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Annual Heritage at Risk Register reveals state of England’s historic sites

Some 310 sites have been rescued from decay and neglect but another 247 historic places have been added to the threatened list, Historic England says.

Church of St Andrew, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear is one of the historic sites which has been saved (Historic England Archive/PA)
Church of St Andrew, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear is one of the historic sites which has been saved (Historic England Archive/PA)

By Emily Beament, PA Heritage Correspondent

A church with stunning murals, a gunship wreck and First World War aircraft hangars are among heritage sites saved from neglect and decay, an annual assessment shows.

But while the latest edition of Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register reveals that 310 sites have been rescued, another 247 historic places have been added to the threatened list because they are in danger of being lost.

They include England’s oldest surviving timber trestle bridge, a 19th century lighthouse and a military complex built during the Napoleonic Wars.

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The Dovercourt Lighthouses and Causeway, Harwich, Essex is now at risk (Historic England Archive/ James O.Davies/PA)

The Heritage at Risk Register provides an annual snapshot of how treasured heritage is faring, highlighting those which are most at risk from neglect, decay and inappropriate development.

It also highlights the buildings and sites which have been saved, with new uses found for empty buildings and monuments cared for and brought back to life, often by teams of volunteers and members of the community.

In 2019 there are 1,462 Grade I and II* listed buildings on the register, along with 2,089 archaeological sites, 913 places of worship, 102 registered parks and gardens, 501 conservation areas, three battlefields and three protected wrecks.

In total there are 5,073 buildings and sites on the register this year, 87 fewer than in 2018.

Among those coming off the list include the wreck of HMS Invincible, a 74-gun warship which sank in the Solent in 1758, which is being removed after three seasons of excavation to record it in detail and remove at-risk artefacts.

The thatched cottage-like Congregational Chapel, Roxton, Bedfordshire, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London, whose Wren steeple inspired the tiered wedding cake, and the Art and Crafts St Andrew’s Church, Roker, Tyne and Wear, with its stunning wall and ceiling murals, have all been saved with repairs.

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Folkestone Leas Lift in Kent is also on the at risk register (Historic England Archive/Chris Redgrave/PA)

The final phase of work has been completed to restore two of the three Grade II* listed Hooton Hangars at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire; former First World War aircraft hangars where the roofs had collapsed.

Carrshield lead mines and ore works, in the North Pennines, which has been renovated into a camping barn, Barnet’s Physic Well, and Moseley School of Art, Birmingham, are also among those saved.

Sites added to the register in 2019 include the 19th century Dovercourt lighthouses and causeway, Harwich, and Wickham Bishops timber trestle railway viaduct, Maldon, both in Essex.

Leas Lift in Folkestone, Kent, built in 1885, is one of only three remaining water-balanced lifts in the UK but closed in January 2017 due to safety issues with the braking system and has only deteriorated further since then.

The Former Weedon Barracks, Magazine Enclosure in Northamptonshire was constructed as a major depot for arms and ammunition during the Napoleonic Wars and includes several at-risk buildings.

Beckford’s Tower in Bath is being exposed to increasingly severe weather and is suffering from water penetration while Leeds’ Grand Quarter is facing heavy traffic, empty shops and loss of architectural details.

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The last surviving timber trestle railway bridge in England has been added to the at risk list (Historic England/PA)

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “The message is clear – our heritage needs to be saved and investing in heritage pays.

“It helps to transform the places where we live and work, and which we visit, creating successful and distinctive places for us and for future generations to enjoy. But there’s more work to do.

“There are buildings still on the Heritage at Risk Register that can be rescued and can be brought back to beneficial use and generate an income, contributing to the local community and economy.”

PA

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