SOME OF the most important pieces of the region’s heritage are in danger of being lost for ever unless urgent action is not taken to rescue them from their decaying states.
Today the desperate plight of the county’s most significant historic buildings, archaeological sites, beauty spots and testaments to its industrial heritage in need of conservation work is laid bare in a special report from The Yorkshire Post.
There are currently 99 buildings and structures, 98 places of worship, 515 scheduled monuments and 13 parks and gardens in Yorkshire on English Heritage’s at-risk register, and many face the prospect of decaying beyond repair.
An ongoing squeeze in public spending means there are limited funds to preserve them. This, coupled with the, expensive costs of conservation, makes the challenge even greater.
Over the next five weeks, our Give Our Past a Future series will highlight 10 priority sites and examine the damage caused by decades of neglect or decay - and find out what needs to be done to save them.
“Loss is inevitable: historic sites are part of the cultural fabric of our country that is forever experiencing decline, renewal, adaptation and the creation of tomorrow’s heritage,” said Rosie Ryder, spokeswoman for English Heritage’s at-risk team.
“In these difficult financial times, lack of funding or generally escalating costs of a regeneration project can become a problem to an owner, developer, community group and others. There is no automatic funding or tax relief for owners of historic sites or heritage at risk and the scale of the challenge.”
The priority sites, compiled English Heritage, hold the fabric of the region’s history.
Today’s report shines a light on the imminent threat to the landscape at North Yorkshire’s Plumpton Rocks, which is the subject of an early Turner painting, along with the derelict state of Sheffield’s Eagle Works and Green Lane Works, key parts of the city’s industrial heritage.
Ms Ryder added: “We’ve identified five themes that reflect Yorkshire’s most distinctive heritage at risk - the textile industry of the West Riding, metal trades of South Yorkshire, designed landscapes of South Yorkshire, ancient landscapes of the moors, wolds and wetlands and the industrial legacy of the Dales.
There is no automatic funding or tax relief for owners of historic sites or heritage at risk and the scale of the challenge.Rosie Ryder, English Heritage
“We want to find the right solution for these sites with the aim of getting them repaired so they can be removed from the register.”
Backed by Welcome to Yorkshire, Give Our Past a Future encourages councils, charities, organisations and members of the public to step up to the plate in the mission to rescue the region’s unique heritage and breathe new life into these sites.
It will also highlight the economic benefits brought to the county by its rich history.
Recent research from VisitBritain suggests that it provides a boost to the tourist economy, with almost half of all visits including a trip to a famous monument or building. Over a third of all visits include a castle, and holidays have a strong propensity to include religious buildings and historic houses.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Millions of people come here to visit our historic houses, monuments, buildings and much more.
“The past is directly linked to the present and our county’s history has shaped the world we live in today. Visitors to Yorkshire are spoilt for choice and long may it continue.”
The at-risk register began life in 1999 and has expanded to co cover all forms of heritage sites including historic parks, conservation areas and scheduled monuments.
How long sites remain on the list it vary depending on factors such as the state of decline, age, location and an owner’s willingness and resources to take action.
“It takes hard work, determination, perseverance and a commitment to these very special buildings which make up such an important part of our national story,” said Ms Ryder.
“A whole range of people take on or own and manage at-risk sites including developers, local individuals, community groups as well as organisations in the historic and natural environment sectors.”