27 Historic Sites Across the North East Rescued

A 13th century church and the iconic Fulwell Mill are two of the North East’s historic gems added to the Heritage at Risk register, English Heritage announced today.

Across the North East 20 sites and conservation areas have been added to the Register because of concerns about their condition, while 27 have been repaired and removed from the Register; their future secured. Over the year more than £768,000 has been offered in grants to help some of the North East’s best loved and most important historic sites.

The Heritage at Risk Register, published annually by English Heritage, identifies listed buildings and historic sites most at risk of loss or decay. It focuses attention on those that need help, and targets resources to where they can make the most difference.

Graham Saunders, Planning and Conservation Director for the North East said:

“Successful partnerships, and the support of volunteers and community groups are crucial in tackling heritage at risk; a fact demonstrated consistently in the North East. Whilst we’ve been very successful in improving many sites, there is no time to relax - 20 historic sites and areas were newly assessed and added to the 2014 register. We will continue to work with others to improve the condition of our historic environment. In particular over the next year, we will be working to assess the condition of publicly and privately owned and managed parks, gardens and cemeteries. In addition, working with a number of local authorities, we will assess the condition of grade II buildings and look for ways of arresting their decay, made more difficult by the increasing demands on the resources owners need to repair and maintain them.”

The Heritage at Risk headlines for the North East:

  •  8 buildings or structures have been taken off the Register and 5 have been added
  • 4 churches and places of worship have been taken off the Register and 9 have been added
  • 14 archaeological sites have been removed from the Register and 3 have been added
  • 1 conservation area, Spittal in Berwick upon Tweed, has been removed from the Register this year, 3 conservation areas including Alnwick, Northumberland and Chester-le-Street, County Durham have been added

English Heritage North East launched the register today [23 October] at the beautiful arts and crafts church, St Andrew's in Roker, Sunderland. English Heritage has been working with the passionate local community in Roker for over ten years, throughout many phases of repair.

John Pattinson, Lay Vice Chair of the Parochial Church Council said: “Despite the continued disruption there is a sense of excitement to be on site again continuing the much needed repairs to this beautiful building. There is still a long road ahead, but we have come so far thanks to our committed volunteers, and funding and advice from English Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund and Northumbria Churches Trust.


Places of Worship in North East

This year's Register is the most comprehensive to date, after a thorough review of all listed places of worship in England over the past year. 6% of places of worship are At Risk; a lower number than predicted. Of those places of worship considered At Risk, congregations will face a combination of failing roofs, broken gutters and downpipes and damage to high level stonework, huge challenges requiring not only large amounts of funding but determination and know how.

Grade II buildings

Despite having the most complete view of At Risk heritage to date, the state of the majority of our listed heritage, Grade II listed buildings, is still unknown. Currently, with the exception of London, only Grade I and II* buildings are included on the Register. English Heritage is sharing its expertise with volunteers, owners and local authorities to tackle this and is asking people up and down the country to survey Grade II buildings. With this information, a national picture can be built to see how many of these buildings are at risk and uncover the underlying causes. Test surveys in Stockton, Cumbria, York, Derbyshire, Worcester, Birmingham, Essex, Hounslow and Aylesbury are happening right now; laying the groundwork for volunteers to get to work when the project launches nationally in Spring 2015.

Highlights from across North East

 County Durham

5 sites in County Durham have been added to the register this year including the 13th century Church of St Andrew, Winston on the banks of the River Tees, English Heritage announced today.

The vast gothic country house, Hamsterley Hall is one of the most interesting and significant sites in County Durham. Listed at Grade II* this highly individual building has been home to three historically important families who have shaped the building from the 1760s to the 1930s. Unfortunately Hamsterley Hall has suffered from decades of decline leaving the property with an estimated repair bill of £4 million. A major structural failure in the service wing in 2014 resulted in its controlled demolition, the remaining sections of the buildings now require immediate and substantial repair if this important heritage asset is not to be lost forever. The hall was already listed on the Heritage at Risk register but is now listed at the highest category of risk. Despite improved management seven of the ancient archaeological sites on Barningham Moor are still at risk.  Looking after this moorland and keeping on top of unwanted plant growth, especially bracken which is especially destructive to archaeological remains, is a full time job.

Management of some monuments has improved due to an agreement between the Barningham Estate and Natural England, and from Forestry Commission-funded bracken control in advance of tree planting on part of the moor. This has reduced the risk of damage to six monuments and has allowed English Heritage to remove three of these from the Heritage at Risk Register this year. Further improvements in the management of monuments on Barningham Moor have been made by the Estate. This is drawing on information and advice from English Heritage to prevent damage to monuments from grouse grit feeders and heather management. The Estate is also incorporating the care of the monuments into its bracken control programme. It is expected that this will lead to an overall reduction in risk to all the monuments on the moor in the very near future.

The Grade I listed, 13th century Church of St Andrew, Winston on the banks of the River Tees has been added to the register this year. It was restored by notable local architect John Dobson in 1848 but unfortunately the main chancel roof of Welsh slate has reached the end of its life and there are several structural issues within the building. The congregation of St Andrew’s and their architect have agreed a repair project that will tackle both the structural issues and the roof repairs. This work is now underway and has been achieved with financial and technical advice from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The work should be completed by the end of 2015.


The mysterious medieval remains on Coquet Island, of the coast of Amble, have been saved and taken off the Heritage at Risk register, English Heritage announced today. The site is one of 17 in Northumberland no longer at risk.

Coquet Island is one of a number of remote islands off the Northumberland coast that has a long and fascinating history. The remains of a monastic cell and a medieval tower have been removed from the Heritage at Risk register this year after a repaired project and grant of £93,000 from English Heritage. Coquet Island is a RSPB reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest with populations of breeding birds including the protected Roseate Terns. The work to the scheduled monument and listed buildings included urgent stone repairs to the remains of the medieval monastic range and the medieval tower beneath the lighthouse.  The team used the repairs as a chance to train students in traditional heritage skills such as working with lime mortar and masonry. The project was ‘highly commended’ in the building conservation category of the North East RICS Renaissance awards in 2014.

Another case coming off the register this year is Spittal Conservation Area, a community which dates back to the 12th century. Spittal Improvement Trust was set up in 2005 by a group of enthusiastic residents that wanted to see improvements made to their environment. Since then they have successfully tackled projects that have delivered improvements to the public realm, open spaces and local amenities, all of which has contributed to the improvement of the conservation area. This quiet, but determined community investment is improving the overall character and appearance of the conservation area and they continue to progress further improvements.

Tyne and Wear

Sunderland’s farming heritage is “at risk”, English Heritage announced today. Fulwell Mill is one of 7 sites across Tyne and Wear added to the Heritage at Risk register this year.

Fulwell Mill is a relic of Sunderland’s farming heritage and would have been one windmill of many along this stretch of the north east coast when it was built in 1808. It had been functioning as a very popular visitor attraction but following severe storms in 2011 the Windmill had to be closed to the public. Sunderland City Council has allocated funds to undertake the immediate and urgent repairs that will make the structure watertight. The first phase of this work is due to start in the summer of 2015.

The Church of St James, Benwell suffered for many years from maintenance issues and vandalism that had left it in a very poor condition. However, a very enthusiastic congregation were instrumental in tackling the need to understand the problems with their leaking roof, which resulted in the replacement of the roof covering, and valley gutters along the full length of the building. It has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register this year. The work was carried with funds raised by the church after they launched their Raise the Roof campaign in 2012 and considerable financial and technical support from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The innovative Raise the Roof campaign asked people to sponsor a slate for £5.00 to raise the necessary cash for the roof work which in turn has contributed to the reuse of this valuable community asset.

For more information on heritage successfully rescued and removed from the Register this year please see the North East fact sheet.