Manchester Interiors - Inside a lockkeepers cottage in Castlefield
PUBLISHED: 22:58 01 October 2012 | UPDATED: 21:59 20 February 2013
Roz Hughes and Lee Bevan live in the heart of the city centre but can escape from it all at their Lock Keeper's Cottage in Castlefield. Worords By Emma MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
You might struggle to find a person more in love with Manchester than Roz Hughes. Since the Bramhall born PR expert moved into the city in 1994, she has worked on everything from promoting it to a global audience and taking on Swampy during the building of the second runway at Manchester Airport to working with the citys Commonwealth Games team. She lives and breathes Manchester.
It seems apt that the passionate Mancunian gets to live in a house as special as the Lock Keepers Cottage, a delightful property on the Rochdale Canal in Castlefield. It is the only detached residential property in the city centre.
Although Roz is a tenant the cottage is owned by the Ramsbottom family who regenerated the Castlefield area including Dukes 92 across the canal it is the ideal home for her and her partner, Lee Bevan.
She said: I love living here. Its the best of both worlds. You know youre in a city centre but Castlefield is a really nice part of it with lots of open space. People think it would be noisy but its actually pretty quiet.
Castlefield is very attractive, very pretty with the canals. We get a bit of wildlife with the geese, ducks and swans and we even see the odd heron. We love the outdoor space which we needed for our cats, Frank and Chester. Its really pretty in summer too and really comes into its own.
Lock Keepers Cottage was bought by Jim Ramsbottom in 1984 for 15,000. The family spent 40,000 doing the house up as well as creating a beautiful garden. A conservatory has been added in an area believed to once be used for keeping chickens. It was used as an office during the redevelopment of Castlefield and until Roz and Lee moved in last December, it had only ever been occupied by members of the Ramsbottom family.
The property is no longer in use for its original purpose, a fact that still does not prevent people from asking for the latest barge timetables. But there are still some lovely features that have been restored. These include the old ticket office, now used as Lees man cave and an occasional sitting room, which has the original wood burning stove. Others are the staircase and the windows. The Ramsbottom family also added some interesting features including a stained glass window bearing the name Dukes 92.
Roz, 43, and Lee, 38, have filled this three bedroom home with items they love including photographs of Manchester, an illustration given to Roz by Commonwealth Games chief executive Frances Done, and a limited edition photo of Tony Wilson taken by celebrated photographer Kevin Cummins.
Roz said: We bought it just after Tony passed away and its something thats really special to us both.
There were only 50 prints done. Number one of 50 is in the National Portrait Gallery and we have number two. Most of the pictures in the house are Manchester related.
A writing table dating back to 1860 Rozs first foray into antique buying sits pride of place in the couples bedroom and a beautiful wardrobe, a family heirloom from Lees grandfather, is displayed in one of the lounges. The couple spend a lot of their time during the summer in the conservatory and then debunk to the cosy, warm, main lounge in the winter. It is this room that has a striking fireplace that Roz said a previous tenant, a musician, helped to choose. It features a design with lots of musical instruments.
Living in such a public place does generate a lot of interest. People often stop Roz and Lee to ask them about the house including local historian Frank Rhodes who discovered his uncle, George Royle, was born in the cottage.
Roz said: He came and knocked on the door to ask if he could have his picture taken outside the house. Now, he is helping to piece together the history of the house, which he believes was first built around 1880. He told me he found out information about his uncle George who used to play in the streets and found arrowheads before they excavated the Roman site around the corner.
I love the history of this whole area. This was once at the heart of industry with coal and timber being brought up the canal to the warehouses here. It would have been very busy. Horses would have been used to pull the barges and they were kept in stables in the building where Dukes is now.
Having lived in the city for such a long time, it would be easy for Roz and Lee to take their home for granted. Not a bit of bit.
Roz said: Living here is a lovely lifestyle. Its a fantastic home with a very friendly feel and we are very lucky to be here. Because I work from home Im able to enjoy it a lot.
We always appreciate it every time we walk down the path back home. I would love to be here for a while.