Arts & Crafts Awakening project meeting 6pm Thursday 11th February

Arts & Crafts Awakening project meeting 6pm Thursday 11th February

Painting by the late Colin Gilbert
Painting by the late Colin Gilbert

We had a great meeting on the evening of Thursday 11th, with an excellent turnout. Fortified by pizza, cheese and biscuits and cake, we worked through the upcoming activities and plans, not least the planning of September Golden Cluster Month. With the establishment of the not-for-profit company, tACT (the Arts & Crafts Trust) last year, Middleton Heritage is now developing new areas of community heritage activity, conservation and research. Rupert Hilton gave us an update on the Redcroft restoration, which is finishing very soon. As the scaffold is wrapped in plastic sheeting, we can’t wait to see the result when it all comes off.  We also discussed some of the other up and coming THI grant schemes, not least the one for the Middleton Edgar Wood Centre, at the former Long Street Methodist Sunday School! Because of the excellent communication among group members, we are moving to a quarterly formal meeting to free up time for these new things.

The Gates Close on Golden Cluster Month

Volunteers Maureen and Alan close the gates at the end of the final day of Golden Cluster Month at the Arts and Crafts Church (Long Street Methodist Church and School). Over 300 visitors came from throughout the local area and the wider region. One couple travelled from Maghull, having picked up a leaflet at Ellesmere Boat Museum. Comments in the visitors’ book read, “Inspirational” “Wonderful building, an eye opener” “Peaceful”. The list could go on.

29_ 9_ 15


Here is a miscellany of the heritage news for September…

Greater Manchester

Middleton Time Team dig at St Leonard’s Square

Heritage Open Day: Long Street Methodist Church

Middleton in step for more beautiful walkways

£50m plans submitted to convert Warwick Mill, Middleton

St John the Baptist Church, Rochdale upgraded to Grade II*

Future vision built to last – Oldham Cultural Heritage

Poignant memorial to thousands who are buried without a headstone at Salford’s biggest cemetery

Council in talks to sell Grade II listed building in Salford park to hotel chain

Ancoats Dispensary campaigners finally take official ownership of landmark building

Landmark Manchester buildings set for major revamp

Trafford town hall opens its doors… as a wedding venue!

Victoria Station’s revamp – by the architect driving Manchester’s modern railway revolution

Ordsall Chord: ‘I’m not trying to stall it – I’m trying to stop it’, says engineer who has taken his battle to the courts

Ordsall Chord: Why my route is better, by engineer going to court over planned Piccadilly and Victoria link

Ordsall Chord: Lawyers argue decision behind chosen route was flawed, court hears

Lawyer warns that £85m Ordsall Chord project ‘might never happen’ as judge defers decision on legal challenge

Ordsall Chord: Preserve the past or secure Salford’s future? Not an easy decision


Future heirlooms: Millinery Works celebrate modern day furniture makers

Clue up on Gertrude Jekyll, gardening’s forgotten woman

Arts and Crafts silverware set to go up for auction in Derbyshire

Campaigners buy William Blake’s cottage – and his vegetable patch

Major findings at Lancaster’s big Roman dig

Westminster Abbey lavatory block gives way to medieval burial find

Bronze Age ‘sauna’ unearthed on Orkney

The most endangered buildings in Britain – in pictures

How Downton Abbey helped to rescue Highclere Castle from ruin

Richard III grave in Leicester among top 25 sites to visit in the world

Historic swimming pools of Britain: Preserving our bathing heritage, in pictures


10 of the best architecture tours

This photographer is taking jaw-dropping photos of Europe’s abandoned buildings

‘They are barbarians’: meet the man defending Syria’s heritage from Isis

‘Islamic militant’ becomes first person ever charged with destruction of heritage sites



Heritage Open Days gets the Mayoral Treatment!

Heritage Open Days got off to a busy start on Friday 11th September with over 45 visitors to the Arts & Crafts Church and Edgar Wood Centre, just one of the four Middleton Golden Cluster buildings open. Mr. and Mrs. Wild walked from Norden (most of the way) to visit the buildings! Nick Baker, Edgar Wood Society archivist, showed visitors around the new exhibition while the Middleton Family History Group explained how to explore the lives of our forebears.

Nick Baker, curator
Mr. and Mrs. Wild
Mr. and Mrs. Wild
Family History Group

On Saturday, Mayor Surinder Biant and Mayoress Cecile Biant were the first to arrive. They spent a good 45 minutes with Christine Grime before setting off to visit a further four buildings. Then came Merlin the Magician who performed throughout the day to coincide with the ‘land train’ running from the town centre arrived. ‘Train’ turned into ‘trail’ as Christine Grime took a group of visitors around the Middleton Arts & Crafts buildings, designed by Edgar Wood. One visitor came from Liverpool; each year he picks a different location to visit. Then on one land train, Edgar Wood himself arrived, albeit in the form actor Colin Meredith.

Mayor Surinder Biant and Mayoress Cecile Biant
Christine with Mayor Surinder Biant and Mayoress Cecile Biant
Merlin the Magician
Merlin the Magician and visitors
Christine Grime points to the initials of T. B. Wood, Edgar Wood's father carved into the wall.
Christine points to the carved initials T. B. W. – Edgar Wood’s father


Merlin the Magician in action
Merlin the Magician in action
Edgar Wood arrives on the ‘land train’
The prologue to the 90 minute trail which, on Sunday, was extended to over two hours!
The prologue to the 90 minute Arts & Crafts trail which, on Sunday, was extended to over two hours!
Lynden Easterbrook holding a jug made by James Smithies, and guide Sharon Dawson

A special treat was to meet Lynden Easterbrook, the great granddaughter of Middleton artist and metalworker, James Smithies, who is featured in the exhibition alongside Edgar Wood and Frederick Jackson. Lynden lives in the Inverness area of northern Scotland and travelled 400 miles to be in Middleton for the day, bringing with her various items that belonged to James Smithies, including an Arts & Crafts copper jug made by him.

Meanwhile at the top of the hill…

Walking up through Jubilee Park to St. Leonard’s Square, visitors Middleton Archaeological Society completing their three week excavation of Church House/Grape’s Inn where the rear walls, cellar, cobbled passage and a possible blacksmith’s forge have been unearthed. Norman Redhead, County Archaeologist, visited the site with the dig leader Robert Huddart and agreed there was a lot of interesting archaeology. Finds were displayed in Middleton Parish Church adjacent.

Norman Redhead and Robert Huddart
Blacksmith’s forge
Display in Middleton Parish Church

Visitors were then treated to guided tours of Middleton Parish Church, the oldest building and finest interior of any church in the county. It is jam-packed full of historic art and craft work from medieval to modern times, including many Arts & Crafts workers, such as James Smithies, Edgar Wood, Christopher Whall and, in the 1960s, the designer George Pace. Over the past few weeks and over this weekend, a large number of people have visited St. Leonard’s and, this year, Rochdale Art Society mounted a special exhibition in honour of their late president, Colin Gilbert, who was a champion of the arts, a local historian and member of the church.

Colin Gilbert Art Exhibition
Colin Gilbert Memorial Art Exhibition
Looking through the medieval rood screen
Looking through the medieval rood screen
Visitor refreshments at the back
Visitor Refreshments!

Then down the other side…

Visitors went to see the wonderful sixteenth century Queen Elizabeth I Grammar School. The history of the school was shown on several display boards and around the building. Finds from the Langley Hall archaeological dig were exhibited and two cabinets showed various artefacts relating to Middleton. Visitors had fun locating the initials of the young Edgar Wood inscribed in three places. He was one of the school’s last scholars.

Visitors exploring_proc
Visitors exploring.
Historic Pottery and Artefacts_proc
Historic china and artefacts
History of the Grammar School_proc
Grammar School exhibition

Some visitors also went to see the Middleton Tapestry at Jubilee Library in the park and then popped over the road to visit the ancient timber framed Ye Olde Boar’s Head P.H. opposite.

We had a great turnout in all places. In the Arts & Crafts Church it was 45 on Friday, 60 on Saturday and 36 on Sunday afternoon, and there were plenty of complimentary remarks. People can still visit on Tuesday or Friday afternoons during September for ‘A Grand Day Out’ before we wind down – details are here.

Arts & Crafts Exhibition almost finished

Returning from holiday in Finland, Nick Baker, curator for Arts and Crafts Awakening project, has just a couple of days to finish the new exhibition at Middleton Edgar Wood Centre.

Called, ‘Middleton’s Arts & Crafts ‘Trinity’ and The Northern Art Workers Guild’, it’s looking pretty good already, as these photos show. The exhibition formally opens at 1pm, Sunday 13th September.

Exhibition 2015 (3) Exhibition 2015 (2) Exhibition 2015 (1)Exhibition 2015 (6)

The Inspector Calls

8 SeptBarry Noble the Quality Assurance Assessor for ‘Visit England’, made his unannounced inspection visit this afternoon. Maureen, a guide for the afternoon, at the Arts and Crafts Church impressed Barry with her knowledge and friendliness. He was complimentary about the visitor experience and made a few helpful suggestions as to how we could improve.

We can continue to display our ‘Visit England’ accreditation symbol.

September ‘A Grand Day Out’ starts (quietly)

IMG_1018-1_proc_procThe very first visitors to ‘A Grand Day Out’ were Shirley and Roaf who arrived 5 minutes early, at 12.55pm… but there wasn’t a queue! Later on we had visitors from Didsbury, Worsley, Macclesfield, Stockport and a couple from Plymouth who discovered the event from their camp site info. Our youngest visitor was Jennifer, who came with her grandparents. Their daughter is of one of our new volunteer guides!

If you would like to visit, CLICK HERE for details.


Here is a miscellany of heritage news over August…

Greater Manchester

Plan to demolish old Coronation Street set submitted to council

Plans revealed for dozens more flats to be built in Ancoats as part of £1bn housing masterplan

Converted Bolton church aiming for national recognition at ‘property Oscars’

Victoria Station revamp: Network Rail reveals £44m transformation will be completed this month

Work to start on town hall roof ahead of £6.5 million revamp of Albert Halls

Ducie Bridge pub to close this weekend as NOMA redevelopment continues

Historic Platt Chapel on the market for £350k and is set to be converted into nine-bedroom luxury home

Young historians travel to Durham to find out about the origins of their Horwich school

The changing face of Manchester: Fascinating comparisons show how city has moved on since 2000

BBC programme about the Manchester Ship Canal is screened

Greater Manchester’s best loved buildings – tell us your favourite

Manchester’s most hated landmarks, as suggested by you


Picture palaces fall prey to developers

The innbetweeners: whimsical pubs of interwar years win Grade II listing

Saving our historic pubs

Birmingham Hall of Memory is now a Grade 1 Listed building

Love is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol meet in Birmingham thanks to Jeremy Deller

Decisions on which buildings to preserve have never been so erratic

A forgotten figure in the Garden City movement

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu – obituary


Hi-tech plan to combat IS destruction of ancient sites

The Beautiful Old Signs of Paris Are As Elegant As the City Itself

Robert McGregor, who put Napier on the world’s art deco map, dies

A walk down the Oval: an exhibition celebrates Mumbai’s iconic Art Deco architecture

An Art Deco Paradise in Moscow’s New Museum




Arts & Crafts Awakening – 6th August Meeting

Middleton Heritage, minus a few on holiday, had an enjoyable meeting Thursday tea-time. We picked up where we left off at the July meeting, chatting about recent and upcoming events/activities such as the Wilson Potter beer soiree, September Arts & Crafts exhibition, ‘Art Nouveau to Art Deco’ Edgar Wood buildings guide, Word War I memorial web pages and the Awards for All grant application. August and September are such busy months but we nevertheless started thinking about what we should be doing next year and how to present the Middleton area more as an Arts & Crafts place.

Clitheroe U3A Visit

Thirty members of the Clitheroe U3A Architectual Buildings Group visited the Arts and Crafts Church today followed by a walk around a selection of the Edgar Wood houses. In the image Christine is pointing out something skyward. It is more likely to be a slipped roof stone than a passing bird!


Here is a miscellany of Greater Manchester heritage and Arts & Crafts news over July.…

Greater Manchester

Archaeologists uncover 270 bodies as part of Cross Street Metrolink works

Whitworth Art Gallery nominated for top architecture prize

Manchester Town Hall extension and Central library bag two national construction awards

School and homes plan given green-light on former MMU Didsbury Campus

Have your say on plans to re-develop Rochdale Town Hall

Historic bridge beneath Rochdale is revealed for the first time since Victorian days

Hope for London Road fire station as ‘several bids’ made to purchase it

Two bidders for London Road Fire Station revealed

Bolton Council hopes to finally sign off town hall plans

Bolton Council will “protect” historic buildings following protests over town centre plans

Woodland Trust buys majority of Smithills estate

Project to restore paupers graves in Horwich secures funding


Protected status for London’s British Library, opened in 1997

‘Character and heritage’ of post boxes to be preserved

Arts & Crafts Movement

Charles Rennie Mackintosh design is first confirmed exhibit for V&A Dundee

Restoration plans for Mackintosh building trigger art school rift over studio space

Cottage dream up for sale: A Mackintosh masterpiece

The Arts and Crafts House at Compton Verney

Book review: Arts & Crafts Stained Glass

Property of the Week: Woodlands on Birkby Hall Road in Birkby

Inside the Cambridge ‘time capsule’ house

Brierley’s own Arts and Crafts house is an architectural gem

Great Dixter in Sussex – A Quintessential English Style Garden

Colour project on the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow

Art Nouveau

Hoffmann brooches shine in Vienna auction

1900-1926 Lost streets of Old Paris

Italian Liberty – Art Nouveau photographic project

Art Deco

For sale: Art Deco Highgate flat by Arsenal stadium architect

Art Deco-ded: Explore south Mumbai’s timeless architecture

Demolition Begins on Former Art Deco Salerno Cookie Factory

Almost Demo-ed Art Deco Gem on Alton Coming Back to Life

Your Big Chance to Get Inside L.A.’s Amazing Art Deco Castle

Arts & Crafts Awakening – 23rd July Meeting

Art Nouveau to Art DecoMembers of Middleton Heritage met on Thursday evening to plan the September Golden Cluster Month and Heritage Open Days. It was a very positive meeting with lots of ideas coming from different groups. Among initiatives discussed were new and improved visitor guides and trails, including new versions of the Sam Bamford trail and Edgar Wood guide (see opposite) to be published by September. Another was a Heritage Open Days Beer Soirée by Wilson Potter Brewery.

We are also planning some initiatives for this web site, including an archive, by the Family History Group, on the Middleton soldiers who fought in the First World War and a series of 50 posts, by the Friends of Middleton Parish Church, on the art and craft objects found in Middleton parish church.

The new THI officer is in post

Sue Oakley, the new THI officer is given a guided tour by David Morris, chairman of the Edgar Wood Society and members of the committee. We all look forward to working with Sue in the coming months and wish her well in her new position 

Historic England’s 2015 Yearbook features ILP Club

Milton Street Independent Labour Club is featured in Historic England’s newly published 2015 Designation Yearbook. It is, perhaps, one of the most interesting buildings highlighted, despite its modesty. Click here to download the ILP entry.

Arts and Crafts buildings generally feature strongly with two areas receiving special research for listing – West Cambridge and Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire. Click here to download the West Cambridge entry and here for the Minchinhampton entry.

Nb. Historic England was called English Heritage until recently. The whole report is here.


Here is miscellany of heritage and architecture news over the past month…

Greater Manchester…

The places we miss most in Manchester

Underground Manchester: Tunnels, a tube station and even shops hidden beneath the city’s streets

Manchester town hall clock tours: stunning pictures

Vision for Princes Gate, Oldham

WW1 exhibition launched at the Pioneers Museum, Rochdale

Broadfield Stile, Rochdale

Salford’s historic Peel Park is to get £1.6m facelift

Salford relic gets a ‘bling’ new look as part of £5.5m canal restoration

Horwich Children remember the Great War

Controversial plan for Ramsbottom town centre

Medieval graves hidden beneath Bolton Parish Church

Plan to cut into front of Bolton Town Hall could be scrapped

Elisabeth Mill, Reddish, to become 150 plush flats

Victoria Baths, Longsight, welcomes back wrestling show

Salford Local History Library to close until September

QA to move into Bruntwood’s St James’, Manchester

London Road Fire Station, Manchester: investors from China, the Middle East and America show interest

Debate to determine future of historic London Road Fire Station

Rochdale windfarm plan is thrown out by town hall chiefs

Dig the City 2015: Share your childhood garden memories

Further afield…

New lease of life for Nelson mill, Heritage Trust for the North West

Manchester student unlocks secret behind 500-year-old painting

Parliament facelift could cost £7bn

UK Monuments Men bid to save sites

Stephen Fry unveils Blue Plaque for novelist Georgette Heyer

Middleton Heritage/ Arts & Crafts Awakening Meeting

Chris and Lindsey led the final ‘pre-feasibility’ workshop for the Arts & Crafts Awakening project – fourteen people came.

Chris first went through the duties of those who have become directors of the Arts & Crafts Trust. We then learnt about the new THI manager, Sue Oakley, who has been running the Keighley THI in recent years. We discussed the new plan to restore the Edgar Wood Centre buildings in phases aligned with new uses as well as Heritage Open Days and a beer festival in September.

We are now reading through the 90 page draft report!

Our next meeting will be at 7.30pm on 23rd July. We will be concentrating on the summer events such as Golden Cluster Month and Heritage Open Days, two new trails for Middleton town centre and the broader strategy for Middleton’s Heritage.