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Architect’s restaurant project cooks up award

A £1.4m transformation of an historic barn – thought to have once witnessed a famous row between Cromwell and one of his supporters – has won a prestigious award for the architects behind the scheme.

Townscape Architects worked closely with charity Caring For Life and Leeds City Council on the rejuvenation of the Grade 2 listed barn at Crag House Farm, near Cookridge, converting it from an almost derelict outbuilding into a new restaurant and farm shop.

The project took almost a year to complete and included significant challenges – not least preserving ancient oak beams dating back to the 16th century, which were to be an integral part of the design.

The new premises opened in October 2012, providing both a stunning environment for customers and training opportunities for students from Caring For Life’s catering academy which offers hope and a fresh start to vulnerable people – many of them homeless or destitute as a result of extreme poverty or neglect.

And, at a prestigious ceremony at LeedsTown Hall, The Granary was named the winner in the BestConservedBuilding category at the Leeds Architecture Awards, winning high praise from judges who described the project as “a very fine piece of restoration which deserves top marks for conservation”.

Townscape Architects’ managing director Nick Silcock said:

“Of course, we were hoping to come away with something but we knew it would be tough against such strong competition.

“We were thrilled to be announced as the winners in our category but it was a team effort and our thanks should also go to everyone who played a part, including the council, Caring For Life, J & W Kirby from Wakefield – who worked on preserving the beams – and structural engineer Jameson Consulting.

The old granary is thought to be a possible location of the famous spat over taxes between Oliver Cromwell and Lord Fairfax in the aftermath of the Battle of Marston Moor.

“However, the building also withstood a more modern assault on its architectural integrity.”

Mr Silcock added:

“Research suggests the barn started with a thatched roof, which was replaced with stone and then asbestos – which was apparently damaged extensively when a wheel fell off a light aircraft passing overhead and crashed through the building!

“However, as soon as we cast eyes on the barn, we could see what potential it had. Once the magnificent old oak frame was preserved using traditional techniques, we introduced contemporary glass extensions to the building as well as a curved glass wall which divides the internal space.

“We were delighted to see so much of the original wood being retained and repaired during the restoration, which is remarkable when you know a bit more about the building’s history.”

The Granary, Crag House Farm
The Granary, Crag House Farm

Describing the judging process, guest assessor and former northern editor for The Guardian, Martin Wainwright, said:

“As you would expect, the judging process has been as fascinating and varied as the nominees themselves.

“We have not always agreed and it has demonstrated the passion that exists within the city for its architectural heritage, and for creating its future skyline.

“A huge positive this year has been the inclusion of the young people’s award and hearing what young people have had to say about their city.

“We need to encourage this involvement and hopefully we may have inspired a future generation of designers, architects and planners.”

Townscape Architects is based in Harrogate and Leeds, employing a team of four people. Other projects the company has designed include Jack Berry House – the centre for injured jockeys in Malton, where work also began this month.

Nick Silcock (3)
Nick Silcock


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