Dry stone wall and pillbox exterior walls and turfed roof giving the appearance of an agricultural vernacular building, camouflaging its real purpose.
World War 2 pillbox overlooking A62 (Huddersfield Rd), Bleak Hey Nook, Standedge, Delph, Saddleworth, Oldham, West Yorkshire, listed Grade II © Historic England DP262165
World War 2 pillbox overlooking A62 (Huddersfield Rd), Bleak Hey Nook, Standedge, Delph, Saddleworth, Oldham, West Yorkshire, listed Grade II © Historic England DP262165

The Most Captivating Sites in the North West Listed During 2020

58 historic places in the North West were added to the National Heritage List for England during 2020. Here, Historic England celebrates the sites in the North West that gained protection.

A Knutsford schoolhouse for the poor dating back to 1692 and an innovative 1820s arch carrying the Bridgewater Canal over the River Irwell in Salford are some of the captivating historic sites listed last year in the North West.

Highlights include a unique 16th-century collection of original and copied Roman stones in Appleby, and ingeniously camouflaged pillboxes on Saddleworth Moor, built by military planners in the early years of the Second World War to defend key roads into Manchester in the event of invasion.

Highlights of the most captivating places listed or upgraded in 2020

The Gardens at Graythwaite Hall, Cumbria, Grade II* Listed

Gardens designed by Thomas Mawson, widely considered to be the founder of modern landscaping.

The gardens at Graythwaite Hall in the Lake District were created between 1889 and 1895, at a time when garden design was at a crossroads and moving towards the Arts and Crafts principles of the early 20th century. They were designed by Thomas Mawson, who is widely considered to be the founder of modern landscaping and was one of the most influential garden designers of the early-20th century. The gardens were Mawson’s first major design, in which he pioneered his ‘composite’ garden: a combination of the formal and informal.

Surrounded by extensive woods that are said to have been a favourite of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, the landscape of Graythwaite is enchanting, and Mawson’s gardens are no exception. From a Dutch garden that features a striking sundial to the beautiful rose garden, Graythwaite is a popular spot for visitors during the summer months, and still fully reflects the original design.


Plau, the former Plough Inn 115 and 115a Friargate, Preston has been listed at Grade II

A newly renovated and award-winning bar, the former Plough Inn has been a public house since the 18th century. It was originally associated with the notorious gin craze and later linked to the beginning of the temperance movement.

Thomas Swindlehurst, a leading national temperance crusader, decided to forswear all alcohol whilst drinking at the establishment in 1832. His actions anticipated the adoption of teetotalism by the temperance movement, a cause to which he dedicated the rest of his life.

The building has a number of notable architectural features, including a handmade brick vault containing a mash-pit and stand, probably the previous location of a still where the gin was made. On the top floor, an unusual reed and plaster ceiling is preserved.

The careful restoration of the premises by the present owner achieved national recognition in April 2020, winning 'Best Conversion To Pub Use' by CAMRA and Historic England in the National Pub Design Awards. The listing of the premises followed an application from the owner, Jeremy Rowlands, who worked closely with Preston City Council’s conservation officer to ensure this remarkable building has now achieved national recognition.


Ollerton School House, Knutsford, Grade II listed

Ollerton School House was built in 1692 as a result of a bequest in the will of Samuel Leigh to provide a teacher's house in the village. A schoolroom was also built attached to it, opposite the pond and green in the heart of the village. A new school was built opposite in 1876 following the passing of the Education Act of 1870, and School House became the headmaster's house for the new school.

The building of the school was the start of a period of some 300 years of continuous education in a very small rural village until the new school closed in 1994. The School House is a simple rural building retaining the layout and features of the school, as it was prior to the new school being built in 1876.


Barton Lane Aqueduct Portal, Salford, Grade II listed

A marvel of engineering in 1761, the Barton aqueduct carried the Bridgewater Canal over the River Irwell. At the time, the idea of sailing a barge over another navigable waterway was extraordinary. The Duke of Bridgewater, who commissioned the canal, initially compared engineer James Brindley’s concept to building "castles in the air”.

Brindley’s confidence and the Duke’s faith in him were rewarded. The project was an instant success, halving the price of coal in Manchester almost overnight through increased supply, and the aqueduct drew crowds of tourists to see this 'wonder of the age'.

The arch across Barton Lane was the first in Britain to carry a canal over a public road. The arch was constructed to support the weight of the water, which was contained within a walled channel, lined with puddled clay.

The present arch of Classical design dates from 1820s improvements. When the aqueduct was replaced in the 1890s by the swing aqueduct (itself unique), the affection for the earlier structure led to this arch being rebuilt alongside the road it used to straddle. This is an early example of industrial heritage being recognised and preserved for future generations.


Bainbrigg Stones, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Grade II Listed

Part of Appleby’s unique 16th-century collection of original and copied Roman stones, once owned by celebrated antiquarian and local headmaster Reginald Bainbrigg, are now on display within a wall between Chapel Street and King George’s Field.

The wall incorporates 16 stones including a number of copies of Roman altars, at least one of which has been lost, and so the surviving copy on Chapel Street has extra significance. Original stones include a Roman altar from Whellep Castle, Kirby Thore, with a dedication to the local Celtic deity Belatucadrus. Bainbrigg’s collection contributes to our knowledge of Hadrian’s Wall and Roman Cumbria.


Second World War pillboxes at two locations on Saddleworth Moor in Oldham, Grade II listed at Bleak Hey Nook and Yeoman Hey Reservoir

Built in 1940 or 1941 when the threat of imminent invasion was a real concern for Britain’s military planners, these defences guarded key road routes into Manchester over the moors from Yorkshire. They did not form part of a ‘stop line’, but were part of a defended locality, protecting road routes across Saddleworth Moor from Barnsley and Hudderfield to Manchester.

Both locations made good use of natural camouflage and provided openings (also known as embrasures) for rifles or light machine guns. Unlike the majority of pillboxes built at the time which were standard models of reinforced concrete, these defences were individually designed, and brick and stone was incorporated into their construction.


I am delighted that these important sites have been listed this year. These significant additions to the list span the whole country - from Nottingham to Kent, Andover to Cumbria, and include something for everyone to enjoy. I am grateful that, thanks to these listings, these heritage sites will continue to enrich our communities for generations to come.

Nigel Huddleston Heritage Minister

Every year, we work with painstaking care to identify and protect the most significant historic sites up and down the great counties, towns and cities of the North West. Despite the challenges that everyone has faced this year, 2020 has seen some wonderful additions to the List. From the engineering marvel which carried the Bridgewater Canal over the River Irwell in Salford, to lost Roman altars saved within a wall in Appleby, Cumbria, we have taken action to protect the cultural heritage cherished by communities across the region.

Catherine Dewar, North West Regional Director Historic England
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