Visitor centre planned for historic Lancashire building

Bank Hall, Bretherton
Bank Hall, Bretherton
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One of Lancashire’s most historic buildings looks set to get a new visitor centre.

Grade II* listed Bank Hall in Bretherton was built in 1608.

The idea is to create a visitor centre and facilities for the Friends of Bank Hall and the potting sheds belong to the hall.

Andrew Allen

But the Jacobean mansion has suffered from years of neglect and vandalism, and deteriorated to a poor reflection of its former glory.

Now campaigners for the building have resubmitted a planning application to Chorley Council, seeking permission for the hall’s potting sheds to be redeveloped into a visitor centre.

It is hoped the work can start this summer.

The Friends of Bank Hall - a registered charity - is the successor group to Bank Hall Action Group which was set up in August 1995 with the aim of saving the hall.

Bank Hall is on the English Heritage “Buildings at Risk” Register.

Andrew Allen, press and publicity officer for the Friends, said: “The plans have been resubmitted because planning permission to start work had lapsed. The plans were submitted three years ago.

“What we’re waiting for is the lease to be handed over from the Lord Lilford Trust to the Heritage Trust for the North West.

“That’s the reason we’ve not been able to start work.

“The idea is to create a visitor centre and facilities for the Friends of Bank Hall and the potting sheds belong to the hall.

“There will be toilets in there, a small shop, visitor centre and reception area, so we can deal with visitors when they arrive.”

Bank Hall received an initial £1.69m Heritage Lottery Fund grant to restore the hall.

The potting sheds project has also received money from the fund - and from the Lancashire Environmental Fund.

Mr Allen added: “The visitor centre hopefully is going to start this summer and we don’t know how long the project is going to take, but it will give us better facilities.

“The cafe and visitor centre is some distance away from the hall itself.”

The potting sheds are to the left of the main entrance.

They are a range of single storey rooms which as their name suggests were potting sheds used by the hall’s gardeners.

They are on the outside of the north end of the walled garden and are currently in very bad state.

The Lilford family, who inherited the hall in 1860 never fully occupied it as a residence but maintained it until the late 19th century when they decided to rent it out.

During the Second World War the hall was used by the military and afterwards it was handed back to the estate.

It was last occupied in 1971.