IT WAS much loved by generations as a centre of learning but now Alston Hall, on the outskirts of Longridge, is set to return to its original role as a private home.
Lancashire County Council closed the adult education centre, which was the venue for numerous day evening and residential courses, in December to save money, after revealing a decline in course attendance and income.
Now the council has confirmed it has accepted an offer for the 19th century Gothic style country mansion and its 9.6 acre site with river views.
The handsome three storey building on Alston Lane, needed £900,000 of maintenance work and was for sale by informal tender. A council spokesman said: “After an extensive marketing exercise which created a lot of interest and led to eight bids we have agreed an offer for Alston Hall which will be sold as a residential dwelling. We are now in the process of exchanging contracts.”
Jess Mortimer, Chairman of the soon to be disbanded Friends of Alston Hall, said it was better that the Hall was sold rather than become derelict: “It started life as a family home and hopefully that’s what’s going to happen now. But what is sad is that of course people from Preston and Lancashire will no longer have access to the beautiful grounds and situation.”
With 35 ensuite bedrooms, conference rooms, residents’ bar, restaurant, commercial kitchen, chapel, orangery style conservatory, reception hall with feature staircase, a walled garden, a croquet pitch, extensive parking space and outbuildings it had been suggested the building could have a variety of uses. Designed by architect Alfred Darbyshire for colliery owner John Mercer it was built in the 1870s.
Later owners included cotton magnates before Preston Council purchased the Hall for use as a day college.
The County Council took over responsibility for the Hall in 1974.