AHF announcement: May 2017


Campaigners hoping to rescue and restore an historic cemetery chapel in Salford have received good news from the Architectural Heritage Fund. A successful grant application has been awarded of £4,850. This represents 30% of the funds needed to study whether the building could have a commercially viable future.

The Agecroft Cemetery Chapel Restoration Group became a constituted group in 2016. Having been successful in securing funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Salford community committees can now move forward with their commercial viability study and consultation work. They want to make the building available for a wide range of uses including a flower shop, café and meeting space.

The chapel has been vacant since 1985. It is one of a range of buildings located within the 45 acre Agecroft cemetery on Langley Road in Salford and was opened in 1903 to designs by the Manchester architects, Sharp and Foster.  The chapel features a mixture of arts and crafts, gothic revival and art nouveau elements.

Beryl Patten, a spokesman for the group, said that achieving the AHF grant was a crucial element in this first phase of the campaign. She said, ‘Our long-term aim is to achieve a fully-restored and sustainable building with community access for generations to enjoy.’

Ian Morrison, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund said: ‘We’re pleased to support groups like this one in Agecroft who have the vision and passion to turn historic cemetery chapels into useful community spaces. The grant has been made possible with support from Historic England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport who also fund a team of regional support officers who provide advice for communities who want to rescue and restore much loved historic buildings.’


Walter, Ada and Fanny

Agecroft’s architect Walter Sharp married Ada Simpole in 1883 and took up residence with Ada’s widowed mother in Broughton, Salford. Ada was born in 1860 into the Simpole family, a successful firm of cabinetmakers with premises at Cathedral Steps, Manchester. The Sharp’s continued to live in the Lower Broughton Road area throughout much of their married life but by 1911 they had moved to St Anne’s-on-Sea on the Lancashire coast. Here Sharp was in practice with Gerald Cowburn. Ada died in 1928 and in September 1929 Sharp married Fanny Rounds at the Wesleyan Church, St Anne’s where he held office. Sharp lived in two houses in St Anne’s, both identical in design and both named Paxford in memory of his birthplace. Further research is necessary to establish whether Walter Sharp designed these houses which still exist. Sharp’s obituary mentions that he designed ‘the handsome shop property on the north side of St Anne’s Road West’, possibly those at the junction with Clifton Drive North and applauded his efforts in ‘beautifying the town’. Sharp died in August 1931, his probate of £3968 was left to his widow, Fanny and his niece Ada Pemberton. He is interred in St Anne’s Church, St Anne’s-on-Sea.

Frederick Foster: co-architect of Agecroft

The architect Frederick Foster was in partnership with Walter Sharp and together they were responsible for the design of the buildings at Agecroft. Very little is known about Fred Foster at the present time but what we do know is that Foster was born in Manchester in 1850/51. In the 1891 census he was living with his family at 59 Withington Road, Chorlton where his occupation is recorded as architect’s assistant and lay reader in the Church of England. Foster’s wife Amelia Geake was also born in Manchester around 1848. Frederick and Amelia married in 1873 and had 8 children. During the early years of their marriage they live in Sale but later moved back to Manchester. Son Fred jnr, born in 1889, became a draughtsman and mill architect. Frederick Foster snr died in 1904 aged 53 very soon after the opening of the Northern Cemetery at Agecroft.