We had an interesting departure from our usual line of work at the beginning of the New Year with a commission from The Albatross Travel Group now based in Larkfield in Kent.
This successful travel business started from small beginnings. In 1994 they employed a handful of staff and worked from a converted Methodist chapel in Aylesford near Maidstone. Although now in significantly larger premises and employing many more staff, the time spent in the Old Church was a happy and productive phase in the development of the business. The Old Church had – and still has – a great deal of charm as a working environment and the firm’s time there was so fondly remembered that we were asked to produce an ARCHISTORY drawing as a special gift, presented to the outgoing managing directors as a retirement present.
We approached the commission with some trepidation, partly because we were uncertain if there would be sufficient records detailing the history of this type of building, and partly because we were given a very small amount of time in which to create the picture. It really was a bit like Time Team, and we were relieved that the frantic work yielded a great result!
Purpose built in 1851 construction of the chapel was made possible by the gift of the land by local railway contractor John Betts, railway contractors must have been the dot-com millionaires of the mid-19th century and the building remained in use as a chapel up until 1991. It was then converted to a freehold business premises and still boasts many of the original interior fittings such as the reredos, or altarpiece, to the chapel commissioned in 1891.
Now occupied by Personnel Health & Safety Consultants Ltd the building still has a great deal of charm as a place of work. The current owner Steven King was extremely helpful in giving us access to the building and showing us some historic material in the firm’s possession. Among the deeds was a beautiful handbill from the grand opening of the chapel in 1851. This fantastic and ephemeral document was an inspiration to the design of our drawing and I managed to reproduce the intricate decorative border from the leaflet. It is always really satisfying to add some element of design to the drawing which has a real relevance to the building in question.