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Hotpsur Tower at risk of a ‘serious collapse’

Ford castle.
Ford castle.

The historic Bondgate Tower in Alnwick is in danger of serious collapse if vehicles continue to hit it, heritage experts have warned.

Historic England has once again listed the iconic structure on its at-risk register, which was published towards the end of last week.

Hotspur Tower, Alnwick

Hotspur Tower, Alnwick

The document states that the Grade I-listed landmark – which straddles the main road through the town centre – is in a very bad condition.

Like last year, Historic England has given it the highest priority category, meaning that there is an ‘immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric’ and that ‘no solution has been agreed’.

The register says that the main defects relate to high-sided vehicles passing through the archway and ‘further impact of a similar nature could cause a serious collapse’.

The tower, which was the east gate of the former town wall and built in around 1450 by the second Earl of Northumberland, is a Scheduled Monument. It has been listed on the at-risk register for a number of years.

The tower isn’t the only structure in Alnwick to feature on the register.

The Grade II*-listed General Lambert’s House, along Narrowgate, is described as being in a poor condition and, like in last year’s report, it has been given the highest priority category.

Heritage England states that ‘the building is vacant and deteriorating due to a lack of maintenance. A condition survey has been prepared and the owner is looking to convert the building to a new use’.

Among the new entries to the list is Akeld Bastle and its attached walling, at Akeld, near Wooler. The Grade II*-listed building is described as being in a poor condition and has the third-highest priority category, stating ‘slow decay; no solution agreed’.

The register states: ‘The slate roof is in poor condition and has a hole caused by the adjacent ash tree rubbing on it.’

One of those monuments to have witnessed improved fortunes is Ford Castle.

In last year’s at-risk register, it was given a D priority category, meaning ‘slow decay; solution agreed but not yet implemented’.

But this year, while the castle’s condition is described as poor, its priority category is now an F, which means a repair programme is in progress.

The register states: ‘A number of repairs have been undertaken to address the areas most affected by rainwater ingress, but further work is required. A programme of repairs is in progress’.

Others on the register include the eastern winding house and shaft head building at Woodhorn Colliery, in Ashington; the Union Suspension Bridge, which spans the border between England and Scotland across the River Tweed; Barmoor Castle, at Lowick; and Sharpe’s Folly, at Tosson.

Reflecting on the general North East picture, Kate Wilson, principal adviser, Heritage at Risk, said: “Promisingly, 20 entries from our regional 2016 register have been removed and the risks affecting many other vulnerable sites across the North East have been reduced.

“But we still face a daunting task. Many sites have been saved but 21 were added to the local 2017 register, eight of which are places of worship.”

For more information and to view the North East at-risk register, visit the Historic England website