Historic Buildings & Places celebrates its 100th anniversary

Posted: 1 February 2024

Historic Buildings & Places, the National Amenity Society unique in defending buildings and places of all ages and types, celebrates its centenary year in 2024, 100 years on from its founding by architect John Swarbrick at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. The Society will celebrate through a series of centenary events held throughout the year, the highlight being its 100th AGM at Hallé St Peter’s in Ancoats, Manchester on June 1st.

Swarbrick founded Historic Buildings & Places as the Ancient Monuments Society (AMS) to check what he saw was the unnecessary neglect, destruction, or unsympathetic rebuilding of much of the country’s historic fabric under the guise of restoration. From its inception, HB&P has adopted a broad remit in its aim to campaign for the saving of a wide range of historic buildings and landscapes; this goal was set out through the early stated aim of the Society in “the study and conservation of ancient monuments, historic buildings, and fine old craftsmanship”.

This focus on preservation of heritage from the nationally important to the everyday has run through the Society’s history, from its early years focused on campaigning largely in the north-west, to its broadening scope after the mid-point of the twentieth-century, particularly after the founding of the separate National Ancients Monuments Society by Swarbrick in London in 1945; the Societies later came together in 1953 to form the national organisation that exists today.

The Society’s role in formally defending heritage was solidified along with the other National Amenity Societies in 1976, and it continues to be consulted by local planning authorities in England and Wales on all Listed Building Consent applications involving an element of demolition, as well as on cases relating to other types of designated and undesignated heritage.

Following the adoption of the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, the name Ancient Monuments Society ceased to describe what the Society does on a day-to-day basis, and in October 2021, the Trustees of the Society decided to adopt ‘Historic Buildings & Places’ as the working name of the organisation, along with a new Mission, Vision & Values, to add greater clarity.

To celebrate its anniversary, the Society’s centenary events programme will take in a wide range of talks, visits, and lectures that cover the broad range of heritage it campaigns for, covering highlights of its past including the people, places, and campaigns of both successes and near misses throughout the years. The centrepiece centenary AGM will see guest speakers Eamonn Canniffe talk about the architecture and heritage of Manchester over the past 100 years from the time of AMS’ founding, as well as provide time for members to reflect on the work of the Society over the years, and look to its strong future in continuing to champion all aspects of the historic fabric of England and Wales which all, as Professor T. F. Trout noted in his keynote address at the constitution of the Society back in 1924, have “had their part in the history of this country, and, preserved…all tend to diversity the monotony of modern life, and ought at all costs to be saved”.

Reflecting on the work of the Society over the years, HB&P Director Liz Power notes: “All of us at HB&P are delighted to be able to announce our events programme celebrating 100 years of Historic Buildings & Places, which will allow attendees to explore some of the fascinating work the Society has undertaken over the years, and reflect on how it has continuously championed the vision that was originally set out by John Swarbrick back in 1924 to campaign for the preservation of buildings of all types and ages. We encourage anyone with an interest in our heritage to join us at our fascinating programme of visits and lectures throughout the year, as we both look back at our past and towards the future, with much work to be done to continue to protect our everyday heritage”.

To join us on any our events this year, visit our ‘Events’ page.