffolk.
Undeterred by the fact it sits beside the busy A12 and that he hadn't even seen the inside, Scott bought this tiny Georgian gem with plans to convert it into a weekend retreat, so he can spend more time with his father who lives near by.
Architect George Clarke uncovers the history of the building and designs an uber-modern glass extension to transform this miniature marvel into a 21st century home.
However, it soon becomes clear that Scott's fight to get planning permission will not be an easy win.
Episode 7 - Coach House
Lisa and Darren Walker dream of converting a Coach House into a unique family home. While they work on the build, they plan to live onsite in a tiny caravan with their teenage son and three dogs.
Despite having no previous building experience, Lisa plans to project manage the entire project, and build a kitchen from scratch at the same time.
George Clarke is on hand to advise, support and uncover the building's history. But it soon becomes clear that the restoration won't be as straightforward as they'd hoped, which puts pressure on the family and their budget.
Episode 8 - Ice House
George follows Laird Henderson's bid to turn his remote Scottish 19th century ice house into an idyllic 21st century glass hideaway.
Laird Henderson enjoys the outdoor life, and for years has harboured a dream to live in a unique home where he can make the most of his lochside surroundings. Ten years after buying a remote Scottish ice house to use for storage, he plans to live onsite in a caravan while he converts the 19th century stone fridge into an idyllic hideaway.
George Clarke advises and helps design a 21st century glass extension to provide access to the stunning views. But the build suddenly comes to a halt when Laird clashes with local building control, and his caravan is served with an eviction notice.
Episode 9 - Medieval Hall and Mansion
George takes on the task of advising two families who have bought rare and nationally important buildings in Wales.
Simon Hooper and partner Victoria dream of restoring an ancient Grade I listed medieval house into a unique home. But their budget is tight.
At the other end of the scale are the Edwards, who have fallen in love with a neglected 70 room mansion and are determined to lavishly restore back to its original glory.
Both of these highly ambitious restoration projects prove to be more challenging than their owners anticipated.
The Restoration Man synopsis
George Clarke helps rescue neglected architectural treasures across BritainEpisode Guide >