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Heritage at Risk in London Revealed
Today, Historic England publishes its annual Heritage at Risk Register for 2022. The Register is the yearly health-check of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Highlights from sites saved in 2022
Over the past year, 17 historic buildings and sites have been added to the Register in London because of their deteriorating condition and 19 sites have been saved and their futures secured. Many have been rescued thanks to heritage partners and dedicated teams of volunteers, community groups, charities, owners and councils, working together with Historic England.
Boston Manor House is a Grade I listed Jacobean manor house built in 1623 and extended in 1670. The historic site is owned by the London Borough of Hounslow which has led a major four-year restoration project to conserve the building and increase public access.
The Manor House has fine interiors including original 1623 decorative plaster ceilings and friezes. Work was needed to renovate the roof, restore fragile interiors and make improvements.
The Manor House is set to reopen to visitors in early 2023.
The Portland stone drinking fountain and cattle trough has been restored by the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The fountain has been repaired and is now reconnected to the water supply.
Victorian philanthropists built numerous water fountains to provide free and clean water for the public at a time when indoor plumbing wasn’t widespread. As part of the drive to reduce plastic waste, the Heritage of London Trust is bringing fountains like this back to life so people can refill their water bottles on the go.
The Victorian south lodge to Grim’s Dyke Hotel was severely fire damaged in April 2020. Fortunately, a faithful reconstruction was possible, including the use of handmade clay tiles from one of the few UK producers that makes them to the imperial size required.
Grim’s Dyke Hotel was originally designed as a private residence in 1870-72 by Richard Norman Shaw for the artist Frederick Goodall. It was later owned by writer and librettist W S Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. It takes its name from Grim’s Ditch, an ancient defensive earthwork and scheduled monument which runs nearby.
Highlights from sites added to the Register
In London, 17 sites have been added to the register because of concerns about their condition. They are at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
The Victorian drinking fountain on Hayes Road is in need of repairs. It originally stood near Kew Bridge and Brentford Market grew up around it. When the market closed in 1974 the fountain was relocated to its current position by the new Western International Market.
The fountain is a handsome survival but in recent years it has suffered from anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, and littering.
Local community group Brentford Voice is working in collaboration with the London Borough of Hounslow to determine next steps.
The Gaumont Palace Cinema opened in 1934. It ran as a cinema for another 50 years, closing in 1984. Its main use today is as a church, the Dominion Centre. The main auditorium serves as the central worship space and is well looked after.
In 2018 a piece of the high-level cornice from the façade fell to the street below. It was discovered that the steels supporting the high-level decorative details were extensively corroded. A repair solution is now being prepared and the front of the building remains under scaffolding for public safety.
St Bartholomew’s church in Stamford Hill was designed by W D Caröe and completed in 1904. Caröe was a major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.
St Bartholomew’s has an interesting history as it has been built and rebuilt multiple times. The current building replaced a 19th-century church on Moor Lane, which itself replaced Christopher Wren's St Bartholomew by the Exchange.
The principal problem is the roof. It needs urgent attention to prevent further problems and decay.
Sites where good progress has been made in 2022
As a first step in the regeneration of Crystal Palace Park, the historic Subway (opened 1865) is being repaired and restored as a new cultural venue. The staircases which led up into the Palace have been uncovered and reinstated, historic brickwork repaired, and a new roof to the courtyard will be installed early next year.
The Subway, with its forest of columns supporting the Crystal Palace Parade above, is a spectacular architectural gem and the only surviving element of the famous Crystal Palace, which burnt down in 1936.
Constructed in 1929-30, the former cinema and concert venue is famed for its art deco and Moorish-style interiors. After decades of dereliction, following a grassroots campaign in which Soho Theatre played a pivotal part, the building was acquired by Waltham Forest Council in 2019 to ensure it remains an entertainment venue for the community.
Funding support from Historic England has helped to save precious original fabric and to restore the distinctive façade, as a contribution towards the wider regeneration costs. Restoration work on Soho Theatre Walthamstow will finish in 2023.
The reopening of the Large Mansion in 2018 as a local museum was a milestone in the transformation of Gunnersbury Park but further work is needed to bring all the historic buildings on site back into good condition and use.
Funds have been raised to undertake urgent repairs to the Small Mansion and East Stables, which were both deteriorating. Repairs to the roof and parapets of the East Stables are complete, and other works are approaching completion. A feasibility study and public consultation to assess future viable and sustainable uses has been carried out.
Heritage at Risk 2022 in brief
The Heritage at Risk Register 2022 reveals that in London:
- 421 Buildings or Structures (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments across England, plus Grade II listed buildings in London)
- 101 places of worship
- 25 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments)
- 12 parks and gardens
- and 72 conservation areas
…are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.
In total, there are 631 entries across London on the 2022 Heritage at Risk Register.