One of the most fun jobs in Government is being Heritage Minister, because you get to ‘list’ historic buildings so they can’t be destroyed or knocked down.
The list includes more than 500,000 listed buildings, gardens, battlefields, protected shipwrecks and monuments, covering everything from Stonehenge and Wells Cathedral to the Iron Age Hill fort in Weston woods and Birnbeck Pier too.
When I had the job we added the Lloyds of London HQ, a weird-but-beautiful art deco petrol station (yes really), Weston’s old Hans Price-designed library building, and the Abbey Road zebra crossing made famous by the Beatles on their best-selling album cover.
But why should the list only be put together by folk in London? Why can’t local communities have a stronger voice? After all, we know Weston and the nearby villages better than most, so who better to weigh-up the significance of a local landmark than local residents themselves?
So I’m delighted the team behind Weston’s Heritage Action Zone and Historic England have teamed up to ask the public to nominate local heritage sites which might otherwise be missed.
They don’t have to be grand or posh – in fact some of the most interesting listed items are tiny, like old milestone markers or a 220-year-old lamp-post in Richmond. Others are quirky: there’s Porchester Hall which was used in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (the ‘one wafer-thin mint’ segment) or an old Victorian public toilet in Clifton.
So, if you fancy playing Heritage Minister for the day and nominating something you feel should be looked after for our children and grandchildren to enjoy, then please join in.
I don’t see why it should be only me who has all the fun, after all!