Ancient monoliths preserved for future generations in a new home at the heart of Calderstones Park
The Calder Stones, which are among the UK’s oldest and most significant monuments, have today returned to the North West following specialist conservation work in London. Overseen by national charity, The Reader, the Stones are now set to be installed in a purpose-built heritage facility that will open to the public in summer.
The new heritage centre is being developed as part of an extensive refurbishment project to bring the Mansion House in Calderstones Park back to life, thanks to the support of several funders. including a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of just under £1.9million. When it opens its doors later this year, The Reader Mansion House will be a place where people from all walks of life can find connection through literature, heritage, art, wellbeing activities, food and fun.
The Stones’ new home will evoke the tomb they were once part of and protect them from the elements. The carefully designed space will be accessible to the public seven days a week and give visitors of all ages an opportunity to see the Stones up close and learn about their history and conservation.
At around 5000 years old, a similar age to Stonehenge, the Calder Stones provide evidence of the earliest known permanent settlement in the area. Originally part of a megalithic tomb, their recent history has involved a number of moves.
In 1845, they were arranged in a stone circle by Joseph Need Walker, the then-Calderstones estate owner, in 1954 they were moved from the Park’s entrance on Menlove Avenue to protect them from weathering and vandalism and in 1964 they were placed in the Harthill Vestibule greenhouse, which unfortunately accelerated their deterioration due to the rapid changes in temperature and humidity. Their removal last September and today’s reinstallation was carried out by experts Orbis Conservation with the full permission and oversight of Historic England and with Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent.
The Reader’s Calderstones and Heritage Development Manager, George Hawkins said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the Calder Stones back home and we can’t wait for our visitors see them in all their glory. Across the country our Shared Reading groups create lively, connected communities by bringing people together and books to life. In the same way, the Calder Stones have brought people together throughout the ages and we’re excited to be able to share their story and protect them for future generations.”
Nathan Lee, Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund North West, said: “We’re excited to see this stage of the National Lottery Heritage Fund restoration project at Calderstones Park complete, and the Stones moved back to their original position. We know this is an important milestone for the many community volunteers that have been involved in the project so far, and look forward to the many events to come as the Mansion House is also restored to its former glory.”
North West residents who are interested in finding out more about volunteering opportunities at The Reader at Calderstones when it opens later this year are invited to attend volunteer information events on Wednesday 13 and Saturday 16 March from 2.30pm to 4pm at The Reader Ice Cream Parlour in Calderstones Park.
For more information and details of the roles including heritage guide and DIY and arts and wellbeing volunteers visit www.thereader.org.uk/events or call 0151 729 2200.