Prince makes television appeal to help save at-risk listed buildings

THE Prince of Wales last night urged the public to help rescue thousands of crumbling listed buildings around the country in a special message recorded for the finale of the BBC’s Restoration series.

The prince, who has been watching the show keenly, reminded viewers that while one historic site was saved by the programme, much of Britain’s architectural heritage remains at risk.

His five-minute message was shown as part of the climax to the series, which was broadcast live from the Tower of London last night.

A spokeswoman for St James’s Palace said Prince Charles had seen and enjoyed much of the show, and wanted to demonstrate his support for what it was trying to do.

"The Prince of Wales is very interested in the built environment, and always has been," she added. "He works on behalf of a number of charities to help preserve historic buildings."

The series, presented by comedian Griff Rhys Jones, has profiled 30 architectural treasures from around the country over the course of ten hour-long programs. Viewers voted by phone on which building should be saved.

Two Scottish properties remained in the running last night to win the top prize. Mavisbank in Edinburgh and Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum were among the final ten buildings chosen by viewers.

The proceeds from the cost of the phone calls - 17.9p from every 30p call - will go towards the restoration of the winning property, along with a further 3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Marianne Suhr, of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, said beyond its main aim, she hoped Restoration would attract new talent into the conservation industry, which she said was reaching crisis point.

She said: "Although there are more architects, surveyors and professionals who specialise in conservation than ever before, we desperately need to attract young people into working hands-on to renovate old buildings.

"The value of the series has been to show people the wide range of buildings at risk, from grand country-houses to tiny two-roomed crofts on the Shetland Isles to prefabricated concrete huts from the Second World War. The programme challenges our preconceptions about what an historic building is."

Mavisbank is one of the country’s earliest neo-classical houses and is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s finest buildings.

The first Palladian villa to be built in Scotland, it is considered to be of huge architectural importance, representing a bridging point in the development of national architecture - showing the movement away from the older Baroque tastes towards a re-embracing of the classical.

Kinloch Castle was built by George Bullough, a Harrow-educated cavalry officer and a member of one of the wealthiest English mill-owning families.

The building was designed to accommodate his eccentricities with hydroelectric power for his electric lighting.

It also had heated pools containing alligators and tropical turtles, while a conservatory (now gone) was filled with hummingbirds. It was also the first house of its kind with a telephone.

Each property was represented by a celebrity "advocate". Broadcaster Kirsty Wark presented a personal case for Mavisbank and comedienne and author Morwenna Banks for Kinloch Castle.

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