25 years ago this week: Friday, February 14, 1986

AN ELEGANT mansion which almost died of neglect is being brought back to life. And conservationists who inspected progress at Belford Hall were impressed.

Opening the rejuvenated West Wing last Thursday, English Heritage chairman Lord Montagu of Beaulieu said it was an important milestone in securing the building’s future.

It had been a daunting prospect but the conversion into flats was imaginative and ambitious.

“Many people thought it was beyond salvation but now it will be lived in again,” he added.

English Heritage has given £400,000 to the £1.25million scheme but Lord Montagu said he could make no promise for the future. The 17 flats are due to be completed by spring or summer next year and the grounds overlooked by the imposing Hall landscaped in Georgian style.

Belford Hall, which stands on the edge of the village, was an architectural jewel of its day.

The Dixon family, merchants and shippers from Newcastle, commissioned the design in 1756 from James Paine, who worked at Alnwick Castle and Wallington Hall.

In 1816 another owner, William Clark, called in the illustrious John Dobson to produce the wings omitted by the Dixons.