By Liz Turner
Historic barns in danger of falling into dereliction are being restored in an effort to help conserve the landscape, heritage and wildlife of the Peak District National Park.
The Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England are working in partnership to help farmers and landowners access up to 80 percent funding to repair historic barns for agricultural use.
By the end of this financial year, 14 barns will have been restored, including buildings at Wardlow, Bradwell, Brushfield, Taddington, Litton and Alstonefield.
The projects use local materials, and support local businesses and traditional building skills.
One of the biggest projects, costing close to £285,000, has recently been completed at Onecote Grange farm (pictured) in Staffordshire, thanks to funding from Natural England’s Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme.
The L-shaped 19th-century farmyard barn, with elements dating back to 1632, had one roof destroyed in a devastating fire in 1949. Before repairs this year the replacement asbestos roof was failing, walls were structurally unsound, loft floors were unsafe, stonework was eroding and most of the doors were dilapidated.
Now the roofs have been returned to their original Staffordshire blue tiles, loft floors and wooden hay mangers replaced, window surrounds repaired with local stone, and the doorways graced with bespoke oak doors. Traditional lime mortar was used throughout.
John Stone and his wife Janet run Onecote Grange, a dairy farm, which has been in Janet’s family since 1924. It was visited five years ago by HRH the Prince of Wales.
John said: “We’re very pleased with the restoration – this was a substantial building that we hadn’t been able to use for years because it was unsafe. Now it’s so good to go inside and appreciate the work that’s been done. I’ll be using it for calves and for storage, and it’s still a home for house martins and swallows.
“The builders and architects worked very hard to complete it on schedule, and I’m very pleased with the way the Peak District National Park Authority co-ordinated the project. The help I have had from them and Natural England has been invaluable. I’ve always had a good relationship with both organisations and I’m grateful for their help.”
Kate Maltby, of Natural England, added: “This is a great example of how Natural England works in partnership with the national park authority and local communities to achieve conservation of the heritage and natural beauty of the Peak District.”
The authority continues to work in partnership with Natural England to repair historic barns, although the funds available through the ESA and Higher Level Stewardship Schemes are now fully committed to December 2013.
Image courtesy of Peak District National Park