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21st April 2011

PORTLAND: A look through the keyhole

A DREARY gun emplacement built on a windy Portland cliff in 1901 has taken on a stunning new lease of life.

The concrete monster had been left to fade away once the threat of Zeppelin and German bomber had gone.

The site near Blacknor Fort was eventually bought for conversion to houses and some work was done, but it was still pretty dilapidated when Paul and Debbie Care bought the site in 2008 although they could see its potential.

Their dream was to transform the gun emplacement into a striking five-bedroom home.

Their path to success, which was often pretty rough, was initially chronicled for the Channel 4 television series Grand Designs but the programme was never shown.

Debbie said: “We hit design delays and we couldn’t complete building in time to be used on the show.”

That simple statement hides nearly three “challenging” years during which Paul, Debbie and their four children have been living in a one-bedroom former military building while their new home is being completed.

The family now hopes to move in this summer and Paul said: “We recorded as much of the gun emplacement’s history as possible. Parts of it can still be seen and all the underground magazine levels are untouched.

“The area where the shells used to come up is all still there together with the hoist and we are also keeping the sergeants’ cookhouse. We actually plan to make a feature of restoring it to a cookhouse for our personal use including the original cooking range.

“It has been a tough old few years and we couldn’t have done it without our builders, Melcombe Regis Construction, who have been unbelievably good.”

Debbie said she couldn’t believe how close they were to finally moving in.

She added: “I am really looking forward to one thing above all else – not having to pull out a bed and make it before I can go to sleep!

“That will be absolute bliss because all of us have had no personal space for so long. Soon we will have all the space we could want.”

PICTURE: Debbie Care with some of the stunning views from their nearly completed home

PORTLAND: A look through the keyhole

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