A BROTHER and sister have sent out an SOS to save the historic Smithills cottage where they were brought up.

Bill and Trudi Pilkington fear vandalism and theft is slowly destroying 500-year-old Ivy Cottage, where Oliver Cromwell’s troops were billeted during the English Civil War.

Now, they want someone to offer to buy the property.

Mr Pilkington’s late father, also called Bill, bought the home in Cunliffe Brow in 1969 and the family stayed there until 1998 when it was sold to the then manager of Bolton’s Moat House Hotel, Stephen Turner.

Mr Pilkington said: “My dad ran an off-licence in Morris Green in the 1960s and worked tirelessly on the property so we could move in. It was a fantastic place to grow up.

“The cottage nestled in the trees and me and my friends would play for hours round there in the summer.”

But Mr Pilkington, whose engineering job eventually took him to Bournemouth where he now lives, said he was heartbroken when he returned to see friends and family and saw the condition Ivy Cottage is now in.

He added: “It’s difficult to believe what’s happened, and how it’s been allowed to get into the state it’s in.

“There is nothing we can do, but we would love someone to buy it and restore it — after all, it has been there for 500 years.

Ms Pilkington, who now lives in Horwich, echoed her brother’s views.

She said: “We really need someone to come forward and buy the cottage.

“But of course that depends on whether the current owner is willing to sell it. I can’t see any point in letting it stand there until it falls down. That would be a tragedy.”

Thieves and vandals have stripped the cottage of anything of value, despite the efforts of Mr Turner — who now works elsewhere in the UK in the hospitality industry — to secure the property.

As reported in The Bolton News on February 1, Mr Turner said he would like to return to Bolton and renovate the house, but would also consider selling it.

Neighbours in Brentford Avenue, which leads on to Cunliffe Brow, have also been concerned about the condition of the cottage and Bolton Council’s specialist empty buildings officers have been in regular contact with Mr Turner over its security.