From Dilapidation to Re-opening 1992 to 2006
Rescue and Renovation
In 1996 the private trust purchased the former school and grounds for £45,000. There was a Deed of Option for the Council to re-possess after 5 years if nothing was done with the building. Land Registry covenants and planning permissions insisted on the central hall being for community use and the two ends of the building being residential. The private trust was happy to agree to anything that would help save the building, so work began at once.
The Fielden School of Art Association was renamed the Fielden Centre Association, a company limited by guarantee and a charity with the aim of bringing the main hall into full community use. The complex was thereafter to be known as the Fielden Centre.
In order to eradicate dry rot, timbers had to be replaced, the saturated lath and plaster removed, chimneys needed urgent attention, and broken rainwater down-pipes had to be repaired to allow the wet stone walls to dry out. That meant a great deal of expensive re-leading on the roof and pipes being replaced to prevent rain saturating the walls if they became blocked in future.
Outside, the Portakabin was demolished and the Ewood Lane wall moved to accommodate an essential footpath on Ewood Lane. Once a new wall was constructed (which was not an easy undertaking!), and a ramp surfaced, vehicles could be driven in for the first time.
Renovation Work Stage 1: 1997 – 2001
The first priority, in order to open the Hall as soon as safely possible, encouraging people to use it, and thus gaining support and interest, was to install lighting, some heating, a toilet and a rudimentary kitchen for making tea and coffee.
Through an organisation called Todmorden Together, volunteers came to help clear some of the ground in front of the building, so it could be levelled and the car parking area created.
Then, with funding help from the Town Council, a terrace was designed by Storah Architecture to connect the Hall to the park, creating ramped access, lighting, seating and a gate to the park.
The grand opening of the terrace in 2001 was attended by the then MP, Chris McCafferty, and the town Mayor. Another step towards full community use was achieved!
Chris McCafferty at
the Terrace Opening