Success in fight to save built heritage

Two-thirds of the buildings on the original Heritage at Risk Register of 1998 have been rescued, says Historic England in its annual update published today.

This year 318 entries have been removed from the Register, while 242 have been added.

Main image shows the Drinkstone Smock Mill, Suffolk

Among those added in the 20th year of the national register is the Salford church where suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst married, one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the country and the church in Coventry where George Eliot worshipped. 

Places that have been saved include an Anglo-Saxon burial mound in Oxfordshire, a smock mill in Suffolk and a 19th century village lock up in Hounslow. 

Since the register was first published great strides have been made in saving heritage buildings and giving them new uses thanks, says the report, to “sheer dogged determination by local communities, charities, owners and partners”, with Historic England providing technical advice, grant aid and negotiation.

Mrs Pankhurst was married in 1879 at the George Gilbert Scott-designed St Luke’s, built at Weaste in Salford in 1865 but now at risk from damage caused by a leaking roof.

Dorset’s best preserved Elizabethan Bridge is the Wool Bridge at Wool, first documented as “Wullebrigge” in 1244 but its present structure is chiefly 16thcentury. Under this summer’s heavy rain the ancient bridge collapsed, and is currently being rebuilt by Dorset County Council and Historic England.

Opened in 1847 the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, is one of the oldest purpose-built museums in England, an almost perfect example of a Victorian museum, still fitted out with its original display cases. But the roofs of the main museum building are now in very poor condition, with leaks causing serious damage.

One of the famous parishioners of Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, was Mary Ann Evans, better known as the author George Eliot. It survived the Blitz in 1941, thanks to its vicar who slept in the church during a raid to douse any fires which started to take hold. However it, too, now needs urgent roof repairs.

The former Feversham Street First School in Bradford was built in 1873 and later became the first mixed Higher Elementary Board School in England. The Grade II* building closed as a school in 1993 and has had various uses since but is now boarded up. Its condition has steadily deteriorated, particularly the roof, which is in very poor condition.

But important buildings and sites have also been saved and removed from the register.  They include the medieval chapel on St Cuthbert's Island, Holy Island, Northumberland which has been successfully repaired and protected from sea erosion 

Gunnersbury Park’s Large Mansion, once the home of the Rothschild banking family, has been saved thanks to National Lottery Funding.

The Grade II* Drinkstone Smock Mill in Suffolk with its range of historic milling technologies and whose ancient machinery was in danger has been removed from the register following repairs completed this summer.

Hounslow’s circular village lock-up, built in 1838 to imprison muggers operating on Hounslow Heath, has been fully repaired.

And perhaps the most important absentee from the new list is Asthall Barrow,  an Anglo-Saxon burial mound near Barrow Farm, Oxfordshire, whose original dry stone wall at the base of the mound was at risk from unmanaged trees and scrub and damage caused by active rabbit burrowing.  Co-operation between the owners and voluntary wardens from the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has now cleared trees installed rabbit excluders.

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