Several buildings in Bacup have been restored and the town’s high street has been revitalised thanks to more than £1 million in funding.

Councillors met with representatives from Historic England, to mark the transformation of Bacup’s High Street Heritage Action Zone.

Set up in 2020 with £1.085m of government funding delivered through Historic England, the programme, which draws to a close this month, was delivered alongside Rossendale Council, local people and businesses. 

Lancashire Telegraph: The Alliance at the former Lancashire and Yorkshire BankThe Alliance at the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank (Image: Catherine Smyth Media)

Combining investment in buildings and shop fronts with community engagement and cultural events, the programme has helped to boost pride in place, connect communities and drive economic growth.

Bacup’s High Street Heritage Action Zone sought to repurpose old buildings and tackle the high proportion of vacant units in the town, using the area’s rich heritage to bring the high street back to life.

A total of 14 buildings have been restored and repaired and three buildings brought back from dereliction, including The Alliance, the former Lancashire and Yorkshire bank, which is now a co-working space with three residential units on the upper floors.

Four Union Street is now to let and six Union Street will be let by a local laundrette.  The old snooker hall, at 7/7a Market Street, which had been vacant for some years, is restored and currently to let.

The programme has also rejuvenated Hempstead Memorial Gardens, with newly installed York stone paving, bollards, lighting and benches on either side of the war memorial, which has been carefully repaired and cleaned to brighten the stone and the inscriptions of the fallen. 

New information panels detailing the cenotaph’s history have been added alongside stone carvings, landscaping and poppy artwork.

At the former NatWest building at 11 Market St, internal works are being carried out to create four apartments to be used as holiday accommodation.

Aside from the physical improvements to buildings and the high street, the local community has been involved through events which together have attracted more than 500 people, such as Bacup Heritage Walks led by Rossendale Civic Trust, and advice sessions on maintaining and caring for heritage properties, led by Buttress Architects for building owners on the project. 

The local business community has been supported through the employment of a town centre regeneration officer to focus on the marketing and promotion of the town centre, drawing on the town’s heritage and architecture to attract visitors.

To bring people back to the high street, Bacup Cultural Consortium created This Here Festival, a free family festival that delivers theatre performances, live music sets, craft workshops, roaming artists, street bands and more.

It launched in 2022 and has been attended by up to 700 people showing an appetite for family-focussed cultural activity in Bacup.

Lancashire Telegraph: Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry with owner of the former NatWest Bank James Mellor who is planning to convert the building into holiday flats Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry with owner of the former NatWest Bank James Mellor who is planning to convert the building into holiday flats (Image: Catherine Smyth Media 2024)

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said:  “Look at how much Bacup has been transformed over the past few years! 

"These are exciting times for the town where we’re seeing levelling-up in action as result of well-targeted government funding, combined with great work by Rossendale Council, Historic England and of course local people who should be proud of the way they’ve seized this opportunity.”

Labour Councillor Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Council, said: “Over the past few years our local community, businesses and the Council have come together to significantly improve Bacup town centre.

"This is by no means the end of the journey but this work has given us a lot to build on.

"Bacup has such great heritage buildings and we’re proud of our history but it’s about bringing that up to date so we can create a thriving town that locals are proud of and visitors want to come and visit.”

Julie Griffiths, Historic England’s team leader partnerships in the North West, said: “We’ve been thrilled to see how people in Bacup have worked with us and our partners at Rossendale Borough Council to unlock the potential of this town’s wonderful heritage to create a better future for the high street.”