Newsletter No.3

January 2021

A three-year project led by the Cornish Buildings Group and supported by Historic England and the Cornwall Heritage Trust commenced in September 2020. The funding supports a case officer in order to help identify and monitor buildings at risk and seek solutions for neglected, redundant or derelict buildings, regardless of listing.

In the news

Our risk list was launched in January 2021 and received wide media coverage in, amongst others, West Briton (right), Cornish and Devon Post and Cornwall Live. Our press release was shared on various social media platforms including Twitter where, in the first week, our tweets were seen by 14,992 people.  From those views 588 people interacted with the tweet, 33 retweeted and 42 ‘liked’ the tweets. Furthermore, our Facebook post reached 9,096 people and had a total of 871 engagements.

The consequence of this online activity was that 922 people have visited the blog and 1,854 individual posts accessed. The ‘risk list’ itself has received over 400 hits, 10 new people followed us and several people made contact about buildings they were concerned with.

Extended coverage and support came from the Cornwall Archaeological Society,  SAVE, Georgian Group, Federation of Old Cornwall Society, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, British Council of Archaeology, the Arts Society and Cornwall Council who have added our concerns to their Historic Environment Record. We look forward to working with all of these groups in the future and are grateful for their co-operation in sharing details of the project across their various platforms.

How can you follow the project?

Our WordPress blog has proved successful and up until mid- January has received over 3,000 views. Our website has been updated as the project progresses

Updates and alerts will be shared via our Twitter feed @CbgCornwall

To keep up-to-date on the project please follow our blog; when we have something to say you will receive an alert. Or you can follow us on Twitter.


Now that our list has been published our next stage is to start casework. Not surprisingly,  the recent flurry of coverage has brought new concerns to our attention. This newsletter therefore is given over to some of these new concerns.

St Just Literary Society (now the Lafrowda Club)

The earliest records of St Just Literary Society are from 1841. The latest Pevsner (2014) reads

A surprise to find a Greek Revival front in this little street of modest cottages. Tall two storeys, the wide central bay advanced and pedimented and flanked by very narrow bay, in turn flanked by pilasters. The central bay has fluted Doric columns with triglyph entabulature to ground floor, and first floor with Ionic half-columns flanking a round headed window.  

The building (below) is a real gem whose architect remains unknown; however, it is hard not to draw comparison to some of the contemporary projects in a similar style by John Foulston and/or George Wightwick.

Although some interior features survive the exterior is in a poor state with collapsed areas of ceiling inside behind the front elevation parapet, loosely fitting windows and poor rainwater goods, as well as the usual vegetation growth out of the masonry. Fortunately a group of local people want to do the right thing by the building and bring it back into reuse. 

Cottage at Enniscaven, St. Dennis

This late-17th/early 18th century cob and slatestone rubble cottage was spot-listed (Grade II) in 2008. Built of cob and thatch, this building is a very rare survival in the Cornish vernacular tradition, a style once ubiquitous in Cornwall but now rare due to the late 18th century fashion of rebuilding in stone and slate. The cottage has taken a vehicular impact, which has compromised its structural stability.

Scarcewater chapel, near St Stephen

Situated alongside the A3058 between Menna and Terras, near St Stephen, this chapel is dated 1869.  The Historic Environment Record states:

Bible Christian chapel, now disused. Small wayside example near the original chapel, presumed to have become the Sunday school, now also disused. Granite rubble with some granite rustication; dry slate roof with crested clay ridge tiles. Round-arched openings with 2-light windows with Y-traceried heads, gabled porch integral with forecourt walls. Round inscribed panel to front gable.

The building is not listed and is declining fast. No active planning permissions have been found.  

Requests for information

Other concerns raised include Flexbury church, Bude; historic stable buildings at Penrice, St Austell and Gyllyndune, Falmouth; Polwithen house, Penzance and Madron workhouse.  If anyone has more information on these buildings please let us know.

We would like to thank all those who have made contact and given their support to the project. Our list is fluid so please continue to nominate buildings of concern.

Good news

Tregarne chapel, St Austell.

In 1907, this late Victorian chapel became the Zion United Methodist Church before being renamed Zion Methodist Church in 1932. It was closed in 1994 used briefly for residential and has been empty for some 15 years or longer. During this time several unsuccessful planning applications were put forward. In December 2020 the chapel fetched £203,000 at auction with planning permission for four one-bedroom flats, four maisonettes, a penthouse apartment and a two-bedroom cottage.  

Having a similar promising outlook is the Sunday school alongside that does not currently have planning permission for redevelopment, however, the auctioneers suggested to prospective sellers that it could ‘be a similar development of multiple residential units or perhaps a Grand Designs style single dwelling conversion project’.

Your feedback

Our request for more information on No.39 High Street, Falmouth, has been met with this email from Christopher Smith, Dip Arch, Hon FRIBA

I was interested to read about your concern with regard to the above building in the Falmouth Civic Society Newsletter.

I owned it from 1999 to 2008 and used it as a quirky base for my architectural practice.  The façade is indeed interesting although there is little of architectural merit from that point backwards.  From hearsay, the building was constructed c1908 to serve as the taxi garage for the Kings Hotel which was located further down the hill where Superdrug is now.  I seem to recall the trusses in the roof space have the words “Kings Hotel” still painted on them. 

The floor to the front is reinforced concrete – Keith Rolleston engineer, who used to work in the building with my firm, thought this might be the earliest use of reinforced concrete in the County.  As the ground falls away very sharply from High St to the sea shore, the cellar beneath this floor is dramatically tall.  Some of my staff used it as a practice space for their rock band in the evenings.  The walls are of single skin block from memory and the roof corrugated asbestos sheeting.  To the rear, there is real jerry building; corrugated tin on studwork with an alarmingly sloping floor supported by a hotch-potch of telegraph poles, tree trunks and timber work.  This a massive open space.

To the rear of this area are the remans of a slipway which went down to the water before the land in-between was sold off as a garden and swimming pool for Briton’s Slip.  During the war high speed MTB’s (Motor torpedo boats – high speed planning plywood craft with a massive engine used to rescue downed airmen in the channel) were serviced in this building.  Post-war the building was used by local yacht and boat designer Rodney Warrington-Smythe and was later the  ‘Westcountry Chandlers’ run by Jeremy Burnett.  When Jeremy realised the building was nearing a state of collapse he obtained planning permission to demolish it and replace with flats, office and shops.  I bought it marketed with this approval, but instead patched it up to make it structurally safe in the short term and watertight.  It served as offices very well for 9 years, but as staffing grew to 18 in number, we needed new premises so went to Truro.  I initially tried to renew the Planning Approval with a better design, but one of the neighbours made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I withdrew the proposal.  It has remained empty ever since.  Re-development costs would be significant given access and site constraints.  The building is dangerous to enter and when I last looked at the rear elevation, windows where falling off it.  People talk about using it short term as space, but I would say that structurally that is not on.  Personally, I think the protection it has as part of the Conservation area is sufficient.  Apart from the façade, there is nothing there to suggest that it merits Listed status.

Rear elevation of No.39 High Street, Falmouth.

Please support us

This project has made a positive start. You can play your part in this work by volunteering to support our aims. You can do this by reporting your concerns about historic buildings or valued heritage assets in your area which are either derelict or not being properly looked after. Please contact Paul Holden at

A form that will help us with some background local knowledge is available on our website

Media extra

From the Delabole and Camelford Post

Full story at

Concerns over Davidstow building | News | Cornish & Devon Post (

Thank you for your support Paul Holden, FSA.

Cornish Buildings Group

Published by buildingsatrisk

Since 1969 the aims of the Cornish Buildings Group have been to stimulate interest, appreciation and knowledge of good building in Cornwall, and to encourage the erection, protection, repair and recording of such buildings. Like any amenities group, we depend on numbers, strength and support of our membership, who provide the force and knowledge that have made us effective for over fifty years. We encourage the protection and repair of historic buildings whether these are listed buildings or simply good examples of traditional building. We aim to encourage good architecture and to raise the general standard of building throughout the county. We hope that our generation may leave behind it buildings which will be looked back on with that same pleasure and enjoyment that we experience when we look at the architecture of past ages.

2 thoughts on “Newsletter No.3

  1. Great newsletter again, very well written and illustrated, plus very informative, looking forward to the next one and doing something more positive when we are allowed to get out


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