Dragons watching over you, in The Yealm Topping Out Ceremony

21st May 2019

Dragons watching over you, in The Yealm Topping Out Ceremony

The world watched aghast as the flames ravaged Notre Dame last month, and all eyes turned upwards towards the guardians perched high on the cathedral’s majestic towers.


The Gargoyles and Chimera that adorn this renowned church, the soul of Paris, serve different purposes.  Gargoyles are carved drain spouts, designed to carry rainwater away from the building to project the masonry from water damage and Chimera are ornamental-only sculptures.


Simon Friend of Red Earth, owner of the landmark redevelopment of The Yealm, knows a thing or two about Wyvern – a winged, two-legged Chimera dragon with a barbed tail.  He is repairing six of them to reinstate and decorate the new roof of The Yealm, situated in the heart of the twin riverside villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.


Simon Friend, Director of Red Earth commented: “To commemorate the Topping Out Ceremony we are reinstating the stunning roof-top dragons, which have been repaired by local historical monuments and buildings restoration specialist Guy Marsh, from Chumleigh. The dragons are earthenware terracotta and likely date from 1898 when the hotel was first built.”

Ornamental roof adornments, similar to The Yealm dragons were used in ancient China and Rome to deter evil spirits.  Restoration work included: replacing two missing heads, two tails, two wings, five forearms and the odd leg.

Devon Contractors were appointed as the main contractor for the £4.9m conversion of the former Yealm Hotel  into six luxury apartments, together with a further eight new-build apartments in the grounds and one stunning contemporary house; all with riverside views and private woodland.

The independent contractors are well advanced on the three new builds of this project, and refurbishment of the former hotel is progressing well with internal fitout works now commencing on some of the floors.  They are on target for completion in the autumn.

Nick England – Director /(Contracts Manager - Devon Contractors said: “Converting an old building is always very challenging, particularly with the structural make-up unknown until we start opening  this up, and the original roof was also in a very poor state of repair.”  He adds: “Simon Friend has a wealth of experience in the development process and our working relationship with the client has been excellent.  He’s very hands-on and knows exactly what he wants and gives clear direction. We’ve been delighted to work on such a prestigious project in an outstanding location.”

Exeter-based Grainge Architects are leading the design on this project, having worked from initial conception, through the planning process and to production of construction information.

Director James Brookes, Director - Grainge Architects said: “We have really enjoyed working on such an innovative project in a beautiful setting, harmonising the design with the surrounding landscape in keeping within this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” He adds: “Simon has been a joy to work with as a client and it has been refreshing to work with someone who embraces the importance of attention to detail.”


Plymouth firm QSPM Consultants LLP are the Contract Administrator and Quantity Surveyors for this project.  Gareth Steventon - Partner said: “As a practice we are very pleased to be associated with this high-profile project. Having worked with the developer Simon Friend for over 10 years, we have grown to know and understand his development raison d’etre of delivering quality with both panache and sensitivity.  We are very excited that Newton and Noss will once again regain the delightful and locally iconic former hotel safely to its skyline, lovingly restored and remodelled to provide luxurious homes with some of the most stunning views in Devon.”

Simon Friend concluded: “We are taking great care to retain or replicate as many original features as we can, for instance the ornate zinc cornicing and of course the dragons – which should now be good for another 100 years of looking out across this illustrious harbour. I am delighted with the work of the main contractor Devon Contractors and all the consultants have really taken on board the sensitive restoration works to the old hotel as well as being fully at ease with the construction of the demanding designs of the new build elements.”

For more information or to register an interest please contact Marchand Petit’s Newton Ferrers office on 01752 873311, email: newtonferrers@marchandpetit.co.uk. Alternatively visit the website at www.theyealm.co.uk