Acklam Hall restored with stunning decor from Christian Lacroix to punishment ‘lines’

ACKLAM Hall has reopened after a major £4m restoration which has given a North-East town the jewel in its crown back.

Neil Whittingham has transformed Middlesbrough’s only Grade I Listed building from an empty shell to a stunning restaurant and wedding venue with luxury conference and office accommodation.

Built in 1683 it was home to the Hustler family for 200 years before becoming a grammar school and latterly Middlesbrough College.

When he couldn’t quite find an interior designer who could see his vision as clearly as he could, he sketched his dream rooms using felt tip pens, paying homage to his favourite hotels and restaurants around the world.

“What you see in here is a collection of all the design inspirations I’ve had over the past 10 years, from London to Hungary there’s a piece of all of them here. My wife said the lights remind her of the ones in Fortnum & Mason, the black porter chairs are like the ones in Onyx restaurant in Budapest and the colour palette is influenced by the Covent Garden Hotel.

“The ornate ceiling flowers have been preserved but instead of painting them, we’ve reflected those colours in the furniture below. The last thing I wanted to do was create a pastiche that looked like 1912, my aim was to move it on.”

His sketches for an extra long Chesterfield-style sofa, a sumptuous purple velvet settee and the imposing black porter chairs were made especially for Acklam Hall by North-East based Middleton Design, along with all the other bespoke furniture.

As no pendants could be suspended from above, it came down to Neil’s ingenuity and the master craftsmen at Mullan Lighting in Ireland to create the huge glass orbs with wall fixtures that give reference Middlesbrough’s industrial past through their exposed metal but give a nod to the future through the LED, energy efficient bulbs.

The upholstery was made by Aubury Designs, also from Newcastle, who used swatches of Christian Lacroix lime silk and an abstract floral print to cover chairs along with checked fabric from Designers Guild and tactile velvets in deep purples to give cohesion to the collaboration.

The building’s former life as a school has been preserved and mementoes found during the renovation are framed in the restaurant, one of the most touching is a sheet of scribbled lines with the wise words “Silence is golden”.

The Brierley restaurant is named after the architect Walter Brierley who designed the alterations to Acklam Hall, in Middlesbrough, in 1912.  The restaurant serves homemade dishes from breakfast and lunch to afternoon tea and dinner. In addition, there’s a fine dining option on a Friday and Saturday evening.

Acklam Hall’s wedding planner tells how she fell in love with the historic venue

As well as coping with the challenges a vacant Grade I Listed building throws up there were also hurdles with English Heritage to overcome. Neil credits former mayor of Middlesbrough, Ray Mallon, and his dedicated team for helping him to realise his vision and preserve the building for future generations to enjoy.

“When I found out Acklam Hall was for sale in 2007, I first spotted it through the Avenue of Trees and after seeing what a state it was in I realised I was going to have to get emotionally and physically involved to restore its grandeur,” explained Neil who is about to submit planning permission for the next phase of the ambitious development  – a healthcare village.

“If we had to wait another five years, with the state it was in and the threat of vandals there is a strong possibility that it might have been too late. I have saved it just in time.”


Acklam Hall, Hall Drive, Acklam, Middlesbrough, TS5 7DY
Call: 01642-822000