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Fabulous offices and a treehouse!

publication date: Oct 5, 2011
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The first phase of a major multi-million pound renovation to create luxury office space at one of Yorkshire’s most historic stately homes is now complete at 200-year-old Bowcliffe Hall and estate near Wetherby in North Yorkshire.

The scheme, creating 31 luxury office suites to let in an opulent country house setting is the brainchild of Jonathan Turner, chief executive of the Bayford Group, which owns Bowcliffe Hall.

Although the hall has offered office space since it was sold out of private hands in the 1950s, previous developments have been piecemeal. The first, £500,000, phase of the restoration scheme has returned the building – once the family home of unsung Yorkshire hero and aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn – to its former glory.

David Brown, director of Ripon-based lighting designer, Décor, one of a team of skilled local design specialists and craftsmen who worked on the scheme said, “The attention to detail has been second to none on this magnificent transformation. We’ve been engaged on the project since September 2010 and it’s extremely exciting to see the stunning end result.”

Susie Cookson of Cedar House Interiors in Ripon added, “It has been wonderful to play a key role in reinvigorating Bowcliffe Hall. We’ve designed a luxurious country house with a contemporary twist. From the period wallpaper to the spectacular chandeliers and elegant colour scheme, we’ve created an experience for office users which is unrivalled in Yorkshire.”

Stephen Jackson, director of York-based architectural joinery business Hare & Ransome, said, “The transformation of the magnificent Bowcliffe Hall has encompassed a myriad of traditional techniques carried out by local craftsmen. At Hare & Ransome, our work ranges from ecclesiastical restoration to the conservation of listed buildings; we are very experienced in the techniques used to breathe life back into grand buildings.”
Jonathan Turner says that it has been “an absolute labour of love and a privilege to return the splendour and warmth back to this historic house. My vision was to create unique offices with the look, feel of a country house home and put the character back in it, and I’m immensely proud of what the team of local design specialists and craftsmen have achieved.”

“This development also enables us to celebrate the life of Robert Blackburn who bought Bowcliffe Hall in 1917, his dynamic career saw him build his first monoplane in 1909. He was a real pioneer – giving regular demonstration flights to crowds at Roundhay Park in Leeds before flying over to Bradford and back. In 1914 he founded an aircraft manufacturing company which, on his death, became part of Hawker Siddeley and, later, British Aerospace.”

The second phase of the transformation will pay tribute to Robert Blackburn and his links with Bowcliffe Hall with the creation of a spectacular, art-deco dining room themed on a pilots’ mess, where food will be served to tenants and visitors.

The final phase will comprise the restoration and redesign of the 19th century landscaped gardens where Jonathan wants to incorporate an inspirational tree house conference and corporate hospitality facility.
He says, “We are talking to Leeds City Council planners about raising the profile of such an important Leeds pioneer and I have this dream of building a treehouse,” he says, pointing to a tree visible from the window of his first-floor office. “A really big one, fully wired up. We could rent it our for business meetings. It would get people out of the cities and into the countryside. It will be a place for people to come and daydream. “We might not make any money but we will have a laugh.