The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Former Western Morning News Building, Plymouth
Former Western Morning News Building, Plymouth

Breaking news: new owners set to save Plymouth Ship

The Plymouth Ship looks set to be saved following the acquisition of the award winning former Western Morning News headquarters by Burrington Estates. The south west based developer announced today that they welcome moves to list the building and they intend to turn it into a business hub.

Henrietta Billings, Senior Conservation Adviser at the Twentieth Century Society said: “We are delighted that the new owners are taking a fresh, positive approach to the fantastic architecture of this Plymouth landmark and its potential listing. This award winning building needs celebrating and a new lease of life – not demolition. All that remains now is a decision on the listing application from the new government.”

The former Western Morning News headquarters, constructed in 1993, was under threat from demolition proposals from the previous owners, the Daily Mail and General Trust. Working with the original architect, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, we applied to Historic England (formerly English Heritage) for an urgent listing assessment.

The former office and printing works is an outstanding example of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw’s work of the 1990s, at a time when he was establishing his name as a key figure in the high-tech movement, with buildings including the Waterloo Eurostar Terminal. Featuring a faceted and curving glass skin, the Plymouth building is a showcase for innovative technology.

There has been considerable interest and local support for the ‘ship’ which is highly unusual in our experience for a building of this date, and several high profile architects, academics and architectural historians have also backed our listing campaign.

These include architects Lord Richard Rogers and Sir Michael Hopkins, and Professor Sir Peter Cook, Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, Marcus Binney, President of Save Britain’s Heritage, Bob Brown, Head of Architecture at University of Plymouth and The Plymouth Architectural Trust.