The voice of archaeology in Britain and beyond

Cover of British Archaeology 98

Issue 98

January / February 2008



Major new galleries open in Cardiff

Popular scheme threatened: culture change needed

Cultural icon: Phil Harding or Jonathan Ross?

Roman governor in Scotland

Bones of our forefathers

Secrets of Silbury poet revealed

Medieval archaeology comes of age

In Brief & Phase 2


Drapers Gardens
First insights into striking discoveries from Roman London

Detecting the past
Let the rally begin: we consider new detecting developments

First iron age furnaces
Rachael Hall describes extraordinary remains from Corby

on the web

Recommended websites
Fringe archaeology, and a new website from Heathrow.


Views and responses

CBA correspondent

Campaigns, comment and communications from the CBA
Lynne Walker reports on the CBA's recent historic building casework


ISSN 1357-4442

Editor Mike Pitts

CBA correspondent

Lynne Walker reports on the CBA's recent historic building casework

Campaigns, comment and communications from the CBA

The CBA is one of the six national amenity societies consulted in a statutory capacity on listed building consent applications which involve complete or partial demolition. Over the last 12 month period we have received 4,066 listed building applications; 3,791 for England and 275 for Wales. These are some of the cases that we have dealt with.

Brunel's Engine House, Briton Ferry, Glamorgan. Grade 2

The docks at Briton Ferry have been described as a unique engineering feat. The original design by Marc Isambard Brunel was finished and eventually built by his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The most prominent dockside building still standing is the accumulator tower on the south dock. This tower stored compressed air in large vessels in order to power the hydraulic lock gate and was the subject of a recent £70,000 conservation programme. The compressed air was generated by a steam engine. It had long been assumed that the building which housed the engine had been demolished, but during Cadw's re-listing exercise of all historic buildings in Wales, completed in 2005, the steam power house was rediscovered. It is now artificially separated from the rest of the dock by the M4 which cuts the site in two. The CBA has objected to an application for demolition to build a new storage facility on site. The outcome has yet to be determined.

The Ashes Farm, Endon, Staffs. Grade 2

A little-altered vernacular farmstead dating to the 17th century and no longer viable as a dairy farm, was proposed as a high quality hospitality venue. Informed by an historic building report which recorded internal features, adaptation will go ahead with each structure being dealt with sensitively. The most prestigious barn is to house wedding ceremonies (making full use of the open space and allowing a gallery); the lesser of the two barns will house the restaurant kitchen and toilets; the bull pen is to remain intact, but serve as a boiler room; the 20th century dairy building is retained as a reception area; and the granary will be converted at first floor level to residential use, but remain in agricultural use on the ground floor. Only the later lean-to is to be removed, revealing the 17th century barn and providing necessary parking space.

Bank Hall, Bretherton, Lancs. Grade 2*

This grand house was saved by the Bank Hall Action Group and featured on the 2003 BBC TV Restoration series (it came second). Plans are being drawn up by Urban Splash, the Heritage Trust North West and the group to convert it to residential accommodation in a way that will make sense of the building's different phases (1608, 1632 and 1832), retain its historic features such as diaper pattern brickwork, staircase and panelling and allow some public access. It is planned to part fund the project by an enabling development in the former orchard. The CBA was invited to pre-application talks on the site.

Lancaster Canal Corridor, North Scheme

This massive redevelopment scheme in Lancaster included six listed building cases and five conservation area cases. Whilst it was broadly sympathetic to the listed buildings, we felt there were a number of unlisted buildings proposed for demolition that were inadequately understood and were important for the industrial archaeology of the town, such as Mitchell's Brewery and Malthouse, the canal-side warehouses and the Heron works. Others had townscape value or were evidence for how the settlement had grown. We asked for further research into the historic buildings and justification for their demolition.

Croglofft, Pwllheli, Gwynedd. Grade 2

Although not exclusively confined to Wales, the croglofft is a style of post-medieval cottage especially associated with west and north Wales. A single storey building, it is divided into two rooms with one half ceiled over to create a sleeping area. This is accessed from the kitchen (Gegin Mawr) by a ladder. In one croglofft near Pwllheli the ladder had been replaced with a staircase and the application was to replace it with a spiral stair to save space. After the CBA objected, a ladder salvaged from a derelict croglofft was used instead. The 19th century staircase was recorded before removal – the building retained the main reason for listing and the owner achieved extra space!

Abbey Farm barns, Thetford, Norfolk. Grade 1

Although apparently 19th century, two flint and gault brick "barns" (one converted to domestic use) revealed 15th century timber-framing inside. One began as an aisled barn, the other is of two, possibly three phases and may have served as a courthouse for the nearby Thetford Priory. Both are believed to be unique as surviving examples of monastic inner court timber-framed buildings. However it is not only their priory association that makes them of interest: it is also their adaptation to farm buildings after the dissolution of the monasteries (1536–40), and their evolution into a "gentleman's farmstead". Eventually they were remodelled to conform to the picturesque tradition. They were thatched and re-walled and Jacobean details were added against a backdrop of priory ruins. They later became part of a planned farmstead, reputedly housed a military camp for Field MarshallHaigh in the first world war and latterly served as a local authority goods yard. We advised that the proposed conversion to five houses should be refused, and that a new use which benefited and pulled together the sites should be considered.

Beyond casework

We have responded to numerous consultations regarding the historic environment at national, regional and local level. Over 120 queries from members of the public relating to historic buildings have been answered.

We have also continued to advise on conservation-led regeneration proposals in Whitefield, Nelson, Lancashire and are a member of the design and heritage sub-group. We supported and advised on an Awards for All Scheme that recorded the terraces and streets of the area and provided a photographic archive for reference and refurbishment.

Research on our own headquarters building in York, St Mary's House, goes on and we continue to share this information through guided tours on heritage open days and on other opportunities.

Volunteer recruitment and training

Approximately 1,300 listed building cases are sent out each year to our historic buildings advisers. It has been a good year for new volunteers. We have had 22 so far with 17 of them already operational and five waiting for a training day (planned for March 2008). Despite this there are many areas in England and Wales that are still not covered, so if anyone wishes to know more about this extremely rewarding role, please feel free to contact either Carole Barrowclough or Lynne Walker for England, on 01904 671417; for Wales contact Mike Anthony on 0292 0573210.

Lynne Walker is the CBA's historic buildings officer.

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