Historic England has published its annual Heritage at Risk Register for 2022.
The Register gives an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Over the past year, 37 historic buildings and 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.
Examples include Chester House in Northamptonshire, which was almost destroyed by a fire but a decade later has risen from the ashes and now forms part of the Chester House Estate, a major new heritage attraction. Also rescued this year is Kibworth Harcourt Mill- the only surviving post mill in Leicestershire.
Historic England awarded £1,456,565 to 13 historic places and sites, including conservation areas, in the East Midlands on the Heritage at Risk Register over the past year.
Twenty-eight sites in the East Midlands 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.
Examples include the dramatic Papplewick Pumping Station in Nottingham- the only example in England to still have all its original features, and the atmospheric St Botolph’s church in Skidbrooke which has suffered over time from people breaking in and causing damage.
Louise Brennan from Historic England said: “It is central to Historic England’s mission that we pass on to future generations the rich legacy of historic buildings and places that we have inherited from previous generations. Our Heritage at Risk programme is a key contributor to this ambition. With the help of local communities and partners, imaginative thinking and business planning, we can bring historic places back to life in the East Midlands.”
Louise added: “As the threat of climate change grows, the reuse and the sensitive upgrading of historic buildings and places becomes ever more important. Finding new uses for buildings and sites rescued from the Register avoids the high carbon emissions associated with demolishing structures and building new”.
Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register plays a vital role in our ongoing mission to protect and preserve our rich heritage across the country. It helps to ensure that future generations can continue to benefit from everything our historic sites and buildings have to offer. It is also wonderful to see so many heritage sites removed from the Register thanks to the support of local communities together with Historic England.”
SITES ADDED TO THE REGISTER ACROSS THE EAST MIDLANDS IN 2022 INCLUDE:
AT RISK: Papplewick Pumping Station, Gedling, Nottinghamshire
Built between 1882-1886 in the Gothic Revival style, Papplewick Pumping Station provided clean water to Nottingham until it was decommissioned in 1969. It is the only pumping station in England to have retained all its original features, including machinery and the reservoir. The site is a scheduled monument and registered park and garden. It is home to several buildings, including the Grade II* steam-powered Engine House and Boiler House, and is owned by Seven Trent Water and managed by the Papplewick Pumping Station Trust.
The Engine House’s stunning ornate interiors are a homage to the life-giving properties of water, with images of fish and water lilies decorating tiles and stained-glass windows. The site has operated as a museum since 1976 and is a popular destination for school trips, as well as a licensed wedding venue.
Papplewick Pumping Station has been added to the Heritage at Risk Register as areas have suffered age-related deterioration, including the Boiler House’s chimney, the Engine House porch and boundary walls flanking the entrance. Earlier this year, Historic England awarded a grant of £9,450 to fund the initial assessment of the repairs needed.
AT RISK: St Botolph’s Church, Skidbrooke, Lincolnshire
The Grade I listed St Botolph’s, which dates back to the 13th century, can be found in dramatic isolation in the Lincolnshire marshland and its imposing interior has the feel of a medieval hall. The church is not currently in active use and in the face of some recent structural issues The Churches Conservation Trust, who care for the building, have taken emergency structural stabilisation measures to secure the building until further investigations and repairs can be carried out. Sadly the church’s supposed reputation for paranormal activity has led to some anti-social behaviour and damage to the historic fabric. The Trust is exploring ways for the church to be better used and imaginatively reintegrated into the community it once served, and can serve again in new ways.
Judith Patrick, Head of Region, North and National Lead for Community Engagement and Volunteering at Churches Conservation Trust said: “St Botolph’s is a beautiful and peaceful church, set in magnificent isolation in the Lincolnshire marshland. Unfortunately, its isolated location has led to antisocial behaviour resulting in damage to the historic fabric of the building. We want to turn the page on its troubled recent past and would like to hear from local people about their ideas for how this historic site could be used to benefit their community and from anyone that could help us make that change a reality.”
AT RISK: Heage Windmill, Belper, Derbyshire
Built in 1797 and lovingly restored in 2002, this striking Grade II* listed building is the only working six-sailed stone tower windmill in England. Heage is a derivation of ‘High Edge’ and comes from the Anglo-Saxon Heegge meaning high, lofty and sublime, which tells of the windmill’s prominent position in the Derbyshire countryside. The windmill has suffered some natural deterioration which has caused various internal and external issues, including with the sheers, a key structural component in the cap which is suffering from wood rot, and with the cap’s mechanism itself.
Heage Windmill Society, who care for the building and keep it open for visitors, are working closely with various partners to find a solution to the issues.
SITES RESCUED AND REMOVED FROM THE HERITAGE AT RISK REGISTER IN 2022 ACROSS THE EAST MIDLANDS INCLUDE:
SAVED: Kibworth Harcourt Mill, Kibworth, Harborough, Leicestershire
Owned by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), Kibworth Harcourt Mill is the only surviving post mill in Leicestershire. The majority of the mill is 18th century with 1711 being the earliest marked date, though Historic England recently carried out a dendrological assessment of the main mill post and found that it dates back to c. 1570, which is much earlier than previously thought. The SPAB has recently carried out a comprehensive programme of repairs and consolidation to the mill, all the while being careful to conserve even the smallest historic details, for example the graffiti left inside from millers who have worked there in the past. The project brought together many different people, from engineers and buildings archaeologists to millwrights and historians. Today it stands repaired to its former self, fully operational once more.
Mildred Cookson, Chairman of the SPAB Mills Section said: “We are really delighted that our mill is once more returned to a working state thanks to the legacy left to the Society by Enid Lamb and the work done by millwrights Dorothea Restorations. This will enable the mill to be visited and shown round by the team of volunteers who have come forward from the local village to take on the task of looking after the mill.
“Our mill is a great survivor and as such deserves to live on. We look forward to the mill once again being an important part of the Kibworth community, thanks to many individuals, too many to mention in person, but thanks in particular must go to the farm owners on whose land it stands for their co-operation during the repairs.”
SAVED: Chester House, Higham Road, Irchester, Northamptonshire
In 2011, disaster struck the Grade II* listed Chester House when it was almost destroyed by a fire. However, the former farmhouse, which dates from the late 17th century has risen from the ashes and now forms the heart of the Chester House Estate, a major new heritage attraction. This transformation has been achieved through the tenacity of owners North Northamptonshire Council, funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, expert advice from Historic England, and the efforts of more than 100 dedicated volunteers.
Opened to the public in October 2021, the free attraction boasts a café, shops, heritage centre, archaeological archives and holiday accommodation. The Chester House Estate is a nationally important heritage site as it one of the few places in the UK where there is evidence of continual human activity for more than 10,000 years from the Palaeolithic Age to the present day, including a buried Roman town.
SITES WHERE GOOD PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN THE EAST MIDLANDS THIS YEAR INCLUDE:
PROGRESS: Weedon Depot, Weedon Bec, Northampton, Northamptonshire
Construction of this impressive site began in 1803, during the Napoleonic Wars. As a unique planned military-industrial complex it stands like a fortress, complete with tall, imposing walls and corner bastions for defence if it was ever attacked. It was one of several Ordnance Depots across the country which were built to store firearms and ammunition, but Weedon’s inland location was strategically chosen because of fears that if Napoleon invaded England the other depots clustered around Plymouth, Portsmouth and Chatham would quickly be overtaken. Weedon was a designated refuge for George III and his government if Napoleon invaded and William IV, contemplating the Reform Bill rebellion, stated that he would defend London but raise his standard at Weedon Depot.
Not far from the small arms factories and workshops of Birmingham, and linked to the Grand Union Canal, its military stores could also be easily transported to where needed. This depot supplied the British Army with weapons, ammunition and clothing until 1965, whilst some of its great storehouses were used as barracks and others even as a prison.
After closure, for a long time it was underused which led to its deterioration, but since being bought in 2013 it has become home to various businesses which are helping to keep the site alive. Meanwhile a small, volunteer-led museum has been set up in the east gatehouse. Historic England has provided more than £380,000 of funding to repair one of the bastions which has provided a template for conserving other at risk structures on this vast, majestic site.
Site owner Michael Chittenden said: “This is a fantastic place with such an interesting story. Over the past few years many parts of the site have come back into use in new and different ways, helping to bring it to life again. I’m very grateful to Historic England for assisting with the repair of the bastion- an important structure at the Depot, from this we have learnt many lessons which will help our approach to the rest of the site.”
PROGRESS: Wingfield Station, South Wingfield, Derbyshire
This Grade II* listed building was built in 1839-40 to the designs of Francis Thompson, a pioneering engineer of the railway era, for the North Midland Railway. It is one of the earliest passenger railway stations in the world, built when we were only at the beginning of understanding how people should be using and experiencing the railways.
It is the sole survivor of Thompson’s picturesque stations on the Derby to Leeds line and was so nearly lost when it was left to fall into disrepair for years. Determined to forge a future for this building, Historic England supported Amber Valley Borough Council to carry out a compulsory purchase order and the transfer of ownership to the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT). The Trust has cared for it since 2019 and overseen a programme of repairs, primarily funded by Historic England.
The next stage of its story is that a project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund will hopefully, by 2023, complete its repair and conversion for small business and heritage uses.
Lucy Godfrey, Project Co-ordinator on behalf of DHBT said: “Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust was fortunate to receive critical support from Historic England; from the early days of striving to save this unique Grade II* listed railway station from total ruin, through to acquiring the site from Amber Valley Borough Council and then on to the completion of the urgent repair works in 2022. We are now very close to securing a long-term sustainable future for Wingfield Station whilst looking after what makes it so special.”
HEADLINE STATISTICS IN THE EAST MIDLANDS
The Heritage at Risk Register 2022 reveals that in the East Midlands:
o 135 Buildings or Structures (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments across England, plus Grade II listed buildings in London)
o 163 places of worship
o 90 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments)
o 6 parks and gardens
o 76 conservation areas
…are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.
In total, there are 470 entries across the East Midlands on the 2022 Heritage at Risk Register.