Historic Shropshire buildings now 'at risk' and needing urgent repair

An iconic symbol of Shropshire's role in the industrial revolution and a rural church have been added to a national register of historic buildings at risk of being lost forever.

At risk Severn Wharf Building, Ironbridge. © Mr Ian Liston. Source Historic England Archive
At risk Severn Wharf Building, Ironbridge. © Mr Ian Liston. Source Historic England Archive

The Heritage at Risk Register lists all the historic sites across the country that are considered to be at risk through "neglect, decay or inappropriate development."

Severn Wharf Building at the Wharfage in the Ironbridge Gorge and the Church of St Mary, Bedstone, in south Shropshire, have been added to the 2021 list.

The Severn Wharf Building is a Grade II listed former warehouse on the north bank of the River Severn, sitting within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

Now home to the Museum of the Gorge and part of the collection that tells the story of the Gorge and its role in industrialisation, it dates from the mid-19th century and was built in the gothic style with a complex roof form.

However, a recent inspection revealed that due to leaking gutters the building’s structural stability is under threat. Historic England has awarded a repair grant of £58,050 to carry out further urgent investigations, surveys and repairs to the building. Historic England says these are "progressing well".

The 12th Century Grade II Church of St Mary, Bedstone, consists of a nave with a lower chancel, a 17th century west end timber framed bell-cote and a 19th century shingled broached spire.

Historic England says the original chancel arch and two windows "survived the restoration" in 1878 - 9 by F R Kempson who grouped the nave windows together.

The spire was re-shingled in 1996 but is now in need of urgent repair as is the bell-cote timber framing and infill panels below. Moisture levels within external walls requires the reduction of adjacent ground levels, the replacement of impervious re-pointing and the installation of a perimeter surface water drainage system. The overall condition is described as poor.

The Church of St Mary, Bedstone, a new addition to the at risk register

In happier news, Shropshire has six sites coming off the register, including a Roman military site at Rhyn Park, St Martin's, the Church of St Mary, Highley and two bowl barrows 290 metres north of Upper House Farm, Worthen with Shelve.

In total Historic England says there are 95 sites located in Shropshire on the West Midlands Heritage at Risk Register 2021.

The overall number of sites for the whole of the West Midlands is 392.

Historic England publishes its annual Heritage at Risk Register every year.

It is an annual health-check of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

Over the last year, 22 historic buildings and sites in the West Midlands have been removed from the register.

Many have been saved thanks to the hard work and dedication of local communities, who have come together to rescue places with charities, owners, local authorities and Historic England have working together.

A total of £921,883 in Heritage at Risk grants have been given to historic places across the West Midlands throughout the past year. This is on top of £900,000 in grants from the Culture Recovery Fund during the pandemic helping with emergency repairs to historic buildings and providing a lifeline to skilled heritage craft workers.

Louise Brennan, Historic England’s regional director for the Midlands, said: “Our heritage is an anchor for us all in testing times. Despite the challenges we have all faced recently, this year’s Heritage at Risk Register demonstrates that looking after and investing in our historic places can bring communities together, contribute to the country’s economic recovery and help tackle climate change.

"The 22 sites saved this year in the West Midlands show what’s possible with strong partnerships, dedicated individuals and funding support. But there is always more to do to give our cherished heritage the attention, investment and secure future it deserves.

Nigel Huddleston, the Heritage Minister, said: "We've supported the sector throughout the pandemic with our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund and it's great news to see this investment, along with other financial support, having such a positive impact.

"Heritage helps us understand our past and bringing old buildings and sites back into public use helps us to level up communities, create growth and protect these important assets for future generations."

Among the sites are buildings and scheduled monuments, places of worship, archaeology entries, parks and gardens, conservation areas.

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