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3 Spital Yard
Spitalfields, , E1 6AQ
United Kingdom

020 7925 0199

The AHF appreciates that neglected buildings which are all too familiar in our towns, cities and countryside can, with a little imagination and a lot of enthusiasm, be rescued to become assets for their communities by people wanting to make a difference. The AHF has helped hundreds of organisations throughout the UK to do exactly that.

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Case Studies

Portland Works, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Architectural Heritage Fund

What’s so special about this place?

The Grade II* listed Portland Works is one of the last remaining working examples of a purpose-built metal trades factory. It was here, in 1914, that Harry Brearly produced the world’s first stainless steel cutlery. The building is a courtyard-style complex of workshops and offices built in 1879 as an integrated cutlery factory, housing all the processes in cutlery making. It now houses a rich variety of 32 tenants including a specialist knife-maker, silver plater and other skilled metal workers in the tradition of the ‘little mesters’ (self-employed cutlery workers) on which Sheffield’s reputation and identity were forged. It also accommodates artists, musicians and other creative craftspeople.

Why was the building under threat?

In 2009 the owner applied for permission to convert the building into flats, which would have ended 130 years of manufacturing on the site. The building is in poor condition and there is a backlog of repairs estimated at £2 million.

How was it saved?

A campaign to buy the building by its tenants and supporters resulted in the formation of a Community Benefit Society and a Community Share issue which raised over £250,000 over 18 months – a testament to the strength of feeling locally and determination  to keep the building as a place for ‘makers’ in the 21st century. There are now more than 500 shareholders.

Where is the project at now?

Portland Works operates as a community-owned social enterprise, letting workspace at affordable rents to support small-scale manufacturing and creative businesses. It is run entirely by volunteers – there are 40 regular helpers out of 70 overall. The aim is to develop the site as an educational resource and heritage attraction, alongside its business use. The Society has organised public open days several times per year and these have grown into bigger events, with popular cutlery and craft fairs in 2014 and 2015 each bringing in around 400 people.

There is an on-going programme of repairs and conservation work, bringing more disused areas back into use. In 2016 the Society secured a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Our Heritage’ grant for repairs to roofs and chimneys and for an Education and Development Worker to meet demand for educational activities on the site.

Building: Portland Works, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

Organisation: Portland Works Little Sheffield Limited

AHF support: £10,000 Cold Spots Grant, 2012-13; £200,000 Acquisition loan, 2013; £70,000 of loan converted to Community Shares, March 2016; £9,200 Additional Community Shares purchase offer, June 2016.

Outcome: Community buy-out

Find out more at: www.portlandworks.co.uk

 

How Did The AHF Help?

The community buy-out would not have been possible without an AHF loan to plug the gap between the acquisition cost and the amount raised via Community Shares. This enabled the purchase to be completed on 28th February 2013. A £10,000 grant also enabled the Society to complete a range of surveys and to develop a prioritised plan of work to address the building’s repair needs. The AHF has also invested in the site long-term by purchasing Community Shares.

The Toll House, Stratford-upon-Avon

Architectural Heritage Fund

AHF Support Summary:

The Support Officer worked closely with the group which became the Stratford Historic Buildings Trust, Stratford District Council and Historic England to develop the ideas for the re-use of the building.

New Use Summary:

The building will be restored for use as offices, with a new mezzanine floor and internal staircase. The basement (which occasionally floods) will be used as a temporary exhibition and interpretation space. 

What’s So Special About This Place?

The ten-sided Toll House was built in 1814 and is attached to the fifteenth century Clopton Bridge, a Scheduled Monument. Within 25 years it the levying of a toll had ended and the building and adjacent area, known as Avon Wharf, was bought by James Cox, a timber merchant. The Toll House is most associated with the subsequent 150 years of use as an office within Cox’s Yard. It is an iconic but small structure and after the business closed in 1997, no longer had a use. Designated among the most important and exceptional 2.5% of our national built heritage, it is Grade I listed and is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Why did the AHF get involved?

In 2012 the AHF, supported by Historic England, appointed regional Support Officers who were tasked with exploring ways to remove buildings at risk from the Register. The Support Officer made contact with the Stratford Society. A small sub-group of the Society wanted to rescue and restore this building, and the AHF was able to provide early stage grants, support and advice.

 

Project

The Toll House, Clopton Bridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

 

Client

Stratford Historic Buildings Trust

Find out more at http://www.stratfordhbt.co.uk

 

Why Was The Building Under Threat?

Unused for almost twenty years and without an obvious use, the interior has lost its upper floor. Stratford District Council, which owns the Toll House, has kept it wind and watertight, but under increasing financial pressure, needed to find a way to ensure its sustainable future.

How Was It Saved?

AHF’s early stage grants enabled the Trust to employ a small team led by a conservation-accredited architect to carry out an Options Appraisal and identify a sustainable new use. Initially things did not look promising, but the Trust has shown persistence and their determination to succeed is paying off.

How Is The Building Used Now?

Work in progress – the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a first round Heritage Enterprise grant of £10,500 towards the development work, and the Trust awaits the result of their round two application. They have drawn up detailed plans for the project and if successful, work should start in Autumn 2016.

Florence Institute, Liverpool

Architectural Heritage Fund

AHF Support Summary

The AHF provided a working-capital loan for the duration of the restoration work, to ensure cashflow was maintained and prevent any stoppages to work.

New Use Summary

Open seven days a week, the building offers a wide variety of participatory activities for people of all ages, multi-purpose event spaces available for hire and fully inclusive workspaces for businesses.

What’s So Special About This Place?

Built in 1889, the Florrie was the first building in Britain to be specifically constructed as a boys’ youth club. It served the working and unemployed youth of the dockside area of The Dingle in Liverpool for almost 100 years until its closure.

Why did the AHF get involved?

The Trust identified a funding gap that could be overcome by a loan offer so that the restoration could commence on site.

Why Was The Building Under Threat?

Towards the end of 1980s funding for the Institute dried up and in 1987 the building was sold for development. It grew increasingly derelict over the following 20 years.

How Was It Saved?

In 2004 the plight of the Florrie was featured as part of the Liverpool Echo’s “Stop the Rot” campaign which raised the profile of the derelict building widely.  The Florence Institute Trust Ltd was formed by concerned members of the local community to find a new and sustainable use. It went on to raise over £6M funding for its comprehensive restoration.

Project:

The Florence Institute for Boys, 377 Mill Street, Liverpool, L8 4RB

Client:

The Florence Institute Trust

Find out more at www.theflorrie.org

 

How Is The Building Used Now?

The Florrie once again serves the locality by providing new jobs and much needed community facilities. There is managed workspace for local entrepreneurs and businesses, flexible community space for events, conferences, exhibitions and youth activities and a multi-functional events hall that encompasses everything from knitting, to keep fit and parties.

How Did The AHF Help?

The Trust approached the AHF whilst there was still a shortfall with capital funding, so that a loan offer could allow work to begin without any delay. Subsequently the facility was used as working capital, to pay contractors inbetween payments from capital grant funders, avoiding costly delays.

Gorton Monastery, Manchester

Architectural Heritage Fund

AHF Support Summary
 

The AHF first became involved shortly after the Trust was formed, offering a grant for feasibility work. This was followed by further development funding, and a working-capital loan of £700,000 to assist with cashflow for the duration of the restoration project.

New Use Summary


The building is used for a variety of community functions and is open weekly to the public. It also hosts events such as weddings, meetings and conferences, and is a widely-recognised cultural and community venue. All proceeds from these events are donated to the Trust to support ongoing maintenance and conservation work.

What’s So Special About This Place?
 

The Church and Monastery of St Francis was built between 1866 and 1872 by Edward Pugin.  The church was the tallest single storey building in Manchester, and was built largely by volunteer labour from within the local community.

Why did the AHF got involved? 

The site had been included on the World Monument Fund’s Watch List of the 100 most endangered sites in the world when the AHF was asked to become involved.

 

Project


The Church and Monastery of St. Francis, Gorton Lane, Gorton, Manchester

Client

The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust Ltd

Find out more at www.themonastery.co.uk

 

Why Was The Building Under Threat?
 

The Gorton Monastery remained an important part of the community for over 100 years but in the early 1970s the terraced housing in the area began to be demolished and the community relocated.  In 1991 the complex was sold to a developer who went bankrupt before starting to convert the church into luxury flats.  The buildings were seriously vandalised whilst in the hands of the receiver, and anything of value stolen.

How Was It Saved?


The Trust was formed in 1996 with the sole purpose of saving and restoring the Gorton Monastery. It raised funds for the £6½M restoration scheme, and continues to develop the site with a new £3M fundraising campaign for a Welcome Wing, as well as further conservation work.

How Is The Building Used Now?
 

The site is open for a variety of community events, tours and concerts, and is a wedding and award-winning conference venue.

How Did The AHF Help?
 

The Trust has enjoyed a long and fruitful association with the AHF stretching back 20 years, and has acknowledged the encouragement and financial support provided throughout this time. This ranged from early-stage feasibility work, to see whether the plan was financially viable, to support during the fundraising stage with other capital funders, followed by a working-capital loan to ensire that cashflow was maintained for the duration of the restoration work.

Unity Works, Wakefield

Architectural Heritage Fund

What’s So Special About This Place?

Originally built in 1904 by the Wakefield Industrial Co-operative Society, for decades Unity Hall was one of the main entertainment venues in the city. In the 1970s and 1980s the venue hosted everything from Northern Soul all-nighters to heavy metal gigs. The venue has contributed a small footnote to pop history. The Pretenders played their first ever gig there in 1978, supporting local band The Strangeways. Singer Chrissie Hynde wanted to know whose trousers were sprawled over the back of a chair. The Strangeways’ Ada Wilson replied, “I’ll have them if there’s any brass in the pockets”. Never having heard the expression before, this inspired Chrissie to write ‘Brass in Pocket’, the Pretenders’ one and only no. 1 hit. The Strangeways split up in 1979.

Why Was The Building Under Threat?

Although  a nightclub operated in the basement,  the main part of the building had been unused since the mid-1990s and its condition was slowly deteriorating.  By 2011, though the premises were in a reasonable condition increasing levels of damp and water penetration – as well as pigeon occupation - meant that the building needed to find a viable economic use. 

Project: Unity House, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Client: Unity House (Wakefield) Limited
AHF Support: £750,000 Working capital loan, 2013. £100,000 of the loan converted to Community Shares, March 2016.

Find out more at www.unityworks.co.uk

 

How Was It Saved?

The driving force behind the project was Chris Hill, a social entrepreneur who had previously led a project which transformed a disused Victorian school in Leeds into a vibrant office complex and conference centre. He saw the potential for bringing the building back into use as a national music, conferencing and events venue, and a creative space for the region’s entrepreneurs. The project was a joint venture between regeneration specialists SHINE and Unity House (Wakefield) Ltd., a newly-established Industrial & Provident Society for Community Benefit. With help from a Community Share issue launched in February 2012, the final income from which was £220,000 against a target of £200,000, the building opened to the public in September 2014. A further £28,000 was recently raised to equip a Café Bar and create a prep kitchen and disabled access, as the project expands the reach of its business.    

What Is The Building Used For Now?

Unity Hall now operates as Unity Works, a workspace that mixes business with music, theatre, exhibitions and meetings, comprising: a 650-seater venue, an 80-seater function room, 12,000 square feet of office space, 3,500 square feet of meeting space, a café and bar, an exhibition space and independent retail opportunities. It also offers a creative hub for entrepreneurs, with three quarters of this space currently let. The overall project cost was £4.4 million, with major donations from organisations such as Wakefield City Council, Growing Places (a Government initiative through Leeds City Region) and Social Investment Business and ERDF. 

How Did The AHF Help?

A working capital loan of £750,000 over 5 years was drawn down in November 2013. Without this loan facility providing essential funding at an early stage in the project’s development, the delivery of Unity Works for the communities of Wakefield and surrounding areas simply could not have proceeded.

In March 2016, thanks to UK Government funding, we were able to convert £100,000 of the loan to a long-term holding of community shares, underlining our ongoing support of this important community business.

Govan Fairfield Yard Offices, Glasgow

Architectural Heritage Fund

Project: Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Office, Govan, Glasgow, Scotland

Client: Govan Workspace Limited

AHF Support: Options Appraisal Grant, 2007-08; Working capital loan, 2013-14

New Use: 18,000 sq. ft. of managed workspaces and offices to let; Volunteer-run Heritage rooms

Find out more at www.fairfieldgovan.co.uk

What’s So Special About This Place?

Think of Glasgow and you think of shipbuilding on the Clyde. It is central to the city’s, and Scotland’s identity. Govan has been at the heart of this industry since the 19th century. The Category A listed Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Office has been described as the best in Britain. Completed in 1891 to designs by John Honeyman and Keppie, its imposing red sandstone façade extends for 350 feet along Govan Road. This is where some of the most famous Clydeside ships were designed and launched, including Royal Navy battleships and transatlantic liners. Fairfields was also the venue of the famous Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in in 1971, led by union shop stewards to prevent the closure of the Govan yards.

Why Was The Building Under Threat?

The building was closed in 2001 when it was deemed surplus to requirements by BAE Systems, the shipyard operator. Its condition steadily deteriorated and by 2004 it was boarded up and included on Scotland’s Buildings at Risk Register. It became symbolic of the decline of shipbuilding on the Clyde and the neglected Govan community.

How Was It Saved?

The building’s fortunes changed for the better when Govan Workspace got involved. This social enterprise is deeply rooted in the local community. Since the late 1970s it has supported the creation of jobs in Govan by acquiring redundant buildings and converting them into managed workspaces with support services. In 2007 it was contacted by the building’s owners, Clydeport plc, who had been unable to find a viable future for the site. Govan Workspace acquired the building in 2009 and commenced on a £1.4 million emergency repairs contract, funded by Historic Scotland and Glasgow City Council. Over subsequent years it raised the £5.8 million required to repair and adapt it into a centre for start-up businesses, with space set aside for telling the story of the building and its place in Glasgow’s industrial and social history. Pat Cassidy was the driving force behind the project.

How Is The Building Used Now?

This iconic building has regained its place as a centre of industry and activity in Govan. The Fairfield Heritage Centre includes the former boardroom, management offices, directors’ dining room and main entrance and lobby. Modern office suites occupy the former drawing offices on the first floor and the former counting house on the ground floor.

How Did The AHF Help?

The AHF awarded Govan Workspace a grant of £11,720 in December 2007 towards the cost of an options appraisal. This gave Govan Workspace the confidence to acquire the building and develop detailed proposals for bringing it back into commercial use.  

A £125,000 working capital loan acted as a ‘bridging facility’ in 2013-14.

Argos Hill Windmill, Rotherfield, East Sussex

Architectural Heritage Fund

What’s so special about this place?

Argos Hill Windmill is a post mill, the earliest form of windmill design, constructed so that the mill body can rotate around its central post to face the wind.  Only 50 post mills survive in the United Kingdom.  As a relatively rare survival, with all its machinery intact and distinctive fantail driven tailpole, Argos Hill is listed Grade II*.  Clad in white weatherboard with a red cap, the Windmill is a significant landmark within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. When it was built in around 1835, industrial activity was widespread in the countryside, in quarries, sawmills and forges.  The mill enabled the surrounding  rural communities to process the grain they grew, a story which resonates with today's interest in locally sourced produce and reducing food miles. 

Organisation: Argos Hill Windmill Trust Ltd

AHF supportCold Spots Grant; Challenge Fund Grant; advice and support

Outcome: Restoration well advanced: mill due to open to public in spring 2016

Websitewww.argoshillwindmill.org.uk

Why was the building at risk?

After its closure, the Windmill passed into local authority ownership and following years of decline, was added to Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.  In 2008 it was proposed to dismantle and store the building. A campaign by the local community and mills enthusiasts led to the formation of the Argos Hill Windmill Trust, which took on ownership of the mill on a 99 year lease in 2011.  By this time, many of the main structural timbers were severely rotten and substantial repairs were needed.  

How was it saved?

 

The Trust's first step was urgent work to secure the structure, allowing time to develop detailed proposals to restore the mill as a heritage and educational attraction.  Fundraising by a separate Friends group, combined with grants, including £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus a substantial contribution from the local authority, achieved the £250,000 needed to go ahead.  The Trust brings together highly relevant skills including project management, construction, engineering, IT and education.  This has enabled them both to manage the restoration effectively and develop plans to tell the story of the mill to people, including through digital media.  Whilst the structural repairs have been undertaken by a millwright, significant sections of work have been taken on by a volunteer workforce of [number], contributing their skills and learning new ones.   The whole community has been involved, whether through supporting fundraising events or offering help in kind, a testament to the importance they attach to this local heritage landmark.

Where is the project at now?

The structural repairs are now largely complete and the volunteers are fixing the weatherboarding to the exterior.  Two volunteer teams are working on site, one during the week and one at weekends, depending on the time they can give.  Once the mill body is fully weather-tight and the sails in place, the scaffolding that has protected the mill for over a decade will come down and the Windmill will again be visible across the High Weald.  The project is on course to be completed in December this year.

How did the AHF help?

We provided two grants.  The first of £2,386 was under our Cold Spots scheme funded by the Pilgrim Trust, the John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Foundation and Historic England.  This enabled the Trust to develop a detailed specification and drawings as part of their project development.  We also provided a Challenge Fund grant of £23,000.  This grant scheme was funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and Historic England, and unusually for the AHF this supported capital works.  The Trust was established using the governance model for a building preservation trust, provided by the UK Association of Preservation Trusts in partnership with the AHF. We also provided advice on developing a fundraising strategy and putting together the case for financial support.