Saved for the future:London cabbies’ shelter and ‘hobbit house’ among five buildings to gain Grade II status in new National Heritage list

A London cabbie’s shelter, a First World War wireless station and an earth-sheltered “hobbit house” in Yorkshire are among five quirky new listings to be given Grade II status today to mark 70 years of protecting England’s historic buildings.

The first powers to protect historic sites were established in 1882 but this year marks 70 years since the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 which is now known as The National Heritage List for England.

About 400,000 buildings are on ‘The List’, which includes some of the most beautiful and historically important structures across the country, along with the wonderfully wacky.

Hundreds of windmills, palaces and piers have gained protected status over the years, along with pigsties, fairground rides, scoreboards and even a rocket.

Today, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), on the advice of Historic England, has granted protected status to five more of the country’s unusual buildings.

Debbie 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.”

1. Cabmen’s Shelter, Grosvenor Gardens, London

One of the last remaining shelters originally built for the drivers of London’s horse-drawn hansom cabs is now one of the country’s protected buildings. The small green structure located in Grosvenor Gardens, Belgravia, was built in 1904 as a place of refuge for drivers to escape from London’s bitter winter weather. At that time, drivers weren’t allowed to leave the rank while waiting for customers, so many paid others to look after their cabs while they took shelter in pubs, where they would be tempted to drink on the job.

To combat this, shelters were built throughout the city so drivers would have somewhere to go for hot meals. The small green huts were not allowed to be larger than a horse and cart, as they stood on the public highway.

A small number of shelters still exist across London and are run by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund. During the annual Open House festival, the public gets a chance to see inside some of the huts, normally the exclusive reserve of cab drivers.

2. Underhill, Holme, West Yorkshire

Sitting in the heart of the West Yorkshire countryside and with breathtaking views across the Pennines, Underhill is an earth-sheltered house, one of the most ancient techniques of house building.

The front door opens from a Hobbit-like entrance tunnel. However, this home is far from primitive — at its heart sits a vast 50ft by 40ft living area, surrounded by soaring exposed stone arches and capped with a 20ft diameter skylight over the central swimming pool.

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Holme, near Huddersfield, which was built in 1975, was the dream project of architect-owner Arthur Quarmby.

This area is also lit from the 20ft wide glass doors leading on to the terrace and the property’s one-acre garden, which features an enclosed paddock and a detached double garage with workshop.

3. Stockton-on-Tees Wireless Station, County Durham

Stockton-on-Tees Wireless Station is thought to be the Royal Navy’s only facility capable of gathering intelligence at the start of the First World War.

Now a private home, the building has been granted Grade II listed status as its one of the few surviving wireless stations still standing.

4. Pillwood House, Truro, Cornwall

Perched on the banks of the River Fal’s estuary up a muddy track, the glass spike of Pillwood House — which won a RIBA regional award the year it was built — juts into the sky.

The house was built in 1973-74, as a joint project between husband and wife team Su Rogers (who had been a member of groundbreaking architectural firm Team 4 with her then-husband Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Wendy Cheesman) and John Miller (who was also known for his work on the Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery and Whitechapel Art Gallery).

There are no internal doors: the two storeys are linked by a pair of spiral staircases with flexible sleeping quarters divided by sliding walls on the lower level. The upstairs living space takes advantage of the estuary views through the sloping glazed roof.

5. Funerary buildings at Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery), London

Known as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of London’s Jewish cemeteries, Willesden Cemetery was opened in 1873. Famous names buried on the site include Rosalind Franklin, who discovered DNA; restaurant critic and film director Michael Winner; and Marcus Samuel, a founder of Shell Oil.

The Neo-Gothic buildings which have been newly listed are a rare survival of a Jewish burial complexes in England, with each building playing a specific role in Jewish burial practice.

Source: Homes and Property.

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