The Riverside has been rebranded ‘The Ashcroft’ as it looks forward to a bright future

The Riverside in Whitworth, Rossendale, Lancashire has been rebranded ‘The Ashcroft’ as it looks forward to a bright future. 

The Market Street premises, along with Whitworth Leisure Centre, was previously run by CLAW – Community Leisure Association of Whitworth, but both have now been added to Rossendale Leisure Trust’s (RLT) portfolio. 

The hall’s new name is in honour of Christine Ashcroft, who passed away in 2019 and was the driving force behind CLAW. She was involved with both the leisure centre and the Civic Hall since the early ’70s.

When the original civic building was destroyed in an electrical fire in 2003, Christine was a strong advocate for the building to be replaced, and The Riverside opened in 2006. 

RLT Head of Operations Phill Holden said: “We have the expertise to develop these facilities for the people of Whitworth and see how to make them sustainable. 

“RLT is able to share more resources and will be able to help to develop and grow the use of The Ashcroft. We are hoping to see membership of the leisure centre grow as well as improving the health and wellbeing of people who live in the Whitworth area. 

“We will also be trying to expand the reach of the offer here so that we can meet different people’s needs and different demographical needs. 

“As we are coming out of the pandemic and the facility has been able to reopen, there has been an increase in people booking weddings, parties and events and we now have bookings for 2022 and 2023 coming in.

In June, RLT merged with The Whitaker, Rossendale Museum, in Rawtenstall, ahead of its reopening following a major expansion which was funded by a Heritage Lottery grant. 

The Ashcroft will now be managed by Aimee Walker from RLT. 

Mayor of Whitworth Coun Maureen Jones, who was previously Vice-Chair of CLAW, said: “We have been in negotiation with RLT for about a year. We needed their expertise to help take these facilities forward. Two of CLAW’s board are now on the board of RLT – Sue Jobb, Christine’s daughter, and Karen Ruane, who was Chair. 

“I am looking forward to seeing how the new leadership can take the facilities further. They do belong to Whitworth and local people do have to use them. The main hall can hold 250 people and has been previously used for school proms, business awards, weddings and parties.” 

On October 16, international opera star Bacup-born Sean Ruane will be performing with friends at The Ashcroft for the Mayor’s Charity Fund. 

The venue will continue to be the home of Whitworth Town Council.

“The leisure trust didn’t have an events venue previously and The Ashcroft fits in nicely with an expansion of the arts and culture offer we already have.”