Andrew Lloyd Webber joined Historic England last night to announce the winners of this year’s Angel Awards. The awards, presented with fellow judge Bettany Hughes, were a celebration of the unsung heroes of the heritage world. The ceremony featured a special appearance from John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who was there to present the Best Rescue of a Heritage Site award.
John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“I am extremely grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to restore precious heritage sites across the country. Their efforts mean that future generations will be able to appreciate these places for years to come. The Angel Awards are a great way to shine a light on these special individuals. I feel honoured to present the ‘Best Rescue of a Heritage Site award’ to Nicholas and Dinah Ashley-Cooper – 12th Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury – for the rescue of St Giles House and Park in Dorset. Thanks to them, the public can enjoy a particularly beautiful and historic home.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber said:
“The Angels were set up to recognise the achievements and determination of people who work tirelessly to rescue our heritage. Often, these people start a project using their own initiative, their own resources and have little outside help. The Angels is all about bringing that work, and these people, into the spotlight. Now in its fifth year, the Angels go from strength to strength and this year sees the first Scottish Heritage Angel Awards.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said:
“Last night was all about honouring people who rescue heritage for future generations. It was a chance to mark collective achievements, take stock of how far restorations and rescues have come, and tackle future challenges with renewed vigour.”
The awards are judged by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Historic England’s Chief Executive Duncan Wilson, historian Bettany Hughes, TV’s Restoration Man George Clarke, ceramics manufacturer Emma Bridgewater and the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.
The winners of the 2015 Angel Awards are:
Best Rescue of Any Other Type of Historic Building or Place: Nicholas and Dinah Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury for the rescue of St Giles House and Park, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset
Abandoned and forgotten in the 1980, the Grade I St Giles House and Park rapidly fell into disrepair. In 2010, the new 12th Earl of Shaftesbury began thinking creatively about how to turn St Giles back into a family home. Building work began the following year with a team of craftsmen, specialists and consultants all pulling together to give this very special building a new lease of life.
Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, said: “This started as a small project that got larger and larger. Once we started, we saw the opportunity and had the vision to see this very special project through.”
Best Rescue or Repair of a Historic Place of Worship: Friends of St Mary Church for the rescue of St Mary’s, Norfolk
The Grade I listed St Mary’s Church became redundant in the 1980s and quickly fell into disrepair. The 100-strong Friends group, led by Graham Prior, were faced with a huge challenge to restore the building. The windows broken, walls crumbling, organ vandalised and graveyard completely overgrown the rescue was a real labour of love. When many would have simply given up, the Friends group persevered and achieved the remarkable; bringing a redundant and forgotten church back to life.
Graham Prior, Forncett St Mary, said: “We have a group of 100 friends who made this all possible. Everybody’s support has been amazing.”
Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Site: Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust for the rescue of Blackfell Hauler House, Gateshead
The Bowes Railway is a unique industrial heritage site, once used to transport coal from the Durham coal fields down to the Tyne and to the cities, towns and villages beyond. Of all the buildings at Bowes, the hauler house was the biggest challenge. Subjected to frequent vandalism, graffiti and metal theft that wrecked the machinery, its transformation is all the more remarkable. With support from Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust has been working on its restoration for nearly 40 years. The roof, windows, doors and steelwork have all been repaired turning the building into a successful workshop producing yurts.
Martin Hulse, Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust, said: “This project had taken over 40 years, we’ve been involved for the past six. The day I pulled the architect through the hole in the wall in the building was the day I realised the project had to work.”
Best Craftsmanship by a Trainee or Group Employed on a Heritage Rescue: Emma Dawson for her work on several heritage at risk sites
At the tender age of 16, armed only with a Saturday job at Woolworths and an interest in heritage, Emma landed a place on a foundation scheme where she began learning to work with plaster and mortar. Since then she’s worked on many historic properties, from the National Trust’s Basildon Park to King’s Cross St Pancras, and has earned the nickname “The Pointing Queen”.
Emma Dawson said: “It’s a great honour to work on historic buildings, it’s something I’ve been passionate to work on ever since I was a kid.”
The People’s Favourite: The Historic England followers and Telegraph Readers’ award: The Newman Brothers Coffin Works, Birmingham
After 100 years of producing small metal goods in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the Coffin Works closed its doors in 1998, leaving factory and offices intact, as if the workers had simply gone on a tea break. It soon fell into disrepair and was declared “At Risk” in 2003, leading to a tireless effort from the Trust’s previous director Elizabeth Perkins and volunteers, to tell the story of this incredible building. Now open to the public, the building has been rescued and offers a window into a lost world.
Simon Buteux, Birmingham Conservation Trust, said: “This is an incredible thing for Birmingham. We reinvented the Coffin Works, it was an extraordinarily hard struggle but it was worth it.”
The Future of the Angel Awards
It was announced on stage that Historic England has won funding from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to run the Angel Awards for the next three years.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “The Andrew Loyd Webber Foundation’s generous grant of £150,000 will allow us to shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes and heroines of heritage for a further three years. Saving England’s architectural treasures is more than any official body can do alone. Our heritage depends on hundreds of thousands of dedicated people all over the country, passionate individuals, committed communities, professionals, apprentices and most of all ordinary members of the public who care deeply about a building or a place they know that is historic and in need. Historic England and the Andrew Loyd Webber Foundation look forward to highlighting even more astonishing rescues over the years to come and we’ll be broadening our categories so that even more people can apply. Watch out for the Historic England Angel Awards 2016!”
The full shortlist for the Historic England Angel Awards 2015:
Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Site
Best Craftsmanship Employed on a Heritage Rescue
Best Rescue or Repair of a Place of Worship
Best Rescue of any other type of Historic Building or Place