Rooms with a view
PUBLISHED: 07:49 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 07:49 04 February 2014
When entrepreneur Remo Dipre’s company, Gladedale Homes, bought the historic army garrison at Shoeburyness as a flagship development site 14 years ago, there was one house that had been owned by the Army he was never going to sell.
Dipre had come to England from Italy in the 1950s and, in a relatively short time, became one of the leading figures in the house-building industry. When he was granted planning permission in the spring of 2002, Shoebury Garrison, home to the Romans, Saxons and Vikings during history, was to be his flagship development. From the mid 1850s, the area has been steeped in Britsh military history and part of it stands on the site of a scheduled ancient monument overlooking the mouth of the Thames Estuary.
Although it ceased to be a garrison in the military sense in the 1970s, in 2002 it still had all the buildings you’d expect in an army camp including the commandant’s house, officers’ mess, barrack blocks, chapels, stores, officers’ quarters, a theatre, library and a garrison hospital. All were to be refurbished, converted or rebuilt in keeping with the original – restored to their former glory as part of Dupre’s masterplan to create a village of 465 homes in almost 100 acres of parkland on the North Sea coast.
However there was one house the developer singled out as a future home for himself.
‘The Beach House needed a lot of work, but I fell in love with it immediately,’ Remo reflects. ‘Due to the location, history and incredible views, it was the absolute cream of the crop, so I kept it and purchased it myself from the company. I had never seen such amazing potential before.’
Built in 1856 as the residence of the garrison’s second-in-command and now Grade II listed, it stands in the privacy of a third-of-an-acre walled garden on elevated ground overlooking the mouth of the Thames Estuary. Over the years, Dipre received countless offers for the seaside home he had yet to live in, but turned them all down.
Eventually, two years ago, he went to town and refurbished it to the highest standards, built an extension and finished up with a fabulous home that does justice to the stunning position.
‘I chose all the best finishes, an Italian designer kitchen, plus high-tech wiring and speaker systems,’ says Remo. ‘I also had the private walled garden extensively landscaped to my specification. I insisted on a double garage as well as private electronic gates to give the place real exclusivity and security.
‘I had a natural solid oak staircase and oak flooring throughout to give a natural look. I love how all the modern finishes give an edge to such a prestigious listed building steeped in history. I think it shows off the Victorian splendour with modern refinements. I personally chose all the finishes down to paint colour, antique style fireplaces and modern bathrooms.’
The house has five double bedrooms, five bathrooms (four en suite), two reception rooms, a study and a conservatory. The kitchen is an army cook’s dream with granite work surfaces, integrated appliances and a battalion of gleaming floor and wall units in wood, polished to show off the beauty of the grain. All the principal rooms look out to sea, making the most of the spectacular location.
‘I used to come up here every week,’ says the man who during his career has built thousands of homes to make other people proud and become besotted with the property on the Essex coastline he intended for himself. ‘I used to love to walk around the long, tree-lined avenues and around the coastal pathways. In my opinion it is one of the most exclusive, private and impressive beach-front properties in southern England.’
Unfortunately, the entrepreneur, now nearing 80, has health problems which means the Beach House is no longer practical. ‘I can’t drive any more and my legs don’t like me to walk very much,’ Remo admits.
So, last year Remo gave his beloved Beach House to his daughter, Tricia, a film producer and director. Due to business and family commitments, she hasn’t had the opportunity to spend much time at the house either, so now it has been placed on the market.
Tricia explains: ‘Dad is absolutely gutted. He kept it for 14 years, but neither of us has had a chance to enjoy it.’
It looks like it will be another family that makes the Beach House their dream home.
Now it is for sale
The Beach House is for sale through Dedman Gray at Thorpe Bay (call 01702 311111) and Savills Chelmsford (01245 269 311) with a guide of £2.15m.