Heritage at Risk: In Progress

Founded in 1998, the Heritage at Risk (HAR) Register is the annual snapshot of the health of England’s historic places.

The first Register of Buildings was published over two decades ago, and featured 1,930 buildings and structural scheduled monuments that were neglected, broken and unloved. Since then, over two thirds of places on the original list have been rescued.

Ahead of the release of this year’s results, we take a look at some on-going projects to bring sites back into use and off the Register.

All Saints Church, Newcastle upon Tyne

Completed in 1796, All Saints Church is a fine example of Classical architecture. It is admired for its rare oval design and impressive baroque tower, which is a dominant feature of the Newcastle skyline.

© Historic England Archive DP059216

All Saints was the parish church for Newcastle’s Quayside until it closed in 1959. In the 1970s it was sold to Newcastle City Council and used as a rehearsal space for the Royal Northern Sinfonia and an urban studies centre.

After this the building was empty for almost a decade and faced an uncertain future until Gateshead Presbyterian Church stepped forward with a proposal to re-establish the building as a place of worship and community venue.

The Grade I All Saints is currently undergoing a programme of repairs, part funded by Historic England, and will re-open as a place of worship on Sunday 13 October 2019 for the first time in 60 years.

St Andrew’s Chapel, Maidstone

Dating from the 15th century, St Andrews has a colourful past. It was, as the name suggests initially a chapel probably associated with the adjoining Boxley Abbey.

© Historic England Archive DP251372

However it was soon made into a house, and was owned by the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt. The Grade II* Listed site even acted as a local post office in the 20th century. It still has its original open timber roof but has been vacant and on the HAR Register for many years.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) bought the building in November last year and is working with Historic England and others to bring it back to life.

© Historic England Archive DP251382

Known as the Old House Project, SPAB’s aim is to showcase the very best conservation methods and materials to repair this medieval building.

It is SPAB’s philosophy to show the layers of history in a historic building, so the intention is to have a very light touch, with the minimum repair necessary to bring the building back into use over the next five years.

Plumpton Rocks, North Yorkshire

Set against a backdrop of dramatic rock formations and surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful parkland, Plumpton Rocks is a Grade II* listed pleasure garden.

© Historic England Archive DP169121

Once described as ‘heaven on earth’ by Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, Plumpton Rocks was enjoyed by everyone from the paying public to royalty. The site was even immortalised by JMW Turner who painted the man made lake twice in 1797.

© Historic England Archive DP169085

It fell into decline towards the end of the last century and was eventually put on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2012. We have grant funded various works to return this special place to its former glory, and more is planned to bring it off the Register.

Electric Palace Cinema, Harwich

The Electric Palace is one of the oldest and best-preserved purpose-built cinemas to survive. It still houses the screen that showed silent movies, the original projection room, ornate fibrous plaster ceiling and a still largely intact ornamental frontage.

© Electric Palace Cinema Trust

It was created in 1911 by Charles Thurston, a travelling showman who was well known in East Anglia. The architect, Harold Hooper, was only 25 years old when he designed the cinema: it was his first major building design.

The Grade II* cinema closed in 1956 after 45 years of entertaining the people of Harwich, but was reopened in 1981 by the Harwich Electric Palace Cinema Trust.

A National Lottery Heritage Fund grant-aided project is underway but was put at risk when asbestos dust was discovered on the top of the fibrous plaster ceiling. Historic England responded quickly, providing significant additional funding and working in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund to ensure removal of the asbestos, enabling expected completion of the project in 2020.

Morecambe Winter Gardens

Built in 1896 to designs by Mangnall and Littlewood, the Winter Gardens are Grade II* Listed and were built as the town became a thriving seaside resort.

© Historic England Archive DP234012

Major repair and refurbishment took place in 1998 with grant support from Historic England to help weatherproof and stabilise the building.

Since then the building has been subject to lead theft and other acts of vandalism. A survey of the fibrous plaster ceiling was carried out in February 2018, to result in a prioritised list of actions.

© Historic England Archive DP234041

The theatre is owned and managed by the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust who have been working hard to raise the profile of the theatre, and are taking steps forward into saving it for future generations. Historic England continues to offer assistance.

Upminster Windmill, Havering

Completed in 1805, Upminster Windmill was built by James Nokes, a local farmer and is one of the best remaining English smock mills.

© Historic England Archive dd002921

The site once comprised 16 buildings including the windmill, a steam mill, a large mill house and two cottages. Most of the buildings were in place by 1849. The milling business closed in 1935 and the site was purchased by Essex County Council in 1940, whose plan was to demolish the buildings and develop the site for housing. A public outcry stopped the demolition.

Today the Grade II* mill is run by volunteers, the Friends of Upminster Windmill, who began a major restoration project in 2015, including the building a visitor centre, with principal funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The work is nearing completion, with the aim of reopening the working mill to the public in April 2020.

Trentham Mausoleum, Stoke-on-Trent

The removal of overgrown Yew trees kickstarted a community effort to restore the Neo-Classical Trentham Mausoleum, the only Grade I listed building in Stoke-on-Trent.

© Historic England Archive DP248692

Complexity surrounded the ownership of the 19th Century mausoleum, but in 2017 Trentham Councillor Daniel Jellyman persuaded the council to take responsibility for it. This enabled initial groundwork to be completed to fully reveal the building, which had been obscured by the foliage. That same year a Friends of Trentham Mausoleum was formed. The group is in the process of launching the mausoleum as a unique arts and cultural venue.

Interior repairs are still needed, however a stained glass window has been restored and the roof has been made secure and watertight.

Further Reading

2 responses to Heritage at Risk: In Progress

  1. Charles Kightly says:

    This is an excellent post. Good luck to all the restoration projects.
    I’m sorry we can no longer rate these posts in the old way, without opening a Word Press account

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