Five fascinating places, including a London cabbie’s shelter, a First World War wireless station and a ‘hobbit house’ in Yorkshire, have been listed to mark 70 years of protecting England’s extraordinary historic buildings.
After the Second World War the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 established the system of Listing we know today. Today the list has around 400,000 entries including 710 windmills, 514 pigsties, 262 palaces, 72 piers, 16 plague crosses, 13 dung pits, three scoreboards, two fairground rides and one rocket
A Cabbie’s shelter, a luxury ‘hobbit house’, a First World War wireless station, a daring home in the woods and a Jewish Cemetery have all been listed, one at Grade II* and the others at Grade II, by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England. This diverse range of buildings has been added to the National Heritage List for England (The List) to mark 70 years of protecting England’s extraordinary historic buildings and to highlight the sheer variety of historic sites recognised through listing.
The Five new listings include the following:
Cabmen’s Shelter, Grosvenor Gardens, London, 1906, listed at Grade II
This small but distinctive green Cabbie’s Shelter, built in 1904, is one of only a handful still standing in London, put up by The Cabmen’s Shelter Fund to provide cabbies with shelter and refreshments when they were on the ranks. In the late C19, the drivers of London’s horse-drawn hansom cabs were constantly exposed to the elements but weren’t allowed to leave the rank while waiting for customers, leading many to take shelter in pubs and ’drink more than is good for their health or behaviour’. To combat this, shelters were built throughout London and this one is still used by the city’s taxi cab drivers today.
Underhill, Holme, West Yorkshire, 1973-5, listed at Grade II
Designed by Arthur Quarmby as a home for himself and his family, the aptly named Underhill is Britain’s first modern earth-sheltered house and has been described as a luxury hobbit’s home because of its captivating design. Nestled within the Peak District National Park, this environmentally sensitive, underground house disappears into the rolling green moor, creating a harmony between natural and man-made worlds.
This connection with nature can also be experienced through the various roof lanterns and observation domes which give views of the sky and clouds, as Quarmby felt ‘architects have taken the sky out of architecture. I like to see the clouds scudding by’.
Stockton-on-Tees Wireless Station, County Durham, 1912-13, listed at Grade II
This building is thought to be the Royal Navy’s only station capable of intelligence gathering at the outbreak of the First World War.
Now a private home, in its heyday Y Station Stockton was an integral part of a network of sites feeding information to the military and was perfectly positioned to monitor communications across the North Sea. Very few First World War wireless stations are still standing so this building is special as a rare survival from the early days of the development of wireless technology.
Pillwood House, Truro, Cornwall, 1973-74, listed at Grade II*
Seemingly suspended within the treetops of a wood near Truro, the bold geometric shapes of Pillwood slice into the landscape, with its jaunty spiral staircases making this family holiday home into what the architect John Miller called ‘a fun house, as well as a sun house’. Its large expanses of glass allow light to flood in and give wide views of the surrounding wood. Miller made early use of glass reinforced plastic, or fibreglass, to make the walls which are lightweight but strong, and the steel frame was painted bright green to give it a visual connection with the surrounding trees. Pillwood has been listed at Grade II*, marking it as particuarly important: only 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade II*.
Funerary buildings at Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery), London, 1872-73 listed at Grade II
The United Synagogue Cemetery, known as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of London’s Jewish cemeteries, was established in 1873 and soon became the prominent burial place for London’s most established Anglo-Jewish Ashkenazi communities. This Gothic Revival set of funerary buildings forms the cemetery’s focal point and is a rare survival as many similar complexes in England’s Jewish cemeteries have been lost. Each building plays a specific role in Jewish burial practice, from the central Prayer Hall where the coffin is received, to the Cohanim Room which was used only for those believed to be descended from the High Priest Aaron.
Deborah Mays, Head of Listing at Historic England said: ‘The diverse character of our land and its people is marked in the fabric of England’s buildings and places. For 70 years the most special historic sites have been protected through listing so they can be enjoyed by future generations. Born from the destruction of World War Two, listing has allowed us to ensure thousands of places keep their special interest and help to tell England’s extraordinary story.’