Wiltshire has plenty of beautiful old buildings, some of which would benefit from a little loving care. Maybe what they need is husband and wife partnership, Julie and Howard Duckworth from Goole in East Yorkshire, and their determination to bring buildings back to life.

For over 30 years, the Duckworths have been investing in the renovation of Georgian and Victorian buildings in their local area, which have benefited from Julie and Howard’s passion (and it is definitely a passion) to see these neglected properties not just restored to what they once were, but improved to give them a new lease of life and a sense of purpose in the modern world. Perhaps none more so than their regeneration of The Lowther Hotel.

“For Julie and me, it’s never been just about the bricks and mortar, it’s been more about the people who could get the use of whatever we do.” Said Howard, “Julie summed it up brilliantly when we opened the doors of The Lowther Hotel. She said it was once a building where people used to come and enjoy themselves and it was once full of laughter. We want to make it that kind of place again and secure its future as a long-term business success.”

You only have to see the steady stream of guests to what is now a fully functioning English Heritage Grade II* listed building (only 5.5% of listed buildings achieve this rare distinction), to appreciate just how much life they have brought back to this once derelict structure.

When Howard and Julie took on the building in 2008, its biggest feature was the extent of the dry rot. Two years of hard work and painstaking restoration later, that included a series of murals painted in around 1828 by a contemporary artist depicting how the nearby docks may look in what was then the ‘future’, and a magnificent Minton tiled floor in the reception area. The Lowther Hotel opened its doors for business in August 2010, and four years later it’s still going strong.

Howard was careful that like all of their projects, it was truly fit for purpose in a world of high running costs, tight margins and social and environmental responsibility.

When Howard’s energy supplier, npower, contacted him about conducting a energy audit at The Lowther, he was delighted with the results. Not only did they report back that everything Howard and Julie had done was a good example of energy management best practice, but also suggested further measures that could save the business an estimated £2,000 a year.

Among these suggestions, that Howard has now implemented, are improved internal lighting, ventilation and extraction systems, and a voltage optimiser that lowers the voltage of the electricity going into the premises so they use less energy.

It wasn’t just the suggestion of these further energy and money-saving measures that impressed Howard about npower’s energy experts – it was the level of understanding they showed.

As he said, “The recommendations npower has made aren’t just an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all package. They were made after they visited our site, looked at our equipment and our needs, and sat down with us and discussed what we had done and what we still wanted to achieve. They understood our business and our aims and gave us an action plan with estimated savings and payback periods. It’s why I’m happy to be a figurehead for their ‘Business Energy Champions’ campaign, helping to get other small and medium sized businesses to evaluate and understand their energy consumption and to give them the chance to save too.

Julie and I like to think that we’re leaving behind a legacy that will benefit the local community, and npower is helping us to realise that dream.”

If, like Howard, you’d like your business to make the most of its energy, contact npower and ask about a free energy audit.

Visit npower.com/howard

0800 912 9007 from your landline
0330 100 9383 from your mobile


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Estimated savings taken from an on site energy survey undertaken at The Lowther Hotel on 19th June 2014 by Carbon Control Ltd.