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JRR Tolkien's childhood church on 'at risk' list

JRR Tolkien's childhood church is among the buildings added to the Historic England's 'at-risk register'.


The Birmingham Oratory is one of 42 in the West Midlands to join the 2016 version, while a further 51 have been removed this year.

The list is used as an annual snapshot of the health of the historic environment by the campaign group.

The group adds sites most at risk of being lost due to decay, neglect or development to the list.

Multivallate Hillfort, at Bury Bank, in Stone, has been added as it is 'generally unsatisfactory' and is causing 'major localised problems' with no action or strategy agreed to solve the problem yet.

The church where Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien once worshipped as a child, The Birmingham Oratory, has also been added to the risk register.

Rhodri Evans, heritage at risk principal for Historic England in the West Midlands, said: "Across the region, many historic sites are at risk of being lost but the good news is that we have removed 51 sites from this year's register.

"Historic England continues to invest grant aid and to dedicate time and expertise working with owners, developers and communities to find solutions to rescue precious sites so people can continue to enjoy them and the stories they tell about our past."

Across the region, 88 Grade I and II listed buildings, 181 scheduled monuments, 100 places of worship, eight registered parks and 56 conservation areas in the region are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.

The Greyhound and Punchbowl pub, in High Street, Bilston

In Wolverhampton, 14 sites are currently on the register including the The Greyhound and Punchbowl Inn.

Conservation areas include Bilston High Street, Bilston town centre, Bushbury Hill and Cleveland Road, Wolverhampton Park, Worcester Street, while Catholic Church of St Mary and St John, Church of St Martin,

Church of St Luke, Springfield Brewery, The Oaks on Merridale Road, Union Mill and Bilston Canal Corridor are also listed.

St Leonard's Church, in Walsall Street, Bilston

St Leonard's Church in Church Street is currently on the register but repairs are being undertaken.

David Wills, reverend at St Leonard Church, said in March: "The church is currently surrounded by scaffolding as we're in the process of repairing the building.

"We're planning to redecorate and keep with the upkeep on the building through fundraising and getting a collection of quotes together. Overall, we're making sure the building is always kept in the best possible condition for the people of Bilston."

St Luke's Church in Blakenhall had 1,000 people sign a petition to prevent it from being demolished back in March.

The Venerable Dr Sue Weller also said in March: "Future use is what we are looking for. "The aim is to find something that will work long term."

Councillors, historians and the church have since set up a steering committee to deal with the building.

Wordsley Church is among the list of 11 sites in Dudley because it is deteriorating due to 'poor' condition along with Brierley Hill High Street, Stourbridge Branch canal, Wollaston conservation area, Parish Church of St Thomas, Church of St John, Church of St James the Great, Church of St Edmund, The Redhouse, Whitehouse and Newhouse glassworks, the Triangular Crane at Bumble Hole Boat Yard and Wychbury Camp.

Church of St Edmund, Castle Street, Dudley

Walsall has a total of 10 sites currently at risk, including the Great Barr Hall, due to an 'extensive list of significant problems' with proposals to overcome the situation still under consideration by the local authority. Alongside this, Bloxwich High Street, Bradford Street Bridge Street, Caldmore Green Church Hill and Elmore Green conservation areas, Life and Light Mission Church, and Church of St Matthew.

Just seven sites appear on the list in Sandwell, the Soho Foundry on Foundry Lane is stated as 'poor' condition due to slow decay but again, no plans to discuss a solution have been discussed.

The other sites are West Bromwich high street, Market Place conservation area, Chances Glassworks, Engine Arm Aqueduct and Waterloo Hotel on Shireland Road.

Wyre Forest has three sites at risk and Stafford is home to eight.

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