LITTLE mesters’ workshops and the Wicker Arches in Sheffield are among 13 South Yorkshire industrial sites included on English Heritage’s new register of buildings at risk.
The organisation, which looks after Britain’s historic sites and places of interest, published its latest list of at risk sites after carrying out the largest-ever research project into the condition of England’s industrial heritage.
English Heritage is offering help to owners of sites to encourage work to preserve them from decay. Some have received grants of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Trevor Mitchell, planning director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “As difficult economic conditions continue, our industrial heritage remains prey to dereliction, decay and ultimately demolition.
“We want to help owners and developers to halt decay and to plan for imaginative new uses. There is a strong local passion for this defining element of our past.”
English Heritage has launched a national action plan to help preserve buildings and structures.
The plan includes help for developers on re-using industrial buildings, a new guide to keeping buildings safe from decay, and suitable uses until better economic times.
There is also help for charities wanting to rescue buildings and preservation of threatened buildings as visitor attractions.
English Heritage is to part-fund an Industrial Heritage Support Officer to set up a network of support and advice for trusts and voluntary groups.
The organisation said the need to preserve old industrial sites was highlighted by a poll in which 91 per cent of Yorkshire people said it was important to ‘value and appreciate industrial heritage’ - more than the national average of 87 per cent.
In Sheffield, the metal trades complex Leah’s Yard on Cambridge Street is one of English Heritage’s current top 10 priority sites.
It has stood empty for around 15 years - even though it is directly opposite John Lewis department store and round the corner from Division Street.
The yard takes its name from Henry Leah, a silver stamper who moved there in 1892, but its origins are earlier.
Henry Leah and Sons occupied the building until the firm merged with Spear and Jackson in 1976.
Another metal trades complex is currently being repaired. Joel’s Yard on Well Meadow Street is a typical little mesters courtyard complex, originally a file works, dating from around 1840.
It includes a chimneystack and small crucible shop for steel production, and is being repaired and converted to provide flats with the help of a £200,000 English Heritage grant.
Work has also started to repair other important industrial sites. After a £295,000 grant from English Heritage, the main buildings at Darnall Crucible Steel Shops in Sheffield, once the largest such works in the world and at the heart of the city’s success in the steel industry, will come off the Heritage at Risk Register this year.
The waterwheel at Shepherd Wheel, Porter Valley, is now working again and restoration of the whole site will be completed next year, supported by a £28,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
And Network Rail has pledged to restore the Wicker Arches.