Help save period buildings at risk

The Victorian Society's latest list of buildings at risk encompasses a mansion in Lancashire, a crumbling mill in Gloucestershire and a former department store in Peckham.

Every year, the Victorian Society compiles a list of the most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the country to draw attention to their plight. The latest, announced on Monday, includes an ornate former ‘lunatic asylum’ owned by the NHS in Cardiff, a Peckham department store on a ‘Golden Mile’ that once rivalled Oxford Street and a derelict flour mill on the River Avon.

Once part of the extensive Hampshire estate of French-Gothic Minley Manor, Minley Home Farm was built in 1896 when new farms were rare, after the agricultural depression, and the attractive farmstead, with its dairy, pigsties and bull, calf and cow boxes, was on land acquired by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 1935. Both SAVE and the Victorian Society oppose the MoD’s plans to demolish the farm.

Another that has seen better days is Horncliffe Mansion in Lancashire, home to mill owner Henry Hardman and more latterly a squatters’ domain; in 2019, a fire gutted the interior, obliterating plasterwork and murals, and although the fine exterior with columned portico remains intact, much work is needed.

Anyone yearning for overseas travel might visit the former Jones & Higgins department store on Peckham High Street, SE15, the clock tower of which is modelled on that of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. Clock stopped and falling into ruin, locals hope the huge investment in the area might extend to this old edifice.

Others among this year’s 10 include an indoor market at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, modelled on St Pancras Station, a Grade II*-listed school in Birmingham and handsome Healings Flour Mill (pictured above) in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, the largest and most advanced in the country in the 1890s, now crumbling.

‘Despite the clear carbon-reduction benefits of refurbishing over demolition, developers and owners in many cases still push for their removal and replacement,’ points out Joe O’Donnell, Society director.

‘If the Government is serious about levelling up and the climate emergency, it must equalise the 20% VAT rate for repair and refurbishment with 0% VAT rate on much demolition and rebuild, and remove permitted demolition rights.’

The Victorian Society was founded in 1958 by Sir John Betjeman and Nikolaus Pevsner and its campaign success stories range from St Pancras to Liverpool’s Albert Dock; visit www.victoriansociety.org.uk for further information on the Top Ten or to donate.