Broadmoor, the cricket pavilion at Bletchley Park and a disused railway station have been named on the list of most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Their plight has been highlighted by the Victorian Society’s annual national appeal to ‘name and shame’ the most disgracefully neglected buildings from that era.
The first State asylum for the criminally insane, built in the Byzantine style by prison architect Sir Joshua Jebb, Broadmoor is threatened with partial demolition. The NHS plans to build a new psychiatric hospital and boutique hotel on the site, as well as houses on the old kitchen garden. Some might argue that this is a good thing, considering its tragic associations, but, points out the Victorian Society, the move would ‘erode the architectural and historic interest of Broadmoor’.
The cricket pavilion at Bletchley was sold before the Second World War, in which the estate famously played such a pivotal role, and became part of a grammar school. Unfortunately, it was sold separately to the pitch, and vandalism to it has been concealed by a large hedge.
Wansford railway station, which closed in 1957, has been described as the most perfect of those designed by J. W. Livock, but it’s now a sorry sight with dry rot, collapsed floors and a cracked façade. Ironically, a heritage railway, Nene Valley, wants to buy and restore the station, but the owner, the neighbouring haulage yard, hasn’t been persuaded to sell.
‘We’ve been flooded with information about buildings at risk, and narrowing the list down to 10 has been extremely difficult,’ comments the Victorian Society’s director, Dr Ian Dungavell. ‘Times are hard and money is short, but it remains vital that historic buildings are properly secured against the weather and vandals. Beautiful, robust buildings must not be lost because of short-term economic concerns.’
However, negative publicity can have a positive outcome. Normansfield Hospital in Teddington, Middlesex, which was on the 2010 list, is now secure and watertight, and may be converted into flats. Beresford Pite’s 30, Euston Square, although still under threat of demolition, has been beautifully restored by its owners.
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Britain’s 10 saddest buildings
The Old Rectory, Columb Major, Cornwall
One of William White’s most important works. The roof leaks, and the Victorian Society is opposing the absentee owner’s plan to erect a glass roof over the courtyard
Ancoats Dispensary, Manchester
The building, which was painted by Lowry, is roofless and unstable. The Victorian Society is arguing against demolition
Former YMCA building, Merthyr Tydfil
On the market for £99,000, it has a leaking roof and crumbling façade. Lottery funding is available, but it needs a saviour
South Eastern Railway Offices, London
Would be replaced by a plaza as part of the redevelopment of London Bridge station. Listing has been refused, but the Victorian Society is appealing against this.
Manningham Baths, Bradford
This truly remarkable Edwardian pool, with its original cubicles, ceramic spittoons and scum channel, has been closed due to council cuts
Crumpsall and Cheetham District Library, Manchester
Bears inscriptions of the names of Scott, Milton, Shakespeare and Dickens, but is covered with pigeon mess and badly needs a new use
Temple Mill, Leeds
A privately owned, Grade l-listed flax mill built by Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi
Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne, Berkshire (pictured)
Bletchley Cricket Pavilion, Milton Keynes
Wansford Station, Sibson-cum-Stibbington, Cambridgeshire
Picture from The Francis Frith Collection