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Plans to rebuild fire-ravaged Rodney Melville café

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A local community interest company has pledged to rebuild a west London café designed by heritage specialists Rodney Melville + Partners, which burnt down last month just two years after completion

Gunnersbury Estate CIC, a not-for-profit company set up to manage Gunnersbury Park and Museum, said it hoped the building within the park would reopen next year.

Rodney Melville + Partners, which has studios in Warwickshire, Bristol, Dublin and Belfast, led a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to refurbish the Grade II*-listed Gunnersbury Park House and build a series of new structures.

The scheme included demolishing a dilapidated 1950s café and building both a replacement on the same site and a neighbouring venue for display of historic carriages.

A blaze ripped through both these new buildings in the early hours of Friday 28 May this year. Historic 19th century objects including a penny farthing and a Hansom cab were saved by firefighters and removed from the site by teams wearing gloves and masks in light of the pandemic.

A spokeswoman for Gunnersbury Estate said the fire was an ‘active police investigation’.

She added: ‘We are planning on rebuilding the café. We are looking at around 12 months minimum, and are looking at how we can provide a temporary refreshment stand in the meantime.’

Rodney Melville + Partners director David Cattell said the practice was ‘very saddened’ by the loss of the café.

‘It was part of a very successful, lottery-funded project and had proved to be a popular facility for local people and visitors to the park and museum,’ he said.

Located where the M4 meets the North Circular, Gunnersbury Park was the first of the Rothschild family’s country estates and was sold to Ealing and Harlow local councils in 1925 to become a public park and museum. 

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