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170-year-old Grade II listed house on Anglesey is most endangered building in Wales

20 Jun 2023 5 minute read
Soldiers’ Point House, Holyhead, Anglesey. Photo The Victorian Society

A 170-year-old Grade II listed house on Anglesey is the most endangered building in Wales, according to the Victorian Society.

Soldier’s Point House in Holyhead features on the society’s Top Ten endangered buildings list for 2023 which was published today.

Built around 1849, Soldier’s Point House became a hotel in the mid-twentieth century.

It fell into disuse around the turn of the twenty-first century and was subsequently heavily damaged by fire in 2011.

Originally built by Charles Rigby, who oversaw the creation of the UK’s longest breakwater at Holyhead, which is 2.4km long and includes a now listed lighthouse.

Charles, with his brother Joseph, were eminent London builders J D & C Rigby, and worked on some of Brunel’s civil engineering projects. The Rigby brothers’ company built Swindon (Grade II) and Steventon railway stations and those stations in between.

They also built the 300 railway worker’s cottages that are now Grade II listed and form the GWR Railway Village Conservation Area in Swindon.

Due to its ambition Pevsner described it as the most significant industrial housing of its era in Britain and internationally. Sir John Betjeman, the Victorian Society’s Chair fought to save the GWR Railway Village.

2nd Anglesey Artillery Volunteers

Whilst at Soldier’s point Rigby was an Anglesey magistrate who also commanded the 2nd Anglesey Artillery Volunteers who he grouped together from his breakwater workers to protect his engineering project from any foreign attack – he even funded a marching brass band for his troops.

The military legacy continued in World War when a square folly tower in the house’s screen wall became a pillbox. The building became a hotel in 1950 which closed around 2000. Plans to convert the mansion into Holyhead’s Maritime Museum were dashed by a fire in 2011. It has been an empty shell since.

Photo The Victorian Society

According to the Victorian Society, the house needs urgent works and a long-term plan if it is to survive.

With redevelopment plans for the wider historic Soldier’s Point area being considered, Anglesey Council is being urged to work with the owner to find an appropriate use for this building with its stunning sea views or encourage them to sell if they have no use for the building.

Griff Rhys Jones, Victorian Society President said: “Soldiers’ Point really needs some love and some help. It’s sad to see this remarkable monument to engineering falling into disrepair. It’s not too late. It is a remarkable place. It is surrounded by history and close to a remarkable engineering landmark.

“Anglesey had such plans for this house as a maritime museum, and I really hope that people will be motivated to find a solution to this dereliction.”

Joe O’Donnell, Director, The Victorian Society said: “A common factor with most buildings on our list this year is responsible ownership. Despite all these buildings being Grade II listed they have been neglected for years.

Regular, appropriate, maintenance is vital for older buildings. The owners of the buildings on our list should be responsible stewards of these nationally significant buildings.  If they can’t or won’t, be that they should sell them so someone else can try and secure their futures before it is too late.”

Holyhead, Anglesey 8 Photo The Victorian Society

The full Top Ten list includes an earl’s mansion that became a hostel for the homeless, a church where the congregation can’t hold services, two engineering marvels that saved lives through improving sanitation, and a club where newly enfranchised voters could meet.

The list is based on public nominations from across England and Wales, and the buildings selected represent industrial, religious, domestic, and civic architecture with unique historical and community significance and value.

Nominated buildings must be dated between 1837 and 1914.

Top 10 Endangered Buildings in Wales and England 2023

Soldiers’ Point House, Holyhead, Anglesey. Designer-Builder Charles Rigby,1849, Grade II

St Andrew’s Church, Temple Grafton, Warwickshire. Architect: Frederick Preedy, 1875, Grade II

Office for the Board of Guardians of Walsall Poor Law Union, Walsall. Architect: Henry E. Lavender, 1898-1900, Grade II

Blackborough House, Kentisbeare, Devon. Architect: James Thomas Knowles (senior), 1838, Grade II

Rockwell Green Water Tower, Somerset. Architect: Edward Pritchard, 1885, Grade II

Trowse Sewage Pumping Station, Norwich. Architect: Alfred Morant, 1869 and 1909

The Coach and Horses Hotel, Wallsend.  Watson for W.B. Reed & Co, 1907, Grade II

Carlisle Victorian and Turkish Baths. County Surveyor: WC Marks, 1884 and 1909, Grade II

The Constitutional Club, Lincoln. Architect: William Watkins, 1895, Grade II

Liverpool Street Station and the former Great Eastern Hotel. Architects: Edward Wilson, Nick Derbyshire, British Rail Architects’ Department. Charles Barry Junior and Charles Edward Barry, extended 1901 Colonel RW Edis and Maples, 2000 alterations by Manser Associates and Conran Design. Station: Grade II, Hotel: Grade II*

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