Lewisham’s Ladywell Baths has been included in the Victorian Society’s top ten endangered buildings list for 2015.
Griff Rhys Jones, comedian, actor, and Victorian Society Vice President launched this year’s top ten through a video, and calls for the public to help in the restoration of these threatened buildings. He said: “It’s a very important list and it needs publicising. They are buildings that need help, and we need you to help them.”
Ladywell Baths opened in 1884 and along with its gothic arches, huge circular tower with turret, stained glass and decorative ironwork, coping stones from the original well, which gave the area its name, were incorporated into the new one inside the building. This 270ft well, with the stones inscribed with ‘Ye well of our ladye at Lewisham’, was created to avoid paying the water company and yielded the Baths 8000 gallons of water an hour. Ladywell Baths has long since lost its turret and other decorative features.
Lewisham Council, who owns the building, repaired the Baths to keep it water tight, but have yet to find someone to take the building on and restore it to its original glory. A spokesperson from the council said: “Lewisham Council understands very well the importance of Ladywell Baths, which form part of a group of listed municipal buildings and give substantial character to the area and we welcome this renewed interest in the buildings.
“The Council undertook critical works to renew the roof of the building with the support of a grant from English Heritage in 2011, with the aim of making the building watertight and to reduce the rate of deterioration. And we have pursued a number of options to raise the necessary and substantial funds required to restore these buildings fully.”
They continued: “We believe a way forward is possible that will save this important building and we will continue to work with the local community and organisations like the Victorian Society, Historic England and anyone else who would like to come forward to realise this ambition.”
The Victorian Society believes that the London property boom gives the Baths ‘lots of potential for reuse’. Director of the Victorian Society, Christopher Costelloe, said: “We’re grateful to everyone who nominated Ladywell Baths. Like all the buildings included in this year’s Top Ten, Ladywell Baths is a listed building meaning that the Government has recognised its national importance. What was once a hub of the community deserves better than lying empty half obscured by trees.”
He added: “I urge the public to share the Top Ten list, and Griff’s message, to help raise awareness of the building’s situation and help it find the investment is so desperately needs.”
The 2015 Top Ten in no particular order are:
- Ladywell Baths, Lewisham, London
- Kinmel Hall, Wales
- St Luke’s Church, Wolverhampton
- Tolly Cobbold Brewery, Ipswich
- Overstone Hall, East Midlands
- Sheerness Boat Store, Kent
- Madeira Terrace, Brighton
- Central Plaza Hotel, Carlisle
- Birnbeck Pier, Weston-super-Mare
- Hunslet and Victoria Mills, Leeds
The Victorian Society urges the public to donate if the Top Ten has inspired you to help fight to save great Victorian and Edwardian architecture. You can donate on their website (http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/) or text VICT00 followed by either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070. 100% of your donation will be received by the Society to continue their campaigns.