Local heritage 'at risk'

English Heritage has just published its Heritage At Risk directory of sites, buildings, monuments and so forth which are listed and yet remain un-cared for.

Fortunately for Brockley, EH hasn't found anything to worry about in SE4, but there are a few sites in the wider vicinity which might interest BC readers.

Perhaps the most prominent is the old swimming baths on Ladywell road, currently Grade II listed and in a 'poor' condition according to EH. The organisation adds the description:
'Public baths, consisting of first and second class swimming
pools constructed in 1884. Designed in the gothic style by
Wilson & Son and Thomas Aldwinkle. Currently unused, and new uses being sought.'

There are also a couple of sites in Deptford - a ramp at Deptford Station is Grade II listed, in 'poor' condition. It was 'built 1856 to the design of engineer Colonel Lordmann. A dog-leg ramp formed by a series of brick arches rising up from Deptford High Street to the level of the tracks. Listed building consent and planning permission granted for redevelopment of enclosed square, repair of ramp and occupation of arches.' BC suspects these comments relate to the Deptford Project re-development, as we've previously discussed.

The shop-front at 227 Deptford High St gives EH concern: 'House, shop and bakehouse built 1791-2 for Thomas Palmer, baker. Further modifications made 1801-2 and 1822-3. C19 shop front in disrepair.'

And the master shipwright's apartment in Convoy's Wharf also needs attention: 'Early C18 house built for Joseph Allan who became Master Shipwright of Deptford Dockyard in 1705. Brown brick with red dressings to front. Shown in a 1739 engraving by Samuel Platt. In residential and arts use. Listed building consent granted for refurbishment.'

(NB: Hat-tip to Diamond Geezer for his link to the EH At Risk register.)


Anonymous said...

The Victorian Gothic old Ladywell Swimming Baths Buildings (and former Coronor's Court - strange combination!) is a fantastic local gem.


There must be a way of putting this propetry to good use. I'm glad it's listed. I checked for it a few weeks ago on the Images of England Website but couldn't find it.

Within Lewisham/Greenwich there is a Historic Buildings Trust (at Blackheath). This organisation has saved a few buildings. Maybe they could give us some pointers:


Also SAVE:


patrick1971 said...

That carriage ramp in Deptford is meant to be totally renovated as part of the Deptford Station redevelopment. The redevelopment has been planned for at least the last five years, so don't know if anything's ever going to happen with it.

patrick1971 said...

"There must be a way of putting this propetry to good use."

Maybe they could go totally crazy and actually use it as a swimming baths, now that the other Ladywell pool has had to shut, allegedly temporarily.

lb said...

Indeed, it's a fine building of its time. It must be in a bit of a state interally by now though?

Perhaps they could even reinstate the First and Second Class Baths, filling the former with sparkling mineral water or something.

Brockley Kate said...

Yes, I love the thought of first and second class swimming ... free fluffy towels for those in first class, of course, and perhaps a steam room.

max said...

The Playtower at Ladywell Road needs saving and it's indecent that the Council has neglected it so much.

I had a blue sky thinking moment once that gave me an original idea for a business that could possibly pay for its upkeep but the costs to bring the building back into a usable space are enormous and one needs a lot of help from the Council.
Not to mention that one needs to draw up a detailed business plan and evaluate it carefully first.

Anyay, I feel that something could be done to make it something better than flats or a mountain of rubble as the Council's conservation unit is trying to make it into.

mg said...

At the end of the road is another Victorian (? I think) red brick pile, the old police station. It's had a sign on it for ages and ages saying it's been acquired for luxury apartments or some such but no sign of anything actually happening. And what with all the builders being laid off I don't suppose anything will happen soon.

Brockley Kate said...

Mg - If I recall correctly, I think it's been acquired by a housing association, so it's quite likely that re-development will happen despite the economic climate ...

max said...

No, it's been acquired only "in partnership" with a housing association, to provide affordable housing as part of a development but it's beenacquired by Purelake, a private property developer.

They want to expand it at the rear and have recently submitted a planning application that shows a very unsympathetic addition also facing the historic cemetry of St Mary's Church that is one of the oldest parts of Lewisham.

That is all part of St Mary's conservation area.

They have been sitting on it since 2004 and one wonders if the deterioration of the Playtower is related to their taking it so easy.

Tressilliana said...

When my children were babies I used to hear people talking about the Playtower - by the time they were old enough to have gone there it had closed because of lack of money for repairs/refurbishment. It was used for a few years by the Ladywell Gym Club and was pretty grim then. It's strange that such a huge site (it goes a long way back) is just sitting there unused.

About eight years ago Lewisham Council suggested that one possible site for the new secondary school might be on the combined sites of the police station, coroner's court and Playtower, presumably retaining the facades. Fortunately this scheme was abandoned pretty quickly as it had very little going for it. Of course they then decided to put it on the site of the current Ladywell pool, but that's a whole nother story (now fortunately ended).

I expect everyone knows that Prendergast School's upper site in the middle of Hilly Fields is a Grade II listed building, fortunately in pretty good condition. Lewisham Council's website says there are around 540 listed buildings in the borough, which is a lot more than I would have guessed.

lb said...

On an almost unrelated note, you may be interested (or not) to know that Britain's largest concentration of Grade I listed buildings (after Trfalagar Square) is in Birkenhead, of all places.

I can confirm it's a pretty impressive sight, though you do have to go through Birkenhead to get to it, which is slightly less appealing.

betamatt said...

I love that old building - didn't realise it had been swimming baths in the past. Also on that stretch of Ladywell road is the disused art deco style Adhesive factory. Be nice if that was sympathetically redeveloped too. I was thinking artists studios/small business spaces - although I'd be happy with flats to be honest...

fabhat said...

i love the old adhesive factory - as for the shipwrights palace in deptford - I can't believe that's at risk - it's in fine fettle and has been amazingly restored by the two gents who own it.

max said...

Yes the adhesive building is wonderful and I think that it is supposed to be redeveloped for flats.

The Playtower's likely cost of renovation is likely to be so high that I doubt that even housing could pay for it, especially in this market conditions, so if nothing is done it will crumble.

Essentially the Council is carrying out a very slow demolition of an historic building.

Anonymous said...

What's going on with what looks to be an old Police station in Ladywell?

Anonymous said...

Would love to see round the Playtower/swimming baths. Perhaps is possible for someone to arrange this under the Civic Trust's Heritage Open Days?


max said...

Too see around the Playtower you only have to go down Ladywell Road, you won't be allowed in anyway as the building is considered unsafe following a fire a couple of years ago. There is a 24hr security guard though.

Anonymous said...

You may like to know, that in the centre of Lewisham, there are the remains of a palaeolithic archaeological site - the foundations of a medieval stone bridge - which will be destroyed during the Gateway developments.

What better or more evocative way to bring the residents of Lewisham in touch with their past that to preserve this in some format.

But no, it will be destroyed to satisfy the developers avarice.

mg said...

@anon 14.28
Is that in the grounds of the Georgian-y looking house at the very bottom of Ladywell Road? I see an interesting looking ruin there when I sit on the top deck to Lewisham, always wondered what it was.

Mara said...

I tried Googling the playtower to find out more but there isn't much information available - I'm intrigued, for those in the know, do tell more!

max said...

Here's what I know.
It was built in 1885 as a swimming bath, it was opened 2 weeks ahead of Forest Hill Pools by the first Mayor of Lewisham Theophilous Williams.
As Forest Hill Pools it had two pools, a first and a second class. It operated as such until 1965 when the new Ladywell Pool opened. The pool tanks were then filled up and boarded over and the building had other uses since.
Until 2004 it was home to the Ladywell Gymnastic Club that is now based at a new facility in Bellingham.
Since 2004 it's been closed and a couple of years ago a fire started at the pool room at the back partially destroying it, it was then deemed unsafe and a security guard is currently making sure that the building crumbles away 24 hours a day without people getting injured by going too close to it.

lb said...

There's a more recent photo of it (and other buildings in the area) on the Derelict London website.

Moira said...

"there are the remains of a palaeolithic archaeological site - the foundations of a medieval stone bridge"

there's 10,000 years between Palaeolithic and Medieval. Which one do you mean?

If its Paleolithic that would be extremely interesting, but the flint/bone scatters would never be preserved for viewing.

If its the foundations of a Medieval stone bridge then there would be little to add to our knowledge on Med stone bridges (we have a lot)unless the layout was unique, and even then it would be hard to extrapolate its upstanding form.

Hardly any excavations occur these days, unless the site is to be developed. Archaeology is in itself destruction and the current view is to best leave sites undisturbed for future, better techniques.

drakefell debaser said...

I have stumbled across that website before and it is incredible to see how many buildings there are empty and decaying around us that have both architectural merit and history. Our buildings are older than a lot of countries and they should be looked after not left to reach a point of no return.

max said...

As I wrote above, I have an idea about a use for the Playtower that could save it, it's about a business enterprise that would also create jobs.
I think that it's the best chance to save it but to make it happen it needs some work from a few people.
I also think that it should be set up as a not for profit organisation.
Who wants to meet up and discuss it and possibly bring it forward?

Brockley Nick said...

@Max - I think it sounds very interesting - I'd happily give you a better platform for your idea. If you wanted to write a short discussion piece, I'll create a dedicated thread for people to give their views, etc.

If you fancy it, please email me your piece and I will post it up as a guest column.

max said...

Thanks Nick, I email you later on tonight, I have to run to cellect my daughter now.

Brockley Nick said...

No problem, just don't want a good idea to get lost :)

Anonymous said...

When it was proposed to put the new school at the Playtower site I looked round the building..in the basement there were rare ferns growing.

Although the building was being used by the gymnastic club the building was in an awful state, holes in the roof etc. Some parts were to dangerous to enter. It was amazing to see about a 100 year children at the club despite the awful state of the building created by the council.

The mayor said he wanted to return it to community use but in 4 years he and officers have not come forward with one suggestion.

A few months ago I visited the coroners court/mortuary which is still in use! It is very pretty round the back.

Re the 'Art Deco'building permission to demolish it was granted in December last year.

The old vicarage facing Ladywell Leisure Centre is another listed building.

The house that forms part of H E Olby is old building and there are some interesting photos within the shop itself.

St. Mary's school is another listed building and just round the corner the first house in Lewisham Park is also a listed building.

So in one small area there are number of Grade Listed or Locally Listed buildings.

Recently Riley's snooker hall (corner of Courthill Road) became a listed building.

Anonymous said...

we have many buildings to be proud of within a short walk of one another, and we have many building, but a few years old, that are shameful.

we should celebrate Lewisham, not give it up to the lowest bidder.

Anonymous said...

For the benefit of comment about the archaeological remains in central Lewisham, here's a bit from the Gateway developers documentation relating to the value of the site and the potential effects:

The archaeological value of the site is low.
However there is potential to disturb a palaeolithic, archaeological site.
Effect of removing existing peat deposits during river construction and the excavation for the
basement car park.
Potentially major – the removal of pre-historic stone which would have been foundation stone for the Lewisham medieval stone bridge.


Lewisham *could* be a place where a recognition of it's history, and physical illustrations to show that, would be a vital reminder of the past. Instead, people want to turn it into Croydon.

Headhunter said...

I love that Derelict London website. There are actually some very impressive websites out there set up by people who specifically travel to sites to get inside and take photos of these old places before they disappear completely.

I'll have to dig out the sites but there was one I remember which had been set up by a guy who visited deserted and derelict Victorian mental hospitals. Many were closed in the 1980s with the onset of "care in the community" (or in other words let the loonies onto the street to fend for themselves). Admittedly though the old Victorian places were pretty stark.

Many of these places had original fittings including ornate marble fireplaces, beautiful cornices as well as more functional items like mortuary slabs and padded cells. All still more or less in place, slowly crumbling away....

Anonymous said...

I think I know the site. Some of the old bedlams also had quite disturbing old drawings (presumably from the inmates) strewn around. The stuff of nightmares - or at least the non-conservation area.

Anonymous said...

By the way Boone Chapel in Lee High Road which lay dorment for the past 60 years is currently being renovated.

spincat said...

One of the biggest issues in Lewisham right now is that of the Excalibur estate: the estate is under threat of demolition despite 88% of residents wanting to remain in their homes. You can read more about it here. they have recently applied for the estate to be listed:

Tressilliana said...

This is another good site:


Tressilliana said...

And here's another one:


max said...

@ Nick, I can't find your email, I sent it to Kate

Do dah said...

To Spincat: but they're prefabs, they weren't meant to last. Do you know what is being offered to the people in lieu of their existing homes?

Tressilliana said...

I don't think much of what was built in the 60s and 70s ostensibly as permanent housing has lasted very well. In a great many cases those buildings are now being demolished, presumably because that's cheaper than bringing them up to a decent standard. If the prefabs, are still in good nick, it seems silly to pull them down and break up an existing community. That break-up of communities was one of the main mistakes made in the planning of new council housing after the war, as far as I can see.

Pete said...

Max if you are interested in doing something about the playtower there is already a small group of people working towards saving it. Send me an email if you want me to put you in contact with them.

max said...

Hi Pete, very good, glad to hear there are other people thinking about it.
I send you an email now so that we can get in touch.

spincat said...

Well said, Tressilliana.

The prefabs are in better nick than many peoperties built to last. The break up of the community, which i know well, would be very sad. If 88% of residents want to live in them why shouldn't they ? The council should be pleased it has so many happy tenants.

Deptford Dame said...

The master shipwright's house in Deptford has been partially (and beautifully) restored, but is very much a work in progress. There are still parts of the building that are very much at risk.

spincat said...

I saw it a few years back at on Open House weekend, and it seemed to be privately owned, with owner himself bearing much of the cost of restoration - don't know if that still is the case?

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