Sailing into oblivion, ‘Marie Celeste’ hall of Moston…

Please follow and like us:

A team of urban explorers have revealed the real tragedy of one of Manchester’s ‘Marie-Celeste’ buildings.

The Urban Collective Group got inside a 500 year old Grade II listed farmhouse in North Manchester and filmed the shocking condition it has been allowed to fall into.

The early 17 century Hough Hall, Moston, is listed because of its wood wall panels, its gables and its wattle and daub construction.

Yet has been left to decay and at some stage has been used as a drugs den.

And now hundreds of people in the suburb three miles from the city centre are demanding the hall is rescued.

The film also reveals a real-life mystery – what actually happened to the couple who bought the ancient hall back in 2005?

Roger Barnard and Heather Mawhinney took on Hough Hall and had grand plans for it, immersing themselves in the local community and holding open days to show off their ancient home.

Less than two years later though, they put the house up for sale for £200,000 and went on their way. It is believed that he may still own it.

It is believed that Roger may still live in the area with one local saying he had spotted him in the local ASDA.

Another said: “It would be good if Roger could tell us why this bit of history has ended up like it is.”

Almost fifteen years on the house is still filled with clothes, family photographs, painting and hundreds of books.

All that appears to have been emptied are filing cabinets.

Movingly, on an old and stained kitchen table there is a poster bearing Roger’s name. Part of the legend appears to say ‘Roger Barnard four different faces and ?? box’.

Heather was a member of a group called the Friends of Boggart Hole Clough, a sprawling park ten minutes walk from the farmhouse in Hough Hall Road, next to the local school.

All this indicates Roger and Heather were enthusiastic about the future when they first moved in.

A report in the Manchester Evening News in 2005 said; “Hough Hall in Moston opened its doors to the public on Saturday, welcoming visitors of all ages to see inside its Tudor interior and grounds for themselves.”

Highlights apparently included a local personality, Roy Williams, appearing as King Henry VIII in full Tudor costume.

The Evening News wrote: “Roy read a speech about the Hall’s history, and introduced children from Moston Lane Primary School who performed a traditional Tudor dance, and youngsters from the Whitemoss Fun Club, who acted out a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

“Local archaeology enthusiasts also attended the event, showcasing some of their work in a special display.”

On another occasion the couple curated a celebration of Samuel Bamford’s life at the hall attended by Robert Poole, who edited The Diaries of Samuel Bamford.

Bamford was a famous nineteenth-century radical, born in Middleton, he worked as a weaver, sailor and warehouseman and was part of the great upsurge of working-class radicalism in 1815.

Roger said at the time: “We had lots of lovely comments in the visitors’ book afterwards with one person describing it as a ‘perfect autumn evening’ and another wrote ‘so enjoyable we had to come back’.”

For years now people have been demanding something should be done to rescue the hall. But the owners, the city council and English Heritage have all ignored its plight.

A retired local builder, Kenny Banks, remembers that in the mid-1950s he worked for Warma Fireplaces which had a shop on Moston Lane.

Warma Fireplaces rented part of the yard at Hough Hall and he went there every day to load the van.

He also remembers John Gobbi who he believes owned the building.  He had a coal business and  lived in nearby Hinde Street.

When  he died Gobbi left the business and the farmhouse to his daughter Joan and here husband, Les Clough. The  coal business became Gobi and Clough.

The house has also been a doctors surgery, used for the manufacture of lipsticks, and a sanitary-ware storehouse.

But its long and chequered history seems damned to vanish in the mists of time even though locals have said they would work on repairing historic wreck for free.

When contacted by the consumerwatchfoundation.com, Manchester city council and  Historic England – the organisation which is tasked with curate England’s historic buildings – were sympathetic to the calls from locals but had no practical advice to offer.

Dory Bridge, who wrote the original article on Hough Hall for this site, called for people to get together and demand something is done to save the oldest building in the suburb: “It needs saving and we need to know why it has been left to rot and neglected by the council and organisations set up to protect it.”

21 thoughts on “Sailing into oblivion, ‘Marie Celeste’ hall of Moston…

  1. I’ve love this place since i was a child myself and my brother used to play the dirty scoundrel game there. It has. Always inspired my. Art . And my love of history for the tudor period places like. Moston need hough hall its part of our history its part of growing up of telling tales of ghosts and the people who lived there we need hough hall to become alive again

  2. It would be lovely to see this house restored to it’s former glory.theres lots of history behind it.would be an educational benefit to the children in the north west.

  3. Absolutely scandalous that such a building should not be saved/restored. There are very few buildings this old, which Manchester Council have saved. I would be happy to sign any petition to this effect.

  4. It’s sad to see the decay of the last remaining historical building in the area.
    Lets hope the Council are listening to what people want and restore this place for posterity.

  5. How can this historic building be left to just rot away. It’s criminal. Whoever has control should be forced to say why they are allowing this to happen and forced to allow work on restoration to comment

  6. Callum Andrews Does anyone remember the building that used to sit across the road from Hough Hall? My Grandmother worked here as a seamstress until it closed down in the 90s and was eventually bulldozed. This building shouldn’t have been bulldozed and I feel without action Hough Hall will go to the same fate.

  7. Callum Andrews I’m glad the ball is finally moving Leigh G Banks, I was contacted by Dorothy Banks to try and locate the owners one I believe lives in the area and frequents Harpurhey shopping centre quite often. I did ask to see if we could get a contact for him

  8. 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.

  9. 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 🙁

  10. Callum Andrews Damian Witherington this is the man Leigh G Banks who is at the helm of this marvellous pressure group who I’m backing he already has the ball rolling. Maybe you could ask Joyce Lightfoot to speak with him 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.

  11. North City Community Action Group Leigh how about getting a public meeting together so a focus group can be created to take this forward

  12. Leigh G Banks Hi, i’m a Moston boy born and bred and i remember Hough Hall, it had an impact on me decades ago – so seeing it on a visit to Moston recently made me want to do something. There are some stunning buildings there, like the Blue Bell and the Museum etc – what ever happened to Yeb Fold too? But i am out of the country most of the the time and can’t physically be involved … however, http://www.consumerwatchfoundation.com is a news and views site with a massive reach, we are a foundation as the name says with a brief to help where we can – we are also partners with RTI.fm which gets to millions … what i can do is offer our site and the station as a platform to get something done. We can also offer advice and a direction. We campaign for many things including, for instance, parental alienation and recently we got a road battle to Bill stage in the House of Commons … we will continue the fight for Hough Hall and if you organise a team we will keep you in the public eye and offer as much support as we can, we’re not finished yet … come and join our discussion group too, consumer watch foundation on Facebook… Cheers Leigh G Banks,

  13. 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?

  14. Consumerwatchfoundation Hi Damian Witherington, http://www.consumerwatchfoundation.com is what it says, a foundation, set up to help people fight causes … we champion parental alienation, are fighting for a village obliterated by 2000 hgvs a day, and we are battling for an ancient beach in Spain amongst many other things .. A few months ago one of our writers sent us a personal piece about Hough Hall and we decided to look into why it had ended up in the state it is, it’s part of our heritage for Godsake! Hence the above story. What we do is highlight problems and give those who want to get things changed a platform for their fight … the platform includes the pages of the consumerwatchfoundation which gets to almost two million people and time on RTI.fm, our sister Ofcom-licensed radio station. That goes out to millions too. We also offer advice and a direction to people who want get something changed … i am a campaigning journalist and broadcaster and our chief researcher, Andrea, runs her own news service. On our team we have a former Times journalist and a BBC broadcaster … so we are quite well qualified. However, we don’t live in the UK and can’t dedicate ourselves to one cause alone. But we can publicise and help. We have two more stories on the go about Hough Hall which should be quite interesting … the first one reveals the complete lack interest of the authorities (not much of a revelation there then!) and suggests what can be done … the second one will hopefully be a chat with the owner… we can’t track him down at the moment although we know who he is … in simple terms Damian, somebody ultimately will have to take over the fight – but we’ll back them!

  15. I was brought up at Brantwood (Ashley Lane) now Moston College I loved that place and have similar affection for Hough Hall and it will be a tragedy if Moston loses this place as well

  16. I just came across your page. I’m another Roger Barnard, who has been living in Japan for many years. Last year I was contacted by someone who was concerned about the state of Hough Hall, and wondered if I was the Roger Barnard who had lived there. I’m not, but would like to help in some way to resolve this mystery.

    1. Hi Roger, thanks for your mail – the mystery is indeed solved – but tell us more about yourself, there was another RB who was also an artist, is that you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *