Hope of new future as Cumbrian ruin goes on heritage at risk list
Last updated at 08:40, Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Workington Hall has been added to the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register, sparking hope that its future can finally be turned around after decades of neglect.
Allerdale council and English Heritage hope including the Grade I listed building on the register will be the trigger to breathe new life into the 14th-century building, which fell into disrepair in the 1970s. It is currently a ruin and out of bounds to the public.
Supporters of the hall, home to the Curwen family until the 1930s, say it could be used as a great outdoor community space, possibly as an outdoor theatre venue. Councillor Michael Heaslip, who has been active in calling for the hall to be made safe and brought back into use, said the listing was the ‘starting point’ for a new future.
He said: “Being classed ‘at risk’ means you get the support of English Heritage, both their expertise and financial.
“We’ve been working on this for a few months now. It’s never going to be restored to its 14th-century status and we don’t want to make it into a Walt Disney-style castle – it is what it is. It’s a ruin.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t still use it.”
Mr Heaslip said the council was waiting for the results of a survey by specialist architects about the state of the building. “Once that’s identified what work needs to be done to make it safe, we can start working on detailed proposals,” he said.
He expects to get the survey “very soon” and that should also give an indication of the cost of making the building safe, he said.
“It was a lovely building in its day. I can remember when it had a roof and some furniture in there,” he added.
He said the council may even consider building some new additions in keeping with its character.
The hall’s neglect was described as “criminal” by a member of the Curwen family. Two years ago, Susan Thornely and her son Eldred Curwen called for more to be done to revive its fortunes.
Their family lived on the site from the early 1200s but gave the hall to Workington council shortly after the Second World War on condition that it became the town hall.
Mrs Thornely, a former High Sheriff of Cumbria, said: “It is absolutely incredible and rather criminal that it has been allowed to deteriorate.
“It was a lovely place for people to go and sit and has so much history attached to it. I would like to see part of it used as an information centre, something just to keep it alive.”
The family said they did not have enough money to invest in the building but they were prepared to represent the hall’s interests at a community level and to work with heritage groups in the town to attract funding.
Mr Curwen said: “There has to be a will among the majority in Workington to save it. If an interest is shown on the council and in the area then that’s all that’s needed.”
English Heritage said the hall was suffering from a lack of regular maintenance and had also been attacked by vandals.
First published at 08:25, Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
maryport should be ashamed for letting senhouse mansion be demolished it would have made a great museum.
its a bit late isnt it pity this attitude wasnt taken in the 60s or 70s when the hall wasnt a shell like it is now.
View all 12 comments on this article