Dating back to 1878, the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank is a landmark, Grade II-listed building in the town centre of Bacup. The building remained in use as a fully operational bank until the 1970s, after which it was turned into bedsits - these were later subject to a closure order and the building was left empty for five years. Built in the Scottish Baronial style using local sandstone, and adorned with elaborate stone-carved gargoyles and a distinctive turret, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the town. For this reason, the community of Bacup were passionate about seeing it brought back to life.
Valley Heritage, one of the Architectural Heritage Fund’s (AHF) Heritage Development Trusts, acquired the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank in 2019 with the support of a Heritage Impact Fund loan. In 2020, an AHF Transformational Project Grant was awarded to help repair and restore the roof, masonry and windows, as well as remodel all internal areas into co-working space and four apartments. Alongside the restoration work, Valley Heritage also delivered a series of public engagement activities and events to animate the former bank, including community art projects, open days and tours.
Now, the iconic former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank has been fully restored and reopened. On the upper floors of the building are four self-contained flats for young people who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The ground floor and basement are home to Alliance Bacup – a co-working and office space for local independent business people and entrepreneurs. Run for the community, by the community, the space also includes meeting rooms, a communal seating area to socialise, a kitchen area with refreshments, shower facilities and bike storage. Not only does Alliance Bacup provide a space for people to establish and grow their businesses, but it also helps them to meet like-minded, hardworking individuals, thus building a strong sense of community.
The sensitive restoration of the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank has not only saved an important, much-loved historic building, but it has also made a positive contribution to the beautiful town centre of Bacup, sparking wider heritage-led regeneration in the area. Valley Heritage itself now turns its attention to developing future projects, while also remaining committed to securing community use of this space for generations to come.
The AHF is delighted to have supported this inspiring project and was pleased to celebrate the official launch of Alliance Bacup on Thursday 13th October.
Image: People gathered inside the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank in Bacup to celebrate the official launch of Alliance Bacup. Photo credit - Catherine Smyth Media.
Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said:
‘Valley Heritage started as an all-volunteer organisation and became one of our pilot Heritage Development Trusts in 2020. The completion of their first project – bringing this iconic building back into use as affordable housing and workspace - demonstrates the great potential of social enterprises like Valley Heritage developing positive futures for our town centres.’
Stephen Anderson, Chair of Valley Heritage, said:
‘Alliance is a project built on partnerships. The creativity, skill and tenacity of our partners, be they funders, artists, businesses, our local authority or community organisations, has been tested as the project has been delivered in challenging times. We are very proud of the results and hope Alliance will be a central part of the Bacup community for the long term.
We have learned a great deal from the project which will carry us forwards confidently into future projects.'
If you would like to know more about what the transformation of the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank means for Bacup, listen back to Nishma Hindocha’s show on BBC Radio Lancashire to hear her talk with Stephen Anderson. The interview starts at around 3 hours and 11 minutes in.