The Victorian Society is the only charity dedicated to championing Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales, and works tirelessly all years round to raise awareness to the plight of precious examples of architecture that are in desperate need of rescue and restoration. It fights to save buildings that people still value and protect them from demolition or careless alteration so that future generations can enjoy them. Some of its most famous success stories include St. Pancras in London and the Albert Dock in Liverpool and its Conservation Advisers help local planning authorities and churches to make better decisions when it comes to adapting Victorian and Edwardian buildings to the way we live now.
Every year the Victorian Society list their Top 10 Most Endangered Property List, a collection of properties that are deemed to be of national importance but at serious risk of being lost. In Nottinghamshire both the Northgate Malt House Building in Newark-on-Trent and the Bracebridge Pumping Station in Workshop have made the cut in the past.
Molly Murray-Ayres, Media Officer for the Victorian Society said “We compile the list from hundreds of public nominations - our experts then select the most endangered buildings from this list. We take into account the condition of the building, potential for re-use and above all whether the publicity gained through the campaign will benefit the plight of the building. Both of the Nottinghamshire buildings are prime examples of exquisite architecture that desperately need restoration.”
The work of the Victorian Society has been gaining support steadily on all of the projects it represents. Increasingly people are taking the view fortunately that many of these buildings were built with great skill, and that they each brighten their urban environments. In fact there is a strong reasoning that if cities and towns are to continue to be useful, visited and adored they need to look great, so any architectural gems can really make a difference in enhancing the overall landscape both for visitors and residents.
The once stunning Northgate Malt House Building located in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire dates to 1864 and is now a Grade II-listed property, which perhaps makes it even sadder that it has been abandoned for so long. It has been derelict since its closure in 1964.
Malt houses soaked cereal grain in water to create malt to brew beer. The traditional malt house was largely phased out during the twentieth century by mechanised production. The former Warwick's & Richardson's Brewery malt house in Newark used local bricks from the Cafferata company at Beacon Hill and its ironwork was supplied by the Trent Ironworks of W.N. Nicholson & Sons.
Given the other successful redevelopment projects across Newark in recent years it would be wonderful if an investor would take this on with a possible scheme to turn into homes or office space whilst retaining the building’s original charm and architectural prominence.
The Pumping station at Bracebridge is another incredible example of early Victorian architecture that has also played a key role in the local community and as such deserves the dignity of restoration. Its architect and engineer John Allsop was a prominent character in the area and was responsible for many buildings across Worksop, although this was his grandest project. The pumping station was built in 1881 following a cholera epidemic and was capable of pumping 400,000 gallons every 12 hours. It was powered by a pair of coal-fired beam engines, with the coal arriving by barge along the Chesterfield canal. Sadly today all that remains of this extraordinary ‘Italian Romanesque’ style Grade II listed building is the empty pump house, the boiler house chimney and a couple of treatment tanks. It is rapidly deteriorating and the striking, slender chimney is steadily eroding, making the Worksop landmark one of the Victorian Society’s top priorities. Flooding issues and proximity to an industrial estate have not worked in its favour in securing buyers.
Welsh TV Presenter, Writer, Actor and Comedian Griff Rhys Jones, who has a long history of conservation work, is the President of the Victorian Society, and a champion for all of the properties that they have their sights on.
Mr Rhys Jones said “Pumping stations are one of the best examples of how today’s approach to architecture tends to differ from the Victorian. Our utilitarian buildings rarely have any thought for their aesthetic design. This unusual building is situated so close to Worksop Town centre, it could be perfect for restoration as a dramatic home.”
It would seem that as luck would have it a new investor has come forward and although plans have not been revealed as yet there seems to be a new era of hope for Bracebridge, as the investors intent to sympathetically convert it for use. Bassetlaw District Council have announced that work has already begun to save the building. This includes securing the site with a security fence, vegetation clearance and CCTV installation.
Hopefully Northgate Malt House will also benefit from a buyer soon to ensure both these incredible buildings can once again bask in their original glory.