Town Centre Listed Buildings – Warrington’s Bewsey Street (part one)

I am supposed to be working on an outline for the area of my book dealing with Warrington in the Fifties, but I am getting more and more drawn into trying to find out what has been happening with that section of the nation’s built heritage in Warrington’s care. It is taking a while to get to the bottom of this and the results of my investigations are deeply depressing.

Warrington has 87 statutory listed items in the town centre and an additional 14 in Church Street; the colossal road works of the 90s having turned the town’s original site into a sort of extra-parochial adjunct to the town itself. Listing identifies buildings that are of significant national, and sometimes even international, importance that must be preserved for the knowledge and enjoyment of future generations. Of those designated Grade II, a mere 5.5% are listed Grade II* and a tiny 2.5 % are listed Grade I.

Warrington’s town centre alone has six Grade II* and three Grade I listed items.

The majority of these are within one of the town centre’s seven statutory Conservation Areas: Bewsey Street, Bridge Street, Buttermarket Street, Palmyra Square, Town Hall and Winwick Street. It must be remembered that a listing may refer to a group of buildings or an entire terrace, so the number of individual buildings will be considerably higher.

Bewsey StreetWarrington’s most fashionable address in the eighteenth century, has nine listed items, all Grade II: four blocks of residential terraces: numbers 39-49, 51-61, 63-67 and 72-74; the St Albans RC Church; its Presbytery; number 14, Bewsey Chambers; number 93, and 1 Froghall Lane.

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Town Centre Conservation Areas – Preserving Warrington’s Historic Core?

A while ago I needed to check a date on a building on Bridge Street so, rather than look through all my notes, I did a quick Google search. One of the documents it threw up was a Conservation Area Appraisal for Bridge Streetprepared by the council’s planning policy department in 2006. This made very interesting reading, despite none of the photographs and maps having downloaded with the text, but a re-direct from the council led me to a, rather obscure, page where the downloads had functioning images.

Thus began a trail that seems to be leading me into discoveries that are making me more and more concerned.

It started simply enough. I noticed that Figure 1 on the Bridge Conservation Area Appraisal, a map showing the extent of all the Conservation Areas in the town centre, included one for Winwick Street, the ancient route to and from the North, but there was no appraisal on the council’s website. Further examination of the page to which I had been directed showed management proposals for only two thirds of the Areas.

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