From the Listed Buildings schedule Tameside MBC.
A private house now used as offices for Tameside MBC. Rectangular stone construction (Ashlar) with a slate roof. The large L shaped house has 4 X 7 bays with two storeys (plus attic level). Projecting plinth, with continuous bands at the first floor and eaves level and coped parapet which is raked over the principal gables. Bays 1 and 4 are slightly advanced and gabled. Entrance porch in bay 3 has enriched doors beneath a Tudor arch, diagonal buttresses and a pierced parapet. Windows generally have two or three lights with double chamfered mullions and transoms and hoodmoulds. Other windows include square and canted bays (the later with a castellated parapet) and oriels at first floor level.. There are ornate finials to the gables. The roof is steeply pitched. Many of the original internal features survive,
Ryecroft Hall is built on the land bought from the Earl of Stamford and Warrington in 1849 by James Smith Buckley. The Earl owned much of the land around Tameside and the estate is still a major landowner.
Ownership details from a leaflet produced by the Society’s for visitors to the Hall
James Buckley and his brother Abel were cotton manufacturers owning Ryecroft and Oxford Road Mills near St Peter’s church Ashton, the Buckley’s were a very rich family, and as you look around Ryecroft Hall you will see James intended to live in some style.
The Hall took several years to build, with all the necessary comforts of a Victorian gentleman; a library, large dining room, study, billiard room, ball room as well as sitting rooms bedrooms and servants quarters. The outbuildings had stables and coach houses. Many of the rooms still have the original wood panelling and very ornate ceilings which are still in existence.
James Buckley had died in 1851 with the hall still unfinished and it was inherited by his son also a James, who then sold it to his brother William Smith Buckley who lived in the luxury of the hall until his death in 1877. In 1885 the hall was passed on to Abel Buckley, William’s cousin. (Another Abel!)
Abel lived at Ryecroft Hall for 22 years, he was an extremely rich man having interests in collieries, hotels and banks as well as retaining interests in cotton mills the start of his wealth. . He was a Congregationalist and gave large amounts of money for the building of the Albion Chapel in Ashton. (Was it built to be taller than the nearby Parish church, there was a lot of religious rivalry in the nineteenth century)
In 1908 Abel died and the Hall was owned by his sons until February 1913 when it was sold to Austin Hopkinson. He was another rich man this time making his money from engineering. He built the Delta works in Audenshaw to produce coal cutting machinery which he had invented and developed.
He served as a local Councillor and was MP for the area from 1918 until 1945 with just one short break. He was a generous man and was very innovative and liberal in dealing with his work force at the Delta works.
During the Great War 1914 – 1918 the Hall became a Red Cross hospital.
In 1922 the house and grounds were given to Audenshaw, and it served as the administrative centre and social centre for the Urban District until the formation of Tameside MBC in 1974.