5 Unusual Listed Buildings in the UK

‘Listing’ is the term given to the official UK practice of listing buildings, scheduling monuments, registering parks, gardens and battlefields, and protecting wreck sites. There are 3 statutory organisations who maintain the ‘list’: Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw (The Welsh Historic Environment Service) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

When it comes to buildings, a ‘listing’ is an acknowledgement and celebration of the building’s particular historic and architectural relevance, and serves to prevent it from being altered or demolished without the proper planning permission.

The British Isles has around 500,000 listed buildings, and in this article we’ve chosen to write about 6 rather unusual ones.

  1. New House, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire

Initially granted a Grade II listing in 1998, New House, in Shipton-under-Wychwood, was upgraded in 2012 to Grade II* status when the Japanese garden was added to the listing.

Constructed in timber-frame with narrow vertical cladding, this highly imaginative house has a harmonious freedom of form that creates soft, spacious interiors, and a striking exterior. English Heritage described New House as an innovative example of early 1960s domestic architecture.

Designed by Roy Stout and Patrick Litchfield in the early 1960s, New House has a sociable central open-plan kitchen and dining area, and three very private bedrooms, built back to back, that open out onto the beautiful Japanese garden.

The garden was designed by Japanese designer Mr Kasmoto and is a perfect mix of oriental ideas, with a raked gravel garden, mosses and a small stream. The plants sit comfortably under a canopy of cedars, oaks and firs and a very large horse chestnut. 

  1. Barnsley Main Colliery Buildings, South Yorkshire

The colliery was the site of a terrible mining disaster in 1866, resulting in the loss of 361 men and boys, some as young as 10. The mine was granted a Grade II listing in 2013 for its historic significance. Before the year-long miners’ strike in 1984, Britain had 170 working collieries that employed just under 200,000 people. Today, only three deep coal mines remain.

Author and historian, Brian Elliot, was quoted as saying: ‘After the miners’ strike in 1984-85, many of the UK’s mines were obliterated from the landscape. To have one part-survive is important for future generations.’

  1. The Mobil Petrol Station Canopies, Redhill, Leicestershire

A strange, futuristic listed building can be found just off the A6 at Red Hill, in Leicestershire. The large circular Mobil canopies of the Esso petrol station, designed by Elliot Noyes, the American modernist architect, in the late 1960s, are bold and eye-catching.

Simon Thurley CEO of English Heritage said that the petrol station symbolised to future generations ‘the flair and exuberance associated with motoring in the 1960s.

  1. Preston Bus Station

Designed by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson and built in the ‘Brutalist’ architectural style between 1968 and 1969, Preston Bus Station is thought to be the second biggest bus station in Western Europe.

The extraordinary curves of the balconies, which were only added when finishes to a vertical wall proved too costly, enhance the sculptural flavour of the building. The soft, functional edges protect car bumpers from bashing up against the vertical walls, and the covered balustrades shelter passengers from the elements, as they allow buses to pass beneath the lower parking floor.

In 2013, Preston Bus Station was granted a Grade II listing, and the World Monuments’ Fund described it as ‘a most treasured site’. However, when it was built in 1968-69, it was labelled an ‘eyesore’ by the city council’s former leader, Ken Hudson.

  1. The Saltdean Lido, Brighton

The inspiration for Brighton’s Saltdean Lido probably came from ocean liners and aircraft, as well as from the design of the De La Warr at Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, which is Grade I listed. The buildings and pools, designed by architect Richard Jones and built in 1937 in the Art Deco style, were granted Grade II listing in 1987, upgraded to II* in 2011.

Saltdean Lido faces towards the sea and has a magnificent sea-water pool with a central fountain on the curved north-east side, and a central diving platform on the straight south-west side. Situated to side of the main pool, is the children’s paddling pool, rectangular in shape but with one curved side.

The avant-garde main building overlooks the pool and features a solarium with curved central and end staircases. The changing rooms are located on the side wings. On the upper floor is a cafe and kitchen and the curved side wings to the left and right have open sun terraces. 

Building works are currently underway to restore the iconic building and site to its former glory and bring it back into use for the public to enjoy. The Grand Opening of the refurbished facilities are planned for Spring 2017.


Written by Lloyd Wells, a freelance writer and lover of architecture – with a penchant for the gothic. Working with Hutton and Rostron for parts of the information in this post.

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