English Heritage adds 40 North West churches to 'At Risk' register

Church of Holy Trinity in St. Helens, Church of St Cuthbert in Halsall and Church of St Nicholas in Burnage Image copyright S Adair/N Caesar/S Parish
Image caption St. Helens' Church of Holy Trinity, the Church of St Cuthbert in Halsall and Burnage's Church of St Nicholas were added to the list

More than 40 churches in the North West have been added to English Heritage's list of sites in need of conservation.

Thirteen places of worship in Cheshire, 19 in Greater Manchester, seven in Lancashire and five on Merseyside were added to the Heritage At Risk register.

Overton's Church of St Helen and Salford's Church of St Philip are among those removed from the list after receiving Heritage Lottery Fund money.

Ninety-five North West religious buildings are listed on the register.

It lists 319 sites as being at risk across the region, including buildings, places of worship, scheduled monuments, parks and conservation areas.

A total of 54 North West sites were added to the list, while 25 were removed.


Image copyright S Adair
Image caption The Church of St Lawrence in Stoak was taken off the risk after a Heritage Lottery Fund grant

An English Heritage (EH) spokesman said two sites in Cheshire were "still on the top-10 priority list for the North West". They are Castle Hill in Oldcastle and the Central General Service Hangar at Hooton in Ellesmere Port.

However, he said there had been "many successes", including the removal of 15 archaeological sites from the register.

These include bowl barrows close to the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank and a moated site near Buerton.

He said the majority of them had been removed as a result of "improved management of agricultural land through funding from Natural England".

Greater Manchester

Image copyright English heritage
Image caption The renovations to Elizabeth Gaskell House saw the exterior, which was pink, painted its original cream colour

But Long Street Methodist Sunday School and Church in Middleton is in "a grave condition and needs significant repairs", the EH spokesman said.

"The leaded windows are failing and stone slates are falling from the roof, causing rot, damp and mould growth."

However, he said that in the area, the "news is not all bad", as the home of author Elizabeth Gaskell has been "brought back to life".

The 19th Century villa on Plymouth Grove has been taken off the register, restored to the style of the 1860s and opened to the public.

The Church of St Philip in Salford has also been taken off the register after five years.

Church warden Ron Shaw told BBC Radio Manchester that renovations had cost over £400,000.

"It's been brilliant, because we've been able to make the building sound," he said.


Image copyright Ralph rawlinson
Image caption The Church of St Helen in Overton was among Lancashire's success stories, as it came off the list

Bellmanpark's limekilns, which lie close to a busy quarry in the Ribble Valley, are "industrial relics" at serious risk of decay, the EH spokesman said.

He said a lack of maintenance had "left the furnace structures in danger" and underground tunnels were beginning to show their age.

He added that the arches and brick-lined walls were collapsing, while the tunnels were partially flooded and invasive vegetation has taken root.

Charles Smith, principal advisor for Heritage at Risk in the North West, told BBC Radio Lancashire that EH was "working hard with the owners and Clitheroe Civic Society to find ways of clearing the monument of vegetation.

"Once this is done, we're looking to accurately record the monument, so we can understand a bit more about its archaeological and industrial interest."

The county had some success stories, though, as the Slackwood Farmhouse in Silverdale and the Church of St Helen in Overton were both repaired and removed from the register.


Image copyright English heritage
Image caption The North Warehouse on Stanley Dock was one of three Liverpool city centre sites to come off the list

In Liverpool, new ownership and redevelopment saw three city centre sites removed from the list - the North Warehouse on Stanley Dock, the Royal Insurance Building on North John Street and the Church of Saint Andrew on Rodney Street.

Trevor Mitchell, EH's planning and conservation director for the North West, said the developments were examples of "turning eyesores back into landmarks".

"Buildings like the Royal Insurance and Stanley Dock Warehouse not only give quality and distinctiveness to their surroundings, but can deliver economic growth, supporting the tourism and business visitor economy of the city."

Elsewhere in the city, there was bad news, as the early Victorian St Brides Church on Percy Street was added to the list.

The EH spokesman said inadequate roof pitches and rainwater systems had led to timber decay, meaning that it is in need of conservation.

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