10 Historical Buildings That Need Preserving

Published: 18/09/2018

There are a number of extremely historic Victorian and Edwardian buildings, on the brink of permanent disrepair, across the country.

Each year the Victorian Society releases a list of the top 10 structures ‘crying out’ to be saved. The buildings, all one-of-a-kind, are at risk of crumbling, if not redeveloped. The Victorian Society aims to bring awareness to this, with Society president Griff Rhys Jones saying: “These are pieces of the history of the Victorian era and its industrial, spiritual and cultural beliefs - incredible. This makes their current sad and neglected state even harder to swallow.”

It probably comes as no surprise to most of our clients that the team here at GWlegal is extremely passionate about property. We have, after all, spent almost 35 years’ working in the field! As such, we thought it only right that we highlight the Victorian Society’s latest list of endangered historic locations, in the hope that it may help some of them to be saved - especially considering some of the sites are right here in our home city of Liverpool.

We absolutely agree with the Victorian Society that these very special buildings need to be restored and used again, in sensitive ways, to enrich our communities.

The Victorian Society’s endangered historic buildings include…

  1. Merseyside Centre for the Deaf, Liverpool (Grade ll, 1887)

    This grand Gothic structure, originally built as a chapel for the deaf community in Merseyside, is sadly now in a terrible state. It was used for decades as a community centre, but was closed in the ‘80s due to rising costs. Now, it’s unused.

  2. Hartley’s Village, Aintree, Liverpool (three Grade ll buildings, 1886-95)

    This site was originally a village for the employees of Sir William Pickles Hartley, Hartley’s Jam founder, to live in. It is now derelict. A sad state for a building that once housed a lot of heart.

  3. Former Legat’s School of Ballet, near Rotherfield, East Sussex (Grade ll, 1865)

    This truly spectacular Victorian Mansion started as a girls’ orphanage and was later used as a ballet school, from the ‘70s to ‘90s, after which it was purchased by a charity and run as an Islamic school. Unfortunately, the school closed in 2007, after police suspected wrongdoing, and it currently stands abandoned.

  4. The Winter Gardens, Great Yarmouth (Grade ll, 1878-81)

    This gorgeous glass-clad structure has been used as a rolling skating rink, german beer garden and ballroom over the years, but currently sits abandoned, with no plans for the future.

  5. Bromley-by-Bow gasholders, London (All grade ll, 1872)

    These seven gasholders in east London, surrounded by industrial development, are unmatched anywhere else in the world (literally, to have seven gasholders this close together is unheard of) for their significance as a symbol of the Industrial Revolution.

  6. Boldway Mansion, Devon (Grade ll, 1873)

    There is no denying that this old mansion - built as the private residence for American inventor and sewing machine entrepreneur Isaac Singer - is simply breathtaking. In the early 20th Century, his son remodelled it in the style of the Palace of Versailles. The Victorian Society feels strongly that this site should remain accessible to the public. At the moment, it is not in use, but it was a council building up until the early 2000s.

  7. Brandwood End Cemetery Chapels, Birmingham (Grade II, 1898)

    The red brick, neo-gothic mortuary chapels - notable for their highly dramatic architecture - stand at the highest point of Brandwood cemetery grounds. Unfortunately, the chapels have been closed for more than 30 years and an arson attack in 1995 gutted the north-east one.

  8. John Summers Steelworks, Shotton, Wales (Grade II, 1907)

    This grand building is the former office building of the John Summers Steelworks. Unfortunately, due to its highly industrial location as well as problems with break-ins and vandalism, is a difficult site to utilise.

  9. Langley Maltings, Sandwell, West Midlands (Grade II, 1870)

    Another sadly inaccessible building, this historic structure was the victim of arson, so now stands unused and in terrible disrepair.

  10. St Mary's Convent Church, Leeds (Grade II*, 1852)

    This gorgeous and very historic (1852!) building in a prominent position in Leeds is currently rotting. Restored, it could make an amazing community hub.

What can you do to help?

The Victorian Society is an organisation that advises those who are interested in lodging planning applications for buildings from the Victorian and Edwardian periods that are in a state of disarray. Contacting the Society is a good first step, if you have something in mind.

If you simply care about these such historic sites and would like to help, the Victorian Society is also a good place to start, given it is also a charity dedicated to just this. Join the Society or get more information at https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/

Simply by sharing this article or others by the Society, you can also help raise awareness of this issue and make a difference.

I want to buy a historic property - help!

If you decide to purchase a historic, listed building, it’s important to bear in mind that older buildings do differ from modern ones, so before you buy you should think about the additional considerations this might involve. In addition to the research you would normally do when buying a property you should also consider points such as whether or not it is listed or in a conservation area. Like the above examples, the property could be in a poor state. There will be more work to be done in terms of getting the property surveyed and evaluating whether it’s an affordable, sustainable long-term option for you and your family. In addition, if you decide to buy a listed building, a standard home insurance policy may not be adequate for this type of property.

That’s why it is more important than ever to enlist the help and experience of a skilled property lawyer (as opposed to a general legal practitioner off the high street). Here at GWlegal, we have almost 35 years’ of experience in residential conveyancing, so we are definitely qualified to help!

Housing disrepair

While your home may not be historically listed, it may feel like the property you are living in is indeed from the Edwardian times if your landlord is not keeping it in a good condition.

If you are having problems with your landlord claims (whether a private landlord, development company or the local council), we can help you get the disrepair sorted claims. and maybe even secure you some compensation for the damage this has caused to your personal property and health.

Everybody deserves a clean, safe and decent place to live.

Why are we the best conveyancing and housing disrepair solicitors for you?

GWlegal are a property solicitors based in Liverpool, specialising in buying or selling, remortgage, declaration of trust, bridging , buy-to-let landlords and housing disrepair claims.

If you have a legal matter you wish to discuss don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0345 373 3737 email us hello@gw.legal with your question.

Who are GWlegal? We’re a national firm with local values.

How can we help?

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Content correct at time of publication.

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