Heritage at Risk Progress in the South West in 2018
Today (Thursday 8 November) we are publishing the 2018 Heritage at Risk Register, the annual snapshot of the health of England's historic places.
We're also celebrating 20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register. Looking back over the last 20 years, huge progress has been made in saving our heritage and giving it new uses - more than two thirds of entries on the original 1998 register for the South West have been rescued.
Many of the remaining third of entries from that 1998 register have seen great progress despite being the hardest cases to solve. Here are just a few examples from the past 12 months.
Cleveland Pools, Bath
Dating to 1815, Cleveland Pools, set in a walled garden on the banks of the River Avon, are believed to be the oldest open-air swimming pools in England. Listed at Grade II*, a diminutive Georgian crescent houses the changing rooms and caretaker’s cottage. Last year, planning consent was granted for the pools to be repaired and renovated, and once again opened for the public to enjoy.
Both Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund have already funded development work at the site. Now the Cleveland Pools Trust is continuing its tireless work to secure funding to take the work forward, re-applying to the HLF for the finance they need to bring this site back to life. Historic England has worked closely with those involved during the long development of this exciting project, offering expert advice and funding. We very much hope to see it come to a successful close.
Whitfield Tabernacle, Kingswood, South Gloucestershire
This Grade I listed Methodist chapel, in Kingswood, east of Bristol, is one of the region’s longstanding Heritage at Risk cases. Built in 1741, the simple, unassuming building saw the birth and the growth of Methodism in this area. It was here that George Whitfield, one of the founders of Methodism, used to preach in the open air to local coal miners, often joined by John Wesley.
The building, empty and redundant for a number of years, was left ruined by a fire in 2000. In recent years, Historic England has funded an options appraisal, and supported the local authority in carrying out emergency repairs. Today, Historic England is involved in discussions with the local authority, the owner and the community to find a viable long-term future for the site.
Knowle Battery, Plymouth
One of some 70 forts and batteries built in response to the Royal Commission of 1859, Knowle Battery was intended to protect the nation against an invasion by the French Navy.
These structures came to be known as Palmerston’s follies, after the prime minister, because by the time they were finished, not only had the danger passed, but their weaponry was out of date.
Knowle Battery occupies an important strategic position between two larger forts and protects Plymouth from land-based attack. The site tells a key part of our nation’s military and political story. It has survived well, and part of the site is used by a local primary school.
In good repair, it was on the point of leaving the Heritage at Risk Register, until sadly the potential purchaser had to withdraw. With the right occupier, the site has the potential to start a fresh chapter with a new use.
Charlestown Methodist Chapel, Cornwall
Originally a fishing village, over the 19th century Charlestown expanded as a port serving local mining industries. Charlestown’s Wesleyan chapel is listed at Grade II*. It was built in 1827 with a school room added in the mid-19th century.
Now closed for worship, a renovation already in progress will see the building start a new life with plans for residential units in the school room and commercial use in the chapel. Repairs to the chapel windows are almost complete, and roofing work will be finished by winter.