6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Lancaster's Moor Hospital to be transformed in multi-million pound housing property development

12:47 05 February 2013

Lancaster

Lancaster's Moor Hospital

Lancaster is a city of landmark buildings and one is preparing for a new life as a desirable<br/>place to live, writes Sue Riley

Anyone driving along the M6 sees three iconic buildings as they pass the city of Lancaster. Perhaps the most memorable is the Ashton Memorial, the folly in the park built by one of England’s wealthiest men and a place much loved and visited by Lancastrians.

The newest on the scene is Lancaster University’s copper-clad Infolab which since its completion in the mid 1990s has won a handful of design
awards but divided local opinion. And the third is the city’s former asylum, the Moor Hospital whose foreboding Gothic exterior is certainly striking, but for many in the north holds unhappy memories.

Writer Alan Bennett is no fan of the place where his mother and aunt were
both patients. ‘Lancaster Moor Hospital is not a welcoming institution. Seen from the M6 it has always looked to be like a gaunt grey penitentiary,’ he wrote in his memoirs.


For more than 10 years the building has lain empty but now that’s all
changing as the government’s Home and Communities Agency which owns the site has invested £3million for essential infrastructure work to take place. Two property developers have been selected to create up to 440 homes on the site and the first apartments and houses will be ready by the autumn.


Manchester-based PJ Livesey is undertaking the conversion of the main
building and nearby Campbell House into more than 100 apartments and 22 houses and Carlisle-based Story Homes will be building new family homes on the 20 acres of parkland adjoining the site.

The overall contract is estimated to be worth £67.8 million. ‘We will see what the market wants. Research has shown that at the present time there’s no demand as such, we have to create a market. We do not do the average type of apartments, we put our type of identity on them,’ said Pete Livesey, managing director of PJ Livesey.

The company has worked on five previous asylums and is confident that
once work starts, people’s poor memories of the Grade II listed hospital
will diminish. ‘The outside of the building has all the grandeur. People
relate to the large windows and high ceilings, living in Victorian buildings
does tend to appeal to people,’ Pete added.


They plan to develop the whole of the annexe in stages. Some of the flats will have internal balconies overlooking the courtyard which will be newly tiled and fountains installed and there will also be the chance to live in the imposing tower with its narrow spiral staircase leading to two rooms measuring five metres square. At present it houses a quarter-ofa- million gallon water tank but the developers say they will turn the tower into some form of accommodation and are open to ideas.


The other key area is the former dining hall which is being transformed into two apartments with a large communal area left to celebrate the original Waring and Gillow wooden roof trusses which are being revealed for the first time in decades. PJ Livesey’s technical director Ralph Brocklehurst had seen a picture of the original room in all its glory and
wondered if the curved trusses were hidden underneath the ceiling. They
were. Behind two noticeboards they have also uncovered original fireplaces which will be fully restored.

No prices have yet been revealed for the houses and flats but it’s safe to speculate they will be substantially higher than the cost of the entire building when it was created in 1882 – the princely sum of £125,000.

Designed by Arnold W Kershaw, it was built as an extension to the existing asylum (at the time Lancashire was one of the most heavily populated counties in England and among the first to open a county asylum) on the other side of Quernmore Road. Whereas the original building was based on a country house – it now forms the centrepiece of Standen Park, an exclusive housing estate – the extension built on the city’s racecourse is symmetrical and Gothic.

The new building had 825 beds with female wards, kitchens, padded cells and a tunnel underneath the road linking the two hospitals. Campbell House was added in 1909 and during the war it was used to house mentally ill naval officers and ratings but for many years before it shut was used primarily for elderly patients.

So far on site buildings have been demolished and land cleared. The interior of the main annexe is being stripped of all its modern partitions, bathrooms and operating theatre; asbestos and dry rot which has pervaded the building is being dealt with.

Livesey was also applying for listed building consent to turn part of the main building into apartments which should be completed by the autumn. The first new build homes in the grounds, which are offsetting the cost of the conservation work on the Victorian building, should be ready around the same time and Story Homes are in charge of the masterplan for the site, including organising community consultation.

Deborah McLaughlin, North West Executive Director at the Homes and Communities Agency, who has been working alongside English Heritage and Lancaster City Council on the project, said: ‘The longer we leave this site the more it deteriorates.


‘Unlocking publicly-owned sites to speed up the delivery of housing developments is a key priority.


‘I know the developers are keen to deliver a scheme that meets the needs and aspirations of local people, creating much needed affordable homes that will have a positive impact on the local community.’


And for Ralph Brocklehurst it’s more than just a building project, he is a real enthusiast about the building and has been reading up on its history.
He has even saved some original wallpaper dating from when the building was first opened which he is donating to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. ‘It’s a surprisingly calm place, not what I expected,’ he said.

Presumably that’s exactly how the developers hope would-be buyers view the place too.

Tall stories about Lancaster

• Originally planned as a 100 foot tall tower, Forton Services, now re-named Lancaster Services, was the only service station in the world with a tower-top restaurant until the high rise eatery was closed in the 1980s. There were reportedly complaints soon after it opened in the mid-60s that the restaurant distracted drivers because it looked like a UFO when it was lit up at night. The tower was given Grade Two listed status by English Heritage late last year.


• The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, which acclaimed architectural historian Pevsner called ‘the grandest monument in England’, was commissioned by lino magnate Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife, although he had re-married by the time building work was finished and is said to have changed his mind and dedicated it to himself.


• The words ‘scientist’ and ‘dinosaur’ were coined by Lancaster academics, William Whewell and Richard Owen respectively.

Where it is: Lancaster stands on the A6 near junction 34 of the M6. There are regular rail links with Preston, Kendal and further afield and if you have a sat nav, LA1 1XD should take you to the city centre.


Where to park: There are long and short stay pay and display car parks around the city centre and an ultra-secure multi-storey near the castle.


Where to eat:
You won’t go hungry in Lancaster – the city has a wealth of cafes, restaurants, delis, bars and pubs.


What to do: There’s so much on offer. Visit the Grade One listed castle, the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park and the city’s museums.


Where to find out more:
Log on to www.visitlancaster.co.uk.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Jessica with Princess Fifi at the stables in Altham near Accrington

A young woman based in Padiham is working hard to make the 2020 Olympic dressage team. She spoke to Roger Borrell

Read more
Equestrian
Thursday, April 28, 2016
5 things to do in Lancashire

What's On in Lancashire and the Lake District this Bank Holiday weekend?

Read more
Things to do in Lancashire
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Friesians in the stables at Myerscough Photo Sandy Kitching

Horse lovers from across the country will be heading to Lancashire this year to see animals from one of the world’s most striking breeds being put through their paces.

Read more
Equestrian Summer in Lancashire
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Berry Lane

There’s a lot of woolly thinking in this lovely Ribble Valley town, as Mairead Mahon discovers

Read more
Longridge
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Cartmel Racecourse

Whether you’re horse crazy or just along for the ride, equine related events are an important part of the summer season.

Read more
Equestrian Summer in Lancashire
Friday, April 15, 2016
The Coppermines valley

Heather Troughton, who was born and bred in Coniston, shares the things she loves about this former Lancashire village

Read more
Coniston
Thursday, April 14, 2016
The picture of donkeys on St Annes beach is by Lancashire Life artist Nick Oliver. See more of his work at www.smilecreative.co.uk or contact him at 01257 427465.

St Annes hasn’t lost its pulling power as a place to visit, as Emma Mayoh discovered

Read more
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Windermere Railway Station takes many first-time visitors by surprise.

Despite its name, Windermere village is more than a mile from the lakeside but this bustling community should not be overlooked, writes Mike Glover

Read more
Bowness Windermere
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Market Place and the Tilted Vase

Martin Pilkington heads back to his former home town and spots plenty of new things on the menu. Photography by Kirsty Thompson

Read more
Ramsbottom
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Lowther Rose Gardens

Lytham is now one of the season’s hottest tickets with sport, song and outdoor theatre

Read more
Summer in Lancashire Lytham
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Foulridge Reservoir

I should take my woolly hat off to my friend John Serjeant - he never gets it wrong when suggesting a walk. I had decided that my next outing would be around the moors of Haslingden Grane and I asked John to accompany me.

Read more
Monday, April 4, 2016
Amy and Claire helping kids get crafty at a party

Kendal is reinforcing its status as an arts centre. Sue Riley met some of the people behind creative schemes in the town

Read more
Kendal
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Ambleside Town Centre

Villagers have rallied together in the wake of the floods and have floated several new ideas, writes Mike Glover

Read more
Ambleside Floods
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Oak Royal Golf & Country Club, Withnell, Chorley

A boutique hotel and restaurant now complements a golf course and club set in lovely Lancashire countryside

Read more



Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search