By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
The oldest farm shop in the UK that suffered a devastating fire and a former shower block transformed into a chic café are two of the winners in the Huddersfield Design Awards.
Another victor in the awards run by Huddersfield Civic Society was a large detached house that had also been destroyed by fire and has now been transformed into a unique six-bedroomed family home.
The annual awards throw the spotlight on the best designs in Huddersfield and other winners were a memorial garden for the Windrush generation from Caribbean countries and artwork in the town’s Victorian Greenhead Park.
The Best Refurbishment and Overall Winner awards went to the University of Huddersfield for the stunning way it has transformed a derelict bath house on the site of an old foundry into a café and art gallery.
Broadbent’s engineering company had sold some of its site on Queen Street South to the university and part of it featured a derelict bath house which had been originally designed by architects Abbey Hanson Rowe in 1954 and the Huddersfield-based practice – now simply known as AHR – returned to turn it into something spectacular.
It’s one of the very few buildings in Huddersfield to have a roof terrace and the café will be open to the public from Monday, September 20.
The bath house is a Grade II listed building as it’s thought to be the only remaining purpose-built bath house for foundry workers in the UK. AHR have included the old showers, soap holders and walls into the design along with original lockers to capture its history.
A floor has been removed to allow light to flood into the building which is ideal to hire for functions. Now called Sovereign Design House, it’s right next to the university’s imposing Barbara Hepworth Building.
AHR director Andrew France said: “One of the key challenges to overcome was the severely dilapidated state of the building which had been unoccupied for 10 years. The building was in a very poor state of repair with water ingress, a partially collapsed roof, vermin issues and general vandalism.
“We worked to restore many of the building’s authentic properties including its roof terrace and sun lounge with the use of local stone another distinguishing feature.”
Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop at Netherton has literally risen from the ashes to scoop the Best Commercial Award.
The shop dates back to the 1960s and is thought to be the oldest farm shop in the UK but was destroyed by a fire in July 2010 caused by an electrical fault. The shop relocated to large temporary accommodation on the same site while planning permission was sought for a new building and then it had to be constructed.
The judges describe it as “a functional yet visually pleasing development that integrates well into its surroundings with the use of natural dry-stone walling and timber.”
Partner Simon Hirst said: “The old farm shop was in what was originally a poultry shed so it had its limitations. What we have now is a palace by comparison.”
At the moment the shop has a large marquee at the front where people can sit out and dine under heaters. That will be replaced with a permanent roof in the coming months but still open so people can admire the view.
Simon added: “Covid has got people used to dining outside and I think that’s something that will stay. We make it really comfortable with powerful overhead heaters so people can sit out in all weathers.”
The shop could still expand further if needed and there is also planning permission for a gastro pub on the site.
The original farm shop was set up by Simon’s grandad, Charlie Hinchliffe, who formed it in around 1970 after people kept calling at his poultry farm to buy fresh eggs. He died in July 2019 aged 95.
The Best Residential Award went to another property that was gutted by fire and has now been transformed into a stunning 6-bedroomed house on Kaffir Road in Edgerton.
It’s owned by Huddersfield-born Julie Hester who has returned to her roots after living in the Caribbean for a decade and she has made the most of the space for herself and her four grown-up sons.
Each bedroom is huge and comes with its own en-suite or dressing room and all the walls are white to reflect the light with oak doors to keep it traditional. It’s still the original building on the outside but has been sandblasted and repointed.
It’s known as an Arts and Crafts house due to its asymmetrical roofs, distinctive form and structure and was a very challenging restoration project.
The house was once owned by the late Huddersfield athlete Derek Ibbotson who held the world record for running a mile in 3 minutes and 57.2 seconds in July 1957 and was a bronze medallist in the 5,000m at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.
The architects on the project were Huddersfield-based Acumen.
The Community Award has gone to the Windrush Anniversary Garden in Springwood developed by Huddersfield’s Building African Caribbean Communities group.
The judges said: “This scheme has transformed a formerly unloved patch of ground surrounding a railway tunnel air vent into a colourful and relaxing area with seating that is clearly popular with local residents.”
The project was inspired by 77-year-old Denzil Nurse from Salendine Nook who was determined the Windrush generation should be remembered.
He said many immigrants from African Caribbean countries settled first in the Springwood area of Huddersfield which made this the ideal setting for the memorial.
Denzil arrived in Huddersfield in 1962 and was a psychiatric nurse for many years before going into community development work.
He said: “In the 1950s and 60s the seats in this area next to the air vent were known as the Houses of Parliament as this is where these Windrush pioneers sat, talked and set the world to rights. I wanted this anniversary garden to be their legacy.”
The Windrush generation refers to people arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries and the name comes from the ship MV Empire Windrush which docked in Tilbury, Essex, in 1948 bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to help fill post-war UK labour shortages.
The Windrush scandal, which broke in April 2018, saw the UK government apologise for deportation threats made to some of the Windrush generation children.
Despite living and working in the UK for decades, many were told they were here illegally because of a lack of official paperwork. The Home Office kept no record of those granted leave to remain and issued no paperwork making it difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove their legal status.
In 2010, it even destroyed landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants.
The final award, the Examiner Readers’ Award has gone to the Friends of Greenhead Park (FoGP) for the lakeside arbour which now features new murals painted by artist and FoGP member Helen Williamson.
The Huddersfield Civic Society judges also recognised “the tremendous efforts made by the Friends in supporting the hard work carried out by the park’s gardening team in maintaining the herbaceous borders, a delight for those who regularly visit the park.”
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.