If Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame is to be believed, the small market town of Thorne in South Yorkshire is enjoying a surge of urban regeneration. Apparently, "all over the town, people are beginning now to buy up buildings and restore them". If only that were true, Kevin. The truth is that aside from the recently repurposed Kensington Picture House which saw Mr McCloud grace the streets of Thorne, the towns empty buildings are actually stuck firmly in a state of neglect. A string of failed auctions and refused planning applications have no doubt sealed their fate. It seems that rather than being restored, most of them will inevitably be lost to the bulldozers. Thorne Hall near the centre of the town is one such building.
Thorne Hall, Thorne - September 2013
Visited with non-member Doug
!!! WARNING !!!
The following report contains images of a 'mega-urbex-fisheye' nature.
Persons with an aversion to ridiculously distorted perspective should continue with extreme caution!
Thorne Hall was built in the early 1800's by a local farmer named Wormley, although he never actually lived in the house, choosing instead to emigrate to Australia. The house was sold to a ship builder named Mr Ellison, who gave his name to the street on which the house stands. This street being previously known as 'Cow Shit Lane'.
The Hall's next owner was the well-known civil engineer, Makin Durham, who is remembered locally for his work draining the surrounding farmland and his development of the land fertilization system known as 'warping'. Durham made Thorne Hall his home and raised his family there. Makin's grandson, Frederick was the last of the Durham family to live in the Hall, passing away in 1913.
In the early 1920's Thorne Hall became a private school for girls aged eleven to eighteen years. In 1930, the girls were transferred to the newly opened Grammar School nearby.
On 24th November 1966 the Hall was designated Grade II listed.
Thorne Hall's most recent occupants were Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council who took it over 1974. The building was extended and adapted for use by various council departments including social services, housing and maintenance.
The council vacated the Hall around 2006 in a bid to save money due to budget cuts. It has since been empty and in 2011 it failed to reach its reserve price at auction.
Thorne Hall has been on the radar for a while, but probably due to its prominent position in the town and the fact that it's owned by the local authority, it has always been well secured. However, after various failed attempts, one late night recce finally came up trumps.
The ground floor housed the council's main reception area and various offices and meeting rooms. A further reception area leads to a 1970's extension containing more offices, also linking the main house to the caretaker's storeroom and boiler house.
Back in the main house, the ballroom more recently used as a council chamber contains probably the best example of the building's original detailing, including architraved wall panels and a neo-classical style moulded plaster ceiling.
A cantilevered stone staircase with its original wrought iron balustrade sits beneath a roof lantern and leads up to the first floor.
A second staircase leads to the top floor and attic rooms which seem to have been unused by the council, probably due to the lime ash floors which are now crumbling in places, rendering them unsafe.
As I've already mentioned, the Hall failed to reach its reserve price at auction a couple of years ago, so its future remains uncertain. Its listed status means that the council could face legal action if they leave it to go to ruin. Only time will tell.
I must apologise for the curvilinear nature of all my shots, but I'm still a little bit in love with my recently purchased Samyang 8mm, so if you don't like them, I don't care.
Regardless, Ta very much :)