Unique Property Bulletin 19 May 2013

Air Force Won

Guy Gibson’s Lancaster Aircraft (c) 2013 Russ McLean & Evans Collection.

For this week’s Bulletin we start and finish our edition with the Air Force – British & American. Air Force Won to Air Force One.

In the last few days there has been a fine commemoration for the 70th Anniversary of the World War 2 Dambuster heroism during 16th and 17th May 1943. Prominent amongst which is RAF Scampton, from where the mission took off on that fateful night of 16th May 1943. Pictured above is “G” for “George”, the Avro Lancaster aircraft piloted by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, flying in the first wave….


As part of the commemoration, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over one of the “practice” dams in Derbyshire’s Hope Valley exactly 70 years after the main event. This is where so many of the intense training runs took place back in 1943. Eventually the bouncing bombs of 617 Squadron breached the Mohne and Eder dams, while the Sorpe dam was significantly damaged.

Hairs on the back of the neck moment now, with a very good BBC article. Especially the video link of Spitfire and Lancaster aircraft flying over where the training dam bomb runs took place ….


Awesome is an overused word, but in this context very appropriate.

It is a deeply sobering thought that the CO of 617 Squadron, Guy Gibson was just 24 years old when he commanded this now legendary mission. His squadron has forever since been known as the Dambusters.

Not only did Wing Commander Gibson do his duty in the bombing of the enemy dams with the aircraft he was piloting, but he remained at the battle, repeatedly flying into harms way to draw enemy fire and allow other pilots and crew safer passage whilst they completed their missions. The man was 24 years old. Not sure about anyone else, but what were you or I doing at this age? The citation for this young pilot’s Victoria Cross says it all:-

He personally made the initial attack on the Moehne Dam, descending to within a few feet of the water and taking the full brunt of the anti-aircraft defences. After he had completed his attack he then circled very low for 30 minutes, drawing the enemy fire on himself, so that the following aircraft would have an easier run into the Dam. When the attack on the Moehne was complete and the dam was breached, Wing Commander Gibson then led the remaining aircraft to the Eder Dam where once again, with complete disregard for his own safety, he repeated his tactics and once more drew on himself the enemy fire so that the attack could be successfully completed. 

Mission Impossible: Mohne Dam Breached (c) 1943 Flying Officer Jerry Fray RAF.

Sadly, the genius behind the “Bouncing Bomb”, Sir Barnes Wallis was distraught. His daughter, in a moving documentary, said her father never got over the deaths of the RAF crew on that incredible mission. Out of 19 Lancaster aircraft, eight were shot down. Three men were captured and 53 were killed.

The former World War 2 building at RAF Scampton is part of a vast, now generally silent network of airfields that quietly populate the fields of Britain. A first class book written by Roger A. Freeman with excellent photographs courtesy of After the Battle magazine is called “Airfields of the Eighth“….




If you, like us, have a hankering to buy and live in one of these amazing Air Control Tower buildings, please treat yourself to this very good book.

The commemoration of the Dambusters and self sacrifice is a positive reflection that when things are at their worst, people are at their best. Good medicine for many who are now enduring more than a little discomfort in the current austere times. That whatever the circumstances, there are good people about.

It is fairly rare that a former Air Control Tower comes up for sale. Though we did list one last year – at Clathymore in Scotland …

Clathymore Air Control Tower Conversion (c) 2012 Stephen Country Homes


This marvellous, very well designed and converted property is still available as of 19th May 2013:


The original price of £1,750,000 might be worth checking up on – to establish if there is any “flexibility” by the seller.

Several hundred miles south of Clathymore Air Control Tower, we have this week’s main listing: The former RAF Parranporth, which many, many Spitfires called their home.

Spitfire Aircraft (c) 2013 Russ McLean & Evans Collection.

The headline listing this week is geographically far away from RAF Scampton, being in Cornwall. Though in it’s own right a pretty impressive and well preserved World War 2 Air Control Tower AND Aircraft Runway. Plus an Underground Bunker.

At the peak of World War 2, RAF Perranporth had no fewer than 21 Spitfire Squadrons operate from this RAF station.

The property now being offered for sale has 3 Tarmac Rrunways; WW2 Control Tower/Clubhouse; 21,000 sq ft Modern Hangar; Fire Station. In all about 334 acres.

Perranporth Airfield – A Spitfire Home (c) 2013 Savills & Owner’s Collection.

Agency Narrative: On behalf of a private vendor, Savills has been instructed to sell the freehold interest of Perranporth Airfield, North Cornwall. The airfield is currently operated by Perranporth Flying Club Limited, which holds the Civil Aviation Authority Licence. The licensed private airfield totals about 334 acres (135 hectares) comprising three tarmac runways, a control tower and clubhouse, 21,000 sq ft (1,951 sq m) hangar, fire station and various underground bunkers.

The former Second World War Royal Air Force fighter station was first operational in April 1941, used by Spitfire squadrons and many of the WWII bunkers and shelters remain today. More recently the airfield, which is the only privately owned airfield in Cornwall to have all-weather tarmac runways, has accommodated private aircraft and offered various flying instruction.

Kay Griffiths, associate at Savills Oxford, comments: “Perranporth is located ten miles from Newquay and 11 miles from Truro occupying an impressive cliff-top site in a popular tourist area of the North Cornish coast. The airport is fully equipped to capitalise on the steady flow of tourism and could lend itself to both a commercial and/or leisure facility. As a result of this being an unusual property to come to the market, we are already receiving a high volume of interest.”

Background information and further reading at…




IMPORTANT: Please do not worry too much if you miss this, or any particular property. We have often bought something second time around. To ameliorate the missing of something marvellous the first time, frequently we have negotiated a far better price when it comes up for sale again.

That is one of the unseen facilities of the Unique Property websites. Slowly, over time, there is a database with hundreds upon hundreds of unusual properties, where through time and circumstance, even older listed and sold buildings come back around for sale again. Well worth our readers keeping an eye on what has been listed a while back. Also you can follow the advice of the Unique Property Manual and simply write a polite letter to a particular new owner asking them to keep you in mind if they ever come to sell.

Perranporth Control Tower (c) 2002 Peter Rasmussen.

Perranport Airfield is in, and of itself an excellent example of unique property coming back around for sale. In May 2007 it was up for sale. Previous information guided this at £950,000. If no firm sale is concluded in 2013, maybe worth a visit, and if the Perranporth Airfield is within your sights and range have a haggle after any given offer deadline date passes. If so, maybe gently mention the earlier price to see if the current price might be “trimmed” a little (though the £950,000 from 2007 was reported by the selling agents that time to have been significantly exceeded)….


Our view, here at Unique Property Bulletin, would be to seek planning permission from the local authority for ONE SINGLE and TIED owner’s house to be built within the 334 acre boundary, and be subject to a LEGALLY BINDING covenant that only ONE house may ever be built on the entire site, as a condition of that planning consent. The rest of this historic airfield then to be preserved intact for future generations. A resident owner in a purpose built site based home looking after the place should be far more welcome than locally voiced concerns that one of Britains finest and best preserved WW2 airfields may be raized to the ground and destroyed to make way for hundreds of bog standard houses.

Some things should be kept as they are, and a single owner’s house may be something that the council, and just as importantly, the local community might embrace in exchange for the legal covenant that the historic former RAF Perranporth will be kept as it is for future generations and not lost.

We collectively owe the Guy Gibsons and the young lives of this country, given for our freedom, that much.

Memorial – RAF Perranporth (c) 2002 Peter Rasmussen

Location: The Control Tower, Perranporth Airfield, Higher Trevellas, St. Agnes, Cornwall, TR5 0XS.

Tenure: Freehold.

Guide: £1,490,000.

Contact Agencies Tel: 01865 269095 – Abi Goodwin or 01865 269022 Ian Simpson.




Meal Mill

Sabiston Meal Mill, Orkney (c) 2013 Lows Agency

Our first listing at the top of this page is guy near Land’s End, and for the second offering we are jetting off to about as far away from the first property as can be managed and still remain on the British Isles. We are even going beyond John O’Groats.

So what do we have next? Well a bargain and a lot of really unique timber.

Agency Narrative: Sabiston Meal Mill is a “B” Listed building which has retained many of its original features. The attractive structure is situated close to the public road leading north from Dounby Village to Birsay. The substantial property may be suitable for conversion into a dwellinghouse subject to the necessary planning consent being approved.

Mains electricity and mains water are close by. Sounds ominous. Though you might opt for going ‘off grid’ and install a generator to harvest eco-energy off of the mill wheel and a small wind turbine installation to top up the nearly free electricity supply. Just a thought.

Wonderful & Evocative Wooden Machinery (c) 2013 Lows Agency

Some additional information may be gleaned from the Buildings at Risk Register ….


Location: Sabiston Meal Mill, Dounby, Orkney, KW17 2HS.

Tenure: Feuhold (Scottish Equivalent of Freehold).

Guide: £65,000. Yum yum, tasty meally price.

Contact Lows Orkney Tel: 01856 873151 – Andrew Bonner.




Fustian Fabric & Five Thousand Feet

Fustian Mill, Stoke on Trent (c) 2013 Butters John Bee

This former Fustian Fabric Mill is a very large property for the money – some five thousand square feet internally. Sitting on over 0.2 of an acre of land (rough rule of thumb for residential houses are 12 newbuild detached per acre to give some perspective).

The agents, Butters John Bee have indicated an inkling that a change of use from office class to residential may be possible. Subject of course to a change of use planning application. With such a large building it may be a possibility to convert this former mill to say three homes, with the third one being virtually free after the first two may be sold off.

Whether this former Fustian Mill is an interesting project we will leave up to you. For sure it is a lot of building for the money, and worthy of a little more studying.

Agency Narrative: A former Fustian Mill from the late 19th century of brick construction under a pitched roof with Rosemary tiles. The ground floor offers well presented reception, partitioned offices, ladies and gents toilets, kitchen and workshop, accessed via an up and over door. The space is versatile to extend the office area if required.

The first floor is self contained with two entrances having been refurbished to provide attractive office accommodation with original beams, currently partitioned into five offices although these could be removed to provide a fully open plan area with kitchen, ladies and gents toilet facilities. Services have been split for the ground and first floors. Currently the upper floor is available to let as serviced offices with separate electric meters.

Detached with Land (c) 2013 Butters John Bee

The property may also lend itself to residential conversion subject to planning consent with structural beams offering suitable separations points for each unit.

Location: Former Fustion Mill, Congleton Road, Butt Lane, Stoke On Trent, ST1 1NE.

Tenure: Freehold.

Guide: £295,000.

Contact Butters John Bee Agencies Tel: 01782 212201.



If you have difficulty downloading this pdf format brochure, please telephone the estate agency on 01782 212201 for a paper version to be sent via Royal Mail. Thank you.


Reservations ?

Former Reservoir Building, Perth and Kinross (c) 2013 CKD Galbraith

Reservations? Not so much. This interesting former reservoir building, plus a decent woodland site – approximately 1.08 acre shouldn’t leave the buyer with that many reservations.


It has that most precious of things in the world of unusual buildings – detailed planning consent. To be precise full planning permission for conversion to single house. The site comprises of an attractive stone built former reservoir building situated on and within a secluded peaceful woodland surrounding, with glorious views towards Dunkeld.

Reservoir Interior (c) 2013 CKD Galbraith

Location: Former Reservoir Building, Blairgowrie Road, Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross, PH8 0EP.

Tenure: Feuhold (Scottish Equivalent of Freehold).

Guide: £120,000.

Contact CKD Galbraith Agencies Tel: 01738 451111.




Alpine Plans

Alpine Restaurant, Greater Manchester (c) 2013 Paul Anderson

This is a detached restaurant, currently with a flat included – consisting of three bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom. However, it also has an interesting planning permission* in place.

Outside is a rear garden area, car park and land on the opposite side of the road. Approximately 0.57 acres. Situated in a semi-rural location. If you check out the online brochure weblink listed below, you can still see snow laying on the nearby hills. Positively Alpine indeed

* Planning Permission has been GRANTED to convert this former restaurant to 4 residential apartments. The old convert three and the fourth is free project arithmetic may apply here – if you get your sums right.

Location: The Former Alpine Restaurant, Rochdale Road, Denshaw, Oldham, Greater Manchester, OL3 5UE

Tenure: Freehold.

Guide: £250,000For Auction 13th June 2013 – Lot 121. If you read this AFTER the auction date, please, always remember to check if the property actually sold on the day. FTSAA property can be very exciting and bargain priced as well.

Contact Roy Pugh Auctioneers Tel: 0844 2 722444.

Online Brochure ….



Wonderful Workings

The Old Mill, Cheshire (c) 2013 Stuart Rushton Agencies

Key Features:

Semi-Detached Grade II listed former mill.

Split level accommodation over three floors.

Stylish open plan living room.

Three top floor bedrooms & two bathrooms.

Potential to convert lower ground floor into self contained annexe.

Semi-rural location only two minutes drive to the town.

The Wonderful Workings (c) 2013 Stuart Rushton Agencies

Agency Narrative: Grade II listed semi-detached, former corn mill, situated in a delightful semi-rural setting within close proximity to Holmes Chapel, with spacious, split level accommodation over three floors including a stylish open plan main living space

Family room, utility room, cloakroom/w.c, inner hallway, wheel room and gallery viewing platform, study/bed 4, open plan living room, kitchen breakfast room, three further bedrooms, two bathrooms (one en-suite).

Location: Mill Lane, Holmes Chapel, Crewe, Cheshire East, CW4 8AU.

Tenure: Freehold.

Guide: £520,000.

Contact Stuart Rushton Agencies Tel: 01565 757000.



If you have difficulty opening the type of linked file above, please call the agency, Stuart Rushton, on 01565 757000 for a glossy paper version to be sent to you via Royal Mail. Thank you.


and finally …..

Air Force One

DC9-32 Tail ID N681AL (c) 2013 General Services Administration

We end this edition in a complementary way to the start. But far from Britain’s RAF, we have for sale, across the Atlantic Ocean – Air Force One, the preferred transport of the President of the United States of America.

This aircraft is the older version – DC9-32 as pictured above. NOT the big beautiful Boeing that we are used to seeing Harrison Ford in ….

Air Force One – NOT being auctioned (c) 2009 US Federal Government Public Domain

The smaller, and older version is being sold by auction. Bids starting at $50,000 which is incredibly inexpensive given the current market for “ordinary” DC9 aircraft. The particular DC9 is being sold by the United States General Services Administration (GSA).

The protocol is that the nomenclature “Air Force One” only applies as a call sign to a particular aircraft when the President of the United States is actually aboard.

So what would Unique Property Bulletin readers do with such a historic structure?

Well you can live, albeit eccentrically, aboard such a thing. Getting the aircraft to the UK might prove challenging. The size of a DC9 doesn’t exactly fit into the standard shipping container.

Anyone serious about such a project should not be totally put off by the logistics of moving an aircraft. We know first hand that ships, for example, can be moved out of class under certain statutory exemption certification. Especially for one-off transit arrangements. Aircraft often have a similar protocol. There is also a thriving business of ferrying aircraft from one airport to another around the world.

Last but not least, any potential bidder needs to read the GSA website carefully. Then inspect the ‘plane with an appropriately qualified aircraft engineer. Though we would hope that any aircraft that has carried either the President and/or Vice President would be maintained to a very high standard.

If you do take an interest in Air Force One, and manage a George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces idea:

Amazing Spaces – Unique Places To Live

…. please let us know. We would love to hear how you get on.

Aircraft Location: The winning bidder will have to pick up the plane from the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona, where it is currently being stored. The presidential seal has been removed, though it still features the “United States of America” lettering across its fuselage.

Further information: http://gsaauctions.gov/gsaauctions/gsaauctions/

Or contact: Barbara Salfity
Phone: 617-565-5696
Fax: 617-565-5720

Email barbara.salfity [at] gsa.gov

Please replace [at] with @ so as to avoid the email recipient being bombarded with spam from automated internet email address hoover machines. Thank you.