Recommending modern buildings for listing is one of the most high profile things that English Heritage does. In 1987 the principle was established that post-war buildings could be listed and by the end of 1995 the importance of the period had been recognised by the listing of 189 separate buildings. In the same year, the listing of post-war buildings was opened up to public debate and consultation, in recognition of the strong views many people hold on the subject in general and individual buildings in particular.
We decided to look at the whole field of buildings dating from the period 1945-1965 by building type and held a series of consultations on all our proposals for listing in 1995 and 1996, backed up by photographic exhibitions and publications explaining the basis on which post-war listing recommendations are made. These have attracted much press coverage and enormous public interest.
For more information on post-war architecture we recommend: 'England A Guide to Post-war Listed Buildings' (2003) by Elain Harwood, Senior Architectural Investigator for English Heritage and our leading expert on 20th century architecture.
The history of post-war listing
1980 - Firestone Factory demolished over bank holiday weekend. Within a year, the Historic Buildings Committee of the DoE recommended 150 inter-war buildings for listing
1987 - Lord Elton issued statutory instrument (DoE Circular 8/87) introducing the 'thirty year rule' and 'ten year rule'
1987 - Bracken House, the Financial Times newspaper office in the City of London (1955-59, Sir Albert Richardson), is the first post-war building to be listed
1991 - The Willis Faber and Dumas building in Ipswich (1972-75, Foster Associates) was listed, the first under the 'ten-year rule'
1992 - Thematic research programme begins
Percentage of listed buildings that are post-war
There are estimated to be half a million listed buildings in England, included within just over 372,000 list entries. The total number of post-war listed buildings is calculated to be 0.11% of the total at 424.
Examples of listed post-war listed buildings include:
Cathedral Church of St. Michael, Coventry (1956-62, Sir Basil Spence). Listed Grade I in 1988.
Willis Corroon Building, Ipswich (1972-75, Foster Associates). Listed Grade I in 1991, and the first building to be listed under the 'ten-year rule'.
Severn Bridge and Aust Viaduct Wye Bridge listed Grade I in 1998; Wye Bridge and Bleachey Viaduct listed Grade II in 1998. The 'first bridge in the world to use the revolutionary concept of the streamlined deck and inclined hangers, and was an early example of a fully welded steel deck' and 'a testament to British engineering at its most innovative' (Harwood).
The statutory consequences of listing
- Listing is not a preservation order, it is an identification stage where buildings are marked as having exceptional architectural or historic interest, before the planning process that may decide a building’s future.
- Listed buildings can be altered, extended and even demolished within government planning guidance once the case has been made. There are many examples of post-war buildings accommodating successful adaptation and heritage-led regeneration. Five post-war listed buildings have been demolished.
Post-war listed buildings are often successfully adapted and changed
- Paddington Maintenance Depot, City of Westminster (1966-68, Bicknell and Hamilton), built as the garage and depot of British Railway's fleet of parcel vans, and listed at Grade II* in 1994, the building was adapted in 2001 as the headquarters of the Monsoon fashion company.
- British Gas Research Engineering Station, Killingworth, North Tyneside (1966-67, Ryder and Yates, listed Grade II* in 1997), Laboratories and workshops converted to house the North Tyneside District Council offices.
- Bracken House, City of London (1955-59, Sir Albert Richardson, first post-war listed building in 1987), where Michael Hopkins and Partners replaced the octagonal printing house with offices in 1988-91.
- Sanderson House, City of Westminster (1957-60, Slater, Moberly and Uren), built as headquarters for prestigious art-decorators and furnishers Arthur Sanderson and Son, now a hotel.
Post war listed buildings by type
|Building Types||% of Total
|Commercial / Industrial||11%
|Entertainment and Sport||6%
|Places of Worship||14%
|Statues and Monuments||12%