3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

MediaCity may grab the headlines but Ordsall Hall leads Salford's regeneration

PUBLISHED: 00:16 11 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:16 20 February 2013

MediaCity may grab the headlines but Ordsall Hall leads Salford's regeneration

MediaCity may grab the headlines but Ordsall Hall leads Salford's regeneration

Media City has grabbed the headlines but an 800-year-old building laid the foundations for the area's development. Emma Mayoh visits Ordsall Hall MAIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

It is difficult to imagine a time when Salford was nothing but fields. It is a place that seems to have been continually developed throughout its history with cranes and building machinery a permanent fixture on the areas skyline. And as the vast Media City project rumbles on, thats something that is unlikely to change.

But architects working on the multi-million pound redevelopment at Salford Quays may want to take a stroll down the road to Ordsall Hall. This beautiful manor house has been standing for more than 800 years. It has survived the Industrial Revolution, the coming of the Manchester Ship Canal and the German bombs of World War Two.

Liz McNab, the halls manager, said: When the Radclyffe family lived here they would have been surrounded by farmland and woods. The earliest part of the building dates back to the 1360s, its quite inconceivable to imagine it now.

It is incredible to believe that in an area of such constant change a building like Ordsall Hall can stay standing.

The key to its success has been the passion of its owners and the community surrounding it. Unlike some other manor houses, the hall has had to adapt to ensure its future.

Throughout its eight centuries the building has been used for many things.

It was first home to the Radclyffe family. It was inherited in the early 1300s by Sir John Radclyffe from a distant relative and it became the family seat for more than 300 years.

It was also once owned by the Egerton family of Tatton Park, who were responsible for extending part of the hall. The hall is also believed to have been the first private home in the Manchester area to have had its own chapel.

But Ordsall Hall has also been put to use as a training school for the clergy as well as individual tenements, a butchers shop, community allotments and a working mens club.

Liz McNab said: Its hard to imagine the hall full of men from the mill over the road all sitting in here in the same place that the clergy have done their training and the gentry have lived. Bread was cooked here for the mill workers.

Its impressive that a use has always been found for the building. But I think that is what makes Ordsall Hall so special. There has always been a place for it in the community.

The building has also been home to many characters, including Frederic Shields, a noted artist and friend of the Pre-Raphaelites. He used one of the halls rooms as his studio where he painted local mill scenes, some of which can now be seen in Manchester Art Gallery. He chose the hall because he loved the light that flooded in through the window.
It has also been said there are links between the hall and Guy Fawkes apparently he spent time at the hall planning his Gunpowder Plot although Liz is not convinced.

Ordsall Hall has also come close to demolition on several occasions but in 1959 it was bought by Salford City Council following an overwhelming public vote to keep the hall standing. Following a major restoration, it was finally opened as a museum in 1972.

A few years ago it was realised that urgent repairs were essential to ensure the halls future. Local fundraising efforts and Lottery funding generated the 6.5 million needed to carry out the work which was intended to restore the building to how it would have looked when the Radclyffe family were in residence.

Timbers in the vast roof space were restored or replaced and the beautiful stained glass windows in the Great Hall were given a new lease of life.

Items from the buildings past were also uncovered during the restoration, including original art work painted on the beams in the Great Chamber the Radclyffes original sleeping quarters. And in one of the original ceilings tiny wooden stars were found which could be removed to enables eavesrfopping on the room above.

The hall reopened to the public a few months ago, following a two year closure. And not all the restoration work took place inside the hall. Formal gardens have been created in the grounds and fruit, vegetables and herbs are being grown a to recollect the halls previous use as allotments.

An orchard has also been planted with pears, medlars and apples, which will establish itself over time.

Liz said it was important to carry out the work not only to ensure that the building was saved, but also to retain its place at the heart of the community.

She said: People have taken real ownership of it and are proud to have it in their area which is very encouraging. The reaction you get from visitors is really positive and were so thrilled to have it back open again.

The building was allowed to get into a terrible state. It was really ramshackle and run down so to see it back to how it would have been is fantastic. We have restored the fabric of this building and made it safe and it feels like the hall has been safeguarded for the next 800 years.

Weve also seen peoples opinions of Salford change with the money that has been put into the area. There is a much more positive outlook now. We want the hall to very much be a part of that positive future.

The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Lancashire Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here


More from People

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A 12-year-old from St Helens has gone the extra mile to say thank you to hospital staff for saving his baby brother’s life.

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Former Westlife star Brian McFadden is loving his new life in the Lancashire countryside, writes Paul Mackenzie.

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

War stories from the Kay-Shuttleworth family history have gone on show at their ancestral home, Gawthorpe Hall

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Poet Yrsa Daley-Ward was born in Chorley to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father. She was brought up by devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents and worked as a fashion model before moving into poetry. Her latest book, The Terrible, is a memoir about girlhood, femininity, family secrets, addiction, sexuality and mental health. She now lives in New York.

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Making a television programme about the Lakes has re-affirmed Paul Rose’s deep affection for the area

Read more
Lake District

A fascinating look at the lives of Lancashire women in times past is now available to a worldwide audience.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

A new awards scheme,supported by Lancashire Life, is designed to shine a light on our successful family businesses

Read more

Lancashire was the first county to support the There But Not There campaign. Tony Attard explains why

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lancashire’s High Sheriff talks to Olivia Assheton about the relevance of the role in the 21st century

Read more
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Wayne Hemingway kicks off our new series by recalling special family memories from around Morecambe Bay.

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

There have been a record-breaking number of entries for the Enterprise Vision Awards and voting starts this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Home Reach has helped many people realise their dreams and own the home they want and need.

Read more
Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Lancashire couple sold up their home and their business so their sons could become farmers

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A letter discovered hidden in the rafters of Elizabeth Gaskell’s home sheds light on the life of her staff.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search