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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.

News Source

Weavers' Cottages in Kidderminster shortlisted for Angel Awards 2017 and looking for new owners!

Ruth Johnson

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No 20 to 22 Horsefair, Kidderminster have been shortlisted for Best Rescue of a Historic Building Award in this year’s Historic England Angel Awards.  These late 18th and early 19th century cottages represent the last vestiges of a rich textile tradition in the town, one that goes back to the early 16th century.  Despite this they were unloved and empty for over 10 years before Worcestershire Historic Building Trust took them on.  The Architectural Heritage Fund offered early funding for viability studies and project management support which enabled the Trust to effect a total transformation from unstable ruins to high quality homes. During the project, the Trust worked really hard to engage the local community and the result is a great legacy of training, educational materials and interpretation which can be viewed on The houses are currently up for sale.  

If you think they deserve to win their category you can vote via the Angel Award website on:


Operation Heritage East Midlands

Architectural Heritage Fund

Operation Heritage East Midlands had a successful launch event in Newark (at the National Civil War Centre) on 7 November. A partnership between Historic England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museum Development East Midlands, Locality and the Architectural Heritage Fund invited groups which are rescuing a historic building to come along and find out more about the process of doing that. 

The delegates heard an inspiring presentation from Sarah McLeod, director of Wentworth Woodhouse and former CEO of Cromford Mills describing how she became CEO at Cromford and sharing her tips for successful project delivery. Sarah is also Chair of Heritage Trust Network (HTN) and Benjamin Parker, Development Officer at HTN demonstrated the new online Toolkit, showing the stages of a heritage project, illustrated with case studies. 

There was lots of networking between delegates, sharing their stories, finding others with similar problems and discussing solutions. Trustees from different groups shared their experiences and highlighted the benefits  of being a trustee. 

Operation Heritage East Midlands continues over the next year with a series of workshops, focussed on specific topics (which were discussed at the launch) to enable groups to take their projects forward. 

Congratulations to the NI Heritage Angel Award winners!

Architectural Heritage Fund

The Architectural Heritage Fund would like to warmly congratulate all the worthy winners and those highly commended at the Heritage Angels NI awards, which took place in Belfast's Grand Opera House on 7th November.  

AHF supported Hearth Revolving Fund with a £50,000 loan to aid its heroic restoration of the then ruinous Category B+ listed Sion Mills stables, which was a close contender for the Best Rescue of an Historic Building award.  The highly distinctive building, built in 1884 in this special model linen village, near Strabane, now houses a restaurant and museum and is helping to inject life into this area of deprivation.

Hearty congratulations too to Ulster Architectural Heritage for bringing the Heritage Angel Awards to Northern Ireland for the first time, to showcase the efforts of local individuals or groups, who have saved historic buildings and places.  The night was hugely boosted by celebrated local musicians, who were commissioned to write and perform tributes to Northern Ireland's historic built environment through a HLF funded 'Heritage in Song' project.

AHF sponsors Employee of the Year award at @SocEntNI Awards!

Architectural Heritage Fund

AHF was very proud to sponsor the Employee of the Year award at this year's Social Enterprise NI awards.  

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Congratulations to Chris Campbell from The Now Group - a social enterprise based in Belfast, which supports people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future.  And they have chosen to locate their admirable activities in historic buildings too!



AHF supported Sion Mills stables up for Best Rescue accolade at Heritage Angels Awards NI

Ruth Johnson

AHF is delighted that Sion Mills Stables, near Strabane, is in the running for Best Rescue of an Historic Building in the Heritage Angels Awards NI, which take place in Belfast's Grand Opera House tomorrow night.  AHF provided Hearth Revolving Fund with a loan to help realise its vision for the then ruinous structure, which now houses a thriving restaurant, in an area of severe economic and social need.  





Thornhill Collective secures AHF and SLF funding for Old School

Architectural Heritage Fund

Members of Thornhill Collective with acting Queensbury Estate Manager Anna Fergusson,  consultants Rob Adams from Adams Napier, Alison Fullterton and Andy Campbell from Dress for the Weather and local architect John Murray.

Members of Thornhill Collective with acting Queensbury Estate Manager Anna Fergusson,  consultants Rob Adams from Adams Napier, Alison Fullterton and Andy Campbell from Dress for the Weather and local architect John Murray.

A group of local artists, designers and entrepreneurs from Thornhill and the surrounding area have secured over £20,000 of funding from the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) and Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to commission a feasibility study, business plan and initial architectural work to investigate the purchase and development of the Old School in Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway.

This B-listed building was built in 1904 and has an open central assembly hall and 5 classrooms off it. The school sits opposite the new Wallace Hall Academy and Primary; an ideal position to function as a community resource, especially for young families who congregate around the school.

‘We feel that the building is ideally placed to serve the economic needs of the community and become an innovative place for collaboration, co-working and community - supporting small businesses, freelancers and creatives who live in the village and the surrounding area. We have a vision for the building, but this will be shaped and influenced by engagement with the community.’

- The Thornhill Collective

‘The Community Assets Team at Highlands and Islands Enterprise are actively working with the Thornhill Collective as they progress through the Scottish Land Fund. We will continue to support the community in this capacity as they investigate the potential of buying the old school in Thornhill.’

- Ailsa Dagetty, Scottish Land Fund

The building and surrounding land is owned by Buccleuch who have been very helpful in giving the Thornhill Collective the time and space to make a case and raise the money to buy the building and surrounding land.

‘We are delighted the Thornhill Collective has secured funding from the AHF and the Scottish Land Fund. This marks an important milestone in their journey towards owning and operating the Old School as a community asset. Their proposal would bring great value to many of those living in and around Thornhill and we are very much looking forward to working with them to help them meet their aspirations.’

- Anna Fergusson, Acting Estate Manager, Queensberry Estate

The Thornhill collective publicly launched their cause to buy and develop The Old School at the Thornhill Gala on Saturday 8th July 2017. Since then they have gained over 200 likes on their Facebook page and have a website where you can register your interest The Community Council in Thornhill have been supportive in their plans and they have gathered cross party support from councillors, local MSP’s and MP.

Over the next few months Alison Fullerton & Andy Campbell will be working with the collective to find out the opinions, wishes and ideas of the community and helping to develop a sustainable business plan.

‘We are delighted to be supporting the Thornhill Collective to realise their ambitions for the Old School and look forward to having lots of conversations with people living locally to help to shape the plans.’

- Alison Fullerton, Dress for the Weather

Local Award winning Moniaive based Architect John Murray will be producing initial plans for the school to explore what could be possible:

‘I am delighted to be part of the team bringing the combined vision of the community and the Thornhill Collective to life to secure a sustainable future for the Old School’

- John Murray, John Murray Architecture

This phase will last 4 month and if all goes well a full application for purchase and development will be submitted early in 2018. 

The Prince's Regeneration Trust's BRICK programme to host its final event in February 2018

Ruth Johnson

BRICK is an innovative education programme designed by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust to build skills, provide expertise and improve connections. It is aimed primarily at community groups looking to start or progress a heritage regeneration project.

BRICK is a UK-wide programme and it will run until March 2018.

This programme has been made possible through a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and financial contributions from British Land, Purcell and the Alan Baxter Foundation, as well as in-kind support by Locality and our own in-kind contribution.

This is the final event the Prince's Regeneration Trust will be hosting for the BRICK programme and by the looks of things it will be a really fantastic opportunity. Also there will be an excellent range of speakers and topics all relevant to a heritage project.

Click here to find out more 




New AHF grant offers this month to support heritage regeneration projects

Ruth Johnson

The Architectural Heritage Fund made 9 new grant offers in October amounting to £38,500 across the UK for community-led efforts to save historic buildings valued by local communities. The two projects highlighted here show the potential for charities to deliver existing services within buildings of important architectural heritage. 

A £2,400 Project Viability Grant has been awarded to Chilli Studios, a charity delivering creative activities for people with mental health problems in Newcastle and Gateshead. It provides a user-led service with the aim of promoting social inclusion and interaction, developing skills and abilities to build resilience and well-being. The grant will enable the charity to assess the viability of creating an ‘art hub’ within an empty property that forms part of Ralph Erskine’s Grade II* listed Byker Wall housing estate, built between 1969-82. This is the newest building to have benefited from an AHF grant. Chilli Studios aims to link with Erskine’s famous participatory approach of ‘hobby rooms’ and provide a legacy that can engage disadvantaged communities in the area.



South Dudhope Mill was the first spinning mill to be built in Dundee, in 1818. The mill has been largely undeveloped and is therefore one of the few remaining sites where many aspects of the history of the city’s jute industry can still be identified. Today, the former spinning and storage buildings are occupied by Tayside Re-users, a SCIO and social enterprise set up to encourage people to find alternative uses for goods they might otherwise throw away, and to provide employment and volunteering opportunities as a route back to employment for those out of work. The Scottish Prison Service is a major client, with day release inmates from the local open prison working on site, as well as electrical goods and furniture being repaired at two closed prisons.

A £5,000 Project Viability Grant will enable Tayside Re-users to explore whether it will be viable to purchase the building, refurbish it and bring disused and unsafe areas on the upper floors into productive use. The project potentially provides a great opportunity to expand its work and offer skills training, particularly in furniture refurbishment, upholstery, electrical repairs and up-cycling, all of which requires both more floorspace and better quality spaces to work in.


AHF support for projects like these not be possible without the continued support of Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland.

For the full list of grant offers made in October 2017 see:

Signalling chance to preview restored Bawdsey Radar!

Ruth Johnson

This extraordinary and hitherto little known World War II Radar Transmitter is re-opening for selected days this autumn prior to full re-opening next year, following a major restoration project by the Bawdsey Radar Trust.  This was a key site in defending the realm and in the development of radar.  Established first as an experimental station and then becoming operational in 1939, it was the first of its kind worldwide.  Its massive earth and concrete structure helped it to withstand at least 12 bombing raids.  Equal resilience was shown by the operators, whose unique testimony has been recorded by the Trust for visitors to hear.

The restoration was supported  by major investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Suffolk Coastal District Council and others, backed by AHF loan finance of £100,000.  We also supported the Trust with a grants of just over £9,000 towards the development of the project, this work helping to underpin the successful case made to major funders.

Find out more, including opening dates for visitors

New grants support community heritage projects across the UK

Ruth Johnson

In September 2017 the Architectural Heritage Fund made 11 new grant offers worth £232,314 to support historic building reuse and regeneration projects across the length of Britain - from former church buildings in the remote highlands and islands of Scotland to an artist’s studio in Newlyn, Cornwall. We are grateful for the continuing support of Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Historic England, Garfield Weston Foundation, Pilgrim Trust, CADW, Department for Communities, Northern Ireland, Scottish Community Development Fund and Historic Environment Scotland, without which we would not be able to benefit so many communities.

Below are some highlights of the grants made in the past round.

Bannockburn House, Stirlingshire

Grant amount: £49,464 Grantee: Bannockburn House Trust

Grant amount: £49,464

Grantee: Bannockburn House Trust

Bannockburn House is a late 17th century mansion and a Category A-listed building, on the Buildings at Risk Register. It is considered overall to be of national importance, with some of the interiors classed as being of international importance, including the two rooms containing enriched plasterwork ceilings and the room in which Prince Charles Edward Stewart stayed. Except for a live-in caretaker, it has remained unoccupied as a house since 1960.

Bannockburn House was placed on the market in 2016. The Bannockburn House Trust was established as a charity in 2017, a price agreed with the owner and funding raised to purchase the building for the community. Legal agreements for ownership transfer are at an advanced stage.

Following extensive community consultation over the last few years, the Bannockburn House Trust plans to create a community enterprise that will provide full access to the community. Their vision is to provide a home for a broad range of community projects including restoring the garden, food growing, creating walks and heritage trails, arts and crafts and begin short to medium term income generation from a cafe, tours, shop, and small-scale overnight visitor accommodation and room hire. The group are developing learning and skills workshops - including arts, crafts and traditional building skills - with the new Heritage Environment Scotland Engine Shed centre for traditional skills training and development, which is nearby.

The grant will be used to develop the Trust and employ staff to progress the plans and take the fundraising forward.


12 Claremont, Hasting, East Sussex

Grant amount: £25,000 Grantee: Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust Ltd

Grant amount: £25,000

Grantee: Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust Ltd

Claremont is a characterful street in the White Rock Conservation Area, the hinterland to the town’s Pier. Although not listed, No.12 has a distinctive facade, complementing the adjoining Grade II Venetian Gothic Brassey Institute housing the town library. Built in 1850, it became Parsons and Cousins Steam Printing Works in the 1870s, with the printing industry subsequently extending into neighbouring buildings. It also housed the town's first telephone exchange, the Plymouth Brethren and the YMCA. It was acquired by East Sussex County Council to include in the redevelopment of the library, but ultimately it proved not to be needed.

Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust Ltd is a Community Benefit Society established in 2016 to provide "affordable spaces, diverse communities, fabulous neighbourhoods" through community/social investment and ownership. The AHF is particularly interested in how the community land trust model can support the regeneration of historic buildings and neighbourhoods.

12 Claremont is currently owned by East Sussex County Council, but scheduled for community asset transfer on a freehold basis or 100-year peppercorn lease. Expressions of interest will shortly be invited from community organisations, including the Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust.

If shortlisted, Heart of Hastings wish to develop a Heritage Enterprise bid, plus advance the further capital funding strands identified, so that they are ready to move forward as rapidly as possible if selected as Preferred Bidder early in 2018. The funding will help support a Project Organiser to co-ordinate the work involved and commission further professional advice to refine the plans, including specialist advice and to help establish the building’s ‘conservation deficit’.


Navigation House Stables, Lisburn

Grant: £3,500 Grantee: The Lagan Navigation Trust

Grant: £3,500

Grantee: The Lagan Navigation Trust

The building is a derelict stables block at the rear of Navigation House in Lisburn. The house and stables were originally built for the ‘Master of the Navigation’, who ran the operation of the Navigation from the house - a central point in the journey of freight from Lough Neagh to Belfast. The site was the hub of a flourishing waterway and waterside community. Both the house and stables were threatened with demolition to make way for a housing development when the Trust lobbied to have the buildings listed, acquired and renovated for its headquarters

The Lagan Navigation Trust is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation established in 2009 to promote the reopening of the Lagan Navigation for the public benefit and social good of local communities and Ireland as a whole.

The Trust’s plan is to base The Waterways College in the stables, creating an economically sustainable natural and built heritage skills training programme, aimed at disadvantaged communities and designed to increase their access to employment, volunteering and wellbeing opportunities


Here is the full list of beneficiaries in September:

Project Development Grants

·         SS Great Britain Trust - Albion Dockyard, Bristol (£10,000)

·         The New Mechanics Institution Preservation Trust – The New Mechanics Institution, Swindon, Wiltshire(£25,000)

·         Borlase Smart John Wells Trust – Anchor Studio, Newlyn, Cornwall (£13,800)

·         Hinton Martell Village Hall – Hinton Martell Village Hall, Wimborne, Dorset (£7,000)

·         Laxton Community Group – Laxton Villlage Hall, Laxton, Nottinghamshire (£10,000)

·         Heart of Hastings – 12 Claremont, Hastings, East Sussex (£25,000)

·         Otterburn Hall CIC- Otterburn Hall, Otterburn, Northumberland (£21,050)

·         Urras Dualchas Shiabost – Old Church, Shawbost, Isle of Lewis (£9,000*)

·         Bannockburn House Trust – Bannockburn House, Stirlingshire (£49,464*)

·         FEAT Trading – Silverburn Flax Mill, Leven, Fife (£24,000*)

·         Action Porty – Portobello Old Parish Church and Halls, Portobello, Edinburgh (£25,000)

Project Viability Grants

·         Minehead Connect CIC – The Old Hospital (£4,500)

·         Canal and River Trust – Bunbury Lock Stables and Warehouse (£5,000)

·         Lagan Navigation Trust – Navigation House Stables, Lisburn, Northern Ireland (£3,500)


*includes additional funding from Historic Environment Scotland.