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Why there are no buildings from London or the South East on Top Ten Endangered Building list

The Victorian Society recognises that the region has endangered buildings, but considers that they often have specific reasons why they have not been saved.

Ladywell Baths, Lewisham

The Victorian Society recognises that the region has endangered buildings, but considers that they often have specific reasons why they have not been saved. For example, there were many proposals for the last London entry, Ladywell Baths in Lewisham, yet a year later the Council has not even asked for formal expressions of interest from developers.

Victorian Society Director, Christopher Costelloe, said: ‘The Society is only too aware that both London and the South East have buildings which urgently need action to save them. However, those buildings tend to have specific reasons why they have not already been developed, such as unwilling owners or extreme difficulty in finding alternative uses for the space. For example, numerous developers came forward after Ladywell Baths was on our Top Ten, but a year on Lewisham Council has not even invited expressions of interest. As a result many developers will simply give up and walk away. The same was true of the Grade I- listed former Boat Store in Sheerness where owners did not respond to proposals to take on the space. We hope that focusing attention on buildings elsewhere will help them attract the investment they would surely have if they were in London or the South East. Bringing as many buildings on the top ten back into use is vital to maintaining local identity and creating places in which people want to invest, live and work'.

The building in the Top Ten list which best illustrates the difference between the South East and elsewhere is Grade II* Red Barns in Redcar, designed by leading arts and crafts architect, Philip Webb. It was the former home of Gertrude Bell, CBE, a pioneering female Victorian explorer of the Middle East variously described as a political officer, administrator, spy and archaeologist. Philip Webb also designed Red House, William Morris’ home in South London, but the contrast between Red Barns and Red House could not be starker. While Red House is lovingly looked after by the National Trust its famous occupant celebrated – Red Barns lies in a terrible state with huge amounts of water damage to the interior. Bought by a developer after a pub at the building closed, foundations for housing have been dug in the grounds but work has not commenced. Nor have plans to convert the building into flats started. Pictures are here

Monday 12 September, 2016

More recent item: Cardiff’s old Bute Road Station on Top Ten Endangered Buildings list
Earlier item: Royal Exchange plan endangers City of London's greatest murals

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