Shropshire Star

Campaign to save an historic house in Newtown from demolition

A national heritage campaign group is trying to block plans to demolish a 19th century industrialist's home in Newtown.

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Croesawdy House Photo Carole Ryan-Ridout

The SAVE Britain's Heritage group says Croesawdy on New Road in the town was built in 1881 for Samuel Morgan Jr, who was heir to the Severn Valley Mill dynasty.

His mill, a massive stone building which once stood next door, was one of three in the town at its industrial zenith, but closed in 1904. All the mills have been demolished and Croesawdy is, SAVE says, an important surviving link to Newtown’s Victorian heyday.

The campaign led to Cadw, Wales’ statutory heritage adviser, moving to block demolition by announcing plans to list it at grade II.

While a month-long consultation which ended on Wednesday was undertaken the building has been placed under interim protection. A decision on listing is anticipated on the 28th.

SAVE says that the half-timbered villa, with its turret, stained glass and period interiors, remains in good condition. Yet its owner was granted permission by Powys council under “permitted development rights” to demolish it.

A letter from campaigners backing listing says: "The building is of high significance not only in its own right but in relation to its historic relationship with the town and Severn Valley Mills – the third and final great 19th-century steam mill in Newtown.

“As Cadw points out, the building was designed to be fashionable, with clear influences from the Arts and Crafts movement in its traditional stylistic references and high-quality finishes and fittings. The special historic interest both internally and externally is demonstrated in the grand central entrance hall with moulded archways and original fixtures and fittings, and plan form throughout.

“SAVE fully supports its recommendation for listing, which will in turn preserve it for future generations.”

Cadw saud the building deserves to be listed “for its special architectural interest as a well-preserved example of a late C19th industrialist’s house displaying good use of design and materials, reflecting contemporary and regional architectural styles, and designed by the major architectural practice of the period in Newtown”.

“It has special historic interest as a visible and prominent part of the late 19th- century development of the mid-Wales textile industry, a building that through its architectural character reflects the relative prosperity of the period.”

Newtown was also the birthplace of Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones, an entrepreneur who capitalised on the Penny Post and the arrival of the railways in his home town to create the world’s first mail order catalogue in 1861. Before long he was selling woollen goods to more than 100,000 customers as far away as Australia and America – as well as Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale – and was knighted for his success.

Carole Ryan-Ridout, a specialist in historic building conservation who has researched Newtown's development, described the building as “absolutely magnificent” and in a good state of repair.

“It represents the very zenith of Victorian craftsmanship, the ilk of which we will never get again,” she said.