A RARE listed building is to become a haven for artists at a gallery.

Hyndburn Council has submitted a £500,000 lottery bid to transform The Stables within the Haworth Art Gallery’s grounds into units of artists’ studios. The Accrington building is thought to be a rare example of a structure built to house both motor vehicles and horses together.

Features such as an underground petrol store and mechanic’s inspection pit, which would be used by a specially trained chauffeur, have given the council hope of gaining heritage lottery funds.

The building has not been used for over ten years but the council hopes it can be transformed into studio units for the local arts network. The building would then be used as an added attraction to draw visitors to the Manchester Road gallery.

It is only in recent months that the rare nature of the building was spotted by English Heritage. Hyndburn Council say these features could be the angle which wins heritage lottery cash to restore the building.

Leader of the council Miles Parkinson said: “Things are at a very early stage but we will do all we can to bring this wonderful building back in to use. It is part of the area’s history and if we can get the funds it will be an amazing thing both for the gallery and local artists.”

If successful, the building would have to be restored in a way which kept the rare features of both stable and garage. A historical display about how cars were kept and maintained in the building in 1909, when no petrol stations or mechanics existed, would also feature.

Facts about the house’s occupants would also be explained.

Anne Haworth, the last resident of the gallery when it was still a stately home is said to have favoured horses. Because she had little use for the new-fangled motorcar, she donated hers to the town for a time for use as an ambulance. She later donated the house, grounds and outbuildings to the people of the town so it could be used as a gallery.

Yvonne Robins learning and access officer at the gallery said: “We have an extensive network of local artists so gaining this resource would be an incredible coup.”