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Heritage at Risk in the North West revealed

Heritage At Risk 2019. Morecambe Winter Gardens, 209 Marine Road Central, Morecambe, Lancashire. (Copyright Historic England Archive)

Historic England today (Thursday 17 October, 2019) reveals the historic sites most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development by publishing the annual Heritage at Risk Register 2019. The register provides an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most valued historic places, and those most at risk of being lost.

Over the last year 19 historic buildings and sites have been saved in the North West. Imaginative uses have been found for empty buildings, providing new homes, shops, offices and cultural venues for the local community to enjoy.  Monuments in our landscapes have been lovingly cared for, and brought back to life, often by dedicated teams of volunteers. Communities up and down the country have celebrated the things that make their conservation areas special and saved valued historic places for future generations.

Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s Regional Director in the North West said: “The message is clear – our heritage needs to be saved and investing in heritage pays. It helps to transform the places where we live, work and visit, creating successful and distinctive places for us and for future generations to enjoy. But there’s more work to do. There are buildings still on the Heritage at Risk Register that are ideal for rescue and capable of being brought back in to meaningful use and generating an income, contributing to the local community and economy. These are the homes, shops, offices and cultural venues of the future.

“Historic England’s experience shows that with the right partners, imaginative thinking and robust business planning, we can be confident in finding creative solutions for these complex sites.”

Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register gives an annual snapshot of the critical condition of some of the North West’s most important historic buildings, sites, monuments and places.  Across the region 19 sites have been removed from the Register because their future has been secured, often by community intervention, while 16 sites have been added to the Register because of concerns about their condition.

Over the past year, Historic England has offered £887,000 in grants to help some of the North West’s best loved and most important historic sites.

SAVED: Long Street Methodist Sunday School, Rochdale

The Sunday Schools and Methodist Church complex off Long Street in Middleton, near Rochdale, is a fine example of the craftsmanship of pioneering architect Edgar Wood which was completed in 1899. It is Grade II* listed.

The Sunday Schools were built to provide free education for children who worked in the nearby textile mills. They are now in the care of Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust, part of Heritage Trust for the North West.

They are now open for community use following a major conservation project. The attached church is still in use for worship. It’s an Arts and Crafts gem, regularly open for visits. The Sunday Schools are now gleaming and repaired, following four years on the Heritage at Risk Register. The building was previously affected by a leaking roof, causing dry rot, inappropriate pointing causing the bricks to weaken, cracks to render and decorative stonework, and missing and broken slates.

Edgar Wood (1860-1935) built in various styles, sometimes using an aesthetic decades before it became prevalent. Born in Middleton, Wood enjoyed an international reputation, yet was largely forgotten after his death until ‘rediscovered’ in the 1950s.

The Edgar Wood Society works hard to promote his legacy.

SAVED: New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works, Cumbria

Following severe flooding from Storm Desmond in December 2015 New Sedgwick Gunpowder Works, a scheduled monument, was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register. Repairs have now been carried out with funding from the National Trust and grant aid from Historic England, and the damage from the floods has been fully repaired.

The monument includes a building, ruins and buried remains of the gunpowder works. Production of course powders for mining, quarrying and other blasting activities began in 1858. Falling orders led to closure in 1935

SAVED: Hooton Hangars, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

The final phase of works has been completed to repair the roofs and structures on two of the three Grade II* Belfast Hangars (the central and southern).

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 over 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.

GOOD PROGRESS: Morecambe Winter Gardens

Morecambe Winter Gardens is a flamboyantly ornate 19th century theatre on Morecambe’s seafront.  It’s a riot of decorative detail, featuring terracotta, tiles, stained glass, and a fabulous fibrous plaster ceiling. The building was designed by Magnall and Littlewood, and opened in 1897 as a variety theatre and concert hall. Known as The Albert Hall of the North, Elgar performed there. The building’s coastal location is echoed in the seashells and sea-serpents incorporated in the tiles and plasterwork.

The theatre is on both Historic England and the Theatres Trust’s Heritage at Risk Registers. An action group formed to save the Winter Gardens when the adjoining Oriental Ballroom was demolished in 1982. Both buildings had sadly closed five years earlier. Water leaks, lead theft, and even seagulls’ eggs blocking gutters are amongst the maintenance challenges.

Historic England, the Theatres Trust and Lancaster City Council are working in partnership to support the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust. In turn, the Trust, Friends and Volunteers are working tirelessly to repair and make the theatre viable. Work to make governance more resilient has recently started, thanks to a Theatres Trust grant. A consultant will be working to support the Acting Chair, Trustees and Advisory Board.

ADDED: Central Barrow Conservation Area

Historic England has been monitoring the Central Barrow Conservation Area for the past 12 months in order to assess the deterioration in its condition. Following a site visit with the local authority and Historic England it was clear that it needed to be added to the Heritage at Risk register. Part of the Conservation Area, including Duke Street and surrounding streets characterise the 19th century ‘boom town’ which contributes to the diversity of conservation area but are in need of regeneration. Fortunately Barrow is part out of High Street Heritage Action Zone project and will be receiving a share of a £95 million pot from Historic England to help regenerate the high street and breathe new life into it enhancing for the future.

Across the region 19 entries have been removed from the Register for positive reasons, while 16 entries have been added because of concerns about their condition.

Over the past year, Historic England has spent £647,280 in grants on helping some of the region’s best loved and most important historic sites.

The Heritage at Risk Register 2019 reveals that in this region:

  • 113 Buildings or Structures  – (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments)
  • 138 places of worship
  • 86 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments),
  • 7 parks and gardens
  • no battlefields
  • no protected wreck sites
  • and 69 conservation areas
  • …are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.

In total, there are 413 entries on the region’s 2019 Heritage at Risk Register, 6 less than last year.

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