South East Wales

Coal Exchange in running for Victorian Society endangered list

Historic image of the Coal Exchange Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption The Coal Exchange saw the first £1m cheque signed in 1904

Cardiff's Coal Exchange is among the front runners for inclusion in a top 10 of the most endangered historic buildings in Britain.

The Victorian Society's annual list aims to draw attention to the plight of important structures under threat.

Opened in 1886, the ornate Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay once determined the world coal price.

After 25 years as a music venue, last August it was closed indefinitely owing to concerns over its structural safety.

Now, James Hughes, the Victorian Society's conservation officer for Wales, believes proposals to convert it into a mixed-use business centre place it in even more danger.

He said: "I appreciate that most importantly buildings like this have to be used or it's remarkable just how quickly they'll deteriorate.

Image caption The Palace Theatre in Swansea has received a £75,000 restoration grant

"However, any plans have to follow best practice and focus on how to fit the new use in around the historic features, not the other way around."

Early this year it was announced the 127-year-old venue could be converted into business and residential use.

In previous years there have been some notable success stories for the Welsh buildings included on the list.

The 1888 Palace Theatre on Swansea's High Street has received a £75,000 restoration grant after appearing in the 2013 top 10.

Hendrefoilan House - also in Swansea - and Merthyr's YMCA building were also saved after receiving publicity on the 2012 and 2011 lists respectively.

Mr Hughes said: "The Industrial Revolution has left us with a legacy of some of the richest architectural heritage anywhere in Britain.

"It's not only the industrial buildings themselves, but also the magnificent houses built on the wealth of those industries.

"Yes, part of the purpose of our top 10 is to try and put pressure on authorities to take their responsibilities seriously, but more than that it's about trying to get the message out to the public, because without the support of local communities these buildings have no chance."

Nominations for inclusion on the 2014 list are open until October and anyone can suggest a building via the Victorian Society's website.

The only criteria is that it must be a permanent structure built between 1836 and 1914.

Image copyright ann dillwyn
Image caption Hendrefoilan House topped the list of threatened buildings in 2012

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