Clifton Fields Offices
Clifton Fields Landscape

Our Story

If you had been at Clifton Fields 200 years ago, you would have been sat in the middle of a salt marsh.  That is grass-covered marshland full of meandering drainage ditches that would have flooded regularly with high spring tides.  You can see relics of the larger drainage ditches in the pond in the wood surrounding Clifton Fields and in the contoured depressions in the surrounding pasture fields

1830s

Harvesting

A first bank was built to reclaim some of the salt marsh late in the 18th century.  Then in the 1830s the house, now know as Myrtle Cottage, and its outbuildings were built. 

In the second half of 19th Century another bank was built 300 yards or so closer to the river.  The land was all part of the Clifton & Treales Estate of the Clifton Family.  With the extra land available, they used it as an opportunity to build a new farmstead, but it was not going to be any old farmstead.  With the help of Government money they built a demonstration farm for the whole estate, to show the latest farming techniques.

It is this demonstration farm, built with generous proportions and considerable style that forms the centre of the Clifton Fields office park today.   

Ned Taylor with Prince

The triple gothic windows, used as the Clifton Fields logo, have a curious story attached to them.  They were put in at the insistence of the government inspector as a way of identifying which new buildings had benefited from Government aid.

Marsh Farm as the surrounding farm is known has been an active farm throughout the period.  In the 19th Century they made a lot of Lancashire cheese.  The large square stone with a ring embedded in it at the entrance to the courtyard is a cheese weight, part of the apparatus for pressing and drying out the cheese.  The farmhouse still has a dumb waiter lift shaft, which was used to deliver the cheeses to the upstairs back room for storage.

1901

Harvester

When James Tomlinson, the first generation of the present owners, took possession of Marsh Farm in 1901, the back room with the stored cheeses was the only room on the farm kept under lock and key.

Throughout much of the 20th century Marsh Farm was an award winning poultry farm, breeding poultry as well as producing eggs, that were shipped by train all around the country.  The present, unit 1, is known as the incubator house because the incubators were all kept here.

The Clifton Fields courtyard was well designed for a mixed farm with buildings designed to make the operation as efficient as possible.  Careful planting of woods around the farmstead makes the courtyard a sheltered spot even in the harshest of westerly winds.  Cows, pigs and horses all had their place around the courtyard where the dung would be collected.  The Root House between the two large shippons (the Lancashire word for cow byres) and the shed next to the corner shippon were designed to store winter rations as close as possible to the animals to be fed.  The stables were located in the two storey block so hay was stored above and passed down for feeding.     

Hay Barn

The brick barn is a magnificent double height open space with large double doors at either side.  Before thrashing machines, the double doors would be opened at either side and the breeze created used to help remove the chaff as hand threshing of corn took place. 

With the arrival of thrashing machines and other mechanisation, farming started to move out of its traditional buildings.  A shed was built behind the courtyard to house a stationary steam engine and the Dutch barns were built.

1960s

Richard Tomlinson

In the 1960s as the number of cows grew, milking moved from the traditional shippons to a modern milking parlour and housing behind the courtyard.

For a time, modern buildings were added to the courtyard.  A prefabricated building was placed in the centre after the Second World War, the Middle Building, which was used to house pigs.  A lean-to pig building, the Back Building, also stretched from the Loose Boxes around to the Cart Shed on the outside.  But as farming grew ever more specialised and larger scale, these buildings fell into disuse as well.

1990s

Preserved Harvester

In the early 1990s, the farm faced with a dilemma.  The beautiful buildings were redundant for farming and starting to fall into disrepair.

As the buildings formed part of a still working farm, we decided to seek alternative commercial uses for them.  Their size and beautiful construction pointed to office use rather than industrial.

Units 1 to 6 were renovated first.  One problem with farm buildings is their restricted height.  The roofs started just above the door and there were very few windows.

Our architect Mark Heyes of Heyes & Company came up with an ingenious scheme of taking off the whole roof structure and inserting the 18 inch clerestory window.  It was a stroke of genius.  It brought light and space into the units and at night gave the impression of a roof floating above the walls.  The scheme won a Premier Conservation Award from Fylde for Good Design in the Environment.

2008

Following on from the success of these units we developed the shippon block, then built East Barn in 2008 on the site of a former piggery. 

Offices 2008

At Clifton Fields, we have an ambition to become a carbon neutral site with minimal environmental impact.  The East Barn has been built in a way to promote natural ventilation, with ventilation towers and the earth under the building connected as a heat sink.  Rainwater is collected and reused.

Previously we used thousands of litres of fuel oil a year for heating the offices.  Now the whole site is heated by a biomass boiler system burning wood and straw.  Much of the wood is collected from the foreshore of the River Ribble, which previously just went to waste. 

As an office development, Clifton Fields has found a productive use for buildings that would otherwise have fallen into disuse.  It is now the home for a dynamic mix of companies helping to bring employment and prosperity to the region.

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