Penzance is one of the most significant and beautiful places in Cornwall. Yet, two prominent listed buildings in the historic town centre continue to blight its captivating charm. These buildings have long been empty and show no apparent improvement despite announcements of firm plans to improve their future.
The first of these is 18 Chapel Street, formerly the Ganges Restaurant until its closure in c.2006. In 2017 a ‘Save the Ganges’ campaign group was launched SAVE THE GANGES, PENZANCE ! in which one shopkeeper stated ‘…people are very surprised a building could be left in its current state on such a beautiful street’, pointing out how hard other residents and business owners were working to preserve and enhance the built environment.
Action seemed to be imminent: Cornwall Live rightly described the building as an ‘eyesore’ that was ‘falling apart’ and added the hopeful news that plans were afoot for Cornwall Council to ‘acquire and renovate’ it, using powers of compulsory purchase if necessary. But since then, there has been no apparent change beyond a quick coat of exterior paint (now becoming eroded). Dangerous roof tiles, removed after they started to fall into the street, have not been replaced, and the interior appears to be protected from the elements only by felt and battens.
The plight of the building has received good media attention.
The second is the iconic Market House. The western end is leased by Lloyds Bank, but at the eastern end decades of disuse, and damage to the interior caused by damp and neglect, make for a sorry sight. After a detailed study of the situation in 2014, emergency repairs took place – but plans to return the eastern end of the building to civic use quickly stalled. Scaffolding has been put up and taken down from time to time, but the former offices and shops remain as if abandoned.
Recent comments suggest that it may yet be possible to revive the hopes raised seven years ago. The complicated relationship between Lloyds Bank and Penzance Town Council with regard to the building was first consummated in 1921 (Lloyd’s buying the freehold in 1965): surely the centenary presents a perfect opportunity to enhance the reputations of both parties, and the civic pride of the town.
It is important to note that this is a Grade 1 listed building as defined by Historic England MARKET BUILDING, Penzance – 1221062 | Historic England which means it is of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I.
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