THE building of Barrow's Abbey House during the First World War is believed to be the last private house Sir Edwin Lutyens undertook in this country before his most famous project - the designing of New Delhi in India.

Lutyens was knighted in 1918 and also designed the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, and many memorials to the fallen of the First World War.

Abbey House featured in a homes and gardens feature in Country Life on April 2 in 1921.

It noted that the task for Lutyens was to provide a home for the managing directore of Vickers - Sir James McKechnie - and a guest house for visitors to the Barrow shipyard and engineering works.

Guests in 1920 included the Prince of Siam.

It was not seen as an ideal site and the article noted: "Abbey House stands in a spot swept by all the winds of heaven."

An article in The Mail, on July 3 in 1992, noted: "The 16-bedroom Abbey House with its 12 acres of parkland was intended as a guest house for VIPs visiting the shipyard.

"It was completed in 1918 at a cost of £85,000 and the first to occupy it was Sir James McKechnie, chief of Messrs Vickers Limited.

"Later it was the home of Commander Sir Charles Craven, chairman and managing director of Vickers Armstrongs Limited.

"It was in 1935 that he and Lady Craven were hosts to the future King George VI and the Queen Mum, then Duke and Duchess of York, when they came to launch the liner Strathmore for the P and O Company.

"In 1949 Barrow Borough Council bought Abbey House at a bargain £19,000 and spent a great deal on refurbishment and repairs.

"In 1951 it opened as an old people's home for 12 occupants.

"It closed on February 20, 1984 and was later sold to businessman Timothy Kilroe, who upgraded it and turned it into a four star, £90-a-night hotel."

The Mail, on February 21 in 1985 confirmed the former old people's home had been sold to the Kilroe group of companies.

By January 1986 the owners had planning permission for conversion to a luxury hotel with accommodation for around 50 people.

The project was estimated to cost between £750,000 and £1m and was expected to be ready for guests on October 31.