View along 500 metre long railway viaduct built from 1878 to 1879. It is a lattice ironwork structure, one of only two in the country.
Bennerley Viaduct, in Ilkeston, stretches across 500 metres of Nottinghamshire greenspace © Historic England
Bennerley Viaduct, in Ilkeston, stretches across 500 metres of Nottinghamshire greenspace © Historic England

Heritage at Risk in the Midlands

Here we run through highlights of places at risk of being lost to the region and share some good news about places that have been saved in 2019.

A snapshot of England

The Heritage at Risk Register 2019 is our annual snapshot of the state of England’s most valued historic places. The Register draws attention to sites across England that are at risk of being lost. Whether neglected, decaying or threatened with inappropriate development, our Register raises awareness of the threats to vulnerable heritage. And it helps prioritise the actions needed to save these sites.

Places of special interest in the Midlands

There are 889 historic sites at risk across the Midlands from summer houses to pumping stations, Iron Age forts to places of worship.

There are 78 Midlands sites newly added and 59 Midlands sites removed from the Register in 2019. Highbury Hall and St Nicolas Church in Birmingham are both new additions to the Heritage at Risk Register this year. Their challenges vary, but both are in need of care and attention. 

There are success stories too. This year, Haarlem Mill in Derbyshire has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.

This Grade II* mill is thought to have inspired author George Eliot’s epic novel The Mill on the Floss. During the 19th century Eliot’s uncle managed Haarlem Mill, and it was said she based two of the book’s characters on her relative and his wife.

Saving the past to benefit the future

Finding solutions to these sites has taken imagination, perseverance and expertise. Countless individuals and organisations will have worked together on their rescue. Along with volunteers, local authorities, charities, owners and developers, we also played our part.

Historic England offers advice and funding to the most vulnerable cases. Over the past year, Historic England has issued grants to help some of the region’s best loved and most important historic sites.

Heritage at Risk success stories

Saved: Moseley Community Hub at the School of Art

In Birmingham it is thanks to the tenacity of the current owners of The Moseley School of Art, now known as the Moseley Community Hub at the School of Art, that this cherished and important city building has been removed from the Register.

When the Moseley Muslim Community Association purchased the building from Birmingham City Council in 1984 it was a in a sorry state of disrepair with a flooded basement and the stonework deteriorating. The association then embarked on years of repairs, but finally the building was brought back into use in part thanks to a £264,000 grant from Historic England and funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which helped to complete the restoration of stonework and the roof.

A cultural landmark

The building was built in 1899 and functioned as an art school from 1900, it was the first purpose-built municipal branch of the Birmingham School of Art and became one of the leading art schools in the area producing cultural stars such as Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie and Pop artist Peter Phillips.

In 1975 due to educational reforms it ceased as a teaching establishment. This was despite efforts by pupils and parents to keep it open and letters of support from Mary Quant and the sculptor Henry Moore. In May this year the Grade II* listed building celebrated its 120th birthday, and in a return to its heritage, it now counts among its tenants the aerosol artist Mohammed Ali; founder of Maverick TV and painter Jonnie Turpie, and the Ort art gallery.

This building holds an important place in Birmingham’s story as a city that has produced many cultural stars. Thanks to the funding, it can once more be a place where communities, and established and developing artists, thrive.

David Peebles, Moseley Community Hub at the School of Art building manager

Saved: Moulton Windmill, Lincolnshire

The Grade I Moulton Windmill, and adjoining granary, has been removed from the Register. It's located between the villages of Spalding and Holbeach, and built around 1822 by the architect Robert King. It is considered to be an outstanding example of a tower mill, with local and national importance.

Survival of a national treasure

Almost all of the internal machinery survives intact and most in working order. Following a programme of restoration by a local charitable trust which began in 2003, it became the tallest working windmill in England. 

However, it still had a number of issues and Historic England awarded a grant to help with urgent repairs to the staging and fantail. The grant aided project started in 2017 and the works finished early this year.

The mill is now licensed to hold weddings and there are a number of activities that take place on site including quiz nights, knitting groups, afternoon teas. There's also a mill shop selling flour milled on site. The mill continues to be a social hub for the local community and for the surrounding villages.