The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Former Western Morning News Company Headquarters. Image credit:
Facade detail, former Western Morning News Company Headquarters. Image credit:

Leading British architects back listing bid for Plymouth ‘ship’

RIBA gold medal winners Lord Richard Rogers and Sir Michael Hopkins have written to English Heritage strongly backing our spot listing application to save Plymouth’s former Western Morning News HQ, known locally as the ‘ship’.

Other high profile supporters of the campaign include architect 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, The Plymouth Architectural Trust and local MP Alison Seabeck.

This awarding winning former office and printing works, constructed in 1993, is under threat from demolition proposals, and working with the original architect, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, we have applied to English Heritage for an urgent listing assessment.

There has also been considerable interest and local support for the ‘ship’ which is highly unusual in our experience for a building of this date. Yesterday a protest against demolition was held outside the building and over 50 individual written objections have been submitted to Plymouth City Council.

The former newspaper building 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.

It also set the fashion for the city’s nautical imagery at that time – like the striking Sainsbury’s store at Marsh Mills by Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones which opened in 1994 on the eastern edge of Plymouth.

A decision on the demolition application is expected on 17 March. The English Heritage listing assessment is currently underway.

For more information on our campaign, please contact Henrietta Billings, Senior Conservation Adviser, Twentieth Century Society: henrietta@c20Society or 020 7250 3857