£6m restoration of Bowcliffe Hall lifts off

A £6m restoration programme which features a new tree house conference centre in the shape of an aeroplane wing in tribute to an unsung Yorkshire aviation hero has been completed.

The Blackburn Wing conference centre, which pays tribute to Yorkshire aviator Robert Blackburn, completed as part of a £6m project at Bowcliffe Hall in Bramham.

The project to restore the 200-year-old Bowcliffe Hall and its 50-acre estate in Bramham, near Wetherby, and create new office space within the grounds, features the 2,060 sq ft Blackburn Wing as its centrepiece.

The grade two listed hall, owned by entrepreneur Jonathan Turner, is the former ancestral home of Robert Blackburn who was the first Yorkshireman to design and build a powered aeroplane.

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The copper and glass structure, designed by The Harris Partnership, can accommodate up to 140 guests.

The project, led by Conlan Construction, also entailed converting a cricket pavilion and other redundant buildings into 3,452 sq ft of office space.

The design of a Drivers Club restaurant for business tenants and guests aims to capture the nostalgia of the period when the Blackburns played host to guests including aircraft pioneers, media proprietors, RAF officials and politicians including Amy Johnson and Winston Churchill.

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of the Bayford Group, said: “Conlon Construction have been consummate professionals in bringing my vision to create a fitting legacy to an unsung flight innovator to fruition. Robert Blackburn’s achievements included founding an aircraft manufacturing company that became part of Hawker Siddeley and, later, British Aerospace and the restoration epitomises design excellence.”

Neil Conlon, managing director at Conlon Construction Yorkshire, added: “Whilst this has been a challenging project, not least because of the logistical challenges of working within 38 acres of woodland, the Blackburn Wing is a particularly stunning building and the refurbishment is one we are very proud of.”