ROCK Hall, in Farnworth, which now stands derelict, was built in 1807 for the Crompton family. They were local papermakers who established one of the first paper mills in Lancashire in 1676.

The area, once known as Farnworth Bridges, was an important industrial site and the mills’ proprietors were responsible for revolutionising the paper making process.

John Crompton II is thought to have started building Rock Hall, one of two large houses in the vicinity, but died before its completion.

His son, John Crompton III, may have lived in the two-storey home for some tim,e but it later housed the paper mill managers.

The most famous member of the Crompton family, Thomas Bonsor, owned paper mills in Farnworth, Little Lever and Worthington supplying paper for most provincial newspapers and many London newspapers.

He later became the proprietor of the Morning Post, partial owner of other London newspapers and owned a cotton mill in Prestolee, making him a millionaire and leading industrialist of his day.

In 1820 he patented a continuous drying process for paper manufacture which used steam heated drying cylinders and revolutionised the industry.

His nephew, William Rideout, inherited the works, which were forced to closed in the depression of 1883, after which the paper mill was taken over by the Champions Bleachers and Finishers and Rock Hall was occupied by a succession of their managers.

From 1931 onwards, the former mill was used for a variety of minor industries until its demolition in 1974.

By then, Rock Hall had come into council ownership and was used for some time as council housing, but eventually fell into disrepair.

In 1974 there was a suggestion by Farnworth Local History Society to convert Rock Hall into an industrial and natural history museum, but Farnworth Council considered pulling it down.

However it was recommended that the hall should be listed for preservation and retained in the Croal Valley reclamation scheme and so, in 1980, restoration work began.

In 1982, Rock Hall, now a Grade-II listed building, was opened as a visitor centre, forming the focus of Moses Gate Country Park. It was the headquarters of the Croal Irwell Valley Countryside Warden Service and housed the offices of Bolton’s park rangers until the service was scrapped in 2014.