HERITAGE campaigners have poured cold water on any plan for a new fire station on the site of Herefordshire Council’s Bath Street offices.
The cash-strapped council is keen on selling the site to Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service for a much-needed new city fire station.
At a meeting hosted by Hereford Civic Society (HCS) this week, heritage campaigners re-inforced their readiness to fight such a sale and the likely loss of the offices, once Hereford’s Working Boys Home.
Alternatives included a campus site for the county’s proposed university and an “innovation centre”.
Retaining the front sections for some of the buildings, with flats to the rear, proved particularly popular with a listing application being made to English Heritage .
The meeting’s conclusions will be sent to Councillor Harry Bramer, the cabinet member responsible for asset sales.
Before becoming council offices, the building was best known as the Hereford and District Working Boys’ Home – effectively the county’s first vocational school.
A submission made by the Woolhope Club – backed by HCS – urges English Heritage to list the site.
HCS chairman John Bothamley said the immediate concern of campaigners lay in a “complete lack” of consultation from the council.
“We’ve been told the planning application will be the consultation, this is not good enough for what represents an important chunk of Hereford’s history,” he said.
Founded in 1875, the Hereford and District Working Boys’ Home and Industrial School was supported by city benefactor John Venn.
Within a year, the Society for Aiding the Industrious had been persuaded to sell part of its allotment land for this purpose for £335 – with the architect willing to waive his fee.
The institution would “receive orphans and other voluntary cases of boys from nine to 14 years of age in a state of destitution or growing up under evil influences”.
Here, they would be “clothed, fed, taught and employment found for them.