The heart of Thorne near Doncaster is at risk, according to a local architectural organisation.
The South Yorkshire Buildings Preservation Trust says the town’s historic buildings are under threat due to a funding crisis, which they say threatens to destroy hundreds of years of the town’s history.
Thorne is a 17th Century market town. Its Grade II listed market place buildings stand unused, looking more than a little bit sad and tired.
Richard Walker is ex-Mayor of Thorne, undertaker and councillor. He thinks the answer is to pull down the old buildings which he says are no longer fit-for-purpose, and replace them with new buildings with a replica frontage:
“The old hearse building has been empty for over 20 years – it’s absolutely shot,” says Richard. “It would be very difficult to comply with modern standards of rules and regulations to bring it in keeping.
Thorne is a 17th Century market town, dating back to Charles I
“I hate to say it but I think they should demolish the whole lot and put a new building in its place, copying the facade so it can be used for commercial use. It’s been listed, de-listed, listed… and it’s beyond economic repair now. What would you do with it when it’s repaired anyway? It’s not really fit for any modern-day purpose.”
However South Yorkshire Buildings Preservation Trust says that the centre of Thorne is a remarkable place which has been looked after too little for too long. Andy Whitham is the Trust’s Development Officer: “It was designated a conservation area in 1968 largely because there was an abundance of 17th Century and earlier buildings in the town. Since then most of the medieval buildings have been demolished, despite being in a conservation area.”
Since 2005 SYBPT have been campaigning to save the Grade II listed 1 and 2 Market Place buildings which date from the time of Charles I and form the core of the town’s historic 17th Century centre. Andy says he understands why people might think that the buildings are past their useful life, but in fact they are very significant:
“It really has some pretty remarkable interiors. 1 and 2 Market Place are key buildings. Elsewhere in the town there’s Thorne Hall and the old Vicarage on medieval Stonegate. All are significant ancient sites at risk because they are unused, boarded up and badly vandalised.”
SYBPT have now negotiated with the owner of 1 and 2 Market Place so that they can resurrect the empty buildings. They have some money to do the work – but not enough.
“We have nearly £500,000 of loan funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund in place but the refurbishment will cost £1.1million.”
Another significant building in Thorne which has had a facelift is 42-44 King Street, which SYBPT restored after it was at risk for decades.
“We purchased the property in 2005 and reopened it in September 2009 for a Heritage Open Day. We were amazed by the public support – unanimously the visitors thought the integrity of the buildings is what’s important and that they shouldn’t be demolished. There are other buildings in Thorne which people think should be restored and if we can’t find funding, the historic environment of Thorne will disappear.”