With around 377,400 historic building entries, the List is a veritable treasure trove of the nation’s history. From country homes to tomb stones, clock towers to rollercoasters, pie shops to piers. Each place benefits from legal protection as a significant part of the built environment.
The listing of buildings of special architectural or historical interest was established in the Town and Country Planning Acts of 1944 and 1947. Across seven decades, the List has grown to represent the diversity, fine buildings and wealth of history that defines the country and surrounds us.
In celebration of this anniversary, we take a look at an interesting listing for each decade.
See the links at the end for more quirky listings, and let us know your favourite listed place in the comments.
Wyatt’s alms houses, Godalming. Grade I
It may surprise you to know that the first list entries weren’t all grand country mansions and famous landmarks. Many of the earliest listings represent agricultural heritage and properties of community interest.
Richard Wyatt was a Master Carpenter of the Carpenter’s Company of London in the early 17th century. Like many guilds, the Carpenter’s Company looked after its poor or retired members, and member’s widows. One of the biggest bequests, upon his death in 1619, was left by Richard Wyatt to build 10 almshouses at Godalming. Wyatt’s Almshouses were founded in 1622 and feature a coat of arms commemorating his generous donation.
Church of St Mary, Carlisle. Grade II*
Built in 1840-42 by architect and designer Sarah Losh, this early Victorian church is a colourful example of ecclesiastical eclecticism. Losh was a wealthy landowner who designed and financed the building of several structures around her home of Wreay.
Having travelled extensively, Losh based the design of the church on a Roman basilica – a simple building form that contrasted the popular English Gothic style. The inside of the church is embellished with ornate, symbolic carvings making for a unique and imaginative space.
Guildhall, Helston, Cornwall. Grade II*
The Guildhall at Helston in Cornwall was built by George Wightwick, a Welsh architect based in Plymouth. As well as being an accomplished architect, Wightwick was possibly the first architectural journalist.
The building is the centrepiece of the town and contains the former corn exchange and the mayor’s parlour. The historic clock on the front of the Guildhall is flanked by carvings of the battle of St George and the Dragon. This battle is enacted as part of the town’s traditional pageant, the Hal an Tow, on Flora Day each year.
Birmingham Jewellery Quarter 54 -65 Albion Street, Birmingham. Grade II*
The JW Evans Silverware Factory on Birmingham’s Albion Street was owned and managed by a single family from its foundation in 1881 to closure in 2008. It is part of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter – Europe’s largest concentration of businesses involved in the jewellery trade.
The sites saw great advancement in the industry, and many important examples of hand operated equipment remain at the properties. The properties are now in the care of English Heritage, and are sometimes open to the public, their contents having been conserved as found.
Cavendish Mill, Ashton-under-Lyne. Grade II*
From the late 18th century to the mid Victorian era, the Industrial Revolution saw Britain lead the way in manufacture and trade across seas. Production largely centered on the coal fields of Lancashire and Yorkshire, with mills shaping the towns, cities and countryside.
Cavendish Mill is just one such example of pioneering technology. Built in 1884- 5, this striking cotton spinning mill was the earliest mill in Greater Manchester to be constructed with fire proof concrete floors.
Shildon Signal Box, Co Durham. Grade II
As a building type, the signal box is unique to railways. In the 1840s signalling platforms were accompanied by a hut for the signalman and towers at junctions. The covered structure that we know today was patented in 1856 by John Saxby, who developed a mechanical system for interlocking the points and signals.
The Signal Box at Shildon, County Durham was built for the Central Division of the North-Eastern Railway Co in 1887 and listed in 2004.
The railway sleepers (the timber blocks used to support the rails) in the foreground of the photograph have often been re-used imaginatively around railway towns and salvaged examples are valuable – a good example of re-cycling the heritage.
Brixton Market’s Reliance Arcade, 1925; Market Row, 1928; and Granville Arcade, 1935-8. Grade II
Waves of immigration after the Second World War had an important impact on the cultural and social landscape of post-war Britain. Brixton Market became the heart of the Afro-Caribbean community that settled in the Blitz-damaged neighbourhood.
The covered markets in Brixton were begun in the early 20th century when traders were relocated from Brixton Road. The Reliance Arcade façade, built in 1925, features Art Deco Egyptian Style detailing- a fashion that emerged following the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.
2017 has been an exciting year to date with 518 new listings in the first six months. These new listings include the Humber Bridge, John Outram’s Isle of Dogs Pumping Station, London and Sir Michael Hopkins’ Schlumberger Gould Research Centre in Cambridge. Learn about the most recent listings here.