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UK Charity Calls On Developers to Save At-Risk Buildings

The ‘Up My Street’ catalogue profiles 100 historic properties in desperate need of repair

Tonedall Mills, once a large textile mill, is listed as an at-risk property in the 'Up My Street' catalogue. (Chris Allen/Wikimedia Commons)
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Across the United Kingdom, crumbling cottages, derelict churches, abandoned hospitals and other historic sites are in desperate need of TLC. In the hopes of enticing potential buyers to purchase and restore these properties, the conservation charity Save will publish a catalog of 100 at-risk buildings on June 28, Maev Kennedy reports for the Guardian.

Up My Street, as the annual catalog is titled this year, bills itself as a “must read for anyone interested in restoring historic properties.” And as Kennedy writes, it features some of the “saddest buildings in Britain.”

The largest and most difficult to restore is Tonedale Mills, a now-defunct textile mill in Wellington, Somerset. The property was first constructed in 1754, and rebuilt after a fire in 1821. Tonedale Mills once employed some 3,600 people, but the property is now abandoned and derelict. The building was purchased in 2005, but plans for its restoration fizzled during the economic recession of 2008.

A former dermatology hospital in Birmingham is also featured in the catalog, Adam Learoyd of the Birmingham Mail reports. When it opened in 1888, the Birmingham and Midland Skin Hospital was equipped with medicated baths, an operating theater, 21 in-patient beds, a large consulting room, and spacious waiting rooms. At one point, the building was used as a bar, but it has been vacant for several years. The property is now on the market for £1.2 million ($1.52 million).

The buildings cataloged in Up My Street don’t come come cheap, but abandoned historic properties can have plenty of potential for enterprising developers. A dilapidated 19th-century engine house in Hull, for instance, recently opened as a hotel.

"Every year SAVE’s buildings at risk catalogues challenge people to look with fresh eyes at the historic buildings around them and take stock of the damage that would be done to local scenes and landscapes if they were to be lost," Save’s Building at Risk officer Liz Fuller tells Betty Wood of The Spaces.

The UK isn’t the only country with plenty of abandoned buildings in need of repair. Italy recently offered to give away 103 historic properties to potential developers, entirely free of charge. 

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, Flavorwire, and Women in the World, a property of The New York Times.

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