The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Urgent listing plea for Plymouth’s ‘ship’

The Twentieth Century Society has submitted an emergency spot listing application to English Heritage in a bid to save Plymouth’s award winning ‘ship’ from demolition. The listing application for grade II* status is strongly supported by the original architect, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, and the Plymouth Architectural Trust.

We were alerted by local campaigners to plans by the owners, the Daily Mail and General Trust, to flatten the former newspaper company headquarters which was completed just 22 years ago. An application for demolition has been lodged with Plymouth City Council.

Built into a steeply sloping hillside overlooking the city, the former Western Morning News HQ was designed to house state-of-the-art printing presses and office space for journalists all under one roof. The three storey ship-shaped building features an extraordinary faceted glass skin which curves with the contours of the site. The director’s boardroom, located at the top of a tower 22m above the building, takes advantage of fantastic sea views. It won critical acclaim and several awards after it opened, including an RIBA award in 1994.

Henrietta Billings, Senior Conservation Adviser, Twentieth Century Society said, “This striking building is a beautifully crafted ship-shaped Plymouth landmark. It is a unique building of distinction – there is nothing else like it in Plymouth from this period or by such a prestigious architect. To demolish it would not only be a shocking waste of resources, it would also be a significant loss to the region’s 20th century architecture.”

The site has been vacant since 2013 when the Western Morning News and Plymouth Herald moved out. The papers were sold by the Daily Mail and General Trust to another publisher, but the Trust retained ownership of the building.  There is strong support for saving the ‘ship’ and more details about the local campaign can be found here:

See here for further information about the application to demolish : The planning application number is: 15/00260/31