Heritage at Risk in the North West Revealed
We have today published Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. It is the annual snapshot of the health of England’s most valued historic places, and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Wythenshawe Hall, Manchester
Wythenshawe Hall stands at the heart of 100 hectares of open parkland in South Manchester. This Grade II* listed site encompasses a stable block, with courtyard café, meeting spaces and a statue of Oliver Cromwell.
The animal petting farm and playground are always a hive of activity and people flow over the parkland, whether walking or cycling, all enjoying this remarkable setting.
Initiated after a devastating roof fire to the central historic core, some of the north west’s finest crafts people have worked tirelessly on its restoration. Their painstaking work can be seen in the repaired external timber frame, stained glass, roofing and lime rendering; internal repairs to the oak panelling, wall paintings and ornate plaster ceiling.
During the repair project the workforce were amazed by the amount of interest from the local community, with people expressing interest in the wellbeing of the hall sharing stories of happy visits and family occasions celebrated there across many generations.
Astley Green Colliery, Tyldesley
Towering over the Astley skyline is an eye-catching reminder of Lancashire’s coal mining past. This is the headgear at Astley Green Colliery, the last surviving one in the Lancashire coal field. It is a beacon and iconic backdrop for a host of activity at the colliery, now known as Lancashire Mining Museum, run by the Red Rose Steam Society. The site is run entirely by dedicated volunteers.
The headgear dates back to 1910. It was used to wind workers and materials up and down the shaft below. The colliery closed in 1970, and the headgear’s wrought iron is now deteriorating, leaving it in poor condition and ‘at risk’.
The Red Rose Steam Society alerted Historic England that the headgear was starting to fall apart. We funded a costed condition survey, including state-of-the-art 3D laser scanning, which identified £580,000 of repairs. Work is needed to deal with corroded and loose metal and repaint the structure to prevent further rusting.
The Red Rose Steam Society is now looking to apply for grants from a range of funders to fund repairs. Historic England’s Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk exist for sites on our Heritage at Risk Register. These grants are competitive, require match funding, and are typically for amounts under £200,000. The challenge for grant applicants is to put together a package of funding from various sources to enable repair projects to go forward.
Besides looking after the headgear, Red Rose Steam Society runs the popular Mining Museum, and, in normal times, hosts popular fundraising events such as fireworks nights and steam rallies.
From young people with learning difficulties, to sixth-formers and graduates, and to senior citizens with dementia, the former colliery offers everyone opportunities to get involved.
It is a place to socialise while learning new skills, reminiscing about the past and enthusing visitors, or working on the museum’s archives and collections. Others relish getting stuck in to practical tasks such as vegetation clearance and maintaining the machinery in the fresh air.
Volunteers enjoy feeling connected both to the present community, and to the Astley of the past, when hard graft extracted coal from the land beneath to fuel the Industrial Revolution.
We know that people’s sense of wellbeing is bolstered by connections to place, people, history, nature and by learning new things and contributing to something bigger. Volunteering at the colliery offers all this, while keeping its history alive and sharing this passion with visitors.
A visit to Lancashire Mining Museum is a fascinating experience, thanks to the physical heritage and the passion of its volunteers. We wish the Red Rose Steam Society every success for the future, and will continue to offer them advice and support in their efforts to care for this hugely significant piece of coal mining heritage.
Duddon Iron Furnace, Broughton-in-Furness
Considered to be the best surviving charcoal fired furnace in the South Lake District, Duddon Iron Furnace and its associated features had been closed to the public due to safety concerns. However, recent grant support from Historic England, working alongside the Lake District National Park Authority who manage the site, has allowed a programme of repairs to be undertaken and it has been rescued from the Heritage at Risk Register.
Standing in mature woodland on a sheltered, sloping site at the bottom of a valley, construction of the ironworks began in 1736. The furnace had a long life with production continuing until 1867.
The site developed over time as the demand for high quality iron grew. Larger stores were built, and its small wheel powered by a nearby stream was superseded by the introduction of a huge wheel, turned by water diverted from the River Duddon.
The location of the site reflects the importance of being close to the necessary natural resources and evidence of its increasing size reflects the major part the iron industry played in the development of this country.
Whilst the water wheels have been lost, the impressive furnace stack remains, square in plan and with the interior stained red from the smelting process. The blast furnace site and its associated buildings still include various original features, including the charcoal stores, an iron ore store and wheel pit.
The site’s completeness and historic significance was the impetus for a combined effort from the Lake District National Park Authority and Historic England, to arrest any deterioration and to make it accessible to the public, as sadly safety concerns had forced it to close.
Following a thorough assessment of its condition through surveys, jointly funded repairs have now been completed, including masonry repairs, re-roofing of the furnace stack, strengthening of the iron ore store roof, and the renewal of a visitor access bridge.
The site is now considered to be in a fair condition and once again ready to reopen to the public and provide a continuing reminder of this important industry in the area. Full access details can be found on the Lake District National Park website.
Hopwood Hall, Rochdale
California Dreaming – a ray of sunshine for Hopwood Hall
The initial works to stabilise the building and provide urgent weather proofing have now been completed at the Grade II* listed Hopwood Hall. Jointly funded by Historic England and Rochdale Council, this work has brought the dreams of Hopwood DePree, the American actor, writer and filmmaker, closer to reality.
Named after his ancestors who built the hall, Hopwood has encouraged its owners, Rochdale Council, to repair the hall with the ultimate aim of transforming it into an artistic and cultural venue and forging links with nearby colleges.
The house is Grade II* listed and dates back to the 16th century. It is one of Greater Manchester’s most important remaining halls and the structure which remains today has been added to and updated over the years as fashions changed. The roof trusses, screen passage door, and bay window, of the 16th century hall house are still evident amidst the 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century brick additions. The interior retains wonderful wooden carvings of people and mythical beasts, and a fireplace thought to have been a gift from Lord Byron, a guest in 1811.
Despite the council’s efforts over the years to keep the house weather-tight, it had suffered extreme dry rot, made worse by lead thefts and roof leaks. The building has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since it began in 1998.
Thankfully the caretaker and conservationist Bob Wall continues to ensure that important stitch-in-time maintenance measures, such as ventilating the building, are undertaken. And with the support of Historic England, Bob is currently working with volunteers from a local friends group to undertake repairs to the extensive glazing.
The enthusiasm of Bob and all who volunteer at the hall shows the value placed on this magnificent building. The next phase of works will address issues with the roof, and Historic England looks forward to the opportunity to continue working with Rochdale Council and the local team to bring the dream of this restoration to reality.
Moot Hall, Appleby
The Moot Hall, Appleby-in-Westmorland, is a new addition to the Heritage at Risk Register.
The small market town of Appleby was originally the County Town of Westmorland and at its very heart lies the Moot Hall.
A building of exceptional historical significance, it has stood proudly in the centre of town since 1596 and is one of the few surviving moot halls in England which has retained its original role as the administrative centre for the area. It houses the Council Chamber and office for the Town Clerk on the first floor, and the Tourist Information Centre and a tenanted shop on the ground floor, all of which contribute to its continuing place at the centre of local life.
Its special national importance has been recognised through its Grade II* listed status, and local people are determined that this well-loved building will be preserved for future generations.
The Moot Hall is on Boroughgate, which is part of the local conservation area and runs downhill from the castle towards the medieval St Lawrence’s Church. The River Eden loops around this oldest part of the town and the historic setting and impressive stone buildings have allowed the town to benefit from investment through tourism.
Extended over time, the hall’s two storey range of rubblestone construction, rendered and painted white, alongside its sash windows and stone detailing, is characteristic of Cumbria Georgian architecture.
Surveys have shown that extensive work is needed to address issues with its construction, and enhance its resilience to combat the impact of extreme weather. These include improving inadequate gutters and drains, repairing the roof, and removing inappropriate paint and render. This investigation has resulted in its inclusion in the Heritage at Risk register and Historic England intends to support the Town Council in their planned repairs.
Appleby’s historic environment now faces serious challenges. Its location on the River Eden has led to extensive flooding and damage to buildings following recent storms. Meanwhile competition from online retailers and a reduction in footfall has resulted in further difficulties for the business community.
The importance of the local heritage and the desire of the Council to understand and address the challenges the area is facing has resulted in it becoming a Heritage Action Zone, using its wealth of local history as a catalyst for regeneration, and has also led to a thorough assessment of the iconic Moot Hall.
It is hoped this work will be the start of a project which will encourage more locals and tourists to visit the Moot Hall and appreciate its history. The development will ideally become a benchmark for the buildings of the town, allowing the Moot Hall to continue in its role at the centre of the life of Appleby, and preserving this loved building for future generations.
St James's Gardens (cemetery), Liverpool
Opened in 1829, St James’s Cemetery (now known as St James’s Gardens) is a very early example of a garden cemetery. The cemetery is registered at Grade I on the register of parks and gardens because of its beautiful and dramatic design and because it is such an early example of a public cemetery.
A former stone quarry, the site was bought by the Anglican community of Liverpool and laid out, in dramatic fashion, as a cemetery. The design incorporated massive carriage ramps with catacombs beneath. These ramps allowed burial parties to access the floor of the quarry. The cemetery layout was complemented in 1835 by the construction of a mortuary chapel, the Oratory (Grade I listed). In 1901 St James’s Walk and Mount was selected as the site for a new Anglican cathedral (Grade I listed). In later years, the cemetery suffered from neglect and invasive vegetation took hold of the structures.
Since the 1990s, members of the local community took increasing interest in the site and began to take action to address some of its problems. More recently they have been supported by Liverpool City Council and the Diocese of Liverpool. However, damaging vegetation, poor conservation repairs and weathering are acting rapidly on some of the main features of the site, particularly the walls of the giant carriage ramps.
To address the challenges facing the cemetery, Historic England has decided to add the cemetery to the Heritage at Risk Register so we can identify and record the significance of the site, as well as plan future management and maintenance in a conservation management plan. Structural assessment and repairs may be needed to the carriage ramps' walls and other structures. This will need specialist engineering input to monitor the situation and plan the solution.