SAVE Britain's Heritage
SAVE Britain's Heritage has been described as the most influential conservation group to have been established since William Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. It was created in 1975, European Architectural Heritage Year, by a group of journalists, historians, architects, and planners to campaign publicly for endangered historic buildings. Through press releases, leaflets, reports, books and exhibitions, SAVE Britain's Heritage champions the cause of decaying country houses, redundant churches and chapels, disused mills and warehouses, blighted streets and neighbourhoods, cottages and town halls, railway stations, hospitals, military buildings and asylums.
From the start, SAVE Britain's Heritage has always placed a special emphasis on the possibilities of alternative uses for historic buildings and has, on a number of occasions, prepared its own schemes for re-use of threatened buildings. On repeated occasions, its proposals have been instrumental in giving threatened buildings a renewed lease of life.
SAVE Britain's Heritage is also very active on the broader issues of preservation policy. Many of its campaigns have altered the way conservation now protects Britain's built heritage. SAVE's attack on insensitive shop fronts contained guidelines now adopted by many local planning authorities, and SAVE Britain's Heritage was the first organisation to campaign for the introduction of the Thirty Year Rule, which now makes outstanding post-war buildings in England and Wales eligible for listing. SAVE Britain's Heritage is a registered charity governed by a board of trustees.
SAVE Britain's Heritage was instrumental in saving buildings such as: the following
- Calke Abbey in Derbyshire — acquired by the National Trust in 1983
- Northington Grange in Hampshire — the surviving parts were acquired and restored by English Heritage
- Peninsula Barracks in Winchester — converted to private residential use in 1998
- Tyntesfield — acquired by the National Trust in 2002
It is not always successful. Its campaign in 1977 to 1978 to save Baltic Exchange and its collection for the nation failed; it was unable to stop the demolition of historic buildings in the City of London to make way for Baltic Exchange and could not prevent the disposal of the interior of the Baltic Exchange, which had been damaged by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb in 1992. It is currently campaigning to save the General Market Buildings of Smithfield Market on Farringdon Road and the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough.
It has also established charitable trusts to restore the following:
- All Souls Church, Halifax — a church by George Gilbert Scott
- Bank Hall, Bretherton — a Jacobean mansion, built from handmade brick for the Bannastre Family in 1608.
- Barlaston Hall in Staffordshire — a Palladian villa by Sir Robert Taylor
- 6 Palace Street — the oldest building in Caernarfon outside the castle
SAVE Britain's Heritage has published many campaigning books and leaflets, including The Concrete Jerusalem (1976), Elysian gardens (1979), Vanishing London: A catalogue of decay (1979), The Fall of Zion (1980), The Country House: to be or not to be (1982), Estates Villages who cares? (1983), Crisis at Saltaire (1986), Pavilions in peril (1987), Bright future: the reuse of industrial buildings (1990), Stop the destruction of Bucklesbury (1992), Beacons of learning (1995), Mind over matter (1995), Silence in Court (2004), and The Guildhall Testimonial (2006), advocating the preservation and reuse of, amongst other things, nonconformist chapels, redundant Anglican churches, Victorian mental hospitals, country houses, their gardens and outbuildings, and industrial buildings.
It also publishes an action guide, to assist campaigners with setting up their own groups to advocate the case for particular buildings. It maintains an electronic register of around 700 "buildings at risk", and publishes a paper version of the register annually.
An exhibition highlighting the first 30 years of its work was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2005.