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At-Risk Victorian Buildings Named by Victorian Society

An amusement park, a Gothic coastal villa, one of the world’s first tennis pavilions, and a former board school have been highlighted as some of the UK’s most at-risk Victorian buildings. The Victorian Society has released its annual list of the top 10 sites it deems most in need of rescue. These buildings, all at least Grade II listed, hold significant historical or architectural importance. Despite their listed status providing some protection, the society warns that more action is needed to preserve these structures.

Victorian Society president Griff Rhys-Jones emphasized the importance of these buildings, urging the public to advocate for their preservation. “Look at the character on display here. They all add color and story to any urban landscape,” he said. “Their restoration and reuse make huge commercial sense. They are attractions in themselves. They are already destinations. They should be part of local pride. What do we want? A parking lot? A faceless block in their place? A slew of new carbon pollution? When they have so much color, continuity, and history on their side already?”

The 10 at-risk Victorian buildings on the 2024 list are:

Kennington Boys’ School, London

  • Built in 1912 by TJ Bailey, this large symmetrical building features complex roofs, spirelets, and enriched walls. Once home to the Charles Edward Brooke Girls’ School, it now suffers from significant water damage and lacks a future user.

The Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea

  • Opening in 1901 as the world’s first purpose-built amusement park, the Kursaal offered a variety of attractions. Designed by George Sherrin, it now houses a Tesco Express, having fallen into decline.

St Martins (formerly Roslyn Hoe), Ilfracombe

  • This Gothic-style villa in North Devon was built by WM Robbins and served various roles, including a girls’ school and a small hotel. First listed in 1994, it is known for its symmetrical design.

St Luke’s Chapel, Nottingham City Hospital

  • Completed in 1902 for workhouse inmates and staff, this chapel later served Nottingham City Hospital and was used for storage before closing.

St Agnes’ Vicarage and Hall, Liverpool

  • Designed by Norman Shaw in 1887, this vicarage is notable for its stone mullions, bay windows, and recessed entrance.

Chances Glassworks, Smethwick

  • Established in the early 19th century, this site produced window glass for the Houses of Parliament. It retains significant archaeological elements, including furnace bases and tunnels.

Former Education Department Offices, Derby

  • Built in 1893 in the Renaissance style, this building’s notable features include pilasters and a pyramidal roof, which is now deteriorating.

Bramcote Tennis Pavilion, Scarborough

  • Constructed in 1885, this Arts and Crafts influenced pavilion is significant for its design and as a representation of social history in sports.

Jesmond Dene Banqueting Hall, Newcastle

  • Built in 1860 by John Dobson for Lord William Armstrong, this hall was later expanded by Norman Shaw. It was used for events until the 1970s and is now targeted for restoration.

Coal Exchange, Cardiff

  • Famous for hosting the first million-pound business deal, the Coal Exchange closed in 1958 but retains its impressive architecture. It was declared unsafe in 2013 and reopened as a hotel in March.

These buildings, rich in history and architectural significance, require urgent attention and conservation efforts to prevent further decay and loss.

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