Heritage at Risk in London 2021
Historic England today reveals the historic sites most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development by publishing the annual Heritage at Risk Register 2021.
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.
Heritage at Risk saved in 2021
Over the last year, 32 historic buildings and sites in London have been removed from the Register.
Across the capital dedicated charities, owners, local councils and communities have worked together with Historic England to see historic places restored, re-used and brought back to life, despite the challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.
Saved: Battersea Power Station
Iconic building’s future secured after 30 years on the Heritage at Risk Register
Battersea Power Station is a true London icon. It was built from 1929 onwards and at its peak supplied one fifth of London's electricity.
The Power Station was decommissioned in 1983 and after years sitting derelict, the Grade II* listed building was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 1991.
It is now at the heart of one of central London’s largest and most visionary developments, which is already home to more than 1,500 residents and over 20 bars, restaurants, cafés and fitness and leisure offerings, all serviced by a new Zone 1 Underground Station which opened in September 2021.
Extensive and highly skilled conservation work has taken place across the site to preserve and enhance the incredible historic features and spaces, including the rebuilding of the famous chimneys using the original method from the 1930s and 1950s when they were first built, and sourcing approximately 1.75 million handmade bricks from the two British brickmakers who supplied the original bricks to build Battersea Power Station.
The Grade II* listed building can now be safely removed from the Register, ahead of its public opening next year. Once open, the restored and repurposed Power Station will include over 100 shops, bars and restaurants, 254 apartments, office space as well as unique events and leisure offering, including the Chimney Lift Experience. There will also be a new six-acre riverfront park that is open to the public.
Saved: WC Bar – former public conveniences at Guilford Place, Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury
Victorian public lavatory transformed into a cosy wine bar
The Victorian-era ladies and gentlemen's public conveniences or water closet (WC) at Guilford Place has been sensitively transformed into a cosy wine and charcuterie bar. The decorative railings and underground spaces date back to the late 19th-century and are Grade II listed.
Many original features survive and have been converted to suit their new use, including the wooden stalls forming the booths and upholstered porcelain urinals used as additional seating.
Saved: Royal Arsenal Woolwich Conservation Area
Excellent example of heritage-led redevelopment completes revival of whole conservation area
The Royal Arsenal in Woolwich is a sprawling site, with many overlapping layers of history. For hundreds of years it was where ammunition for the armed forces was manufactured, before it finally stopped being a military establishment in 1994. During the First World War the Royal Arsenal is thought to have employed around 80,000 people.
It is a rare event that a London conservation area comes off the Heritage at Risk Register; given the range of works needed and number of partners involved it often takes many years. The Royal Arsenal has been a focus of major regeneration efforts since the 1990s.
Now thanks to the completion of an extensive and impressive programme of renovation and restoration by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to create Woolwich Works – a new landmark cultural hub for London - the whole conservation area is ready to come off the Heritage at Risk Register.
The Fireworks Factory, listed at Grade II as 41 and 41a Royal Laboratory Square, is the final Royal Arsenal building to come off the Register, allowing the conservation area to be removed too. This former factory and workshop from the 19th-century has now been converted into a beautiful performance and events space fit for the 21st century.
Saved: Roman wall in basement of 90 Gracechurch Street, Leadenhall Market
Hidden ancient wall fragment preserved for future generations
Tucked surprisingly in the basement of a hairdresser’s salon in Leadenhall Market is a standing section of London’s Roman Forum.
It was on the Heritage at Risk Register as it had become vulnerable due to high levels of humidity in its underground chamber location.
Thanks to the installation of built-in dehumidifier by the City of London Corporation, the fragment of wall dating from around the 2nd century AD is now in a stable condition.
It is a reminder that London’s history is all around us and can be found in some unexpected places.
Sites added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2021
18 sites in London have been added to the Register because of concerns about their condition. They are at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Historic England gave £1.75 million in grants to historic places in London throughout the past year, plus another £450,000 for lifeline grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
These emergency grants have kick-started essential repairs and maintenance at many precious historic sites during the pandemic and helped protect the livelihoods of the skilled craft workers who keep our cherished historic places alive.
At risk: Streatham Hill Theatre
Grand theatre turned bingo hall in need of TLC – its revival is being championed by patrons of the arts, including Simon Callow and Baroness Floella Benjamin
Streatham Hill Theatre opened in 1929. It is an unusually lavish example of a theatre built outside of the West End and was designed by William George Robert Sprague, one of the leading theatre architects of his generation. It is a rare survival as only a few of his buildings still exist today.
The theatre received a direct hit to the rear of the building during the Second World War and the interior was repaired in 1950, largely following the original design. Despite this, a significant amount of the original building and its features survive.
It remained in use as a theatre until 1962 and then as a bingo hall until 2017, but now most of the building is no longer open. The theatre is in private ownership, leased by bingo operators Merkur.
The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre, supported by the Theatres Trust and Lambeth Council, are actively working to secure a route to bring the Grade II listed building back into good repair and reopened with a new viable cultural use.
Next steps include a thorough condition survey to identify the repairs and conservation work needed. Streatham Hill Theatre is also on Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register.
At risk: Pavilion at Leyton County Cricket Ground
Victorian cricket pavilion has seen better days but repairs and plans for restoration are underway
The cricket pavilion at Crawley Road was built in 1886 for the Essex County Cricket Club, designed by Richard Creed. The county played its first-class debut against Leicester at the ground in 1895 and it was the headquarters and home venue of the club until 1933 when they relocated to Chelmsford.
Waltham Forest Council is developing a restoration plan for the Grade II listed Victorian pavilion so that it can be brought back into use. Urgent repair works to both the interior and exterior were carried out in early 2021, and the central clock fixed.
Sites where good progress has been made in 2021
Good progress: The Cloudesley Centre (formerly Holy Trinity Church), Cloudesley Square, Islington
Designed by a young Sir Charles Barry, later responsible for the vast reimagining of the Houses of Parliament, this former church is being transformed by the Diocese of London into the Cloudesley Centre – a multi-functional community and business space.
The Grade II* listed building dates from 1826-9 and is the centre point of Barnsbury’s picturesque Cloudesley Square. It is amongst the best of the early Gothic style churches of this type and one of three early-19th century churches by Sir Charles Barry in Islington.
Essential funding from Historic England, The Pilgrim Trust, the Architectural Heritage Fund and £150,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund has gone towards repairing the roof, ceilings and parapets.
The meticulous attention to detail and conservation approach includes craftsmen from Fullers Builders skilfully reinstating lost decorative plasterwork and restoring scumble glaze finishes to the roof trusses.
Further funding is being sought to complete additional repairs and to provide new internal facilities.
Good progress: Former Granada/EMD Cinema, Hoe Street, Walthamstow
Constructed in 1929-1930 the former cinema and concert venue designed by architect Cecil Aubrey Masey is famed for its art deco and Moorish-style interiors by designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. Alfred Hitchcock was a regular visitor to the cinema and when in use as a concert venue it hosted stars including The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly.
After a decade of dereliction, the Grade II* listed building was acquired by Waltham Forest Council in 2019 to ensure it remains an entertainment venue and cultural space for the community – a permanent legacy of Waltham Forest’s year as London Borough of Culture. The council is working in partnership with the SOHO Theatre Company who will operate the venue and present the biggest names in comedy and performance.
A recent £300,000 grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund will help prevent further loss of the precious historic fabric and contribute towards wider restoration costs. Previous grant aid by Historic England secured the repair and restoration of the building’s elaborate façade.
Heritage at Risk statistics
The Heritage at Risk Register 2021 reveals that in London:
- 425 buildings or structures
- 99 places of worship
- 26 archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments)
- 11 parks and gardens
- and 73 conservation areas
…are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.
In total, there are 634 entries across London on the 2021 Heritage at Risk Register.