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Bristol’s heritage at risk as Ebenezer Chapel and Avonvale School face demolition

The east of Bristol is on the verge of losing two fine Victorian buildings typical of Bristol’s rich architectural heritage

Ebenezer Chapel, Bristol (photo: Mariateresa Bucciante)

Ebenezer Chapel on Midland Road, Bristol, a charming non-conformist chapel in a historically working class district, is due to be bulldozed this week.

The chapel, opened in 1849 by the ‘Primitive Methodists' and designed with decorative round arched windows in a very rare bold Romanesque style, stands proud on Midland Road as a rare survivor of this area's Victorian history. A demolition notice has been served after it was declared unsafe earlier this year.

Kathy Clark, conservation officer at the Victorian Society said: "Ebenezer Chapel, or at least its distinctive front wall, should be reused and extended for a new use, whilst preserving a worthy piece of Bristol's heritage. We urge Bristol Council to work for retention of the chapel."

Architectural historian and author of the Pevsner City Guide to Bristol Andrew Foyle added: "It's very sad to see the chapel in this state. It's an interesting example of the Romanesque revival style, a style rarely adopted by the Methodists. It is one of the last survivors of many chapels in the Old Market area."

Meanwhile, not a mile away from the chapel, the former Avonvale Primary School on Avonvale Road, built in 1898-99, is also proposed for demolition.

Avondale_School_Bristol.jpg Photo: Mariateresa Bucciante

Avonvale Primary School is an attractive set of buildings which fronts three streets with its Pennant stone with red brick and stone dressings and distinctive gables. The site includes an almost intact stone entrance arch, outbuildings and caretaker's house as well as attractive bellcote turrets on the roofs.

A new school is to be welcomed but Bristol Council should achieve that through the thoughtful reuse of existing historic school buildings, not demolition.

"We urge Bristol to value its assets like Avonvale Primary School and to work to convert the existing buildings to modern school needs to allow new generations of Bristol school children to enjoy both good design and a sense of history" said Kathy Clark.

The Victorian Society is holding its AGM in Bristol in July this year. Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society, said: "We have chosen to hold our AGM in Bristol because Bristol has such a strong and varied Victorian and Edwardian architectural history. It is disappointing to see assaults on that heritage just as we are looking forward to celebrating it at our AGM this year."

Tuesday 10 June, 2014

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