Halting Time on Heritage Britain - Boodle Hatfield

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19 Apr 2022

Halting Time on Heritage Britain

Written by

Oliver Johnson View profile
Ruby Dyce View profile
2 min read

Wherever you are in Britain, you cannot fail to notice the rich building history that we live in and amongst. Examples include the Victorian redbrick housing of the Industrial Revolution in cities such as Manchester or Liverpool, Bath's Georgian elegance, or the surviving Tudor towns dotted across the countryside.

Many of these buildings have been, and will continue to be, preserved for generations. However, occasionally historical sites are in danger of loss or destruction.

This was certainly the case during the Second World War when, at the end of 1940, German forces began a bombing campaign against the United Kingdom, familiarly known as 'the Blitz'. Faced with the impending threat of aerial attack, in 1941 the National Buildings Record ("NBR") was established. The primary aim of the organisation was to instruct local photographers to document buildings and architecture across Britain that were at risk of being destroyed. 

Margaret Tomlinson was one such photographer commissioned by the NBR. Her photographs of architecture in the West Country provide a startling glimpse into wartime Britain and, at the same time, offer a priceless record of many buildings that later were sadly destroyed and lost forever.

Whilst we are fortunate that Britain's historic buildings do not currently face the same kind of threat as they did in the 1940s, the recording of historical buildings is still of great value.

For those interested in furthering the efforts of the NBR, Historic England offers guidance on investigating and recording historic buildings for the purposes of historical understanding. The guidance "provides practical advice on surveying, photography and report writing", and can be read in full here: Understanding Historic Buildings | Historic England 

In the same way as Margaret Tomlinson did decades ago, it is important that we "plod along" with recording the historical buildings that surround us, to preserve their memory for generations to come.

"It is important in our job never to be in the slightest degree ruffled by the destruction of unrecorded buildings. The only thing to do is to plod along regardless of what happens."

Written by

Oliver Johnson View profile
Ruby Dyce View profile