Buildings at risk – assessing and preserving Leicester’s heritage

I was delighted to see the BBC report this morning on the launch by English Heritage of the Heritage at Risk Register 2012.

As Terese and I have both commented in previous blogs, many of the buildings which form the focus of our Manufacturing Pasts project have suffered from a lack of care and attention, which has either resulted in fire damage or eventual demolition.

Take the Liberty Building, which was Grade II listed.  The council refused and approved various proposed changes to the use of the site over a period of 15 years, but due to a combination of break-ins and vandalism the building became derelict and, as develops at the time put it “more economic to demolish and replace rather than repair” (Leicester Mercury April 2001).  Our Liberty Timeline draws together the rise and fall of this factory, with photos, planning applications and newspaper articles testimony to not only the high regard in which the building was held, but also the state it was in before it was demolished. 

Another factory we have looked at in some depth was Corah.  Although to my knowledge never listed, this building has been partially occupied since Corah ceased trading, but there is clear evidence that some parts of the building remain exactly the same as when Corah left, with company publications, diaries and memos laying around inside, whilst outside there are smashed windows and graffiti.  See our flickr page for recent photos.  In April this year the building suffered extensive damage as a result of arson.

Our collection also contains items relating to Donisthorpe and Co.’s Friars Mill, another Grade II listed building included in our project, which has also succumbed to fire and graffiti after the owners went bankrupt and were unable to keep the building secure, and the photographs contained in our prezi Explore Historic and Industrial Leicester evidence the state of disrepair of the Frisby Jarvis Building.

I hope this move by English Heritage, tied in with Mayor Soulsby’s recent initiative on the ‘Story of Leicester’ will mean that more of Leicester’s industrial heritage can be preserved.