Crenellated castle wall and gateway with expansive lawns in foreground.
Saved: Ford Castle, Ford, Northumberland has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register © Historic England
Saved: Ford Castle, Ford, Northumberland has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register © Historic England

Heritage at Risk in the North East Revealed

Historic England today reveals the historic sites most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development by publishing the annual Heritage at Risk Register 2020.

The register provides an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most valued historic places, and those most at risk of being lost.

  • Over the last year six historic buildings and sites have been saved in the North East
  • Eight sites have been added to the Register in the North East because of concerns about their condition
  • In total, there are 271 entries across the North East on the 2020 Heritage at Risk Register

Sites rescued and removed from the Register in the North East this year include:

Saved: Ridsdale Ironworks, Northumberland

Often mistaken for a medieval castle, Ridsdale Iron works is a striking scheduled monument in the remote and beautiful landscape of Redesdale, Northumberland.

Built to produce pig iron, some of which was used to build Robert Stephenson’s iconic High-Level Bridge in Newcastle, the 19th-century site is an important local reminder of Northumberland’s industrial past.

With sections of the engine house in danger of collapsing, the remains were marked as High Risk on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2009.

The site underwent repairs and consolidation works as part of the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership, funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund. The project also improved visitor access and an information panel will be erected at the entrance to inform people of the building’s significance.

Historic England provided advice and support throughout the process and is pleased to see the local landmark welcoming visitors once again.

Saved: All Saints Church, Newcastle

Following completion of a £1 million restoration project, the Grade I listed All Saints Church has been removed from the Register.

Situated above the Quayside, the church is one of Newcastle’s most prominent landmarks, with its rare oval design and baroque tower punctuating the city’s skyline.

Built between 1786 and 1796, the Georgian church was designed by Tyneside architect David Stephenson and is an excellent example of classical architecture, as well as being the only elliptical-shaped church in England.

Serving as a parish church until 1959, it was sold to Newcastle City Council in the 1970s. Due to significant disrepair it was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2012 and a £135,000 Historic England grant in August 2019 aided its restoration.

The doors have now re-opened to the public after almost a decade of being empty. It has been re-established as All Saints Presbyterian Church as a place of worship and will provide a space for various events including weddings, concerts and conferences.

Saved: Horneystead Bastle, Northumberland

Horneystead Bastle is a fortified farmhouse dating back to the 16th century and is a popular spot for walkers along the Pennine Way.

Unique to the borders between Scotland and England, bastles were built to protect people and their valuable livestock against the raids of the border Reivers who plagued the area during the middle ages. Like most bastles, Horneystead had immensely thick stone walls, tiny windows and a first-floor doorway, which would have provided the residents with protection when under attack.

Severe snow caused by the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ put the bastle, already in poor condition, at risk of collapse. Together with the Northumberland National Park, Historic England worked with the owners to repair the structure, which is held together with clay, a method typical of the time that is now rare.

To help revive a skill that has been lost in the North East, earth mortar specialists were brought in to advise on the project and to provide training to local architects and builders. After a long search, the perfect clay for the repairs was found in the bottom of the owner’s duck pond.

Saved: Ford Castle, Northumberland

Ford Castle is a Grade I listed building in Northumberland close to a crossing point over the River Till, between the Scottish Border and the Cheviot Hills. The castle is best known for playing a significant role in national defence during the 14th and 15th centuries. It was taken by James IV of Scotland on the eve of the Battle of Flodden in 1513 but following their defeat and the death of King James, the Scots set fire to the buildings, destroying the castle as they retreated.

Significant rebuilding and remodelling of the castle over the next 300 years reflected the peace that followed the Union of the Crowns, the prosperity of the estate and the aspirations of its owners.

In the 19th century Lady Waterford began building the village of Ford to the east of the castle. Today, the castle and Ford village are part of a farming community and a significant tourist destination.

The castle has been under repair for several years to rectify maintenance issues and severe water damage. Now watertight, the castle has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.

Sites where good progress has been made in the North East include:

Good progress: General Lambert’s House, Alnwick

General Lambert’s House is a fine example of two Georgian townhouses dating from the 18th century. The Grade II* listed building, of considerable visual and historic richness, contributes to the special character of the Alnwick Conservation Area.

The condition of General Lambert’s House has been in rapid decline since becoming vacant in 2003 and it has been on the Register since 2007. A Historic England grant has funded survey work and urgent repairs, which are well underway.

Once the repairs have been completed by conservation architect Michael Atkinson, the owners (family run Stablewood Leisure Ltd) plan to convert the house into serviced apartments and have a café in the basement, giving the building a long-term sustainable use.

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