Fairytale of Rochdale: A Victorian House Restored

Victorian House Restoration

Should you have the opportunity to make your way up Oulder Hill Drive in Bamford, Rochdale (one of the town’s leafier suburbs), you will glimpse the majesty of Oulder Hill House.  Set behind a mixture of mature trees in 0.75 acres of land, this Victorian building now stands proudly above those surrounding it. However, there is quite a story behind its renaissance. Suffering from over two decades of neglect, the house was in dire need of rescue. Luckily, in April 2015, it caught the eye of Rochdale builder and building renovator, Ross Tetlow of Tetlow Developments, who saw to it that the house was brought back to its former glory.

Restoration Expertise

Listed and historic building restoration is a passion for Tetlow Developments and Oulder Hill House provided the perfect challenge as well as an opportunity to partake in the renovation and therefore retention of a piece of Rochdale’s history.

Experience Counts

Tetlow Developments are a building, renovation and construction company working all across the northwest of England, but having grown up in Rochdale, Mr Tetlow is proud to be a builder hailing from Greater Manchester.  Having undertaken numerous building renovations, having restored listed buildings all over the county, including those in Rochdale, Oldham, Bolton, Bury and Manchester city.  Needless to say, he has much experience of property renovation.

A Victorian History

Oulder Hill house was built in approximately 1860 and first appears on the Ordnance Survey maps of Rochdale dated 1877.  The maps show a surrounding landscape of grassland and woodland, which, subject to the pressures of increased population in Bamford, now supports a matrix of houses with large gardens.  The adjacent Rochdale Cemetery remains largely unchanged.

Oulder Hill house was built by a local man, Mr J Grindrod, who lived at Bottoms Farm, Oulder Hill.  Extraordinarily, Bottoms Farm is the existing home and headquarters of Tetlow Developments.  It appears history does sometimes repeat itself!

Following the initial build and occupation, the house has changed hands but a few times.   The last owner had occupied the house for near on 40 years, arguably having protected the house and land from further development, until recently when the lone gentleman was no longer able to manage the property.

The Challenge

Oulder Hill House - 'Before'
Oulder Hill House – ‘Before’

The Victorian house and grounds had been unmaintained for approximately 20 years.  Indeed, it was near impossible to see the building from the road.
Were you able to scramble up to the house through the bramble and shrubs, you might notice the collapsed west wall and the holes in the roof.  However, it is unlikely you would want to enter for fear of falling through the floor into the cellar.

As you would expect, upon entry to the building the enormous amount of necessary restoration works was evident.  There was severe water ingress and wet rot, which had manifested in collapsed floors and ceilings, damage to the walls and stairs.  Needless to say, to most observers such a sight would be daunting indeed, but Tetlow Developments didn’t even blink. They had seen it all before!

What was visible however, with the use of a strong torch and whilst treading with greatest care, was the potential.  The space, though dark and damp, was grand; rooms 3.6m high and halls large enough to support a three-piece suite. The highly sought after Victorian features were still intact; ornate cornices around the walls, original stairs with wrought-iron balusters, marble fireplaces, in-built wooden cabinets and a vast wine cellar.  There were of course the extensive grounds, with their mature gardens, cobbled drive and elegant courtyard.

Nonetheless, even with the vision only an experienced historic building renovator could have, obtaining and restoring the property was not straight forward.  There was pressure upon the owner from larger developers to demolish the house, clear the land and build new houses.  This would have made a large profit for those involved, but would have paid scant regard to Oulder Hill House as an example of Rochdale’s history.

Offers for the land went to sealed bids and Tetlow Developments succeeded in purchasing the property.

The Historic Building Renovation

Oulder Hill House – ‘After’

Over a period of 6 months, Oulder Hill House underwent total refurbishment.
Making the house structurally safe and watertight was priority number one and the initial works comprised the structural repairs to the west wall along with replacement of the roof.  When that was completed the internal work could begin.  Dry and wet rot had to be eradicated over a period of months.  The internal structure was restored, with new floorboards where required.  The walls and ceilings were re-plastered, a new heating system installed and the entire building’s electrics re-wired.

However, the grandeur could not quite be appreciated until the new windows were fitted (or in the case of the great arch window, restored) and shutters opened to allow in the natural light.  The beauty of the building, its charm and character, could then be fully appreciated. Installation of modern bathrooms provided a contemporary twist, and the painting of the walls, fitting of new lights and a new carpet really brought the building back to life.

Those who have visited the property recently have been astounded at the change. Many have said they wish to live there, even temporarily to fully experience the atmosphere of the place. Oulder Hill house has a certain ‘magnetism’ ; perhaps due to its history, almost embedded in its walls. The house belongs to the land here in Rochdale and, fully restored, now stands proud again.

What does this mean for your restoration project?

Building renovations or works such as house extensions can be daunting prospects for many of us, especially if we don’t know any respectable builders in Manchester (or even in Rochdale, Bury, Bolton, Stockport or Oldham).  Even if we do, they may lack the experience necessary to undertake work (especially work to historic buildings) sensitively.

As listed building contractors, Tetlow Developments specialise in property / house renovations and building repairs.   We will happily provide a quote or advice on listed or historic building restoration, repair and maintenance, no matter the size of the job.