Revitalising local heritage at Marple Wharf

Project date: 2012

We supported Marple Civic Society and other local groups and organisations to explore the revitalisation of their historic canalside for community use.

Marple is a small, historic town in Greater Manchester which lies along the Peak Forest Canal. The town was an important focus for the textile trade during the industrial revolution, when many mills and limekilns were built, as well as a three-way canal junction to support the trade.

Local organisations Marple Civic Society and Marple Vision Partnership were keen to enhance and build on this rich heritage, by reviving the canalside area and bringing the historic Marple Wharf, including its Toll House and warehouse, back into community use.

The Glass-House was approached for support to help the wider community to engage in and contribute local knowledge and creativity in the plans for these local assets. We developed a three-day programme to support a greater sharing of ideas and exploration of opportunities and to help the groups to learn from other projects and build a better understanding of design and development.

An evening workshop brought together a large group of stakeholders including young people from the local school, residents, local authority officers and representatives of local interest groups and societies. Through a group mapping exercise, participants explored the key assets of the town, such as open spaces, transport, community spaces and heritage, and how to improve connections between Marple Wharf and the wider town.

A study visit to Hollingwood Hub in Chesterfield, developed and managed by the Chesterfield Canal Trust, gave the group insight and learning into the process of developing a derelict canalside site into a now thriving recreational and community hub, which also provides training and employment locally.

A final one-day workshop consolidated the learning from the two previous sessions, prioritising emerging ideas in terms of cost and community benefit and exploring design options through mapping and modelling. This work was supported by Glass-House Enabler Caroline Fraser who shared her experience of heritage and refurbishment projects and advice on working with an architect on a community building project.

The support of The Glass-House was an important step for the group in their efforts to protect and enhance their local heritage, building their confidence and capacity to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, and to develop viable alternatives for the future of these historic buildings.

Your workshops gave us confidence to keep going. They gave us the reality that there could be [a community space on the wharf]…  The mapping workshop has helped us further, we have quoted it and our findings so many times.– Gillian Postill, Chair of Marple Civic Society

Since 2012, Marple Civic Society have worked tirelessly to protect the canal buildings for community and civic use, amid considerable pressure for housing development. They continue to be centrally involved in conversations to secure a heritage and community use for the buildings.