Today Historic England publishes the 2018 Heritage at Risk Register, the annual snapshot of the health of England’s historic places.
In the North West 24 sites have been added, including a Gothic church in Salford where Emmeline Pankhurst got married and a section of the Settle to Carlisle Railway Conservation Area. Sites saved include a chapel in Manchester by the architect Charles Barry, who went on to design the Palace of Westminster, and Coniston’s Copper Mines.
This year Historic England is celebrating 20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England’s tool for shining a light on the listed buildings and places in England that need most help.
Looking back over the last 20 years, huge progress has been made in saving our heritage and giving it new uses – more than two thirds of entries on the original 1998 Register have been rescued, including 15 in the city of Manchester alone. Many of the remaining third of entries have seen great progress despite being the hardest cases to solve.
Achieving this much in 20 years has depended upon sheer dogged determination by local communities, charities, owners and partners. Historic England’s technical and planning advice, grant aid and creative negotiation have all been needed to deliver people’s vision for how these places could be used.
ADDED: St Luke’s Church, Weaste, Salford
This Grade II* Gothic Revival church, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and built in 1865, is a new addition to the 2018 Register due to damage caused by a leaking roof. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858 – 1928), famous for leading the movement to secure the right for women to vote, got married here in 1879. St Luke’s is one of 139 Places of Worship on the Register in the North West.
ADDED: Settle to Carlisle Railway Conservation Area
The Settle to Carlisle Railway Conservation Area runs 78-miles across northern England and is one of the most beautiful railway routes in Britain. Built in the 1870s the line has several historic tunnels and viaducts such as the imposing Ribblehead. In the 1980s British Rail planned to close the line, prompting rail groups, heritage bodies, local authorities and residents to fight a successful campaign – in 1989 the British government announced it would not close the line. Passenger numbers grew steadily over the next few decades.
One section of the conservation area on the approach into Carlisle is being added to the Register this year due to the deteriorating condition of a number of buildings, including the former Grade II listed London Road Goods Station. Carlisle City Council is carrying out an appraisal of their section of the conservation area to review its boundary and to develop a long-term strategy to remove it from the Register. The London Road section of the conservation area, currently in a poor condition, is a key road and rail gateway to Carlisle and the Council has recognised it as an opportunity for regeneration. The review and appraisal will help to steer this work.
ADDED: Duck decoy pond, Hale, Halton, Cheshire
Hale Duck Decoy Pond is an artificial pool dating from the 17th century and something of a rare find, especially in the North of England (they were much more commonly found in lowland areas along the East and South East coast). Decoy ponds were used to lure, trap and kill for food and for feathers. Only a few examples remain and this surviving pentagonal pond which retains many original features has been added to the Register this year.
The decoy pond is believed to have originated in Holland and introduced into England in the 17th century. The word `decoy’ is said to derive from the Dutch ‘eendenkooi’, meaning `duck cage’. They were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries when large numbers were built. A small number continued in use until the Second World War. Pipes often arranged in symmetrical patterns around a central pool.
ADDED: Haslington Hall, Cheshire
Some of the structure of this black and white timber framed country house dates back to 1480, and in 1545 its construction was complete. The Grade I listed building has this year been added to the Register. It was badly damaged by fire in March 2018 and major repairs are now needed. Cheshire East Council took immediate action in working with the owner to protect the building from further damage – including serving an Urgent Works Notice – and is now working with the Receiver, who has taken on the site, on implementing other urgent repairs. However, the long term use of this remarkable building is unclear.
SAVED: Former Welsh Baptist Chapel, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester
The Grade II* chapel was on the original 1998 Register and has been removed following extensive repairs and conversion of what was a roofless ruin to student accommodation. The site was derelict before construction work began to bring this building back to life. Designed by Charles Barry (1795 – 1860), it was constructed between 1837 and 1839 out of sandstone with a slate roof. After his work on the chapel, Barrywent on to design the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).
SAVED: Coniston Copper Mines, Coniston, South Lakeland
The remains of this large copper mine have been removed from the Register. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant enabled a two-year project to conserve the remains here; more than 150 items were in need of repair and reconstruction. The mining of copper in Coniston started towards the end of the 16th century. In the 1830s a gentleman called John Barratt was assigned manager of the complex and over the next three decades transformed mining here. Water power was introduced and the mines were developed to reach depths of 270 feet. The output was so great that in 1859 the Coniston Railway was opened to transport the copper ore. Whilst overcrowding and a shortage of housing in Coniston was a serious issue as the mines grew busier, the complex was free from violence and abuses that were commonly found elsewhere in Britain. Copper mining, which had fostered the growth of Coniston, stopped in 1914.
SAVED: Holy Trinity Church, Southport
The Church of Holy Trinity in Southport was designed by Huon Matear and the build completed by 1913. Listed at Grade II*, the church was built of brick and slate, but a soft limestone was used for the dressings. This stone suffered as a consequence of Southport’s maritime climate and problems with erosion developed over the years, eventually leading to the building going onto the Register in 2015. The congregation has raised the funds for a series of repair programmes spanning 25 years. The most recent phase of work, aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Grants for Places of Worship programme, led to the removal of the church from the Register this year.
PROGRESS: Leigh Spinners Mill, Leigh, Wigan
The Grade II* listed Leigh Spinners Mill was one of England’s last great cotton spinning complexes to be built, dating from between 1913 and 1923. With help from a £252,000 Historic England grant, Leigh Spinners Building Preservation Trust has recently overseen a project to waterproof the roof of one half of this enormous mill. The new roof has already had a positive impact both in supporting the operations of the original mill business – Leigh Spinners Ltd – who occupy the ground floor and in attracting new tenants. With grant funding from Sport England, a number of sporting facilities are about to open in the mill, including archery, table tennis and carpet bowls. All the indications are that this will become a thriving facility for both businesses and the local community, providing an example of what can be achieved in breathing new life into the North West’s historic mills.
PROGRESS: Hooton Hangars, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
The final phase of works has begun on two of the three Grade II* Belfast Hangars (the central and southern) following restoration work made possible by grant funding (£643,000) and conservation advice from Historic England. This is timely news as we approach the centenary of the end of the First World War (11th November).
More than 100 years ago the British War Department requisitioned land at Hooton Park near Ellesmere Port. By 1917 it was the home of Royal Flying Corps squadrons where pilots trained for action in France. The three aircraft hangars were built in 1917 to house the planes and no single piece of timber in the roof structure was more than 6 foot long. The ‘Belfast trusses’, developed in the shipyards of Northern Ireland, were strong and cheap to build but prefabricated buildings of this kind were never intended to last 100 years. The hangars were used for aviation purposes until after the Second World War and subsequently by the Vauxhall motor company. The Hooton Park Trust was formed in 2000 to oversee and manage the restoration of the hangers.
PROGRESS: Blackpool Winter Gardens, Lancashire
Works are well underway on the repair of the roof of the Spanish Hall. Eager to see it saved for future generations, Historic England has given a £500,000 grant towards the £1.2m renovation. Dating back to 1875-8, the Grade II* listed Winter Gardens have been on the Register for many years. The complex, which includes the Spanish Hall, Pavilion Theatre, Opera House and Floral Hall sits in the heart of Blackpool and is a testimony to the town’s rich history.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Heritage at Risk Register. Since the Register began in 1998, Historic England has worked tirelessly to monitor and improve the North West’s rich heritage.
63% of sites (104) in the North West that were on the original Register have been rescued and removed over the years, while 58 sites that have been on the Register since the beginning remain.
Some of the success stories include:
Ancoats mills, Manchester
Just a generation ago, the world’s first industrial suburb, Ancoats in Manchester was a largely abandoned, unsafe and a forgotten place. But, stimulated by the transformation of its textile mills, it is now busy and vibrant. A collection of six Grade II* textile mills were all removed from the Register by 2014 following works to transform them into new homes and office space, the result of private investment.
Historic England worked with the partners involved (including Manchester City Council, Ancoats Urban Village Company, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ancoats Building Preservation Trust and the North West Development Agency) to bring this area back to life, ensuring that the historic mills were sensitively developed and their character retained. Heritage was at the centre of this regeneration project and from a picture of depressing economic decline, Ancoats has become one of the smartest places to live and work in Manchester.
Gaskell House, Manchester
This Grade II* Regency villa of the 1830s was home to the novelist, Mrs Gaskell. Her novels include Mary Barton, Cranford, and North and South. In precarious state, in 2004 the house was taken over by the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust. Historic England grant funded two phases of repairs to save the property from further degradation. The Heritage Lottery Fund then came to the rescue, providing grant support resulting in community and teaching facilities, together with a museum about the Gaskell family that was completed in 2014. The house came off the Register after 14 years.
Royal Insurance Building, Liverpool
This Grade II* listed former commercial building in the heart of Liverpool – where the insurance papers for the Titanic were signed – was on the Register in 1998. Liverpool City Council identified the building as one that warranted action and purchased the building in 2012 before passing it onto a developer who converted it into a 4* hotel, employing 90 people. It was taken off the Register in 2014, assisted by a Historic England grant of £300,000 to repair the building’s roof. This rescue was the result of Liverpool City Council’s effective Buildings at Risk enforcement strategy that was in action across the city.
The Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Lancashire
The Grade II* listed Midland Hotel on Morecambe’s seafront opened in 1933, the first art deco hotel in Britain. The striking hotel was built for the London Midland & Scottish Railway and designed by the architect Oliver Hill. The hotel closed in 2000 and fell into a state of disrepair, but reopened in 2008 thanks to an £11 million investment programme led by Urban Splash. Historic England provided development advice to ensure that the building retained its important historic features while brought up to spec for the 21st century. After 10 years the hotel was removed from the Register in 2008.
Lion Salt Works, Cheshire
A £10 million project transformed the Lion Salt Works, creating a museum dedicated to telling the story of salt. The project, managed by Cheshire West and Chester Council, was made possible by grant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Historic England provided grant funding (£300,000) and expert advice. After being on the Register for 17 years, the site was removed in 2015 following the museum’s opening.
The salt towns of Cheshire were first established by the Romans. Fast forward to the late-19th century and salt works dominated the area around Northwich, many controlled by the monopolistic Salt Union. In 1894, Henry Ingram Thompson constructed ‘Lion Salt Works’ which ran for nearly 100 years until 1986, when the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970) saw the loss of a major market in West Africa.
Charles Smith, Heritage at Risk Principal in the North West, said: “Over the past 20 years we have used the Heritage at Risk Register to highlight places in need of care and attention. We have dedicated time, expertise and money to bring cherished places back into use and we are proud to have played our part in saving them from neglect. Despite the successes, other places continue to fall into disrepair – in particular, we’ve seen a rise in the number of Places of Worship at risk here in the North West. They have been added to this year’s Register and we will focus our attention on them in the years ahead.”