Forum’s fight to save crumbling buildings

NBENBE110715c2, Roger Shelley outside the old grammer school, Chapel Street, Belper.
NBENBE110715c2, Roger Shelley outside the old grammer school, Chapel Street, Belper.

BELPER Civic Forum has launched a fight to save ten historic local structures that are increasingly becoming the “rotten teeth” of the town.

Top of the list is the former Belper Grammar School building on Chapel Street, which operated as a school from 1825-1913 but is now in a severe state of disrepair.

Roger Shelley, from the forum, said: “The grammar school really is in a shocking state.

“There is not much holding it up, particularly the roof.”

The other concerns for the Civic Forum are the North Mill, and Brook Cottage and a warehouse that are both on the old Silkolene site, broken windows at Belper’s East Mill, a lack of maintenance on Belper’s horseshoe weir, the former Thornton’s factory on Derwent Street, deterioration of the Rock weir in Belper, Milford Mill Dye works, and the condition of the weir at Milford.

The Grade One listed North Mill is on English Heritage’s at risk register.

Mr Shelley said: “They are all endangered in many different ways.

“They are all at risk as far as we are concerned and also as far as English Heritage is concerned as well.

“ The structures are absolutely critical to Belper.

“It is like having rotten teeth that are left to drop out and destroy the whole character of the place.”

A concerned resident told the News: “There are a lot of old derelict buildings in Belper, such as Thornton’s. A lot of these buildings are just full of pigeons.

“Everything is getting run down and it is a shame. Neglected buildings are being vandalised.

“The town has a lot to offer. It is nice and attractive, but there are areas that need sorting.”

If you are concerned about Belper’s heritage you can join the Belper Civic Forum via their website at www.belpercivicforum.org.

Meanwhile, the Civic Forum used the popular Belper Food Festival on Sunday, July 17, to ask people what structure in the town they believed should be next to be protected by English Heritage.

Mr Shelley said they had 78 responses, with the overwhelming winner being the Ritz Cinema on King Street.

The Forum will be speaking with English Heritage about the best ways to improve the buildings.