The saved and the endangered: The Northumberland buildings on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register 2020

Three historic buildings in Northumberland have been saved from being lost forever, according to this year’s annual heritage snapshot.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 11:28 am
Historic England has released its At Risk register for 2020, with some properties saved, and others still in danger

Historic England has published its Heritage at Risk Register 2020, which sees six historic buildings and sites in the North East saved – but another eight in the region added over concerns about their condition.

In north Northumberland, the now-watertight Ford Castle has been removed from the register after several years of repairs to rectify maintenance issues and severe water damage.

The castle is a Grade I-listed building, close to a crossing point over the River Till, between the Scottish Border and the Cheviot Hills, and is best known for playing a significant role in national defence during the 14th and 15th centuries.

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General Lambert's House, Narrowgate

Last month, it was reported that Ford Castle Adventure Ltd, which has operated a residential adventure and activity centre for youngsters since 2012, has taken the decision to withdraw from the site, with the castle having operated in a similar guise since the 1950s.

Lord Joicey, director of Ford & Etal Estates, said: “Young people and school leaders who have enjoyed being here in recent years will know what Ford Castle offers, but the outbreak of Covid-19 means that no one can say how, or indeed whether, it can operate in the future. It is upsetting for everyone, particularly the locally-employed staff.”

In the west of the county, Ridsdale Ironworks and Horneystead Bastle have also been saved from falling into disrepair and removed from the register.

Often mistaken for a medieval castle, the Ironworks is a scheduled monument dating from the 19th century and an important reminder of Northumberland’s industrial past.

Heritage At Risk 2020 Risdale Ironworks, Westmacott Street, Corsenside, Northumberland. View from south east.

And the landmark, off the A68 south of Otterburn, is now welcoming visitors again, following repairs and consolidation works as part of the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership, funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Horneystead Bastle, to the west of Wark, is a fortified farmhouse dating back to the 16th century and a popular spot for walkers along the Pennine Way.

Severe snow during the Beast from the East put the bastle, already in poor condition, at risk of collapse, but Historic England and the Northumberland National Park worked with the owners to repair the structure, which is held together with clay, a method typical of the time that is now rare.

To help revive a skill that has been lost in the North East, earth mortar specialists were brought in to advise on the project and to provide training to local architects and builders. After a long search, the perfect clay for the repairs was found in the bottom of the owner’s duck pond.

Heritage At Risk 2020 Ford Castle, Ford and Etal Estate, Ford, Northumberland. Exterior view from south west.

Meanwhile, General Lambert’s House, on Narrowgate in Alnwick, a fine example of Georgian townhouses dating from the 18th century, is highlighted for good progress having been made to save it.

It has been in rapid decline since becoming vacant in 2003, but a Historic England grant has now funded survey work and urgent repairs ahead of the owners, Stablewood Leisure’s, plan to convert the building into serviced apartments with a café/restaurant in the basement.

However, the town’s Bondgate Tower remains on the list with the highest priority rating – ‘immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric; no solution agreed’.

Overall, the updated list features 28 buildings and structures, four places of worship, 59 archaeological sites, two parks/gardens and four conservation areas at risk in Northumberland, alongside another building and 38 archaeological sites in the National Park.

Heritage At Risk 2020 Horneystead Bastle, Wark, Northumberland. [elevation/orientation]

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