Bomb store among 'at risk' sites
The UK's first atomic bomb store, a 100-year-old cinema and a rollercoaster are among almost 6,000 buildings and historic sites at risk of being lost, English Heritage has warned.
The latest Heritage at Risk register revealed that 5,831 listed buildings, monuments, archaeological sites, battlefields, shipwrecks, places of worship, conservation areas and landscapes in England are under threat from neglect, decay and damage.
The figure includes heritage sites with the highest levels of protection, Grade I and II* listing, across the country but those with the lower Grade II listing have only been included in London. English Heritage also announced a programme to assess England's 345,000 Grade II listed buildings, funding between nine and 15 pilot surveys.
Grade II sites already known to be at risk include an 18th century windmill in west Lancashire, an Edwardian lido for women in Reading and the dramatic front portico of a Victorian Methodist Sunday school in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
With just 13% of the sites on the list considered to be economic to repair, English Heritage's director of heritage protection Dr Edward Impey said that in the current climate, efforts to save buildings may have to focus on "holding" measures.
Other examples of heritage at risk are Grade II* listed Torbay Cinema in Paignton, Devon, which was licensed in 1912 and is a very well preserved example of an early purpose-built cinema but has been vacant for 10 years.
Margate's Grade II* Dreamland rollercoaster was built in 1919-20 but was badly damaged by fire in 2008 and is on the heritage at risk list. There are plans, supported by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, to revamp the Dreamland park and scenic railway in the Kent seaside town, and it is hoped the site has a future off the at-risk register.
Britain's first atomic bomb store on Thetford Heath, Barnham, Suffolk, a Grade II* scheduled monument, has been added to the at-risk register. From the mid-1960s onwards the site's watchtowers were vandalised and they and the 66 kiosks used for storing nuclear components fell into disrepair.
English Heritage said it has worked with the owners to help refurbish the five watch towers and carry out restoration, but much more needs to be done.
Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said:"Grade II buildings are the bulk of the nation's heritage treasury. When one of them is lost, it's as though someone has rubbed out a bit of the past; something that made your street or your village special will have gone."