City Heritage Sites Put on 'At Risk' Register in Bid to Save Them

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Byline: By Shahid Naqvi

A pair of cemeteries in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, a waterworks tower that inspired Tolkien, and a Victorian swimming baths in the city are among a number of heritage sites at risk of being lost in the West Midlands.

The landmarks are among more than 500 structures assessed by English Heritage as in need of urgent repairs to prevent them crumbling away.

The historic sites are among 6,000 on the organisation's Heritage at Risk register meaning they are in danger of disappearing from the landscape forever if action is not taken.

The list also includes for the first time heritage monuments, described as "humps and bumps", which include ancient walls, shipwrecks, parkland, Bronze Age burial mounds and nuclear bunkers.

Of the region's 1,444 monuments, 29 per cent, or 419, are in danger of destruction, compared with the national proportion of 21 per cent.

The region also has a higher proportion of listed buildings at risk, 172 in total, or 4.9 per cent, compared with 3.2 per cent nationally.

And the proportion of parks and gardens in the West Midlands is double the national Agure, 13 per cent compared with seven per cent.

Tim Johnston, English Heritage regional director for planning and development, said: "It is a bit worrying. It may be because of the industrial legacy of the West Midlands.

"Some of these are industrial buildings that are crumbling. The other point is because of civic pride in Victorian times there were a lot of buildings built for the community that is now in danger if not looked after."

Mr Johnston said there was a north-south divide with more sites in danger in the north because there was more private investment in the south to spend on converting historic buildings into new usage.

Heritage at Risk was launched yesterday at Warstone Lane Cemetery in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter - one of the monuments in danger of crumbling away, along with nearby Key Hill Cemetery where the city's great civic leader Joseph Chamberlain is buried .

Mr Johnston said: "The walls that are propping up the cemetery are being supported. …