History is finite, and this is even more the case when it comes to historical architecture.
Whilst the future holds a seemingly countless number of opportunities when it comes to architecture and construction, there will be no more authentic examples of heritage architecture, and as the years pass the risk will increase that they will be lost forever.
This is the logic behind the National Heritage List for England, which documents over 400,000 different buildings, structures, landscapes and other historically important parts of England that need protection, heritage property restoration or both.
Most of the buildings that end up on the list do receive restoration and protection, typically either as a community good or by developers who find a way to take advantage of the unique qualities of a building and the marketing potential of providing services within a piece of restored history.
However, in some cases, either due to being listed after the building has fallen into disrepair, debate over the suitability of a building as a piece of historical heritage or extenuating circumstances, some restorations are far more precarious than others.
A fascinating example of the different ways one can interpret the preservation of English heritage, Calke Abbey in the Peak District is a monument to a country house tradition that no longer exists.
After passing from the Harpur-Crewe family to the National Trust, only major remedial work has been done to the building, with the National Trust interested in highlighting how after the 1870s the English country house entered a steep decline, with hundreds of them being demolished in the 20th Century.
Calke Abbey’s interiors have changed remarkably little since the 1880s, remaining a somewhat faded epitaph of the rapid downfall of the old order amidst a sudden and dramatic cultural shift.
Midland Hotel, Morecambe
An unforgettably striking example of Streamline Moderne design, the Midland Hotel was opened in 1933 and was home to performances by George Formby amongst many other acts.
However, after its use as a military hospital during the Second World War, the Hotel ended up facing an uncertain future. It passed between different owners and suffered a terrible refurbishment that did not work well with the Art Deco roots of the building.
It ended up on the Heritage At Risk Register in 1998 but has since been restored and is thriving alongside the seaside town it rests on the coast of.
Brandon Railway Station
Originally constructed in the 1840s, Brandon Railway Station was a rarity in that it had not seen significant change or updates since that time, but had seen a lot of history.
It was near the RAF and USAF bases at Laken Heath and Mildenhall in Suffolk and showcases how small country railway stations could be; the entire station consists of a row of cottages, one of which would have belonged to the station master.
The design was deliberately sympathetic to the local area, and because of both its historical design and proximity to wartime bases, it featured prominently in an episode of Dad’s Army.
In 2020, Greater Anglia Railways planned to demolish it to make way for a car park, a proposal that was only stopped by the station receiving Grade II listed status following a campaign by the group SAVE Britain’s Heritage.