A few weeks ago I created a new label, "Heritage in Trouble," to enable visitors to the site to find whatever I've posted about bits of local heritage that may be suffering due to neglect, development or other threats to their futures.
|1821 Engine House brickwork in need of |
re-pointing, St Marychurch Street
It is difficult to give a good job description for the "heritage in trouble" label as it is somewhat broad in its scope, but I thought that a few examples might help to define it, as well as highlighting some current local problems that need or may soon need addressing.
A recent loss is the Ebenezer Chapel and the adjacent building that housed the Dockland Settlement at Downtown. The Russia Dock lock house was still standing when I first moved into the area 18 or so years ago, but was torn down to build a very dull apartment block. The deal porter shelter near the Dock Offices was supposed to be preserved for relocation when Canada Water tube station was built, but was magically lost. The Lavender Pump House Museum of local history closed and I have no idea where the contents are now stored. This is just a small sample of local losses, but when you add them up they begin to look rather concerning. Once these pieces of the past are lost, they are lost for good.
If anyone has anything to add to the list, please let me know.
first brought this to general attention. The underpass that leads from the Moby Dick into the Russia Dock Woodland was once the lock that provided access from the Grand Surrey Canal into Greenland Dock. If you look to the sides as you walk through it, you will see the lock features and depth measures engraved into the stone. Up at road level, the original hydraulic machinery that operated the lock dates was preserved by the London Dockland Development Corporation, before they handed over responsibility to Southwark Council. A fence and a locked gate were fitted many years ago. Now, the gate's lock has been broken, the hydraulic equipment is horrendously overgrown, and there is rubbish everywhere.
3) The 1821 Engine House, St Marychurch Street
Although this is Grade II listed, and survives in the form of the original building's facade incorporated into a wall, some of the bricks of the 1821 Engine House have lost their pointing and will soon become very loose (the first photograph on this post). There is also a tree branch overhanging it which makes it very difficult to see the details of the building, and this too needs to be addressed. Trimming the branch will certainly not damage the tree itself.
5) Nelson Dock and Columbia Wharf
Now that the Hilton Hotel is up for sale, with the sales brochure positioning it as an ideal property for conversion into residential apartments, it will be necessary to keep an eye on any developers who purchase it. In theory, the surviving Grade II listed features should be attractive to new residents and therefore not at risk, but not all developers see these things the same way. The preserved Nelson Dock, the Bilbe patented slip, the Mills and Knight building (formerly the Bilbe slip's engine house) and Columbia Wharf itself are all valuable remnants of Rotherhithe's ship building past, and need to be preserved. Fortunately the stunning Nelson House is now in private ownership, and the new owners have plans not merely to maintain the building but to improve its immediate environment.
The Clipper has recently been purchased by developers. It might seem like an odd building to include under the term "heritage," but that is because 1930s architecture of this sort is never particularly attractive and therefore not always appreciated. But it does have its own very real value as a building representative of a style and type that was widespread across London, which was particularly popular in the construction of pubs of the period. The Clipper is not a thing of beauty but it is so typical of its period and, with its combination of typically 30s style brickwork, tiling and sash windows, it is the only building of its type along Rotherhithe Street. A lot of local people have affection for it, and it will be a shame if it is sacrificed for yet more bland apartment blocks.
Prior to the London Olympics, temporary planning permission was applied for to establish a temporary marina over most of the area of Greenland Dock. Although the permission applied for was for temporary facilities, the fittings required to achieve it would have been permanent. The planning permission was contested on numerous grounds and was refused. One of the biggest concerns at the time, which resulted in the establishment of a group of local residents who contested the project, was that this would be a thin end of the wedge, and that a temporary marina would segue into a permanent one covering the remaining area, eliminating one of the only areas of peaceful public open water available in south London.
|Greenland Dock lock gate, with foliage|
The lock gates, with their walkways, are now degenerating fast. The entire span of each bridge is now growing a small meadow these days, which doesn't bode well for its future structural integrity. Roots eventually cause rot in wood, and they will eventually fall apart. This needs to be addressed.
10) Bollards and capstans
Across Rotherhithe there are many of the original bollards and captstans from the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of which are getting heavily weathered. They may not be at risk, but they are beginning to look tatty and need only a coat of paint to make them look very smart again. What always worries me about buildings and features that begin to look neglected, even when they are structurally sound (like the yard office that started this post) they make everything around them look scruffy and unloved.
Someone has brought it to my attention that the splendid Pump House building is not listed at the moment. I couldn't believe that that was correct, but it does seem to be. That makes the building, the remains of the Lavender pond and its surrounding land more vulnerable to development plans than it really ought to be. It is a beautiful building with a unique history and it ought to be listed.
I am making the assumption, I hope wisely, that the fact that 23 Paradise Street (William Gaitskell House) is up for sale, does not represent any threat to the building. It is Grade II listed, and very fine indeed, the last of its sort in Rotherhithe. I figure that if someone is willing to pay £2.5million (the asking price) for the property, they are probably going to look after their investment :-)
If you see any damage or deterioration in local buildings and other pieces of heritage it is always worth reporting them to Southwark Council because unless we report them they can't be fixed.
Anything to add? Please add a comment or email me.