Historic England describes Worcester’s Vesta Tilley House as a ‘building of very strong local interest’.
Vesta Tilley House is at the centre of a fight to protect Lowesmoor from a controversial planning application. This would destroy Vesta Tilley House and other Lowesmoor buildings including the locally-listed Bridge Inn – to make way for an incongruously large development with towers of up to 12 storeys in the city’s canal conservation area. Although the Victorian Society’s listing application was rejected, the Society is highlighting Historic England’s praise of the building and stresses that such buildings must be protected in conservation areas.
Joe O’Donnell, Victorian Society Director said, ‘While listing Vesta Tilley House would have been a boost to stop the destruction of Lowesmoor, the fight to save this building and conservation area from inappropriate development continues. It is really encouraging for Historic England’s decision to have heaped praise on this important local landmark. There are countless fantastic and striking un-listed buildings all over the country. Indeed, recent reports have highlighted that Victorian heritage is under protected by the listing system. The fact that a building like this, with such strong links to the local history, is not listed cannot be used to justify its loss from the conservation area. The Council has an opportunity prevent another rape of Worcester – let’s hope they take it.’
Vesta Tilley House is a former music hall long associated with the male impersonating star, Vesta Tilley. In their recent listing assessment, Historic England described the Vesta Tilley House as ‘a building of great presence.’ Although not enough of the original music hall interior remains intact to grant the building listed status, Historic England have highlighted that ‘Vesta Tilley House has strong local historic interest for its association with Vesta Tilley, and for its origins as a Victorian music hall.’
Historic England went on, ‘Vesta Tilley House makes good use of an awkwardly shaped plot to create a building with great presence on a bend in the road. The façade is skilfully treated, employing vertical and horizontal elements and variations in depth to create interest and dynamism. Music halls from the mid-C19 are very rare building types, and Vesta Tilley House was constructed for this purpose and retains a plan form in which the rectangular main hall used for performances can be deduced. It also retains iron columns which supported galleried seating.'