There is definitely something that can be done to save Hough Hall, the Marie Celeste building of Moston. And the first person who should care about this ancient building is of course the man who we believe is its owner, Roger Barnard.
Certainly, when he and his partner Heather Mawhinney, less than 20 years ago, bought the historic pile, which stands just off Moston Lane, next to a Victorian primary school, they must have known at least a little of what they was letting themselves in for.
And when they put a £200,000 price tag on it a couple of years later they would have been aware that if it didn’t sell or it wasn’t restored – or even repaired – this small piece of England was being condemned to a slow and shameful fall from the pages of history.
Now there, of course, could be a hundred and one reasons for Roger Barnard’s lack of action – indeed there is a small chance that he no longer owns it, although the general consensus of opinion in Moston is that he does.
We have also heard many suggestions of what might have gone on in the rigours of his life, which we won’t highlight here.
And what we do know is that owning a Grade 11 listed building can be like a dead albatross round your neck.
But Mr Barnard has failed to come forward in the last three weeks since the consumerwatchfoundation began investigating this woeful story of history and neglect … and if Mr Barnard, his family or his representatives are still involved with Hough Hall, they need to accept that they have a duty not only to the history of Moston but to the grand history of England too.
The sad truth is however, that owners of listed buildings in the UK are under no statutory obligation to maintain their property in a good state of repair. They can quite literally let it fall down and the land it stands on can become a lucrative plot for building.
We are not suggesting for a minute that this is – or ever has been – the plan for Hough Hall.
The responsibility for the future of this beautiful and evocative 17th century farmhouse – one of the only remnants of the rural history of this rundown North Manchester suburb – also lies with two organisations who should right now hang their heads in shame.
The first one is of course Manchester City Council … you see, despite what they say, local authorities can take action to ‘secure repair when it becomes evident that a building is being allowed to deteriorate’.
But MCC nailed their colours to the mast when they told CWF there was nothing they would do to protect the near-derelict hall.
The next port of call then is Historic England.
They say on their website: “Historic England have produced guidance to help owners and purchasers of vacant buildings to reduce risks by undertaking an ‘active management approach’ that can prevent unnecessary damage, dereliction and loss of historic fabric.”
But when approached by the consumerwatchfoundation, Historic England simply referred us back to Manchester City Council.
So, the only hope Hough Hall has of surviving into its next century on this earth is you, the people of Moston.
This is what some of you have had to say in the last couple of weeks …
Callum Andrews This marvellous pressure group, which I’m backing, already has the ball rolling. Maybe you could ask Joyce Lightfoot to speak with Leigh also. I support Leigh and back him 110% on behalf of my group, if he needs me to do anything I’ll do my best. He needs more people from Moston to back him so we have a bigger voice.
North City Community Action Group Leigh how about getting a public meeting together so a focus group can be created to take this forward
Lorna Hardaker Very sad. Too many historical buildings are lost due to sheer neglect. An intervention is required.
Joseph Mysko I would love for this building to be restored absolute travesty to see it in such a state!!!!! Looks like the history is as forgotten about as much as the residents that currently live in the area. I see so many beautiful pictures of how moston was on here it’s just incredibly sad
Jennifer Clarke I have read and left comments.
I hope the council don’t procrastinate so long that they deem it unsafe and pull it down like what happened to some other places.
Damian Witherington Leigh I’m led to believe you are the driving force behind the campaign to save Hough Hall, is this correct? or are you just raising the awareness of the plight of this building?
There have literally been thousands of likes and comments on the consumerwatchfoundation pages on Facebook and other platforms, in fact the ‘traffic’ about Hough Hall has been so massive that we have regularly been blocked from posting on the subject because Facebook in its autocratic, kangaroo-court faceless-ness has accused us of spamming.
We haven’t spammed! We care about history and, unlike Facebook, not about the dollar. In fact if you support us, please write to this email address confirming we haven’t spammed you … we are seeking a full apology from Facebook:
This is what the consumerwatchfoundation is actually about, we are what it says on the box, a Foundation …
Please help us to continue the fight by telling people about us: The Consumer Watch Foundation is founded in The Truth … our writers and researchers have the job of entertaining and informing you – but they are also here to help you fight for your rights. We will do our best to help with your consumer problems, answer your questions, save you money, chat about family, lifestyle, holidays, hobbies … but most of all we will name and shame those who rip you off, lie to you and misrepresent you.
The people to contact at Manchester City Council and Historic Britain are:
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council T
Telephone: 0161 234 3004
Duncan Wilson OBE is the chief executive of Historic England
Telephone: 020 7973 3250
Don’t let this fight end here. Disinterest is the wrecking ball which destroys hundreds of listed buildings across the UK every year but there are Urgent Works Notices, Repairs Notices and Section 215 Notices. Make the people who are in charge of our history use them.
These are just some of the buildings which at some stage have become awful ghosts of themselves, Victoria Mill, Grimsby, Old Bute Road Railway Station, Cardiff, Old Library, Stafford, Mount Street Hospital, Preston, St Paul’s Church, Boughton, Chester.
But the list is endless.
The consumerwatchfoundation has to move on now but we are more than willing to advise and help anybody who wants to fight to save Hough Hall – we will also publicise everything you do. Contact us through the site or on messenger.
Fight for YOUR history.
Leigh G Banks