Historic England has revealed a snapshot of the state of England’s most prized historical buildings. Here, Shaun Soanes takes a closer look at which places have been added to the 2017 Heritage at Risk register here in the East.
A total of 328 new “at risk” entries have been added to this year’s Heritage at Risk register. Of those, 39 were in the East. They include nine secular buildings, 17 places of worship, one site of archeological importance, one park and 11 conservation areas. New on the list this year include the Royal Gunpowder Factory, Waltham Abbey, and Stevenage Town Square.
Meanwhile seven secular buildings, 32 places of worship, nine sites of archeological importance, one park and three conservation areas have been removed from the 2016 East of England Register because their futures have been secured.
The East of England’s single protected wreck site on the coast has also been removed from the 2016 Register, and no entries have been added. It is believed this site could be the SS Richard Montgomery which sank in Gravesend in Kent in 1944 while carrying munitions, mostly aircraft bombs, with a total explosive content of 1,400 tonnes. In 2004 New Scientist reported that if the ship exploded it would be one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts ever – and would devastate the nearby port of Sheerness. The Marine and Coastguard Agency spend up to £40,000 a year monitoring the ship, which is classified as a dangerous wreck under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.
Where do we stand?
The Heritage At Risk register for the East now includes 77 listed secular buildings, 87 places of worship, 175 archeological monuments, five parks and gardens and 49 conservation areas. In the last year, £1.50 million in grants was spent on 31 entries on the East of England Register.
John Neale Planning Director for the East of England at Historic England said: “Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register provides an annual snapshot of the condition of England’s historic sites. The Register helps us to target resources to those sites which are most threatened. “Following on from successes in earlier years, 2017 has seen the number of entries on the East of England Register fall below 400 for the first time.
“With expert advice and grant aid, our regional team of architects, archaeologists and advisors has been able to assist owners, local authorities and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions for threatened listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens and conservation areas.
“The threats are as diverse as deep ploughing, neglect and development pressure. Success almost always arises from developing effective partnerships – with owners, local authorities, preservation trusts and other funders. Although new challenges arise continuously, we look forward to building on these partnerships and successes in the years to come.”
How we help
Historic buildings are vulnerable and irreplaceable, providing powerful, tangible connections to our past. We take great pleasure in helping protect them and have worked on a number of restoration projects to help preserve sites for generations to come. We are presently working with teams, including Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund to progress conservation repairs and future vision for several projects listed as buildings at risk on the current register. Whilst these works do progress slowly, because of funding constraints and the detailed assessments that have to be made, the work is very rewarding particularly when the at risk resister classification is revoked, which of course is part of our aim, but most importantly to give these assets, a new longevity and function.
Our team has a diverse range of skills and years of experience in condition surveys, historical restoration, architectural design and much more and have seen through many conservation and restoration projects through to completion – which includes buildings that have previously been on the At Risk Register. If you happen to have an historical building you want to restore and repair, we can help you do it.