The Illawalla

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The Illawalla
Illawalla 1.jpg
The Illawalla, viewed from its driveway, looking northeast
General information
Architectural styleEdwardian
AddressSkippool Road
Town or cityThornton, Lancashire
CountryUnited Kingdom
(demolished in 1996)
Height56 feet (top of tower)[1]
Technical details
Floor count1
Design and construction
ArchitectFairbrother & Hall
Bank Chambers,
Market Place,

The Illawalla was an historic Edwardian single-story building in Thornton, Lancashire, England. Built in 1902,[1] it was demolished in 1996,[3] after lying derelict for six years,[3] to make way for three exclusive homes.[3] Its name is preserved in the name of the road on which these houses now stand (The Illawalla) and also in the name of the adjacent cricket club, Thornton Cleveleys Cricket Club Illawalla,[4] whose grounds partly occupy the land The Illawalla stood on.

Illawalla in Aboriginal Australian means the house of plenty.[5] It is believed Frederick J. Emery, one of the early owners of the property, gave it this name to reflect his spell as a government official in Australia.[6]


The Illawalla's architects were Tom Wilson Fairbrother and Charles Llewelyn Hall,[7] of Fairbrother & Hall in Poulton-le-Fylde.[1][2]

The building's foundation stone was laid by Vesta Tilley on 12 June, 1902. Tilley was appearing at Blackpool's Alhambra Theatre, whose chairman was C.V. Haworth, the Illawalla's first owner.[1] Upon completion, it was the largest bungalow in Europe.[3]

Floor plan of The Illawalla, drawn up by the architects Fairbrother & Hall
The workmen involved in the construction of The Illawalla, taken shortly before its 1902 completion
An aerial view of The Illawalla in its heyday

According to a Blackpool Times article from 21 June, 1902:

The plan shows a large entrance hall on the south side opening on to a dining saloon 56ft. by 35ft. (including corridor) from which access is gained to the reception rooms, bedrooms, billiard room, etc., and also to a tower 56ft. high. A special feature of the drawing room will be a large inglenook. The coachman's cottage, stables, loose boxes, dynamo and accumulator house, etc., are all arranged on the north side. The building will present a very pleasing and picturesque appearance, as the exterior walls are to be faced with Huncoat plastic bricks, with Yorkshire stone dressings, and the roofs are to be covered with red tiles. The premises will be lighted throughout with the electric light, and will be heated with hot water by means of radiators.

One of the rooms featured a plaster frieze depicting wading birds along the nearby River Wyre.[3]

Haworth lived with his wife at the Illawalla up to his death in 1920.[1] His widow continued to live there for several subsequent years.[5]

It was next acquired by E. Broadbelt, a wholesale fruit merchant from Manchester. He was its owner during the late 1920s and 1930s.[5]

In 1942, it was bought by Frederick J. Emery,[3] but he was unable to move into the building for three years because it was being used by the British Army as a transit camp. It was later taken over by the Home Guard. Later in World War II it became a home run by the Ministry of Health for pregnant evacuees.[5] In the early 1950s, Emery leased the land overlooking the River Wyre to the local cricket club, who remain there today.[8]

Several of the interior scenes for the 1977 film Valentino were shot in the Illawalla's sunken entrance hall.[3][9]

For the final years of its existence, after failing in an attempt to become a gentlemen's club, it instead became a nightclub.[3]

Emmanuel Christian School in Fleetwood inquired about taking over the Illawalla in 1995, but Wyre Borough Council rejected the plan amid fears of the close proximity of an underground pipeline carrying ethylene to ICI Hillhouse in Thornton.[10]

The building was demolished in April 1996, after lying derelict for six years, to make way for three luxury homes. Only two carved stone pillars remain on the site. They are used at the entrance to the current development. Many parts of the building were salvaged and are now used privately.

References in popular culture[edit]

Glyn Bailey & the Many Splendid Things wrote "The Old Illawalla" about the building. It is the opening track on the 2010 album The Disturbance.[11] The opening line of the song is: "There once stood, at the edge of town, an Edwardian pile of great renown, but in '96 we pulled it down". Three years earlier he released an album called Songs from the Old Illawalla.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Blackpool Times article, 21 June, 1902
  2. ^ a b "Poulton Businesses 1934" -
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ballroom blitzed" article by David Pearce, Evening Gazette, 24 April, 1996
  4. ^ TCCC Illawalla on Twitter
  5. ^ a b c d Fyldeantiquarian at
  6. ^ "The photo that started it all..." - The Armers of Lancashire
  7. ^ "Fairbrother, Hall & Hedges" -
  8. ^ History - Thornton Cleveleys Cricket Club's official website
  9. ^ "Love affair with Illawalla" - Blackpool Gazette, 30 November, 2011
  10. ^ "Church seeks a new home" article by Adrian Darbyshire in the Evening Gazette, 1995
  11. ^ The Disturbance on iTunes
  12. ^ Songs from the Old Illawalla on iTunes

External links[edit]