Heritage is rescued

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A regeneration project by housing provider First Wessex has rescued a piece of Portsmouth’s maritime heritage.

This month the final resident moved into the new homes created from what used to be Portsmouth Foyer – a landmark building in Edinburgh Road, Landport, which began life in 1908 as the Duchess of Albany Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Home.

It has been restored to its former glory as 29 high quality affordable apartments for rent and shared ownership, plus a commercial unit.

The works were completed by First Wessex Homes, the housing provider’s building subsidiary.

It has been called Aggie Weston House to commemorate its proud connections with Aggie Weston’s, the much-loved sailors’ support charity founded in 1876.

Peter Walters, the chief executive at First Wessex, said: ‘Residents moving into Aggie Weston House mark a new chapter in a very distinguished story for this building, which carries so much local history.

‘The more than 100 years of heritage is what has inspired our careful refurbishment of the building. It’s a landmark for the city and we’re very proud to have given it a new lease of life where people can put down their own roots.’

Aggie Weston’s took over the building in 1951 after its previous base in Portsmouth was destroyed by an air raid during the Second World War. It was renamed the Royal Sailors’ Rest and for years offered support to sailors at the city’s naval dockyards.

In the mid-1990s the building was taken on by Portsmouth Housing Association – which later merged to form First Wessex – and became Portsmouth Foyer to house vulnerable young people.

It closed and a new home for the Foyer has been constructed by First Wessex in Greetham Street, Southsea.

Now new life has been breathed into Aggie Weston House once again through the thoughtful adaptation by First Wessex into much-needed affordable homes on a prestigious corner site close to the city centre.

The Rev Simon Springett, the CEO at Aggie Weston said: ‘We are delighted that the name of Dame Agnes Weston, and her compassionate work, has been honoured in this way.

‘The Aggie Weston charity continues to help sailors, Royal Marines, and their families, to discover fullness of life today.

‘It is therefore a pleasure for us to be associated with an organisation that provides homes, shelter, and rest for the community as a whole.’