Heritage Regeneration in Whitefield

Whitefield townscape heritage initiative

In recognition of the special architectural and historic interest of the Whitefield Conservation Area, a Townscape Heritage Initiative conservation grant scheme has been established in order to enhance and bring back into use buildings and features which make the area so special.

With financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other agencies various projects are currently underway:

  • Lomeshaye Bridge Mill
  • The Mill Town Terraces
  • Booth Street former Public Library

Lomeshaye Bridge Mill

The existing structure was built in 1841 as a spinning mill but there is evidence of a previous mill on the site. A further two storeys were added in 1891 with the original timber roof trusses being raised up and re used. The mill was at this time owned by the Ecroyd family who also built the adjacent gothic influenced Lomeshaye School in order to educate the children of mill workers. The Mill is not a Listed Building.

The building is owned by The Heritage Trust for the North West, (HTNW) a building preservation trust. It is proposed to develop small work units at the mill, replicating a similar successful project which HTNW have been involved with at nearby Barrowford. It is proposed to use Heritage Lottery Funding and money from other sources to repair and convert the mill.

The Mill Town Terraces

The terraced housing was invariably built of the local Pennine sandstone. Door and window surrounds, gate piers and copings would give emphasis by the use of Ashlar. Early housing had local sandstone roofs but following the introduction of improved transport links such as the canal and then the railway, Welsh slate became the predominant roofing material. Windows were generally of a sliding sash type and doors were panelled softwood.

The housing was built one block at a time, which resulted in slight variations in architectural detailing between blocks such as chamfers to door jambs and window lintels. The bulk of this housing was constructed in an intense thirty year period from 1860-90. The varying status of these houses was indicated by some which are built on to the back edge of the pavement whilst others have a small front garden. Some were built with rear outshots incorporating a scullery (where food was stored) and a kitchen. Higher status houses might have a bay window on the front ground floor.

Nineteenth Century Housing for 21st Century Living

The critical tester for ensuring the longevity of this housing is in refurbishing it to meet the needs of modern living.

The last few years have seen much thought and design go into refurbishing Whitefield's terraces in such a way that they reflect contemporary demands yet essentially retain a flavour of the original appearance and architectural detailing.

Through the Government backed Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder (Regenerate formerly ELEVATE) and support from the Homes and Communities Agency, the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, property which has in many cases stood empty for a number of years is being reinstated with timber sash windows, panelled doors of the Victorian period, cast iron rainwater goods, slate roofs and sandstone cleaned to its original colour.

To meet the needs of modern living some properties are being internally remodelled "two into one", offering more rooms and giving more space yet externally the properties will retain their original appearance. Cutting edge technology is being used in order to improve lighting and heating but yet meet increasingly stringent Government heat efficiency and carbon emission targets.

Booth Street former Public Library

A special meeting of the General Purposes Committee of Nelson Council on 17th August 1904 voted to accept £7000 from a Mr Carnegie for the purpose of building a free library on a site at Booth Street.

A subsequent competition to appoint an architect received 207 entries from which Poyser & Savidge of Nottingham were selected.

This impressive and prominent building marking the top end of Carr Road forms a key part of the group of civic buildings dating from the turn of the century - together with the Town Hall, and former Technical School

Built partly of Catlow Stone (Nelson) and Keighley Stone (West Yorkshire), the layout and design was typical of its time with everything arranged around its central hall. A juvenile reading room was designed in the basement "to keep the noisy children away from the more serious workers" whilst a "ladies room" was built into the first floor level.

The building is in a restrained Baroque Revival style, with distinctive round and arched windows which were originally fitted with metal frames. It is proposed to reinstate these along with stonework and roof repairs, in order to secure the building for the future, and enable beneficial reuse .

Conserving into the Future

In addition to the buildings mentioned above, the Whitefield Conservation Area boasts a number of other buildings and features of historic interest. These include weaving sheds with their distinctive 'sawtooth' profile northlight roofs and cobbled streets with cast iron nameplates. Anyone having a wander around will spot other street features from a Victorian past. Some of those may be reinstated and enhanced to give future generations an appreciation of a Victorian milltown streetscape.

Supplements Further Reading
By Industry and Integrity-Nelson, a late 19th century industrial town-Nicola Wray, English Heritage (2001)

Nelson Historic Town Assessment Report-Mitchell and Newman, Lancashire County Council (2004)

Supplements Useful links
Heritage Trust for the North West

English Heritage

Heritage Lottery Fund