Jon and Caroline purchased the studio building 12 Claremont with a view to develop it into a contemporary and community art space for Hastings. At the time of purchase the building was unoccupied apart from their studio and a drama group on the second floor.
12 Claremont is a five storey Victorian brick and timber warehouse building With 7000 sq. foot in total each floor is approx 1400sq. ft of largely open plan space. In contrast to the eclectic neo-gothic facade of the adjacent library and old observer offices the facade is flat fronted, simple but elegant featuring five arched windows and wooden arches and panelling on each floor. Although in bad condition the facade still contains many of the original features including the large etched glass windows with the YMCA Signs and the remnants of painted gold detail on glass above the windows.
Built in the 1890's it seems to have been used for a short time as dormitory and reading rooms for the YMCA then as Auction Rooms, a venue for public meetings, dances and other functions a bookbinders, engraving studio and storage.
In 1973 permission was granted for change of use to a photographic shop on the ground floor with storage and offices on other floors. It seems it was then allowed to fall into serious disrepair. Extensive roof damage and water penetration had affected the condition and use of the upper floors. In 1993 the building was bought, patched up by a local builder and then sold on. Very little had been done since then both inside and out and in 2002 was is in urgent need of restoration. The roof leaked badly, the flank wall was not weather proof and the windows were rotten. As a result there was water penetration throughout the building.
Jon and Caroline's plans were to develop 12 Claremont for mixed use as an artists and community arts space.
increasing the amount of studios available for visual artists by developing the first floor into five individual artists studios with a shared entrance and communal space for meetings, discussions etc.
providing office/workshop space for community arts groups on the first floor front and second floor.
developing the ground floor shop space for use as a shared space for contemporary art exhibitions, community art workshops , film clubs, music events evening classes etc.
developing the basement for use as individual storage/workshop units for community arts groups.