'An enormous job': The American on a mission to restore ancestral home Hopwood Hall in Rochdale

Video report by Granada Reports journalist Zoe Muldoon

A Hollywood director has travelled thousands of miles on a mission to take on the ultimate renovation project - and save his crumbling ancestral home from ruin.

Hopwood DePree has swapped Los Angeles for Rochdale to undertake the work on one of Greater Manchester's most important surviving halls, Grade II* Hopwood Hall in Rochdale.

The American actor, writer and film director only became aware of the Hall - of which he shares his name - after researching his ancestry online.

He soon discovered family tales about an 'English castle' were not from the pages of a Hollywood script, but in fact, his ancestors had built and lived at Hopwood Hall for generations.

But the building fell into disrepair in the 1980s, and is currently on Historic England's At Risk register.

Hopwood Hall in Rochdale. Credit: ITV News

His project began in early 2018 and after years of work on the outside of the building, attention has now turned inside.

Hopwood has now been joined by students who have been learning about traditional heritage crafts including plasterwork, working with leaded glass, and architectural woodcarving.

Hopwood only became aware of Hopwood Hall when researching his family tree. Credit: Hopwood DePree

The workshops at the Hall have been put on by Historic England and funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation.

Historic England says there is an urgent need to train the next generation of heritage craftspeople as older professionals retire.

Hopwood said: "It's an enormous job.

"We've been working on the roof for the last few years and now we've turned our attention to the more intricate details.

"To see the people coming here for the workshops and to see the passion about bringing these heritage skills back in a place that needs them is so exciting."

Hopwood has been learning about heritage crafts with trainees from the Hamish Ogston Foundation. Credit: ITV News

Trainees have been taking part in workshops for plaster moulding and working with leaded glass.

Heritage plasterer Keith Langton who runs one of the classes said: "Every part of the construction industry needs heritage works like joinery, plastery, masonry and the trade is just dying a death.

"It's been great to be here with people who are so passionate."

If everything goes to plan, Hopwood Hall will open to the public in 2026 as an arts and cultural hub.

Hopwood said: "We want to invite the community in, have tours and activities, art and cultural events as a heritage hub.

"2026 - here we come!"

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