Travel A car wash and railway pub are among England’s...

A car wash and railway pub are among England’s latest ‘heritage sites’

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The Deep Pit wrought-iron bridge in Hindley, Manchester, might not look much to the inexpert eye, but it has been Grade II-listed for its unusually long single-span, elegant basket-arched appearance, and the fact it has survived with little alteration. It was built in 1887, during the peak period of railway bridge construction and spanned nine tracks.

As almost all evidence of coal mining – once the most important industry in the UK – has been torn down or sealed off, historians will especially appreciate the listing of the bridge. Swanwick Common Colliery Headstock and Winding House in Derbyshire – “rare survivors of a private, small-scale, early 20th century colliery” – was also awarded Grade II listing in 2023.

Historic leisure?

Two buildings point to the importance of consumerism and leisure in the last century. The Grade II-listed Dome in Doncaster, built in the late Eighties, was the largest leisure centre in Europe. When it opened, it attracted over one million visitors annually and garnered awards from RIBA and the International Olympic Committee.

“Something doesn’t have to be old to be listed,” says Paul Jeffery, Interim Head of Listing at Historic England. “The Dome is really valued by the local community and it still serves its original purpose, but it really stands out for its architecture and innovation.” 

The handsome former Liverpool Furnishing Company building, dating from 1899, was purpose-built for the company then operating next door, run by Polish immigrant Jacob Lipson. The Edwardian Baroque exterior includes deep-red terracotta, embellished windows and a landmark clock tower. Still visible on the fascia is its ghost sign; in October, Historic England launched a campaign inviting the public to share their favourite ghost signs.

A democratic process

New sites are selected in response to public appeals, and anyone can complete an online application form. Historic England says it has criteria to manage the volume and also undertakes its own research, taking into account whether a building might be threatened by development.

Quirky new additions include a “carriage splash” dating from the early 17th century, located in Royston, Hertfordshire – a precursor of the modern-day car wash – and a rare, purpose-built Arts and Crafts clubhouse at a golf club in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Another modern highlight is St Nicholas’ church in Fleetwood, Lancashire, by Lawrence King, one of the leading ecclesiastical architects of the post-war period. Built between 1960 and 1962, its interior resembles an upturned boat, emphasising Fleetwood’s maritime connections. St Nicholas is the Patron Saint of sailors, as well as of prostitutes, brewers and repentant thieves.

Amendments take place when new information is discovered, or an earlier listing requires updating. Five-hundred-year old Northwold Manor, found on the high street of the medieval village, for example, was granted Grade II listed status in 1951. But it has been upgraded to Grade II because, says Historic England, it’s “a time capsule of the evolution of architectural design which is rarely seen in a single building”.

The other highlighted properties include an Iron Age fogou or cave in Cornwall, a water tower in Nottinghamshire, Cumberland Basin in Bristol, a Manchester primary school, a Modernist family home in Grimsby and a Post-Modernist house in Hampstead, London.

“The 2023 sites demonstrate the variety of what is listed,” says Paul Jeffery. “Some people might think heritage is mainly cathedrals or grand houses, but it can be a pigsty, a store or a water tower.

“Thirty years ago, it was hard to get any recognition for industrial sites – now they are major tourist attractions.”

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