A rejuvenated Rock Hall will feature a community café and a wedding venue as plans to restore the popular Farnworth landmark take a significant step forward.
Bolton Council has made the future of Rock Hall a major priority, with discussions in 2020 leading to Banana Enterprise Network expressing an interest in taking on the building.
Since then, the social enterprise has made a great deal of progress and is awaiting the final decision on a £99,600 bid to the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
If successful, this would fund the next phase of a renovation project which would eventually enable Bolton Council to transfer the asset to the charity, under the council’s Community Asset Transfer policy.
Set up by Jayne and Christopher Allman, Banana Enterprise Network aims to reduce poverty by supporting and training people to become self-employed.
It works with an average of 250 unemployed people a year and was named one of the 10 fastest growing social enterprises by NatWest.
Since last year, the team has already undertaken a feasibility study on Rock Hall, engaged with the community via the “Save Rock Hall” Facebook page, drafted a 5-year business plan and extensively researched the Crompton family of paper makers who once owned the building.
The council will continue to work closely with Banana Enterprise Network to develop these plans and I am confident we will preserve Rock Hall for many generations to come.
Under their plans, Rock Hall would be sympathetically expanded back to its original size and incorporate a café, shop, wedding venue and heritage room alongside its training facilities.
CEO and founder of Banana Enterprise Network, Jayne Allman said:
“We want to create new learning opportunities for the community by establishing a TB Crompton Academy of Excellence and Enterprise programme for all ages.
“We also aim to provide a viable and sustainable venue, bringing new life to a building that everyone in the community is rightly proud of.”
Bolton Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said:
“We know how important Rock Hall is to the residents of Farnworth and across the borough.
“Projects like this require a great deal of work but with the support of Farnworth ward councillors, it is remarkable how much has been achieved by everyone involved in such a short space of time.
“The council will continue to work closely with Banana Enterprise Network to develop these plans and I am confident we will preserve Rock Hall for many generations to come.”