Arts & Crafts Awakening/Middleton Heritage Meeting

We had a good meeting tonight (31st March 2015) working through a mix of detailed issues and broad aims about how we want to celebrate Middleton’s heritage and involve local people. Concerning the Heritage Lottery application, we agreed an outline for a local digital archive and history library, (still more idea than scheme) and asked four Middleton Archaeological Society and Edgar Wood Society members if they could work it up further. The Lettings group also discussed a number of enquiries and of lines of interest for using the buildings.

Renovation Continues

One of the directors of The Arts and Crafts Trust Ltd is continuing the work to get the room next to the kitchen back into use, but what else could Maureen be going on a wet afternoon. The room next to the kitchen was traditionally known as the cutting up room. Can anybody suggest why, other than it being next to the kitchen.


Locality Workshop 9 – Filling In Forms!

The Locality led workshop was a two part affair last night (25th March) as we split into groups, one working up the Awards for All grant for the new Urban Village Hall with Lindsey and Chris, while the other concentrated on the history library and archive project. Nevertheless, it was a successful evening with a good discussion on how we move forward with the heritage side of things and the Awards for All application now worked up. The meeting ended with the lettings sub-group filling in forms!

Briarcourt Revisited

Edgar Wood Society members Andy Marshall and David Morris enjoyed a quick visit to Briarcourt, Huddersfield this morning (23rd March) to meet new owners Vicky House and Duncan Morgan. Last time Andy and David were there, Briarcourt was empty, at risk and the prey of architecutural thieves. Now, with their Arts & Crafts vision and enthusiasm, Vicky and Duncan are putting life back into the house. You can follow their progress at and on their Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest feeds.

Briarcourt Andy MarshallHistorically, Briarcourt was an important design, much illustrated in its time. It has a certain angular and dynamic quality that is rare in Arts & Crafts buildings – a sophisticated vigour that is the antidote to rural simplicity for its own sake. Yet, it is built completely in a vernacular hand-crafted way using local stone for the walls and roofing flags. The architect, Edgar Wood, must have put in an enormous amount of thought and effort into the design.

Unfortunately, the weather was too dull to take the planned set-piece external photographs. Instead, Andy focused on the inside rooms and features and we will upload some when they are processed.

Locality Workshop 8 – Developing Projects

It was a great workshop last night as we began to bring the Locality-led project to a close. We began with Chris handing over our articles of incorporation to Christine (company secretary) and quickly moved into a discussion about the Urban Village Hall project. We are now ready for an Awards for All bid on this which we will discuss and decide at the next meeting.We then discussed the History Library/Digital Archive project which is running just behind the Village Hall one. Both are being developed by separate sub-groups. Finally, Chris led an entertaining ‘skills audit’ where we all confessed to what we could do. It was a good turnout with two new members.

Our next meeting is this coming Wednesday, 25th March at 6pm

Champing near Cambridge!

It’s a brand new idea… CHAMPING… i.e. camping in old churches! Last night, architectural photographer and Edgar Wood Society member Andy Marshall and I tried it out for the Churches Conservation Trust. I have to say that it is good, in fact its very good!

St. Cyriac, Swaffam
St. Cyriac, Swaffam – at first light in the rain!

We set out from Manchester on a brisk mid March morning (16th March) for a day photographing in Suffolk and then at our champing desination, the exotically named St. Cyriac & St. Julitta church near Cambridge. This is one half of the Swaffam Prior pair – two churches sharing the same church yard. St. Cyriac’s church was completely rebuilt in 1806 (bar the tower) by the colourful Cambridge architect, developer and mayor, Charles Humfrey. In contrast, it’s neighbour, St. Mary, was sensitvely conserved by Sir Arthur Blomfield, mentor to the Arts & Crafts designers, Reginald Blomfield (his nephew) and Walter Cave, as well as the writer Thomas Hardy.

St. Mary, Swaffam - a little later.
St. Mary, Swaffam – a little later.

The two churches complement one another. Humphrey’s church was ahead of its time, a compact building with a single wide space inside. It’s rational ‘Enlightenment’ Gothic gets straight to the point (sorry!) with an advanced almost mill-like construction where the arcade columns (plastered iron pillars?) rise straight up to a wide (probably) iron beam supporting the roof. Pugin would have hated it but its inherent simplicity and directness won me over.

A quiet and peaceful night ensued with just the sounds of wildlife outside, including a howling fox early in the morning. Yes, it was quite cold, it’s March after all, but the secret to champing in Spring is to sleep off the floor on a camp bed or two pews pushed together and wrap up well.

Setting up the shoot.

Andy, who was more organised than me, had brought ground coffee for our morning ‘wake-up’ after which we set up the church for the morning’s shoot.

It’s fascinating seeing a professional photographer at work. Most of the shots he had worked out even before we set off from Manchester and he improvised others very quickly.

Champing is a great idea for combining history and architecture with simple relaxation. Whatever type of church you stay in, it will be a lot more comfortable than being outside in the rain under canvas! The church had a kitchenette, washbasin and toilet – just the minimum.

David Morris


Manchester Age UK Group Visit the Golden Cluster

opr00256On Thursday the 12 March a group from Manchester Age UK visited the Arts and Crafts Church for a tour followed by lunch at the Old Boar’s Head P.H. next door. They particularly liked the small rose windows in the porch doors.

As they were visiting the Parish Church in the afternoon, Christine told them to look out for the various windows there by Arts & Craft’s designer Christopher Whall. A visiting expert Alec Hamilton, has suggested that we investigate the possibility that Whall also made the rose windows at the Arts and Crafts Church.

Lettings Group

The newly formed Lettings Group met on Monday 9 March to consider all the requirements necessary, relating to the hire and lettings of the rooms. This was a mind boggling session and we are now starting to work our way through all the regulations regarding applying for a Premises Licence.

Arts & Crafts Awakening/Middleton Heritage Workshop

Our Arts and Crafts awakening meeting went extremely well this evening, 4th March. We learnt from Chris that The Arts & Crafts Trust was now fully incorporated. We have achieved our first objective!

We decided to create two sub-groups – the Lettings Group are moving ahead with the Urban Village Hall plan and will be meeting on Monday, while a Heritage Study Centre will meet tomorrow to make progress on that aspect.

After the meeting, we photographed the celebratory tablet which was made by James Smithies for the Middleton & Tonge Co-operative Building Society in 1928. We hope to have a special post on Smithies shortly.

Newly discovered Edgar Wood house is Listed

The Croft, Hinderwell (4)_proc The Croft, Hinderwell (8)_procThe Croft, Hinderwell (6)_procThe Croft, Hinderwell (3)_procEdgar Wood is connected to the Staithes Group artists’ colony through his friendship with the Middleton born Staithes artists James W. Booth and, especially, Fred Jackson. In fact, the famous photograph of Fred Jackson with Laura Knight most likely shows Edgar Wood next to Jackson – wearing his trademark hat!

Recent research by several people has brought to light a previously unknown Edgar Wood designed house, The Croft at Hinderwell, near Staithes, built for Henry Silkstone Hopwood. Hopwood was a founder member of the Staithes Art Club of painters, becoming its chairman in 1902 when the house was built: a flat roofed outbuilding next to the house is thought to have originally served as artists’ studios used by club members.

English Heritage has now listed the building for its special historic interest and has now been published on the National Heritage List for England. Below are the details we have been sent.



Edgar Wood season kicks-off in Yorkshire

John Rumsby gave a great lecture on Edgar Wood’s wonderful Yorkshire buildings at the Arts & Crafts Church on Saturday afternoon (21st Feb).

It was Edgar’s mother’s family, the Sykes’ of Lindley, who welcomed the young architect to West Yorkshire. He eventually became its principal Arts & Crafts architect, inspiring many others to copy him. It is as though Wood lived a parallel architectural life there, his robust stone buildings being quite different to those in the Manchester area.

The audience were so impressed with the talk that the Edgar Wood Society is now planning a Yorkshire trip for the summer!

This was the first event in the 2015 Edgar Wood Society calendar. This year is dedicated to Edgar Wood and the Arts & Crafts Movement in the heritage Lottery Fund’s THI programme for Middleton.

Salford University Students Study Trip

Friday (20th Feb) saw around 30 surveying and property management students from Salford University visit the Arts & Crafts Church, led by Simon McLean, Lecturer in  Building Surveying. Conservation surveyor Rupert Hilton, who set up the trip, explained to students the repair and conservation issues being tackled, Christine Grime took them on a walking tour of other Edgar Wood buildings, while David Morris showed them around the Long Street Methodist church and school. The format worked very well and in the words of Simon, “it really was brilliant, the students are buzzing“.

Locality Workshop 7 – Urban Village Hall

The Arts and Crafts Awakening project is now working on using the former Long Street School hall as a place for community events and activities – an urban village hall.  With Lindsey and Chris from Locality, we are planning to submit a Lottery ‘Awards for All’ scheme to get things off the ground this year.

Middleton is short of community space, so there is a real need for this. Community activities will also complement our longer terms plans for commercial uses.  The meeting (on Tuesday 17th Feb) was very successful with the largest attendance so far. We also began setting up a local history archive and study area in two of the classrooms.

The next meeting is set for 6pm Wednesday 4th March. Don’t miss it!

Research Group for new Middleton Film

We had a good Edgar Wood Society committee meeting on Thursday (12th Feb). One of the things we decided was to set up a research group to look at the key historical figures around Edgar Wood and Long Street Methodist Church.

Much of what we put together with be incorporated into the planned ‘Romantic Middleton and the Modern Era’ film being organised by the Middleton Heritage Film Group.

The group will research the following…

  1. Long Street Methodist Church – history, people and activities before 1950
  2. LSM – history, people and activities after 1950

  3. Artists Fred Jackson, James W. Booth, (William) Edward Stott of Rochdale, William Stott of Oldham

  4. Craft workers associated with Edgar Wood and Northern Art Workers Guild

  5. Clients of Edgar Wood buildings

  6. Julia Schwabe of Rhodes

If you have access to any material, please email to let us know!

Locality Workshop 6 – The Arts & Crafts Trust

There was a happy atmosphere as Arts & Crafts Awakening created a new company called The Arts & Crafts Trust yesterday evening (11th Feb). Seven people signed up as directors, with Christine taking on the role of company Secretary.

This feels just the right number and allows a good number to remain as members and supporters of the project. Chris and Lindsey guided us through the evening and the signing of forms etc. Chris will now submit our application to Companies House.

Our next meeting will be 6pm next Tuesday where Chris and Lindsey will help us think through our Middleton and Arts & Crafts heritage offer. We will also discuss the details of our planned Awards for All Grant to help set up community facilities at the Long Street School.