Cumbria Crack

Heritage At Risk in the North West Revealed

Historic England today (Thursday 15 October, 2020) reveals the historic sites most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development by publishing the Heritage at Risk Register 2020. 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 six historic buildings and sites in the North West have been saved thanks to the determination of local communities, charities, owners, local councils and Historic England, who together want to see historic places restored and brought back to life.

Examples include 16th century Wythenshawe Hall, which has made significant progress toward removal from the At Risk Register, Duddon Iron Furnace which has been removed following repairs, and Astley Green Colliery which stays on after a survey found that significant investment was required to save its distinctive headgear, the last surviving example in the Lancashire coal field.

Five sites in the North West have been added to the Register because of concerns about their condition. Over the past four years, Historic England has offered £2.4m in grants to help some of the region’s best loved and most important historic sites.

This year has been challenging but looking after and investing in the historic places that help to define our collective identity is key to the country’s economic recovery. The buildings and places rescued and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register can help level up economic opportunity, support skilled local construction jobs, build resilience in private and public organisations and boost tourism.

Our historic places have also provided an anchor for local communities during these uncertain times. Heritage has a proven positive impact on people’s quality of life and 80% of residents believe local heritage makes their area a better place to live. It can also help support community resilience, instil pride and build confidence that communities can ‘build back better’.

Catherine Dewar, Regional Director, said: “From mediaeval manor houses like Wythenshawe Hall, to iconic reminders of our industrial past like Lancashire’s last remaining colliery headgear at Astley Green, these historic places across the North West help define us.

“In these really testing times, our cherished heritage connects us to our roots and brings us solace. We also know that investing in historic places can help boost our economic recovery.

The places rescued from the At Risk Register this year show us that good progress is being made, but there’s still a long way to go and many more historic buildings and places which need TLC, funding, strong partnership working and community support to give them a brighter future.”


SAVED: Duddon Iron Furnace, Millom Without, Cumbria

Duddon Iron Furnace

Considered to be the best surviving charcoal fired furnace in the South Lake District, Duddon Iron Furnace had been closed to the public due to safety concerns. However, recent grant support from Historic England, working alongside the Lake District National Park Authority who manage the site, has allowed a programme of repairs to be undertaken and it has been rescued from the Heritage at Risk Register.

Construction of the ironworks began in 1736.  The furnace had a long life with production continuing until 1867. The site developed over time as the demand for high quality iron grew, with the construction of larger stores.  Its small wheel powered by a nearby stream was superseded by the introduction of a huge wheel, turned by water diverted from the River Duddon.

The site’s completeness and historic significance was the impetus for a combined effort from the Lake District National Park Authority and Historic England, to arrest any deterioration and to make it accessible to the public, as sadly safety concerns had forced it to close.

Following a thorough assessment of its condition, jointly funded repairs have now been completed, and the site is now once again ready to reopen to the public and provide a continuing reminder of this important industry in the area. Full access details can be found on the National Park Authority website.


NEWLY AT RISK: Moot Hall, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria

Moot Hall

A building of exceptional historical significance, it has stood proudly in the centre of town since 1596 and is one of the few surviving moot halls in England. Its national importance has been recognised through its Grade II* listed status.

Extended over time, the Hall’s two storey range of rubblestone construction, rendered and painted white, alongside its sash windows and stone detailing, is characteristic of Georgian architecture in Cumbria. Surveys have shown that extensive work is needed to address issues with its construction, and enhance its resilience to combat the impact of extreme weather.

It is hoped this work will be the start of a project which will encourage more locals and tourists to visit the Moot Hall and appreciate its history. The development will ideally become a benchmark for the buildings of the town, allowing the Moot Hall to continue in its role at the centre of the life of Appleby, and preserving this loved building for future generations.

NEWLY AT RISK: St James’s Gardens, Liverpool

Opened in 1829, St James’s Cemetery (now known as St James’s Gardens) is registered at Grade I on the register of parks and gardens because of its beautiful and dramatic design and because it is such an early example of a public cemetery.

Since the 1990s, members of the local community took increasing interest in the site and began to take action to address some of its problems. More recently they have been supported by Liverpool City Council and the Diocese of Liverpool. However, damaging vegetation, poor conservation repairs and weathering are having a detrimental effect.

Historic England will work in partnership with the City Council to identify and record the significance of the site, as well as plan future management and maintenance in a conservation management plan.


PROGRESS: Wythenshawe Hall, Manchester

Wythenshawe Hall stands at the heart of 100 hectares of open parkland in South Manchester. This Grade II* listed site encompasses a stable block, with Courtyard Café, meeting spaces and a statue of Oliver Cromwell.

The timber framed hall, dating from the 16th century, is now fully repaired after years of restoration. The ‘Friends of Wythenshawe Hall’  encourage public engagement, organising regular events.

Following a devastating roof fire to the central historic core, some of the North West’s finest crafts people have worked tirelessly on its’ restoration. The City Council is now assessing options for the long term use of this valuable and well-loved place. Once back in use, the hall will be removed from the Register.’


REMAINS AT RISK: Hopwood Hall, Rochdale

The initial works to stabilise the building and provide urgent weather proofing have now been completed at the Grade II* listed 16th century Hopwood Hall. Jointly funded by Historic England and Rochdale Council, this work has brought the dreams of Hopwood DePree, the American actor, writer and filmmaker, closer to reality.

Named after his ancestors who built the Hall, Hopwood has encouraged its owners, Rochdale Council, to repair the Hall with the ultimate aim of transforming it into an artistic and cultural venue and forging links with nearby colleges.

Despite the Council’s efforts over the years to keep the house weather-tight, it had suffered extreme dry rot, made worse by lead thefts and roof leaks. The building has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since it began in 1998.

The next phase of works will address issues with the roof, and Historic England looks forward to the opportunity to continue working with Rochdale Council and the local team to bring the dream of this restoration to reality.

REMAINS AT RISK: Astley Green Colliery, Manchester

Towering over the Astley skyline is an eye-catching reminder of Lancashire’s coal mining past. This is the headgear at Astley Green Colliery, the last surviving one in the Lancashire coal field. It is a beacon and iconic backdrop for a host of activity at the colliery, now known as Lancashire Mining Museum, run by the Red Rose Steam Society. The site is run entirely by dedicated volunteers.

The headgear dates back to 1910. It was used to wind workers and materials up and down the shaft below. The colliery closed in 1970, and the headgear’s wrought iron is now deteriorating, leaving it in poor condition.

The Red Rose Steam Society alerted Historic England that the headgear was starting to fall apart. We funded a costed condition survey, including state-of-the-art 3D laser scanning, which identified £580,000 of repairs. Work is needed to deal with corroded and loose metal and repaint the structure to prevent further rusting.

The Red Rose Steam Society is now looking to apply for grants from a range of funders to fund repairs. Historic England’s Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk exist for sites on our At Risk Register, but require match funding.


Across the region 6 entries have been removed from the Register (for positive reasons), while 5 entries have been added because of concerns about their condition.

Over the past four years, Historic England has spent £2.4m in grants on helping some of the country’s best loved and most important historic sites on the Heritage at Risk Register.

The Heritage at Risk Register 2020 reveals that in the North West:

  • 116 Buildings or Structures (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments)
  • 134 places of worship
  • 85 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments),
  • 8 parks and gardens
  • and 69 conservation areas

…are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.

In total, there are 412 entries across the North West on the 2020 Heritage at Risk Register.

Due to the restrictions of Covid-19 we have only been able to assess sites and collect data where it has been safe to do so. This has given us a helpful temperature check of the condition of our historic environment in the last 12 months, but it has not been possible to carry out analysis of trends as we have in previous years.

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