Preparing for the THI – 2005 to 2010

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Andy Marshall (left) and his photographic exhibition

Like Long Street Methodist Church and School, Middleton conservation area was also seriously at risk from economic and physical decline. Worse still, the outstanding listed buildings Tonge Hall, Hopwood Hall and the Old Grammar School were also under threat. The Council, Middleton Heritage and Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust, with support from English Heritage, responded with a new strategy to ambitiously promote the town’s heritage. The idea of the Golden Cluster was developed and a guide to the Edgar Wood buildings was published. Middleton Heritage commissioned architectural photographer, Andy Marshall, to produce an exhibition on Edgar Wood’s buildings while Long Street Methodist Church and School were opened for visitors as the Middleton Edgar Wood Centre.

Restoring Elm Wood School

Elm Wood School being restored

Local volunteers surveyed the conservation area in great detail, wrote an appraisal of its heritage, devised four new extensions and produced a wonderful set of appraisal maps – all were adopted by Middleton Township and the Council along with a Management Plan for the conservation area. The Council also restored three Edgar Wood buildings – the un-demolished Durnford Street Infant school, the outstanding listed Elm Wood School and Milton Street Family Centre, originally the Independent Labour Club.

New research into Edgar Wood and his Middleton buildings started and those in the town centre had conservation plans drawn up. In 2009 the Council, Middleton Heritage and the Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust bid for £2 million of Heritage Lottery money to repair and restore the conservation area buildings – a bid that was ultimately successful.

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Henry Owen-John (left) and Simon Thurley (centre right)

Edgar Wood and Middleton’s architectural legacy was, at last, being seen as being of great importance and English Heritage national chief executive, Simon Thurley, and regional director, Henry Owen-John, came to visit and promised their support. Finally, in 2010, Middleton Heritage celebrated the 100th anniversary of Edgar Wood’s birth with a series of public events.

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