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Best Rescue of a Heritage Site

The following four projects have been shortlisted for the best rescue of a heritage site in the 2016 Historic England Angel Awards.

To find out more about the projects, please read the excerpts from their submissions below.

Julie and Howard Duckworth for the rescue of Aire Street, Goole (within Goole conservation area)

Exterior of the red brick Lowther Hotel in late afternoon sun
The restoration of the Lowther Hotel has brought one of Goole's most important historic buildings back into use as a 12 bedroom hotel

The aim

Julie and Howard Duckworth completed their first major project in Goole, East Yorkshire in 2004, then the restoration of the Station Hotel creating 38 jobs and 12 affordable and very green apartments. They have continued to bring forward a series of developments on Stanhope Street and Aire Street starting with 46 to 52 and what was to become Dock View. They have aimed to provide places to work and affordable sustainable homes and as a result have begun to turn around the fortunes of the Goole Conservation Area, which is included on the Heritage at Risk Register.

The outcomes of the project

58 Aire Street, formerly a bank, has been converted to the 10 bedroom Drake Inn and was completed in 2015 and also includes a very popular Real Ale Bar. 15 jobs have been created. Original features including rare Minton wall tiles not seen since 1906 have been restored. The restoration of the Lowther Hotel was completed in 2010, bringing one of Goole's most important historic buildings back into use as a 12 bedroom hotel. The repair and conversion of 46-52 Aire Street and Dock View was completed in 2008 and has provided 5 retail units, one now home to a very successful Italian restaurant and 11 affordable apartments.

The problem

The inland port of Goole is one of the few towns in England which were founded and built by one company for one commercial purpose. Its rich industrial history left a unique built heritage. Goole Conservation Area was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2012 and faces a number of challenges including vacant and derelict buildings, lack of maintenance and a loss of traditional architectural features and details. The commercial core of the town has shifted away from Aire Street, which was once the focus for commercial and mercantile activity and still faces onto the docks.

The rescue project

Three important historic buildings on Aire Street restored by Howard and Julie Duckworth in recent years are 46-52 Aire Street and 1 and 3 St. John Street (now called Dock View ), the Lowther Hotel and 58 Aire Street (now called the Drake Inn). The restoration projects were all undertaken without grant funding and banks would not provide the Julie Howard Partnership with loans for the buildings. All the buildings were in terrible condition when they bought them. Dock View and 46-52 Aire Street had been in use as one of the largest drug factories in East Yorkshire, had gaping holes in the roof and was home to a vast colony of pigeons.

Other involvement

As an investment, Julie's mother bought the old Barclay's bank at 58 Aire Street and Julie and Howard restored the building. An exciting discovery was made when removing the plaster and false ceiling.  Hundreds of Minton tiles were found that covered three quarters of the old banking hall. They were made in 1884, 20 years before Minton released them to the public. The couple were offered £70,000 cash for them but refused as they believed they should remain in situ where visitors to the new Drake Inn could enjoy them.


Julie and Howard Duckworth have shown a tremendous dedication to Goole and its historic buildings and developed a real passion for what they do. They are often to be found scouring the country and the internet for period features to complete their projects.

Suffolk Mind and the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) for the rescue of Quay Place (formerly St Mary at the Quay)

Exteriof view of Quay Place.
The project has brought St Mary at the Quay back into use as a flexible space for heritage, arts, learning, complimentary therapy, social activity and contemplation

Key message

'Come as you are. Leave better' - we want people to feel readier to face the challenges of daily living when they leave.

Aims of the project

In particular, we set out to:

  1. Restore and rejuvenate a medieval building, conserving significant heritage features and adding high quality modern rooms and amenities
  2. Recreate a quiet, beautiful sanctuary in a busy town
  3. Encourage visitors to experience and connect with their past or the heritage of St Mary at the Quay and Ipswich, in order that they understand themselves better
  4. Link wellbeing and heritage in an innovative and measurable way
  5. Engage visitors with interactive stories of the Ipswich waterfront

Outcomes of the project

The project has delivered a beautifully repaired and adapted historic church including the conservation of historic features and improvements to accessibility; a modern extension for complementary therapy services and meeting rooms which stands harmoniously alongside the historic church; a range of training, workshops and events using the church as a living classroom during construction.

We have also provided work experience to local construction students; a diverse programme of learning and creative activities exploring the people and maritime history of Ipswich, resulting in interactive interpretation co-created by the community; a broad range of volunteering and training opportunities, including heritage research, hospitality, archaeology and family history; an evaluation framework to investigate the link between heritage and wellbeing and develop a more detailed evidence base around these links

The project has brought St Mary at the Quay back into use, ensuring a long term future as a flexible space for heritage, arts, learning, complimentary therapy, social activity and contemplation.

The rescue project

A once thriving place for the community and a prominent piece of Ipswich heritage, was now empty, desolate and at serious risk of being lost. CCT’s and Suffolk Mind’s project has led to the repair, conservation and conversion of the building and has been successfully completed with grants from INTERREG Two Seas, English Heritage (now Historic England) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with significant funding from the project partners.

Phases of work

The works were carried out in two phases; phase I consisted of new roofing and external masonry repairs, internal timber cleaning, treatment & repairs, lime washing and decoration, and was completed December 2014.  Phase II consisted of low level repairs, alterations and the building of the new two storey extension, which began January 2015.

The scheme has removed this inappropriate structure replacing it with an elegant steel structure to form a mezzanine which allows for a further room, better access to the tower room (which can be used as a meeting room but also for bell ringing) and new perspectives across the nave. Internally, repair to all the damaged elements of the building, especially the columns, have been completed. Throughout the construction phase, the craft skills and techniques used to restore the building have been shared, demonstrated and captured on film to contribute to the drive of finding the skilled workforce of the future.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council for the rescue of Ashton Old Baths

Interior of Ashton Old Baths
This shell of the Grade II* listed Ashton Old Baths now houses a self-contained, free standing office pod, incorporates over 675 square metres of office, meeting rooms, event area and breakout space

Aim of the project

To create a Business innovation Centre in a timber pod structure within the restored Grade II* listed Ashton Old Baths; conservation and restoration of the external envelope of the building; structural repairs to the annexe; targeted at Businesses in the Creative, Digital and Media sector; delivery of the activity plan - to include art, arts awards, event and community and school engagement..

Outcomes of the project

The main outcomes were as follows: BREEAM Very Good, building removed from the English Heritage ‘Heritage at Risk register’, viable long term business plan, community Engagement, an Innovation Hub to development the creative, digital and media sector in Tameside. In addition two apprentices/work placements, engaged with 50 people to develop the artwork for the glazed areas on the ground floor, over 250 people engaged in the delivery of an event to mark the completion of the restoration of the building. The event was attended by over a 1000 people.

History of the site

Despite this rich tapestry of history and endearment from the community the building was closed in the 1970’s, and remained dormant for over 40 years and on the English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register. The condition of the property worsened with years of water ingress deteriorating its fabric.

The rescue project

The Council secured over £3m for the project, and adhered to ‘Conservation Principles’ regarding the repair, restoration and refurbishment of the building. There was minimum intervention into building fabric; replacement of materials only when they have failed in their structural purpose; repairing by re-using materials to match the original in substance, texture, quality and colour, which will help maintain authenticity, ensure the repair is technically and visually compatible, minimises the use of new resources and reduces waste, new features added to a building will follow the character of the building so that they are less likely to have an impact on the building’s significance.

Key criteria were adopted

The workspace units should be an internal free standing structure independent from the existing structural fabric, primarily to simplify the structural solution, ensuring minimal impact on the general historic fabric of significant heritage value and to maintain views of the existing columns, archways and roof trusses; the units would benefit from being flexible, catering for different tenant requirements; and the overall synergy between the new installation and the existing building should be carefully considered so a strong new relationship is formed. Daylight and external aspect also provided a challenge and utilising the perimeter mid-level windows as much as possible was key to the overall solution. 

The result

The new self-contained, free standing office pod incorporates over 675 sqm of office, meeting rooms, event area and breakout space over four floors. The massing and form of the pods has evolved to create comfortable sized workspace units, utilise borrowed daylight from the existing mid-level perimeter windows, be easily ventilated and most importantly from a heritage perspective maintain the feeling of large open space whilst still exhibiting as much of the existing fabric as possible. The approach adopted to the office structure was not to replicate the surrounding building but to provide a clear distinction between existing and new interventions of plywood and western red cedar boards that provided a clear complementary distinction between the new and old. The works commenced in April 2015 and completed in February 2016.

The Arkwright Society for the rescue of Building 17 at Cromford Mills

Interior of the main exhibition room at Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Gateway.
A visitor Gateway in Building 17 now signposts people to visit other attractions at the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site

The aim of the project

To bring back into economic use a disused Grade I Listed Building considered “at risk” by English Heritage (Building 17 at Cromford Mills) at a key location within the only World Heritage Site in the East Midlands; to modernise the Society itself so to become an organisation that was fit for purpose with the skills needed to deliver such a complicated project; to raise the regional, national and international profile of the DVMWHS and to increase economic activity in the World Heritage Site; to create volunteering and training opportunities for the unemployed whilst developing an extensive educational offer for groups of all ages and across the curriculum.

The outcomes of the project

This project resulted in the a Grade I listed historic building on the Historic England risk register being brought back into use and removed from the list– a nationally and internationally important historic building saved for future generations to understand and enjoy. The project resulted in environmental improvements within a World Heritage Site: 175 tonnes of contaminated waste to landfill; 64 tonnes of contaminated waste to incineration. A visitor Gateway was created on the ground-floor of Building 17 attracting and signposting people to visit the variety of attractions along the 15 miles of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Stunning methods of interpretation were developed to engage the interest of differing audience learning preferences.. Enhanced educational programmes, events and activities. New volunteering opportunities - 100 volunteers carrying out over £250,000 of volunteering activity every year.

New jobs have been created, 5 full time posts within the Arkwright Society and numerous new posts within the new businesses established in Cromford Creative. The project has proved to be a significant step towards financial sustainability for The Arkwright Society and the complex of Grade I listed buildings on the Cromford Mills site. Increased income has reduced the losses and allowed the Society and the site to survive and thrive in a way deemed impossible by many in 2008.

The rescue project

The Arkwright Society took ownership of the site in the 1980’s when the whole site had been abandoned, left derelict, at risk and a danger as the colour works had left a legacy of toxic contamination within the fabric of the building. The Cromford Mills Masterplan was published in 2010 and confirmed that in order for the site to survive those buildings at risk had to be regenerate and getting B17, the largest building on the site, back into use was a vital step. Aware of the critical time restraints due to ever diminishing cash flow, fundraising for the project began. The team immediately set out on what seemed an impossible task, making multiple funding bids unaware of the problems that lay ahead.


The June 2010 Project Budget that formed the basis of the Heritage Grant second-round application to HLF included a grant of £972,000 from the Single Programme, administered by emda. During the assessment period the Single Programme was axed by the newly elected Coalition Government as an early cut in the public spending review. The ERDF-only application was consequently changed but had the effect of reducing the grant and increasing the unsecured funding gap to £569k or 13% of total project cash costs.

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