The Victorian Society is seeking nominations for its 2021 Top Ten Endangered Buildings Campaign to help save the country’s historic heritage.
The annual event highlights buildings that are in dire need of repairs or are at risk of being lost completely.
Buildings included in previous years’ lists have already seen new funding, planning applications, and structural improvements that preserve them for future generations.
Historic Middlesbrough pub, the Captain Cook, has received half a million pounds in emergency funding after being included in last year’s Top Ten, and Brighton Hippodrome has not only a found a new owner, but maintenance works began this year to save the building.
With the UK hosting COP26 in November this year, The Top Ten Campaign also raises awareness on how heritage conservation can play a significant role in combatting the causes of climate change.
Restoration and reuse of our historic buildings reduces waste, and carbon emissions. A third of the UK’s waste output comes from construction and demolition.
Restoring and updating historic buildings reduces operational carbon emissions (carbon emissions created from the day-to-day use of the property such heating, lighting, maintenance) by up to 84 per cent.
Join the campaign to save our heritage nominate a building or structure that deserves some much-needed public attention by emailing [email protected] with details of when the building was built, its location, why the building should be included in our campaign.
Nominated buildings or structures must be in England and Wales and built between 1837 and 1914, Listed buildings are more likely to make the Top Ten, and the closing date for nominations is Friday 15th October at midnight.
Previous top 10 most endangered buildings
Kinmel Hall, Conwy, North Wales (2015 Top Ten)
Nicknamed both the ‘Welsh Versailles’ and ‘discount Downton’, Kinmel Hall in North Wales has suffered years of neglect, and many areas are now in a dangerous condition. With its 500ft long façade, it is said to have drawn inspiration from Wren’s Hampton Court and the 17th century Chateau de Balleroy. Queen Victoria herself is believed to have visited in 1870 when she presented carved wooden panels, which were stolen in 2013. The historic manor was put to auction this May, and a ‘local to the area’ placed the winning bid of £950,000, taking on the responsibility of restoring it to former glory. The Victorian Society is pleased to report that the new owners have had initial discussions with the society, and we hope to be able to help their plans ensure a sensitive new use for the building.
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Chell, Staffordshire (2019 Top Ten)
Chatterly Whitfield Colliery near Chell in Staffordshire is one of the most important examples of England’s mining and industrial heritage. It is the most complete standing example of a deep mine. In its heyday, it became the first colliery in the UK to produce 1,000,000 tons of saleable coal in a year. Once out of service, the mine re-opened as a museum in 1979, which closed in 1993 and the colliery has remained vacant and crumbling ever since. The mine returned to the public spotlight as one of the UK’s top ten most endangered buildings in 2019, and in 2020, volunteers raised £22,500 emergency funding for repairs and improvements to make it accessible to visitors, though more funding is needed to develop the site fully.
Captain Cook Pub, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire (2020 Top Ten)
The Captain Cook Pub, Middlesbrough, enjoyed some fame in the 1980s when it featured in English comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Currently, the grand, Jacobean-style building stands boarded up and in a damaged state, but it has significant potential with size and lively ornamentation of coving and ceiling roses, and its historical links to the area’s brewing history. After the 2020 Top Ten campaign, the council secured £538,000 and essential works are now underway to preserve the building.
Abney Park Cemetery Chapel, Stoke Newington, North London (2014 Top Ten)
Abney Park Chapel in Stoke Newington, North London, sits at the centre of one of London’s ‘magnificent seven’ cemeteries built in the 19th century to alleviate overcrowding in local parish burial grounds. It is the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe, and the only surviving public building by the architect William Hosking. The site became overgrown and suffered vandalism over the years, and even the chapel’s catacombs’ contents were scattered leading to rumours of black magic. Planning application was approved in late 2019 to carry out works to the cemetery including the chapel, and after funding was granted, restoration works have now begun.
Winter Gardens, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (2018 Top Ten)
Originally constructed in Torquay, the striking glass and iron structure was relocated by barge all the way to its current position in Great Yarmouth in 1904, without a single pane of glass shattering. In its long history, the gardens have been the site of a ballroom, roller-skating rink and even a German beer garden. In 2008 the building was closed due to its poor condition, but this year the gardens were awarded a £10m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The council has submitted plans to create a restaurant and bar area and botanic gardens that showcase the town’s historic trading links, in honour of the building’s original function.
Oldway Mansion, Paignton, Devon (2018 Top Ten)
American inventor Isaac Singer (of Singer sewing machines) originally built Oldway Mansion as his UK residence in the 1870s. In the early 20th century his son remodelled the mansion in the style of Versailles, with opulent interiors including an imperial staircase leading up to a ballroom, and a gallery based on the hall of mirrors at Versailles on the west. The mansion started falling into ruin in 2013 after it was left vacant by the council. After being nominated for the top ten in 2018, grants were secured and restoration work began, but during the pandemic funding was diverted to other projects. A crowdfunder last year raised £12,000 to finish tearooms that opened last week, and the council is now applying for further funding to continue vital restoration work.
Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton, East Sussex (2020 Top Ten)
Pic: Theatre’s Trust
Brighton Hippodrome was built when Brighton was fast becoming a popular seaside resort. The Hippodrome is the country’s finest surviving example of a circus theatre, even though it was originally built by Lewis Karslake in 1897 as an ice rink. In 1901 architect Frank Matcham, well-known for his theatres, converted it into a circus. Over the years, the circus has gone from hosting Vaudeville shows and circus acts to live music from the Beatles and Rolling Stones but today it sits empty and rotting. A new owner acquired the site ad the end of last year and maintenance works to save the building began this year. The Victorian Society and its president, Griff Rhys Jones, met the new owners for an initial decision about its reuse.
Hulme Hippodrome, Manchester (2019 Top Ten)
Pic: Ian Tatlock
When Hulme Hippodrome opened its doors in 1901 it was a spectacular venue, with ornate decoration and ample seating space. Originally called the Grand Junction Theatre, it was last used for performances in the 1960s before becoming a Bingo Hall until the 1980s when it shut its doors for the last time. The building has seen owners come and go over the years, with some repair work undertaken in 2013. However, it has remained closed and is now falling once more into disrepair. Despite its poor condition there is now an active campaign to convert the building for community use.
Ex-prudential offices, Oldham, Greater Manchester (2020 Top Ten)
Pic: Rob Hannah
Oldham’s ex-Prudential offices were designed by one of the Victorian period’s greatest architects Alfred Waterhouse, whose other buildings include the Natural History Museum and Manchester Town Hall. “The Pru”, with its redbrick and terracotta ornamentation was part of a series of building commissioned by The Prudential Assurance Company in many of Britain’s wealthy industrial cities in the second half of the 19th century. It is the interior that makes the building stand out with multi-coloured tiling, columns and arches. After appearing in the Victorian Society’s Top Ten last year, the offices are now looking for a buyer with an asking price of £900,000.
St Luke’s, Wolverhampton, West Midlands (2015 Top Ten)
St Luke’s ornate and detailed tower and polychromatic brickwork make it an important local landmark. Its well-preserved interior still maintains the original features and solid wood pews. The church opened in 1861 and is next door to St Luke’s School, the birthplace of St Luke’s FC, now known as Wolverhampton Wanderers. After extensive repairs reaching nearly £1,000,000 the church was sold for just £1 to the developer. The church has now found new life as an antiques emporium with tearoom and shops, which opened this year.
Plas Alltran, Holyhead, North Wales (2020 Top Ten)
Pic: Victorian Society
Holyhead’s first purpose-built Doctor’s surgery dating from the 1890s, Plas Alltran, has had a variety of uses from the early 1900s; rented housing, classrooms for a girls’ training institute, district nurse accommodation and boarding house. It has been closed since the 1970s, crumbling into disrepair. After highlighting its historical importance and plight last year as a top ten nomination, the councils plans to convert Plas Alltran into social housing were passed unanimously in March this year, and the building has already received upgraded flood defences.
Darlington street Methodist church, Wolverhampton, West Midlands (2020 Top Ten)
Darlington Street Methodist Church’s turquoise dome and twin west towers makes it an impressive landmark in the heart of Wolverhampton City Centre’s Conservation Area. The Baroque-style interior has vaulted ceilings with richly ornamented plasterwork, as well as original gallery seating. The building’s condition has been deteriorating following a fire in 2014, with leaking roofs and structural cracking. After appearing in the Victorian Society’s 2020 Top Ten Campaign, which highlighted the building’s dire situation, measures have now been taken to make the church fully watertight.
Hendrefoilan House, Sketty, South Wales (2012 Top Ten)
Hendrefoilan House was commissioned by Welsh industrialist and MP Lewis Llewellyn Dillwyn, and built in 1853 by William B Colling. The impressive Victorian mansion might have avoided its present purgatory and if it wasn’t for discriminatory inheritance laws. Dillwyn’s talented novelist daughter was not allowed to inherit, and the house went to his nephew. Hendrefoilan House changed ownership numerous times before being bought by Swansea University in the 1960s. The building was sold in December 2020, and works have subsequently taken place to make the building watertight (although no planning applications have been submitted).
The Leas Pavilion, Folkestone, Kent (2017 Top Ten)
Originally built as a tearoom in Folkestone in Kent in 1902, the intriguingly low-lying Leas Pavilion has enjoyed a colourful history as a successful theatre, then snooker club, closing for the last time in 2007. An “Ancient Lights” clause in the leases of the hotels on either side, prevented the construction of buildings higher than 7ft above street level to ensure no daylight would be blocked. A local architect, Reginald Pope, therefore designed a building below ground level. The Pavilion has a striking terracotta frontage, made by the Doulton Company, finished with art nouveau styled windows. Up to 450 diners were accommodated on the best oak and walnut floor. Controversial high-rise redevelopment plans were approved in 2020 and work begins this autumn.
Griff Rhys Jones, President of the Victorian Society said: “After 18 months of a Covid crisis which has seen shops and offices close, the Top Ten Campaign is more important than ever to bring heritage and conservation back into public discussion and continue the fight to find new uses to save our endangered historic buildings.”
“Ninety nine per cent of people who live in England and Wales live less than a mile away from a listed heritage site. Preserving our heritage not only improves the places where we live, it also helps to combat the wider climate emergency. Compared to refurbishing a traditional Victorian terrace property, a new building of the same size produces up to 13 times more embodied carbon.”
As opposed to operational carbon, embodied carbon is the CO2 associated with the entire construction process, including transport, production of building materials, and energy use.
To find out more about the Victorian society and see all the buildings which have previously been listed in the top ten, visit www.victoriansociety.org.uk.
Join the fight to save England and Wales’ Victorian heritage by becoming a member of the Victorian Society at https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/join