Lancashire Interiors - The Gin Gang, Quernmore
PUBLISHED: 00:16 07 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013
Location and room size were important but it was an altogether more unusual feature that sold one man on this Quernmore home, writes Amanda Griffiths<br/>Photography by Kirsty Thompson
Two features make Daniel Muzios Grade II listed Quernmore home stand out from the crowd. One is a gravity-defying bed which appears to float in mid-air in the master bedroom. Even more extraordinary, and the thing that sold the house to Daniel, was an enormous wooden gin engine.
He had to go all the way to his native Italy to find the bed, but the engine had been there for centuries. Once it would have been powered by horses in this former mill, which probably processed feed for stock. Its certainly a talking point.
The building was converted by a developer in around 2003-4 but theyd left the ground floor with the gin engine as storage space, he says. As soon as I walked in I clearly saw this as a living space with the gin engine as a great feature.
As far as I know the building is 18th century - theres a date stone in the wall that says 1715. In the Domesday Book it says there was a farm here in the 12th century. I assume this is just one building which was added on at a later date.
The gin engine is late 18th century we think. We believe its one of only a few remaining examples in the north west one is in a museum in Manchester.
It gives the house its name, The Gin Gang. It has nothing to do with Mothers Ruin - a gin gang is a building housing an engine driven round and round by a horse. In fact, under the stone flagged floor you can still see the animal tracks as they went laboured to turn the engine.
The machinery is the main reason why the house has a grade II listing and, although it dominates the living room, it doesnt detract from it being a light and comfortable home for Daniel, who lives there with his partner Jenny Tomlinson.
With the conversion already having been done for him, Daniel set about making minor changes to the layout in terms of how he was using the building and putting his stamp on things.
The key thing for me before I looked at doing any work to the house was the furnishings, he says. I used a lot of white and a lot of reflective surfaces to make the most of the light and have used hints of orange to warm the space up. It needed to be comfortable and light. When I first moved in the ceiling was made up of the dark wooden boards you can still see above the gin engine but this made the room too dark so I applied for permission to put the current ceiling in.
The new white ceiling provides the living space with better insulation and the addition of LED spotlights in place of two more traditional fittings further brightens the space. A wood burning stove matches the contemporary furniture nicely and the old fireplace has been bricked up and turned into a built-in shelving area which Daniel hopes to fill with mementos from his travels with Jenny.
On the first floor, the room that was previously being used as a living area forms the master bedroom; where Daniel has created a floating effect with none of the furniture apart from a chair, which he soon hopes to replace, actually touching the floor. The bed by Italian company Lago is engineering at its best. I brought it back from Italy, laughs Daniel.
Then, one day I was driving down the A6 and discovered a Lago shop in Preston. The other key feature in the bedroom is the window which connects the master bedroom to the guest bedroom in the eaves of the property where Jenny does most of her work and which serves as a reminder of its mill history you cant help but think of it as a viewing platform from one level to another, even if it wasnt an original feature of the mill.
Daniel, half English and half Italian, bought the property five years ago after falling in love with the Lancashire countryside while studying at Lancaster University.
I remember taking a drive through this area one day, he says.
The fact it was so beautiful and so near Lancaster made an impression on me. When I was looking for houses I remembered that and it really struck a chord with me.
I was always looking for a stone building. I like old things but what was really important to me in the search was big rooms. In England you tend to find that big, expensive houses tend to have big rooms with high ceilings or more open plan space and that smaller, less expensive properties have more, smaller rooms; the fact this was a small property but with large rooms really appealed to me and stood out as unique.
The location as well as the size of the rooms really appealed to me but I have to say the gin and the historical aspects were a massive bonus. It was a house when I bought it, now its a home.
The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Lancashire Life
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