Revealed: historic sites across England listed during 2020


16 December 2020
Retford Station Refreshment Room
Historic England has today (16 December) revealed details of more than 400 historic places added to the National Heritage List for England during 2020.

The listed sites include an extremely well-preserved 18th century shipwreck in Kent, a rare survival of two 17th century wall paintings in Hertfordshire and a Victorian train station café that was used to serve HM and Allied Forces meals during the Second World War.

423 historic places have been added to the National Heritage List for England during 2020 and as 2020 draws to a close, Historic England celebrates the sites that have gained protection.

A rich and varied heritage

Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, said: “Every year, Historic England works to protect the most significant historic sites across the country. Despite the challenges that the heritage sector has faced this year, 2020 has seen many brilliant additions to the List.

"From a picturesque footbridge in Essex to an excellently preserved Victorian railway station café in the Midlands, we want to ensure England’s rich and varied cultural heritage is protected so that the public can continue to cherish the heritage that makes their local places so important.”

2020 listing highlights

Retford Railway Station Retford, Nottingham (pictured top)

Listed at Grade II. Rare survival of ornate tiling in the dining and refreshment rooms of Retford. Retford Railway Station was built between 1891 and 1892 by the Great Northern Railway. It replaced an earlier, smaller station originating from 1852 that had gradually become unable to cope with the number of passengers passing through. Designed by the GNR’s appointed architect Henry Goddard, the building is in the Italianate villa style that was favoured by the railway company and boasts impressive decorative ironwork on the platform canopy.

The dining and refreshment rooms showcase a rare survival of original tiled finishes that were particularly ornate for their purpose. Having been covered with plasterboard for years, the decorative scheme has miraculously survived the many renovations the station has undergone, and were recently uncovered by Bassetlaw Railway Society, who plan to restore the rooms to their former glory.

During the Second World War, the station was repurposed as a canteen and rest room by the Women’s Voluntary Service, serving HM and Allied Forces over 2 million meals between 1940 and 1946.

The Old Brig shipwreck, Seasalter, Kent 

Protected as a scheduled monument Well-preserved 18th century merchant ship believed to be involved in the smuggling of liquor and contraband off the Kent coast.

The Old Brig, copyright Timescape

The Old Brig is a well-preserved 18th century merchant ship that was investigated in 2017 by Timescapes Kent, a local history and archaeology group. The wreck was exposed by tides near Seasalter in north Kent, after lying in the mud in the Thames Estuary for hundreds of years. It is one of only three known coastal trading vessels in England from the Hanoverian period (1714 – 1901).

The Seasalter coast was known as a place for the smuggling of goods such as liquor and it is possible that the vessel was used to store and transfer contraband. The site was initially explored last summer by Wessex Archaeology and local archaeologists. It revealed the remains of the hull, including framing timbers and decking. There is potential for more exciting finds to be found preserved within the lower hull, which could reveal how the sailors lived on board and what goods the ship was carrying.

Gawthorpe Water Tower, West Yorkshire 

Listed at Grade II. Giant water tower built to store drinking water pumped for the village of Gawthorpe. Engines nicknamed ‘Maud’ and ‘Edith’.

Gawthorpe Water Tower, copyright Historic England Archive

Gawthorpe Water Tower is a distinctive concrete structure in West Yorkshire that can be seen for miles around. Constructed between 1922 and 1928 as part of the nearby Pildacre Waterworks (now demolished), the tower was built to store drinking water for the expanding village of Gawthorpe, and was used as a water storage unit until 2006.

The water was drawn up from a former mine and pumped from the waterworks to the tower by two engines, fondly known by locals as Maud and Edith. The tower is now used to host telecommunications equipment. Its design is far more interesting than a typical water tower, with smart panelling and its rotunda shape making it aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.

The National Heritage List for England

The List has over 400,000 entries and members of the public are invited share their knowledge and images of listed places.