Carrshield camping barn surrounded by melting snow
Carrshield camping barn in West Allen Valley, Northumberland © Steve Agar
Carrshield camping barn in West Allen Valley, Northumberland © Steve Agar

Heritage at Risk in the North East

Today (Thursday 17 October 2019) we published the Heritage at Risk Register 2019, 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.

Heritage at Risk 2019

  • 289 historic sites at risk across the North East
  • This includes 13 new sites including a an early 19th century railway goods shed in Darlington and a Victorian Church in Sunderland
  • 30 sites in the North East have been saved and removed from the Register

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.

Sites saved and removed from this year's Register

Saved: St Andrew’s Church, Roker

The Grade I-listed St Andrew’s Church in Roker is famed for its majestic limestone exterior and exquisite interior, which includes a stunning wall and ceiling mural which depicts the creation of the cosmos.

Concerns about the structural integrity of the windows and leaks in the tower led it to being placed on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2013. An extensive programme of repairs has resulted in its removal this year. 

Saved: West Mural Tower, Bishop Auckland

Part of Auckland Castle, the Grade I-listed West Mural Tower dates back to at least the 15th century and once served as a defensive gatehouse.

The building was derelict for many years and was saved from the brink of collapse by a Historic England / Auckland Project-funded restoration programme, as part of the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone. It was reopened this summer and will be used for educational activities. 

Saved: Carrshield lead mines and ore works

Situated in the West Allen Valley in the North Pennines, this monument includes the remains of two lead mines and an ore works, collectively spanning three centuries of mining history. At its heart is the mid-18th century Barneycraig lodging shop, which served as the centre of mining operations.

In 2017, the building was at imminent risk of collapsing beyond repair. However, thanks to a North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership project, funded by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, it was renovated and now serves as a camping barn.

Saved: Winlaton Iron Works

The iron works at Winlaton Mill were developed next to the River Derwent in 1691 by Ambrose Crowley, the leading supplier of ironwork to the Royal Navy. They closed in 1863 and were buried by waste from a nearby cokeworks and colliery. The dam, with its distinctive curved spillway, remained above ground but was largely obscured by dense vegetation.

Historic England and Gateshead Council have worked together to remove this vegetation and repair the dam wall and spillway. 

Sites added to the Register in 2019

Added: Goods Shed, North Road, Darlington

Built in 1833, this Grade II*-listed good shed formed part of the early development of the Stockton and Darlington Railway’s infrastructure in Darlington. The building is currently used to mend locomotives but it has fallen into a poor state of repair. Fortunately, it has been earmarked for restoration as part of a multi-million pound project to transform the 26 miles of railway into a major tourist attraction ahead of its bicentenary in 2025.

Added: Hexham Conservation Area

Like many towns, Hexham’s historic centre has suffered from shop closures with many premises now lying vacant and falling into disrepair.

In response to this issue, Northumberland County Council successfully bid for Hexham to be made a High Street Heritage Action Zone. This will unlock funding to repair the historic buildings around Priestpopple and Battle Hill, and find new uses for the vacant sites.  

Added: Church of St Columba, Chapel of Light, Sunderland

This late-19th century large red brick church was designed by the prolific Victorian architect Charles Hodgson Fowler and is home to the Chapel of Light. Inside, the walls have been decorated with a series of biblical paintings by the artist James Eadie-Reid. Unfortunately, these paintings are beginning to deteriorate due to damp.

Historic England and the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust are working with the church to explore options to secure the building’s future, which is not a place of worship but a thriving community hub.