A TEAM of local design specialists and craftsmen are celebrating the completion of the first phase of a major multi-million pound renovation at one of Yorkshire’s most historic stately homes.
The skilled artisans and country house renovation specialists have been drawn from across the district to work together on the restoration of 200-year-old Bowcliffe Hall and gardens near Bramham.
The scheme to create 31 luxury office suites in the country house is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Jonathan Turner, chief executive of the Bayford Group, who owns Bowcliffe Hall.
Although the hall has offered office space since it was sold out of private hands in the 1950s, previous developments have been piecemeal. Phase one of the restoration scheme has returned the building – which boasts a rich history and was once the family home of unsung Yorkshire hero and aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn – to its former glory.
Mr Turner said: “It’s been an absolute labour of love and a privilege to return the splendour and warmth back to this historic house. My vision was to create unique offices with the look, feel of a country house home and put the character back in it, and I’m immensely proud of what the team of local design specialists and craftsmen have achieved.”
Jonathan was thrilled to discover more about the hall’s significance to Yorkshire’s aircraft industry and its powerful links to Robert Blackburn.
“This development also enables us to celebrate the life of Robert Blackburn who bought Bowcliffe Hall in 1917 and whose dynamic career saw him build his first monoplane in 1909 in Leeds.
“He was a real pioneer – giving regular demonstration flights to huge crowds at Roundhay Park in Leeds before flying over to Bradford and back. In 1914 he founded an aircraft manufacturing company which, on his death, became part of Hawker Siddeley and, later, British Aerospace.”
The second phase of the transformation will pay tribute to Robert Blackburn and his links with Bowcliffe Hall with the creation of a spectacular, art-deco dining room themed on a pilots’ mess, where food will be served to tenants and visitors.
The final phase will comprise the restoration and redesign of the 19th century landscaped gardens where Jonathan wants to incorporate an inspirational tree house conference and corporate hospitality facility. Jonathan Turner added: “We are talking to Leeds City Council planners about raising the profile of such an important Leeds pioneer and hopefully my dream of the tree house – the Blackburn Wing – will come true.”
Susie Cookson of Cedar House Interiors in Ripon said: “It has been a wonderful experience to play a key role in reenergising and reinvigorating Bowcliffe Hall. We’ve designed a luxurious country house with a contemporary twist. From the period wallpaper to the spectacular chandeliers and elegant colour scheme, we’ve created an experience for office users which is unrivalled in Yorkshire.”
David Brown, director of Ripon-based lighting designer, Décor, said: “The attention to detail has been second to none on this magnificent transformation. We’ve been engaged on the project since September 2010 and it’s extremely exciting to see the stunning end result.”