20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register
This year we are celebrating 20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England’s tool for shining a light on the listed buildings and places in England that need most help.
On Thursday 8 November we published the 2018 Heritage at Risk Register, our annual snapshot of the health of London’s historic places.
There are 660 historic sites at risk across the capital. These sites range from a modest 17th-century boundary marker to a 1920s factory building on the Great West Road, reflecting the remarkable diversity and time depth of London’s historic places.
Twenty-two of these sites are new additions to the Heritage at Risk Register this year. Their challenges vary, but all are in need of care and attention.
We’re delighted that there are success stories too, with 43 buildings and sites rescued and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register this year. Finding solutions to these sites has required the imagination, perseverance and expertise of countless individuals and organisations - volunteers, local authorities, charitable organisations, private owners and commercial developers alike. We’re proud to have played our part too, offering advice and funding to the most vulnerable cases.
Below is a snapshot of some of the sites added to the Heritage at Risk (HAR) Register in 2018. You can also see the full 2018 HAR Register below.
Annual publication of designated sites at riskLearn more
The very name of this part of London, Marylebone, originates from the existence of a church on this spot, named St Mary’s. The previous church on this site was once the place of worship for Admiral Lord Nelson but the current church was designed in 1818 by Thomas Hardwick, whose tomb in Kensal Green Cemetery has also been added to the Register this year.
Charles Dickens’ son is thought to have been baptised in this church, whilst Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett were married here in 1846. It narrowly avoided heavy bomb damage during World War II, though all its windows were blown out by a bomb dropped nearby. Shrapnel damage can still be seen on one wall. Today the building, which is partly used as a NHS health centre, urgently needs roof repairs to secure its future.
The architect of The Church of St Mary in Marylebone, Thomas Hardwick, was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. His son Philip, another member of the architectural dynasty, designed the Euston Arch and lies beside his father. The simple tomb for the pair is suffering from subsidence.
Two historic drinking fountains have been added to the Register this year. In Stepney Green a red and grey granite fountain, built in 1884, commemorates Leonard Montefiore who was a philanthropist in the East End. He was associated with the movement for women’s emancipation, among others, and when he died at the age of 27 the women’s rights activist Emily Faithfull said “the world can ill afford to lose men of such deep thought and energetic action”.
The fountain at Lincoln’s Inn Fields is an early public fountain, built in 1861 when the surrounding wells were polluted and pure public water was desperately needed. Both fountains no longer work but could be carefully restored and made to work once again.
Standing impressively on Commercial Road, the Star of the East is currently closed and boarded up but its size and ornate detailing mark it as a once prominent pub of the early 19th century. Pubs have been closing across the country in recent years, but discussions are underway to bring this pub back into use. Three street lamps outside the pub, which would have once been lit by gas, have also been added to the Register.
Below are several sites that have been successfully rescued in 2018 through careful repair and conservation and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.
Woolwich has long been associated with artillery, ever since a gun depot was established there during Elizabeth I’s reign. The Royal Laboratory was first built in 1695 for making ammunition and pyrotechnics. Later joined by a foundry for casting brass guns, the buildings formed the centre of the “Royal Gun Factory”. The Laboratory has been converted into residential use and rescued from the Register after 20 years.
This stretch of London Wall is one of the best preserved, standing well over six metres high. The visible section is medieval, built on the Roman wall and includes a crenelated brick section constructed during the Wars of the Roses.
Works to conserve the wall included removing overgrown plants, stabilising the wall, and re-fixing memorial slabs. For the first time in decades it is possible to walk through and understand the links between the wall, the site of the church of St Alphage and the ruined tower of St Mary Elsyng Spital.
Dating from the early 19th century, the Large Mansion, which was previously owned by the Rothschild banking family, has been repaired thanks to National Lottery funding. The reopening of the Large Mansion as a local museum is a real milestone in the transformation of Gunnersbury Park. But the landscape and eight other listed buildings remain on the Heritage at Risk Register, so the wider site remains a challenge for all those involved.
Built in 1838, this unusual little circular brick building would once have been used to imprison footpads, or thieves who preyed on pedestrians, caught on Hounslow Heath.
Now standing amongst modern housing, the building has been fully repaired with the support of Hounslow Council and the Heritage of London Trust. It has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register this year.
This year we are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Heritage at Risk. Looking back over the last 20 years there are some remarkable stories of sites being rescued and given a new lease of life. More than two thirds of entries on the original 1998 register for England have been saved. Many of the remaining entries from that 1998 register have seen great progress despite being the hardest cases to solve.
Achieving this much in 20 years has depended upon the sheer determination of local communities, charities, owners and partners like Historic England. Our technical advice, grant funding and creative negotiation have helped to find imaginative and viable solutions.
In London 491 sites that appeared in the 1998 Heritage at Risk Register have now been rescued. The sites below are just a few of our greatest successes:
But there are still considerable challenges. There are 91 sites that appeared in the 1998 Heritage at Risk Register still at risk. These sites will be the centre of our attention during the course of the 20th anniversary year.
We’re grateful to all those who have dedicated their time and expertise over the last 20 years to help rescue historic sites across London. We know that tackling heritage at risk isn’t easy, but there are some remarkable stories where passion, perseverance and imagination have paid off. It’s always inspiring to see historic places lovingly restored and once again contributing to the success and vitality of the communities they serve. We will continue to use the Heritage at Risk Register as a tool to highlight the capital’s most vulnerable heritage in need of our care and attention. Rebecca Barrett, Heritage at Risk Principal, London.