The Anderton Centre’s primary role is to operate as a residential and day visit activity centre, with a focus on work with young people and community groups.
It also provides conference facilities with full outdoor land and water-based activities complimented by 70 bed accommodation with catering and self-catering options, plus parking for 40 cars.
The site is spread across 4 acres of woodland and has exclusive use of Lower Rivington Reservoir, the largest expanse of water between the Midlands and the Lake District and is often referred to as Lancashire’s mini Lake District.
The Anderton Centre also offers nationally accredited courses with British Canoeing and Royal Yachting Association qualified instructors.
History of the Anderton Centre
The Anderton Centre was built on the site of the 19th Century Anderton Hall and 237 acres of land which was owned by the prominent Lancashire Anderton family. The history of the manor goes back to the 1800s. Prior to being demolished in 1930, the stately home was known to have links with Lord Leverhulme.
After the hall was pulled down, the site and surrounding land became a major water catchment area originally owned by North West Water, now United Utilities (UU). The chain of Rivington Reservoirs (Anglezarke, Upper and Lower Rivington reservoirs) were designed by Thomas Hawksley and constructed between 1850 and 1857 to supply water to Liverpool. The filtration plant at the southern end of Lower Rivington Reservoir was the biggest in the world when constructed.
In the 1970s, North West Water commissioned a partnership between The Sports Council and Greater Manchester Youth Association to develop an activity centre on the site, partially funded by Greater Manchester Council.
There were two reasons why North West Water wanted to do this. Firstly, having activity on the site fulfilled the stewardship of this remote area and maintained the site in good order. Secondly, providing the facility fulfilled North West Water’s social responsibility and education service to the public.
Following the disbanding of Greater Manchester Council in 1986, funding ended and the site was moth-balled for several years.
The centre was re-opened in July 1998 by new owners United Utilities and used solely as a conference centre. In 1999, UU invited the charity Lancashire Outdoor Activities Initiatives (LOAI), to establish an outdoor provision with particular focus on water-based activities at the site. It was officially opened as an outdoor activities centre by Chairman of United Utilities Sir Christopher Harding in July 1999.
The Anderton Centre as a Charity
The LOAI is a Registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. It was established in 1991 by a partnership of Lancashire County Council, The Sports Council and various local organisations and trusts. It was one of several similar initiatives and had start-up funding for a three-year period.
The Charitable purposes of the organisation relate to encouraging the positive use of the outdoors by all sectors of the community. In practice, this means offering opportunities for participation and access to facilities together with provision of training, advice and support.
Since the original start-up funding the LOAI has been predominately self-funding, using a business model that uses cross subsidy, with the more profitable activities allowing the provision of lower cost support for those aspects of the programme that need it.
The Anderton Centre Today
The site is now independently run and fully managed by the charity and 15 years ago in order to protect the charity LOAI set up a fully owned trading arm, Anderton/LOAI Ltd. to take on the lease, although in practice, the Charity and Trading Company have worked as a single entity.
DID YOU KNOW?
In September 1999, the water in the Lower Rivington Reservoir was particularly low and an unusual stone in the bank of the eastern end of the reservoir was spotted. The stone, which is approx. 80cm in length, 55cm wide and 50cm deep, with distinctive ‘Cup and Ring’ carvings on it, thought to date from the Neolithic and Bronze ages 2,000-3,000 BC.
There are 14 tiny cup-marks and 1 larger cup-and-ring that forms an almost perfect curve, though now rather worn. It was removed from the bank and put on display at the entrance to the site. It is thought to be the only pre-historic rock art in the Rivington area.