Restoration (2003) – Rescuing Heritage buildings in Britain. Dir. Simon Mansfield

Will you reverse a history of neglect?
Another chance now, on bbc2, to save Britain’s endangered buildings. Griff
Rhys Jones is at the Tower of London. Hello, welcome to Restoration, as we enter
the fourth week of our campaign to save Britain’s endangered buildings. Now, so
far, we’ve seen over 20 of our candidates, including on Friday’s program three
deserving locations in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. So how did they
fare when it came to your voting? Did you vote for the Burra Croft? Cne of only
two original thatched crofter’s cottages remaining on the Shetland Islands? Or how
about that no-expense-spared symbol of Edwardian excess, Kinloch Castle? Or did
you vote for the Bavarian-style edifice Banchory Sanatorium, where sufferers from TB were hospitalized? Well, the winner is here in the envelope as usual. I don’t know the
result, but what I’m told about the way people voted is interesting. We offered
three very diverse types of buildings last week, perhaps the most varied of the
series so far, yet the voting was very well spread between the three, showing
perhaps that all had wide appeal, but there had to be one winner
and the building that’ll go through to the final on September the 14th is: Kinloch Castle! A late 19th century folly on the remote
island of Rhum, Kinloch Castle has what is said to be the best preserved Edwardian
interior of a grand house remaining in Britain today. If it goes on to win the
final, it’ll be restored to allow visits and offer accommodation to nature
conservation groups and holiday makers, as well as being a venue for community
gatherings. Congratulations to Kinloch Castle. Now, if you feel moved to lend
your aid to the croft at Burra, or the sanatorium at Banchory, you can find out
how to contact the support groups via our website and it’s really heartening
to hear how other buildings that haven’t made it to the final are finding new
supporters as a result of appearing on the program. I hear that something like
four and a half thousand people have contacted Britannia Music Hall in
Glasgow since we visited, including some who knew it in its heyday. But – let’s move
on now. We’ve got three more buildings in need of help in another region of
the country. Well, today we’re going to cover a big area –
a very big area – full of interesting buildings, and I’ve come right to the far
north of this area to look at something well, it’s not exactly a building, it’s
more a sort of structure, a functional Monument… it’s a wall. But it’s no ordinary wall, it’s Hadrian’s
Wall. We’re in the Northeast of England Built in 122 AD and named after their
Emperor, this 73 mile stretch of stone battlements marked the northernmost edge
of the Roman Empire. Throughout its history, it’s been a symbol of war and
conflict, and that’s the theme of our programme tonight. Neighbours. Everybody loves good neighbours, but for the next thirteen hundred years this was the kingdom of argy-bargy. It
was disputed border territory. It’s hardly surprising then, that we
might expect to find buildings here which are defensive, big, rugged, with
little battlements on top of them, and then we’ll be travelling south – to Yorkshire. The Northeast has the biggest ratio of
historic buildings at risk in the United Kingdom, and we’ve tracked down three
contenders in need of restoration. We have a gothic castle with a bloody
secret, a heartwarming story of wartime spirit at a makeshift camp, and a battle
of wills that’s left a garden lost in time. Well, now it’s time to go and look
at our first contender, and part of it was built as a defence against northern
invasion, but there’s a bit more to it than that. We’re heading to the outskirts of
Gateshead, where nestling amid the surrounding woodland is Ravensworth
Castle, the ancestral home of the Liddell family.
By the turn of the 19th century, Thomas Henry Liddell the 6th Lord Ravensworth
had become fabulously wealthy, thanks to a rich supply of coal.
He owned every one of the local collieries and to show off his elevated status, he
wanted a trophy house, so he sent for a trophy designer – royal architect John
Nash. Mr Nash somewhat reluctantly set off on a
four-day journey to the cold damp north. He could be forgiven for not wanting to
leave Regency London; after all, he built most of it, but he was also a businessman
and he knew that where there was coal, there was gold.
Liddell commissioned him to think big, and Nash did not disappoint.
In fact, he designed the biggest, most ostentatious building in the entire
northeast of England. If Nash and Liddell could see what’s
become of their grand collaboration, they’d be shocked, but tonight, Ravensworth Castle is our first candidate for restoration. I love it when they just
dump us in the middle of nowhere, don’t you! A marvelous, picturesque ruin in the distance… So we’re in somebody’s garden,I guess? Fountain in the middle. Yeah.
Ravensworth is a forgotten treasure; most local people have never even heard
of it, and for the last 50 years it’s been visited only by trespassers and
vandals – but can such ruined buildings ever be restored? That’s what our ruin
detectives, surveyor Marianne Suhr and architect Ptolemy Dean are here to find
out. With no prior knowledge of the place, can they draw out its secrets, and draw
in your votes? Amazingly austere sort of tower isn’t it? No sort of gothic frilliness about this building it’s just very
simple. What an extraordinary place – look at the way the stone’s weathering there, it’s just sort of
nature is reclaiming the whole site isn’t it, eroding the stone and taking
over with this ivy. Dry rot, taking of the lead, I mean the loss of country
houses is so awful. I mean the numbers that were just swept away, it’s
incredible to see a house in such a state of complete decay! Even in its current state, Ravensworth
is one of the most important structures in the area – which is partly down to its
architect, the celebrated John Nash. The Prince Regent commissioned him to
design Regent Street, and Regents Park in London and, of course, a little something
for the weekend, the Brighton Pavillion. Nash also embraced the 19th century
gothic revival, designing grand country-houses with castle-styled
turrets and battlements located in picturesque landscapes. Ravensworth made a bold statement about the Liddell’s wealth and social status. Famous house
guests included the author Sir Walter Scott, and the Duke of Wellington. By the 1930s, the castle grounds were home to a series of military tatoos, but the castle
itself was home to no-one. It was already abandoned and fading fast, but that
didn’t stop two little girls growing up on the surrounding estate from
picturing the place in all its former splendour. To see this castle just ten
minutes away from where you lived was really you know quite special, and we’d
climb up and peep through the shutters and you could just make out the minstrel’s gallery and the double staircase… you just imagined all sorts of
things happening there. I lived in the lodge, my father was a woodcutter and a
sort of gamekeeper, so I had the whole woods to wander. I used to think I was
like Little Red Riding Hood! It’s not an option to rebuild the castle
itself, it’s just too impractical and expensive. Instead, the restoration scheme
is focused on a part of the site with much older origins. You know, there’s
nothing that makes me happier than exploring country house ruins, and look
what’s coming around the corner here! Oh, wow! Look, a whole Township of ruin! what an
amazing thing that is – a complete castle stable-yard. Come on, let’s go in. This is
a real medieval tower. Do you think it’s real or re-erected? I think it’s real! Oh,
look at this, it’s fantastic, Ptolemy! That’s got to be – I mean, that has genuinely got to be old
hasn’t it? Oh, yeah, I mean, look how worn the stone is. They’re right – the twin
medieval towers were built in the 12th century and are themselves scheduled
ancient monuments. The difference between a building like that a genuine medieval
building and our sanitised Victorian Gothic, where everything had to be
symmetrical – but original gothic was not symmetrical was it, I mean they punched
a window opening where a window opening needed to be, and you would have had
people coming out of that little doorway there and patrolling the curtain wall to
defend the County – Northumberland, County Durham, very dangerous place, nasty Scottish attackers
to the north, all sorts of troublesome instabilities… In late medieval times a lot of trouble between… are we on the
main road between Scotland and England? a real hot spot isn’t it, for
trouble. People had been living at Ravensworth for at least 800 years when
John Nash came in 1804. There was already a Georgian house here, the old Liddell
family home, which Nash demolished to make way for
his new castle, but he decided to keep the medieval towers and incorporated
them into his design for the stable-yard, identifiable by its clock tower. It’s all
in such a state now that it’s difficult to tell Nash’s work from the genuinely
medieval, but to the expert eye there’s no mistaking the original. This is such a
beautiful room – this, for me, is everything that is special about old buildings.
There is no superfluous decoration, every single feature in this room that is
beautiful is there for a function, for a reason. These wonderful pointed arches
either side of the fireplace are there to support the mass of masonry that’s
sitting above. This is the ultimate experience for me finding a little
building like this that hasn’t been messed around, it’s just here, pretty much
as it would have appeared in the 14th or maybe it’s even the 13th century! Great
testimony to medieval building techniques. Marianne and Ptolemy have now
reached the focal point of the restoration plans. In its heyday this was
the busiest part of the estate – the 19th century stable-yard.
I loved the stable block, because I was very keen on horses. The horses must have
recently gone, but the coaches were still in place, and I remember once
getting into one of these coaches and well I was Cinderella! it was absolutely
wonderful, and I had a lovely time until I realized you couldn’t open it from the
inside! So – can Ravensworth stable-yard
be brought back to life? I think we’re talking more than restoration, we’re
talking about largely reconstruction aren’t we, because this has just gone beyond
the point of restoration now. They’re going to have to build up complete
gabled walls, completely new roof structures and I would imagine a lot of
this stonework would have to be rebuilt entirely now. But all the evidence is
there to be able to reconstruct it in a fairly accurate way. What brought about the ruin of such a
grand estate? Well it was coal which built it, and ironically, coal which
destroyed it, because the castle was built directly on top of one of Lord
Ravens Worth’s coal mines and the underground workings eventually caused
subsidence. Throw in massive debts from death duties, and you’ve got two very
good reasons to move out, which the Liddells did, in the 1920s. The ensuing
decline was as rapid as it was irreversible. Something should be done, it’s dreadful
the way there’s just these poor, desolate bricks with such beautiful stone, I could
be really, really heartbroken, is the expression. Finally, in 1953, the castle
was demolished altogether, but by some strange stroke of luck,
the demolition stopped short of the stable-yard, and the twin medieval towers,
which is extremely fortunate for us, but what do Marianne and Ptolemy make of this
complicated set of ruins? I think, without a doubt, the most important thing on this
site are the two medieval towers. They were around in the days of Braveheart – William Wallace himself! They’re so ancient, they’re so special. To have survived
all those centuries, all the battles between the Scottish and the English and
they would have been right at the heart of that, fantastically important
buildings. But I think it’s really interesting how the estate has developed
using those as the the sort of central influence, and I think it’s the layering
that actually makes any site like this interesting. Okay, somebody might say you’ve
got two original lovely medieval towers which are pretty hot stuff and these
just Fake ones over here aren’t they? all this stuff over there, that’s just
something that’s been put up? The rest of the site is needed to be able to look
after these. They’re fascinating, but we can’t really use them for anything, so how do
we look after them? They’re going to need money in the future for upkeep, so the
idea is to re-use the whole of the site to generate what money and resources are
needed, and the care to keep the whole thing buzzing and the people that we’ve
identified who we’re working with are the Great North Forest, which is one of the
nation’s community forests. Their role here would be to either to use as a base,
or to bring businesses in here that have some connection with where they are, and
what this could provide is an opportunity for people to work within
forestry, to do craft courses, and to learn the skills. What does forestry mean?
It’s not just about trees, but it’s about all of the processes, about management of
forestry. >So people will actually be able to come here and use this building, not
just see it? That’s right, so it’s not just a visitor attraction, it’s
this whole idea of of getting people into the community forest and
understanding what that’s all about. Right, so how much, what sort of money are
you talking about? We are talking about a lot of money. Our calculations are, this
is going to take us a whisker over three million pounds. What would you say was
the unique thing that should prompt them to vote for this building, as opposed to
any other building? I think what the viewers are buying into here is the
‘secret garden’ the fact that you’re coming into a site which has all of the
history behind it, but it’s actually something that is going to really have a
role, and as you can see, in terms of being able to come in and enjoy the
quality of what’s here, we’re bringing something back from the very brink.
We’ve only probably got a couple of years left, before this will be too far
gone, and to me, that’s what the restoration is about – making the vision
into reality, and that’s what I really believe can happen here.
So – three million pounds will turn the stable-yard
into a base for the Great North Forest, providing community access to the
countryside, and running educational courses in forestry management. Will that
be enough to win your vote? If you want to save Ravensworth, this is what you do:
vote for the restoration of Ravensworth by dialing:
The building that gets the most votes tonight will go forward to our
final where one building will pick up its restoration money. If you’re wondering exactly where Ravensworth is, well this
might help. Well, of course the mines that went right under the house, knocked it
down, they’ve all gone, but in their place has arisen a great winged creature. This
is Anthony Gormley’s magnificent Angel of the North
and it looks as if it’s about to float off into the air, doesn’t it? In fact, its
foundations go 300 feet down into Lord Ravensworth’s mine. It’s a fitting
monument I think, to the people who actually paid for the big house – the miners. Coming up: the second building you can
vote to save tonight, a place where prisoners were held in the northeast of
England within living memory. Let’s travel there though, in the footsteps of
a set of prisoners brought here 350 years earlier. Our journey begins in July
1650, just across the border on the plains of Dunbar, the English army led by
Oliver Cromwell had won a great victory over the Scots. 10,000 Scottish soldiers
were taken prisoner. Now, this posed a little bit of a dilemma for Old
Ironsides – what was he supposed to do with the largest number of prisoners
ever taken up to that time in battle? Kill them – that’s what he might have been
expected to do by the standards of the time, but in fact, Cromwell we shouldn’t
forget, was part of a new order of the common man, and Parliament itself had
laid down standards for the treatment of prisoners of war.
it wasn’t the Geneva Convention, but for what Cromwell called his ‘poor Wretches’,
it was a start. But Cromwell now had to find somewhere big enough to keep them,
so the wounded, and the dying, were released, and the rest, some 5000, were
marched south. They covered a punishing 30 miles on the first day, eventually
arriving in Berwick-on-Tweed. For centuries, Scotland and England had
fought over Berwick; its town walls were repeatedly adapted to meet to the
changing fashions of war. All this rage for military improvement only came to an end finally, in the 17th century, when the English and the Scottish resolved
their differences, and became the very dear friends that they are today. The Scottish prisoners were marched on
to the 12th century Alnwick Castle. Beautiful, isn’t it? But this is architecture as
functional as a pitchfork. It wasn’t designed as a picturesque country house, it was designed as a fighting machine. Through the centuries, Alnwick has been
extended and remodelled into the impressive stately home it is today. When the Scottish prisoners came here though, and they stayed for one night in this
courtyard, this place was an unused, unloved, out-of-date military outpost. For Cromwell’s prisoners, conditions have now become so appalling that many have died
of starvation, disease and exhaustion. After another seven days on the road, a
mere 3000 survivors were counted into Durham, where their journey finally ended.
Durham Castle – it was originally built as a symbol of the Norman conquest, a mighty
redoubt. It’s a vicarage! – well, at least it’s a Bishop’s Palace, built at a time
when you wouldn’t want to meet a bishop on a dark night if you were up to
no good, because the King had originally enjoined his medieval bishops to keep order in this region.
This was their power house, and Cromwell’s generals at last found a
place big enough to keep all their prisoners – – not here, just next door,
over there… …in Durham Cathedral. Why was a medieval cathedral so huge? For all sorts of reasons; one was they wanted to show the power of God,
the Normans wanted to show the power of the Normans – it was a political statement
as well as to the power of God. but more importantly, it was built as a
place of pilgrimage, and they knew they would have literally hundreds and
hundreds of pilgrims coming. But by the time Cromwell had decided to use this as
prison it had already lost some of its status as a Cathedral, hadn’t it? In the
Civil War, it was treated extremely badly. When the Scots took Durham, they used
this as a barracks, when Cromwell came to Durham, he put his horses in, used
it as a stable, and then of course the Scottish prisoners came. This would have
been a very cold building in the autumn of that year, and these weren’t
enlightened times. There was malnutrition, there was sickness. Of the 5000 Scottish
prisoners who set off on that march, 3500 died on the March, or here
imprisoned in Durham Cathedral. That’s more than were killed in the original
battle, three months before, on the plains of Dunbar. It’s true to say that the obvious
horrors of this story certainly helped to change attitudes in the future. 300
years later, more prisoners come to County Durham, in much greater numbers. It’s a very different war, but it’s a similar dilemma, and it brings us to the
second building that you may want to vote for tonight. D-day, and the Normandy
landings of June 1944. The tide of war has finally turned and Allied troops are
pushing through Europe. [Newsreel:] “The huns had evidently been ordered as usual to fight
to the death. “Surrender was not even to be considered,
but the hun usually changes his mind when he find himself being outfought by
better men.” [Griff:] For the first time, large numbers of prisoners were being taken
and the authorities realized we had nowhere to put them
most were ordinary foot soldiers and classed as low risk, but we still had to
find accommodation quickly and cheaply. The second building you can vote to save
was part of that solution. The most modern restoration candidate of
the entire series might not look much at first, but it has recently been declared
a scheduled ancient monument. Marianne and Ptolemy’s mission is to find out why. Well Ptolemy, I feel like we’re in a scene from “Escape from Colditz” or
something, don’t you?>Except you’re going into it! Extraordinary! >It’s like nothing I’ve
ever seen before. These are buildings that have been put up in a hurry, aren’t they? it does look like some kind of prison
camp of some sort, doesn’t it? It’s like being in Eastern Europe, walking through here,
these pine trees and these arid… look at that! Have you ever seen such a bleak
place? It’s definitely world war two isn’t it? Prefab is post-World War
One. I think that’s for sure. Prisoner-of-war camp, maybe? There were
about a hundred purpose-built prisoner-of-war camps in Britain in
World War two. Today, just four remain intact, of which Harperley is by far the
most complete, but the real fascination here is not so much the buildings, as the
memories they hold. These are hardly the most sophisticated pieces of
architecture that we’ve seen are they, Marianne? But it’s incredibly simple
isn’t it, the whole construction method, I mean, they built a brick base, then they
filled it all with concrete for a floor, stuck these concrete posts, embedded them into the concrete, and then these posts have got a slot in, a slot down the
middle, so that they could actually just drop down these concrete panels, they
just drop them into position. I think this bitumen line must have been
where they’ve probably smeared some bitumen along there so when they drop
them down they they seal the cracks. Waterproofing. Well, it was probably only
designed to last for the duration of the war wasn’t it two or three years at the
most maybe? You see, it’s rather crude, because this concrete’s got lots of air
bubbles in it. I mean they’re literally just throwing it into moulds, you know
lots of air bubbles, no quality to this at all. Well, this is gonna be the major
problem with repairing these buildings, is that these posts are all reinforced
concrete, reinforced with these steel bars, and as soon as the air gets to them
and the water gets to them, they start to corrode, and as they corrode they expand,
and blow off the face of the concrete. There are 55 huts in all, which housed
around 1500 German and Italian prisoners. Only a handful of those former inmates
survive, but we’ve tracked down a few and brought them back to share their
recollections. This is Hut No.5, at that time there were 40 40 people living in here, 20 bunks. I left Hamburg Airport yesterday. From that
minute to this very moment, it’s a very, very great impression that I forgot about 55 years! I think I’m about 21 years old, and I feel like that and I’m fit! Although they found conditions at Harperley
spartan, it was an improvement on the transit camps that had previously been
used to. I was six months in Germany in the Prisoner of War camp, and we were never outside the camp. Then we came here, the next day we were allowed to go outside the
barbed wire to do some work on the farms, and so for me that was the happiest day
of my life! The prisoners provided a valuable workforce on farms and building sites. They were given leisure time outside the camp
and were welcomed into the local community. Morale was good, the men took
pride in their new home, and incredibly many of the personal touches which made
Harperley so special still survive. Look, this building’s different, what is this? You know what this is? This is the camp theatre! Is this the band? That’s the band pit, and
here’s the stage! It’s got raked seating! 1930s curvaceous detail. This is
really lovely, isn’t it – the way they’ve done that. The camp had its own theatre
group and orchestra, led by professional composer Helmut Inz. He wrote musicals
for the theatre group to perform for the local community. I love seeing a sort of
banal building type turn into something joyous through the application of paint,
Hessian sacking and a bit of, you know, sheer determination! Exactly, that
splendid wartime spirit! They even made their own costumes, props
and sets. Helmut Inz is now 86, he is still alive but in a wheelchair, and he
was the composer and writer of an operetta we played here – “Melody of Love”, and Buvi Uhlemann, he’s not alive anymore he was our Li-Lo, he was so
nice to look at! Oh, good heavens above! Look at this! How touching this is.
It becomes more and more enchanting, doesn’t it? Look at the curtains Ptolemy, are
these fantastic! !t’s Hansel and Gretel in hardboard! Such
fun. I love it! There’s something incredibly poignant about coming into a building like this, isn’t there? To have done this, to have lifted their spirits in this way, it makes it
very human, doesn’t it? It’s suddenly gone for me from being a very unhappy place,
with that sort of Colditz feeling when we came in, to being really quite a
joyful place. You can actually hear people laughing if you listen hard enough… We arranged a final surprise for our returning POWs with the help of Durham
University Orchestra. “Melody of Love”, the operetta, written by former prisoner
Helmut Inz is about to be struck up, for the first time in over 50 years. I have to confess I’ve never felt
particularly strongly about protecting 20th century buildings, their components
always have that feeling of having just been rolled up a production-line. I think today I must admit I’ve actually had my preconceptions challenged; the
sheer resourcefulness of the prisoners of war who lived here, who turned the
most unspecial building into something that was really quite extraordinary and
unique. When you put these precast concrete
Huts next to, say, a beautifully carved medieval church, artistically
speaking, the two are not comparable. This is more of a site not about architecture
so much, it’s about memory and history of a time when actually, people of your
age, my age, had their lives destroyed. To me, it’s as much part of our history and
our heritage as that beautiful medieval church. The memories of these men are integral
to Harperley’s future. Sadly, since we made this film, Ben Lugering has died,
so too, has Helmut Inz, the composer of Melody of Love. It proves that if we want
to save this place, we’ve got to move quickly. Unlike most historic buildings, Harperley
wasn’t discovered by heritage experts but by local farmers, James and
Lisa MacLeod. Used for agricultural storage since the Second World War, they
thought they were buying a bunch of farm sheds. Since they’ve discovered what it
was, they’ve been working hard to preserve it,
but when they first came here, their plans were a little less ambitious. Our first intention was to fill them full of hens, which seems a bit daft now, but… like agricultural storage, with us having the farm When you started doing this, what did
you think you were getting involved in, can you remember? It was just
something to do on a weekend really, wasn’t it, but it’s all sort of snowballed
from then, and different people have got involved and we’ve travelled to places we
never thought we would, we’ve been to Germany to meet the ex-prisoners, and now it
has taken no over our lives really. When people come here to visit the centre, what are they going to see – watchtowers? and… barriers going up? Well the main things
are the theatre, we want to restore that, going off the old photographs
we have, there’s the Medical Centre, I want to show what medical facilities
they had then, and then the rest of the huts, we want to do different themes
that were connected with the prisoners of war, either the land girls, maybe the
home guard, how they used to work on the farms… what the local community was like,
what was going on, and how the prisoners were involved with the local community.
So – how much is it going to cost? To stabilise each building after the
professional advice we’re thinking about £20,000 per building, and so
with the buildings in total, what sort of sum are you looking for altogether?
Then to stabilize it, we’re looking somewhere for a million pound, or thereabouts. Isn’t it going to be an enormous job to
restore them? Wouldn’t be better to sort of some way to sort of start again, with
some new buildings? We think the place has got a certain atmosphere, you know,
when you walk around it you can imagine all the people that were here, they could
have just left a few months ago. I don’t think you could re-create it
really. It’s going to cost a million pounds to make these buildings safe, and
probably another million to turn the whole place into a living museum. That’s
two million pounds for the whole restoration to preserve Britain’s most
intact World War two prisoner-of-war camp. If you want to help Harperley, this is how you can vote: dial the restoration vote line on: and nominate Harperley as your favourite building. When James and Lisa went pushing through those bushes, they were looking for somewhere to put their chickens, and they
ended up with, well, a scheduled monument on their hands. They certainly need some
help, but let’s look at a project now that doesn’t need any help from us. It
was a business-like undertaking, and it certainly shows that restoration can pay –
but only under specific conditions. Dean Clough Mills in Halifax, shows that like
much else in life, size matters. The mill was established in 1803 by a local
family called the Crossleys, and flourished through their initiative, and
the graft of its workers. By the early 20th century, it had become
the biggest carpet making factory in the world. They’re inglorious, stone-built workhorses of the Industrial Revolution. I love the way
that the mills on-site are just called Mill A, Mill B, Mill C, all the way up to
Mill H! There’s two-thirds of a mile of them! In 1982, with Britain in the throes of an
economic recession, the mill closed. All too often, that’s a death sentence for
industrial buildings like this. Instead, another local family with big ideas
stepped in. You came here and bought the the buildings almost as soon as the
carpet factory moved out, didn’t you? Was that a help? For the majority of the
buildings, they kept them in good condition, which meant that when we when
we came here, we were able to use areas of the building easily without having to
make substantial investment in repairs to the structures and fabric of the
building. The plan was to regenerate the site with a dual personality of Business
Park and Arts Centre, quite an undertaking, but the owners had an unbeatable natural
resource – belief. They’re adaptable spaces, because they’re large in the main as you
can see here, they’re large open areas, you’ve got very regular floor plates,
they’ve got good floor-to-ceiling heights, good natural daylight, so once
you get into the building, the nature what is here is a very flexible space
with which to work. Our starting point was about trying to identify the
business we believed could come here, would come here, and that was mainly
about small or start-up businesses on very flexible terms with the aspiration
of bringing the whole building back into use, and really as a part of that then,
starting to have higher and higher aspirations about the quality of that
re-use, and the way in which we’re re-using the building. When you drive into Halifax,
you see Dean Clough. I have visitors come to see me and that absolutely astounded.
There’s miles and miles of buildings and they’re just doing so much with it.
One of the most popular re-uses for industrial spaces like this is as art
centres. The problem is always how to make them pay. At Dean Clough, they seem
to have found the answer. We have a lot of gallery spaces here, and
they form part of the package that we provide to our customers as a whole. In terms of what they provide in direct income then it’s relatively minor, but they’re
nevertheless part of the product that we are selling to our customers I think
that sort of lends a sort of vitality to to the whole of the site really and I
think people do love that they come through through the galleries to go to
their offices into their places of work I’ve heard it said that some really
large corporations have come on board because of the galleries, because of the
ambience of the galleries, you know they find it so attractive. 20 years on from
the Hall family coup, businesses are queuing up to move in here. Today, 3500
people work at Dean Clough. That’s almost as many as in its Victorian heyday and
it’s still growing, proof perhaps, that when it comes to
restoring a historic building, it pays to think big. So it’s interesting really, because Dean
Clough was a sort of business opportunity to begin with, that became a
glorious restoration. Now we’re going to move on, to look at our final place that
you can vote for today. Now, I have to say that there is no business opportunity
here. In fact, the whole of this place was built as a sort of monument to frivolity! Meet Thomas Wentworth. Its 1695, and
after a meteoric career as a soldier and a politician, Thomas fully expects to
inherit the family estate, at Wentworth Woodhouse, near Barnsley. Instead, it
goes to Thomas Watson Wentworth, his cousin! In a fit of pique, Thomas ran
straight off to snap up the neighbouring estate. He had just one intention: to make
it bigger and better than his rival’s. First, he built a rather blatant baroque
extension. The Watson Wentworths took up the challenge, and popped on a new
baroque frontage of their own, with gardens. Thomas laid out his own gardens
with the help of one George London, none other than the royal gardener. The Watson
Wentworths hit back with some cutting-edge Georgian design and
splashed the main house with a tasty palladian front. There followed an
obelisk, a terrace, a stable block, a mausoleum, a Corinthian temple, a Doric
temple, and a ‘Hoobastand’, whatever that may be… The family rivalry continued for the
next 150 years, during which time they built over 50 structures. this is Wentworth today. The main hall is
already well preserved. We’ve come to see two other buildings on the estate,
remaining from that spree. Tonight, you can vote to save two buildings that came
about as a result of a family feud. Let’s hope there’s no fighting, as Marianne and
Ptolemy investigate the first of them. A Glasshouse! >Cast Iron! So elegant, just look at those thin glazing bars. It’s a miniature Crystal Palace isn’t it?
Crystal cottage! This would have been the latest technology of the time wouldn’t it? I
can just hear the structural engineer, “No, you can’t possibly design it like that it won’t stand up!” It looks in pretty dire condition though, doesn’t it. Let’s go and have a look inside. Conservatory’s first became fashionable
in the early 19th century. Constructed from glass and wrought and cast-iron, and
heated by hot-water pipes, they provided a controlled environment for the
cultivation of exotic plant specimens brought back by explorers from the
furthest corners of the Empire. Classic examples included the Palm House at Kew –
and Crystal Palace. Oh, look at all of this, it’s like the Forgotten Secret Garden, isn’t it. You know, the end of the 19th century has passed us by, and everything has returned to nature.
look at this… heating pipes… This is high-tech stuff isn’t it, look at these heating
pipes. I suppose it was important to get these
glazing bars really thin in order to bring in the maximum light it’s just
unbelievable how fine that is and all of this kind of cast-iron, 19th century they’ve
really come on top of making cast-iron you know it was absolutely the thing. They
couldn’t stop making enough of it. everything here is machine-made – the
tiles, the cast iron, and you can imagine standing on these stone slabs, these
beautiful potted camellias and ferns and exotic plants which people were
discovering during the 19th century. “Look, have you ever seen one of these? It’s an
Azalea.” – imagine it! The irrigation system was also ingenious. Rainwater was drained through
these hollow cast-iron supporting pillars into an underground tank, from
where it was recycled. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but
in the absence of constant maintenance, it’s caused serious problems. This is the
most difficult material to repair, isn’t it, cast iron, because quite often, like here
it’s… well, it’s broken down, and you probably actually gone beyond the point
of repair there. I’m thinking I would imagine you’d have to replace that whole
post. I think the real difficulty here is is really actually a structural one. The
way that the building is constructed is that you have essentially three parallel
roofs. On here, it rests on an incredibly thin cast-iron section of what is
actually also a gutter. Their ingenuity has really almost cost them the
building, because combining the water disposal system as a structure
system, with then making it out of cast-iron means you’ve got this fatal
combination of water, structure and rust. Marianne, look at this, come on, let me take
you by the arm, walk you romantically through here, as it twists and turns
through the columns and you know, it’s the most romantic place.
This is where the secrets of the estate we’re told: “Did you not think that that
terrible man was so rude at the dinner table?” “Oh, absolutely!” you know? and this is where the whole sort of nature of country house life took place, strolling
through the gardens where you away from all that formality of Victorian life, you
could just have these little moments of privacy. I’ve seen so many country estates where the Glasshouse has just been left to wrack and ruin because it’s
such a problem building, isn’t it. It’s amazing, in fact, that this has survived. The conservatory clearly had a practical
use, but the estate’s whole raison d’etre was simply Thomas Wentworth’s desire to
show off. His trump card in this game of architectural one-upmanship was a giant
folly called Stainborough Castle. It’s a short walk from the conservatory, and
it’s the second of the two buildings that add up to one of your votes at
Wentworth. Look, a wonderful folly of madness! Only England can produce follies of
complete madness like this. Imagine bringing the stone up to this absurd
construction, look at it – its marvellous! It’s great. This is your ancient Norman castle,
which you’ve conveniently planted here at the end of one of your avenues. It was all
about taking the English landscape and turning it into your very own little bit
of empire, and what better way to defend your empire than this model fort? That
four-shaped hoop window, a Quatrefoil, it has no military requirement whatsoever, it’s
all about…>Hopeless for shooting arrows out of…

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *