A “Hobbit” house, a cabbies’ shelter and a World War One listening post are among five buildings that have been given listed status, as Historic England marks 70 years of the practice. Listing was introduced in the Town and County Planning Act in 1947 in order to save important buildings from over-zealous post-war builders. The BBC takes a tour of the latest additions.
Underhill, Holme, West Yorkshire
This fantastical home in Holme has been dubbed a luxury “Hobbit” house because of its similarity to the hill-dwellings inhabited by Bilbo Baggins and co.
It was designed by Arthur Quarmby and built between 1973 and 1975 for the architect and his family to live in.
Mr Quarmby, who included various roof lanterns and observation domes, said “architects have taken the sky out of architecture – I like to see the clouds scudding by”.
Historic England described it as Britain’s first modern earth-sheltered home.
The organisation said: “Nestled within the Peak District National Park, this environmentally-sensitive underground house disappears into the rolling green moor, creating a harmony between natural and manmade worlds.”
Stockton-on-Tees wireless station, County Durham
This cottage in Stockton is believed to be the Royal Navy’s only wireless station that was capable of gathering intelligence at the outbreak of Word War One.
Now the home of Donald Yeaman, Y station as it was known, was a base for monitoring communications across the North Sea, allowing those listening in to advise the military on enemy plans.
The radios were positioned in the loft, and a concrete block and metal ring outside the property are thought to be relics from where the mast was rigged.
It is one of the last remaining World War One wireless stations.
Pillwood House, Truro, Cornwall
Built between 1973 and 74 as a holiday home in the trees, it was described by architect John Miller as a “fun house as well as a sun house”.
Historic England praised the way its large windows “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,” the organisation said.
Cabmen’s shelter, Grosvenor Gardens in Victoria, central London
This little green shack was built in 1904 to provide a place for London cab drivers to have a break and escape the elements.
Previously, the drivers of the horse-drawn hansom cabs had to sit in the open waiting for fares, as they were not allowed to leave their cabs unattended.
Despite this, drivers would often pay a child to mind their ride while they sought shelter in pubs, where they would sometimes “drink more than is good for their health or behaviour”.
So the shelters were built from the 1870s onwards throughout London to provide a more reputable place for them to seek relief.
These refuges often provided books and magazines donated by the public, as well as a kitchen, with cab drivers paying a small subscription to use the facilities.
This shelter, one of about a dozen still in existence, continues to be used by London’s taxi drivers.
Members of the public are also able to buy refreshments, including drinks, pies and curry from the shelter, although only cabbies are allowed to sit inside.
Funerary buildings at Willesden Jewish Cemetery, north-west London
The United Synagogue Cemetery in Willesden is considered to be one of London’s most prestigious Jewish cemeteries.
It was established in 1873 and soon became a prominent burial place for London’s most established Anglo-Jewish Ashkenazi communities.
People buried there include Sir Julius Vogel, who was prime minister of New Zealand in 1876, and Rosalind Franklin who helped discover DNA.
Historic England said the Gothic Revival set of buildings was a rare example, “as many similar complexes in England’s Jewish cemeteries have been lost”.
It said: “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.”
What is listing?
The power to protect noteworthy sites from redevelopment or demolition was actually established in 1882 but the system used today was introduced 70 years ago.
After World War Two, Britain underwent a major rebuilding programme to clear and replace buildings damaged or destroyed by bombing.
The Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 was implemented to identify those properties special enough to be protected, with the first lists dubbed “salvage lists”.
There were more than 45,000 new listings made in the scheme’s first 10 years, with the current tally standing at about 400,000.
This includes 710 windmills, 514 pigsties, 262 palaces, 72 piers, 16 plague crosses, 13 dung-pits, three scoreboards, two fairground rides and a rocket.
The five latest additions have all been awarded Grade II status, the lowest of three grades available, meaning they are “of special interest warranting every effort to protect them”.
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