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Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings 2014 revealed

The Victorian Society annouces the Top Ten following a national appeal for nominations

Navigation Colliery, near Crumlin, Wales

The Victorian Society has revealed the Top Ten Most Endangered Victorian and Edwardian Buildings in England and Wales 2014 following a national appeal for nominations. All the buildings listed are in real risk of being lost if action is not taken in the immediate future. The Society is also calling for the VAT on repairs to privately owned homes to be cut to 5% so that fewer historic buildings fall victim to neglect.

The Victorian Society is the national charity campaigning for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment. Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society, said:

"Once again the number of nominations from the public has demonstrated that it cares about preserving Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Those we selected for the Top Ten are those in the most urgent need of help now, but they also illustrate the problems faced by many more buildings around the country.

As the economy recovers, it is vital that owners and local authorities redouble their efforts to find new uses for these buildings. Victorian and Edwardian architecture makes a huge contribution to the character of places people live in and love. That the Grade II*-listed All Souls Church in Hastings is facing outright demolition is truly shocking and would set a dangerous precedent. Once these buildings are gone they are lost forever.

The Victorian Society is asking the public for its help it in the battle to save the buildings in the Top Ten. If one of the buildings is local to you, or particularly resonates with you, please consider writing to the relevant local council or paper to demonstrate that the building has public support. You can also help raise awareness by sharing our Top Ten campaign online so that more people are aware of the problems these buildings face.''

The release of the Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings follows the Society's greatest victory for a number of years when Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, rejected proposals to redevelop much of Smithfield Market in London. This year's Top Ten includes unusual buildings such as a Grade II*-listed hammerhead crane in Cowes, which gives a glimpse into Cowes' industrial past, the impressive Coal Exchange in Cardiff and a Grade II*-listed church in Hastings facing potential demolition.

The Top Ten in no particular order are:

  • Hammerhead crane, Cowes, Isle of Wight (1912, Babcock and Wilcox, Grade II*) This giant cantilever crane was installed for the production of naval warships such as HMS Cavalier, which is preserved at Chatham Dockyard. This reminder of Cowes' industrial past must be saved.
  • Collier Street Baths, Greengate, Salford (1855, Thomas Worthington, Grade II*) Action must be taken to save this rare survival of a handsome early public baths designed by one of Manchester's best 19th century architects.
  • Former Wesley Methodist Church, Wesley Square, Hartlepool (1871-73, Hill and Swan, Grade II) Owner, Jomast Ltd, must stop allowing this elegant former Methodist Church to deteriorate and fulfil its promise of conversion into a hotel.
  • Coal Exchange, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff (1883, Edwin Seward, Grade II*) Declared unsafe and in imminent danger of collapse by Cardiff Council in 2013 a thorough heritage assessment is urgently needed.
  • All Souls church, Hastings, East Sussex (1890, Sir Arthur Blomfield, Grade II*) The Church Commissioners are considering taking the unusual step of demolishing a Grade II*-listed building without fundamental structural issues.
  • Tonedale Mills, Wellington, Somerset (Continuously enlarged and re-modelled between c.1800 and c.1920, Grade II*) Plans to redevelop much of the site as housing fell through during the recession, but as the housing market recovers, surely a sensitive housing scheme incorporating the mill buildings is now viable?
  • Abney Park Cemetery Chapel, Stoke Newington, Hackney, London (1840, William Hosking, Grade II) The oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe, and Hosking's only surviving public building, is now a picturesque ruin on the brink of being lost without immediate action.
  • Navigation Colliery, Crumlin, Wales (1907-1911, Partridge Jones and Company, Grade II*/ Grade II) This nationally important colliery complex was a show-pit of the period but plans to turn the site into a community hub may fail without addressing pollution and a collapsing culvert under the access road.
  • Trentham Hall, near Stoke-on-Trent (1840, Sir Charles Barry, Grade II*) Once one of England's grandest country houses, the majority of the Hall was demolished in 1912 due to pollution in the river Trent. The remains give an idea of the Hall's former glory but are in a very poor state.
  • Crimean War Monument, Sheffield, Yorkshire & the Humber (1858, G Goldie, Grade II) This tribute to Britain's war dead has been broken up and placed in storage for over ten years, the column feared lost. Sheffield Council must find it a new home.

The Victorian Society is also calling on the next Government to cut the VAT rate on repair work to privately owned dwellings to 5% (as permitted under EU law). Not only will this help preserve many of the nation's historic and important buildings, it will be also provide a financial boost for the public when restoring their homes. The Top Ten Buildings at Risk highlights just how important maintenance of historic buildings is.

The Cut the VAT Campaign Coalition, of which the Society is a member as part of the Heritage Alliance, have produced research showing that, over the course of the next Parliament, cutting VAT to 5% on such repair work would provide a total stimulus effect of over £15bn and provide over 42,000 new jobs in the construction industry.

If, despite these benefits, the next Government considers that a VAT reduction for all repairs to privately owned dwellings is too expensive, the Victorian Society considers that a good first step would be to introduce a 5% VAT rate for privately owned dwellings that are listed. This would replace the VAT exemption for approved alterations to listed buildings withdrawn by the Government in 2012 on the basis that it was an ‘incentive to change listed buildings rather than repair them'.

An update on 2013's Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings:

There was some good news for the Palace Theatre, Swansea when the Council offered a grant of over £70,000 for repair works, subject to the owner obtaining three quotes for having the work carried out. Sadly, the building's owner has not as yet been able to provide these quotes and the building remains in danger.
There are ongoing negotiations over whether the lease of the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate may be taken over by by JD Wetherspoon. JD Wetherspoon would refurbish the whole building, but do not require occupancy of it all, so approximately a third would be available to let. The terms of a potential lease have no yet been agreed and no planning application has been submitted.

The Jumbo Water Tower in Colchester was reportedly sold at auction earlier this year to a local poultry farmer who intends to create a rooftop restaurant and flats. No planning application has as yet been lodged.

Negotiations are continuing around St John's Church, Crawshawbooth, Lancashire which had suffered severe water damage as a result of lead theft. Plans have been put forward to convert the Church into a renewable energy centre with the retention of all fixtures and fittings.

Sheffield Council is currently exploring the possibility of selling Heeley Bank School, Sheffield to buyers who would return the building to use as a school. This would be a happy ending for this rare example of pioneering school architect ER Robson's work outside London.

Wednesday 8 October, 2014

More recent item: British Legion and War Memorials Trust join our call to re-erect Sheffield’s missing war monument
Earlier item: Hammerhead crane, Isle of Wight

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