At a press conference in New York City the World Monuments Fund (WMF) released a list of cultural heritage sites that are at risk of being damaged or disappearing due to forces of nature and social/political/economic change. England is home to 4 monuments on the “at risk” list.
Each region in the world has its challenges to preserving cultural sites, from political conflicts to urban and tourist pressures and even loss of cultural traditions. The President of the WMF commented,
These sites—and countless others like them—recount our human history and highlight our achievements. It takes vigilance to keep them active in the world; yet it is often the case that the very places that provide rich character and texture to our lives need more assistance and attention than they are given.
Here in England there are a handful of cultural sites that are considered at risk of either being damaged or disappearing. From London’s Battersea Power Station to grand old manor homes in Northamptonshire.
New life for Britain’s industrial past
Three of the four sites in danger in the UK are obsolete industrial buildings. In London the beautiful and powerful-looking Battersea Power Station is about to undergo a multi-billion pound renovation that will transform the unused space into flats, offices and a cultural centre. The original features of the plant will be painstakingly preserved, including around 1 million bricks replaced by master bricklayers by hand. This is the latest of dozens of failed attempts since the 1980s to use the space. Only time will tell if it funding will succeed this time.
Also in London are the Deptford Dockyards which have seen innumerable explorers take off including James Cook when he went to discover Australia, even Drake and Raleigh departed from here. Plans for a mixed-use development are in the pipeline which preserves the double dry dock, cobbled paths, caisson gates and 17th century domestic architecture.
The Grimsby Ice Factory was built at the turn of the century to meet the growing demand for ice to supply the merchant ships carrying fish and seafood across to Europe and beyond. At it’s peak the factory used to produce 1,200 tonnes of ice a day. 90 years later, in 1990, the factory closed but is a fine example of Victorian industrial architecture and still houses century-old ice making machinery. The city plans to restore and revitalise the area but the financial backing is still needed.
Historic home in need of a makeover
Among the rolling hills of Northamptonshire if Lawrence Washington’s house, a direct ancestor of George Washington. Sulgrave Manor was built in Tudor style with local limestone and the property even includes outhouses like a barn, brewhouse, buttery and shop. The house has been open to the public since 1921 as a symbol of Anglo-American peace but as is the case with many of these small historic sites Sulgrave Manor is lacking money and manpower. Rising damp and failing roofs are just the beginning of this house’s troubles.