English Heritage Reveals West Midlands Heritage at Risk Register 2014
- Bedlam Blast Furnaces and Birmingham's Roundhouse at risk.
- Active owners across the region help rescue historic gems.
A set of 19th century circular stables built beside a Birmingham canal and a pair of 18th century blast furnaces at Ironbridge, monuments to Shropshire's pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution, are among those vulnerable historic gems added to the Heritage at Risk register in the West Midlands, English Heritage announced today.
Across the region 69 sites have been added to the Register because of concerns about their condition, while 55 have been repaired and removed from the Register, their future secured. Over the year more than £1.4 million has been given in English Heritage grants to help some of the region's best loved and most important historic sites.
The restoration of Hagley Hall's stunning Georgian landscape in Worcestershire has been a great collaboration between the owner, Natural England and English Heritage. The rotunda was derelict and on the 'at risk' Register, the lakes were silted up and the cascades had collapsed. Works funded by the Trustees of the Hagley Estate, Natural England and English Heritage have repaired the rotunda and restored the gardens to their former glory. The project, which includes greater public access, has been shortlisted for an English Heritage Angel Award this year.
A number of sites have been removed from the Register due to active owners, dedicated to understanding the unique character of their historic site and inspired to care for it. Efforts by owners have rescued three Shropshire parks & gardens and the Lion Foundry in Stourbridge; a 19th century iron working foundry and birthplace of the Lion- the first steam locomotive to run in America. The site has been rescued after years of vandalism and transformed into a medical centre, open to patients since the beginning of Summer.
Sarah Lewis, Heritage at Risk Principal for English Heritage in the West Midlands said: "The enthusiasm and commitment of owners is essential for our heritage. Almost half the sites removed from the Register have been saved by owners, from a moated site at Tardebigge in Worcestershire, to Lilleshall park & garden saved by a thorough conservation management plan. Tapping into this will continue to be a core priority for our Heritage at Risk Team in the coming years."
This year's Register is the most comprehensive to date, after a thorough review of all listed places of worship in England over the past year. The good news is that 6% of places of worship are 'at risk', a lower number than predicted. Of those places of worship considered 'at risk', congregations will face a combination of failing roofs, broken gutters and downpipes and damage to high level stonework, huge challenges requiring not only large amounts of funding but determination and know how. New on the register this year are St Michael, Feltham and the Grade I listed Holy Trinity, Bosbury in Herefordshire which requires urgent roof repairs.
Saved this year is St James, Wigmore which dates back to the 11th century and has had grant-aided repair work to its tower. Worcestershire has seen Christchurch, Malvern and the church of St Michael, Knighton on Teme added to the Register this year where woodpeckers, drawn to the cedar shingles on the bell turret and spire have left many holes, leading to leaks. A Heritage Lottery Fund Grant for Places of Worship has been offered to both churches for repair work.
The next stage of English Heritage's project to survey Grade II buildings, and see how many are at risk and why, is due to start soon and Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter as well as Worcester will be surveyed. Birmingham and Worcester City Councils will be working with local volunteers to visit and assess all their Grade II listed buildings. They'll be testing the online survey tool English Heritage is developing to record the building's condition. These test projects are preparing the ground for hundreds of volunteers across the country to take part in the nationwide survey in Spring 2015
The Heritage at Risk headlines for the West Midlands are:
- 13 buildings or structures have been taken off the Register and 9 have been added.
- 16 churches and places of worship have been taken off the Register and 52 have been added.
- 20 archaeological sites have been removed from the Register and 8 have been added.
- 3 conservation areas have been removed from the Register this year.
Highlights from across the West Midlands include:
On the Register since 2003, the Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Works was built in 1894 to produce coffin fittings and has been saved this year by grants from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, several charitable funders and a host of enthusiastic volunteers. All have contributed to the restoration of the site which now teaches the history of its use.
Added to the Register this year is The Roundhouse, the horseshoe shaped former stables and stores which is deteriorating with a crumbling roof and damaged brickwork. There is hope for the future as the owner, the Canal & River Trust, hopes to give the site a new purpose by transforming it into an urban recreation centre from which to explore the city and beyond on foot, by bike or by water. Curzon Street Station, still empty and unused, remains on the Register as fears grow that plans for HS2 in Birmingham underestimate the potential this iconic piece of railway heritage has to contribute to the regeneration of the City's East Side.
Bedlam Furnaces, built into the valley side in Ironbridge, are new on the Register this year as part of the monument is unstable and supported by scaffolding. Plans for this important survivor from the Industrial Revolution include protection by a roof which will give shelter from the weather and allow the structure to stabilise. Three parks & gardens across the county have been saved by determined owners who have recognised the importance of some of the region's finest historic gems.
At Lilleshall Hall where the landscaped grounds give athletes at The National Sports Centre the atmosphere they need to focus on training. At Condover and Acton Burnell, owners have researched the history and development of the gardens and committed to Conservation Management Plans agreed with English Heritage which will conserve their historic character. Elsewhere in the county, the dedicated owner of Pentre Isaf is busy restoring the Grade II* timber framed medieval hall-house, even re-discovering and restoring the historic windows, from where he soon plans to run his conservation building company.
The 13th century Norbury Manor moated site, where there was extensive damage to the medieval stone walls, has been removed from the Register this year. Funding from Natural England allowed the draining of the moat for repairs whilst ensuring that the newts, which have flourished at the site, still have their home in tact. Support from Natural England has also meant that the ruins of 13th century Cresswell Chapel have been repaired and removed from the Register.
Removed from the Register this year is Kilpeck Castle where vegetation has been cleared, walls have been stabilised, and stainless steel ties now pin the two fragments of the shell together. The work was funded by Natural England and English Heritage.
For more information on heritage successfully rescued and removed from the Register this year please see the West Midlands fact sheet.