Going Bananas at Rock Hall

Banana Enterprises’ Restoration of Rock Hall, Moses Gate Country Park

Updated 29th September Skip to updated task report

Rock Hall was built in 1807 by Bolton’s premier industrialist’s the Cromptons whose paper mill, one of the earliest in Lancashire, already stood on the site. The paper mill closed in 1883 and reopened in 1894 as a bleach and dye works but was soon abandoned. The mill was demolished in 1972 and the site was turned over to recreation. Rock Hall itself was used for many years as the base for the Croal Irwell Ranger Service until cut backs forced it to close in 2014. Since then the Hall has fallen into disrepair.

In January 2021 Bolton Council gave Banana Enterprises the key to Rock Hall to renovate and expand it for use by the local community and as a training centre. Click the link to find out more about Banana Enterprises and the work they do. Bolton Conservation Volunteers have signed up to Banana Enterprises to improve the site for wildlife and nature. BCV’s journey on this project will be documented on this post over the coming months.


26th September 2021 – How Do You Like Them Apples, Adam?
Our fairy tale romance with Banana Enterprises continues with the restoration of an orchard. The orchard had become overgrown with brambles to the point were you would expect to find Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the middle of it. Anyway, ridicule being nothing to be scared of our Prince Charmings started a-hackin’ and a-slashin’ while our Princess Charmings shook their heads at their silliness before showing the chaps how to do it without the song and dance. The orchard was planted many years ago with heritage varieties of apple and pear, then abandoned. The restoration will take several sessions and involve BCV, the Rock Hall Volunteers, and the Wildlife Trust. Subtle conservation follows, must be something outside.

Skip to photos if you don’t want to read about previous task.

1st August 2021 – Flower Terrace
Our final group task with Banana Enterprises and the Rock Hall volunteers was to restore the flower beds to the side od Rock Hall. These beds are arranged in terraces and in their prime would have looked magnificent, but today all we have is grass. So, today’s task was to dig out the grass and plant up the terraces. Thanks to Paul T for today’s photos.

Sadly in August 2021, days after the above task, Rock Hall was vandalised by idiots with no appreciation of their local history or the needs of their local community. Hopefully Banana Enterprises good work will continue and the Rock Hall Project will rise above the small minded irresponsibility of a handful of morons, and continue to benefit the real people of Bolton. Best wishes to Jayne and the Rock Hall volunteers.

Skip to photos if you don’t want to read about previous task.

11th July 2021 – Banana Balsam Bash
The Victorians loved exotic species, they loved them so much that they brought many of them back home from all corners of the Empire. The problem was that many of these species had no natural controls and if they escaped in to the wild would spread uncontrolled. One of these species was Impatiens balsamifera or Himalayan Balsam. Balsam will grow anywhere damp, out competing and shading out many native species, attracting bees and other pollinators to itself in preference to other flowers.

As it is edible the perfect solution would be to eat it out of existence, or persuade herds of goats to do the job for us, but instead we have volunteers to beat it with weed whackers and pull it up by hand. Ideally it needs to be cut just above the root, below the first node, or pulled up an hung out to dry, get it wrong and the balsam turns zombie and comes back to life. We have managed to clear other sites of balsam but it is a long job.. so we may be here a while. On the plus you get plenty of exercise.

Skip to photos if you don’t want to read about previous task.

23rd & 30th May 2021 – Banana Flower Beds
Our first job at Rock Hall was to clear out the old flower beds that had become overgrown with weeds and bramble. The job was done by both BCV and Rock Hall volunteers, including Banana Enterprises founder Jayne Allman. The week after the team returned to plant up the beds with a mix of wild flowers. When in bloom they’ll provide a nectar source for a range of pollinating species from bees to moths.