The City of Durham Trust

Review of the year

The achievement of Highgate in winning the Architectural Commendation for 2004 has already been noted on the front page.

Among other notable completions during the year was the rebuilding of Brown's Boathouse. The large metal and glass structure which originally threatened the site is now forgotten. The Trust can take pleasure in the outcome, not only in having opposed demolition at the public inquiry but also, along with the Planning Department, in influencing the detailing of the replacement submission when the monster pub was withdrawn. Despite the raised gable at the upriver end, the end result has retained the spirit of the old Boathouse, discretely articulating its evolution for those with historic knowledge to see.

A new landmark at Neville's Cross, on the site of the former ANSA garage, is the four-storey apartment block of Wimpey Homes. Its mass appropriately echoes that of the hotel opposite, but its apparent attempt to respond also to the style of the hotel is less successful. The two highway elevations present an uneasy collection of elements. Some see humour in the assemblage, but while humour in certain circumstances may be a legitimate motive, here the different components appear simply to have been assembled in the wrong order. An additional, unintended piece of humour in its name - Crossgate Mews - has recently been "corrected" by the Local Authority. Monument Court, acknowledging the Neville's Cross monument opposite, is certainly more appropriate to the rear elevations. Here, in contrast to the highway elevations, fewer elements arranged in a disciplined and ordered manner are much more restful and pleasing.

A little to the north of the junction at Neville's Cross, on the site of the former service station, is Cross Valley Court, an acceptable slice of three-storey terracing. It stands isolated, however, bereft of neighbours. It might have looked at home at the junction; as it stands, it is the only example of its kind along the length of the A167 in the District.

A comprehensive review of the year would be ungracious not to make reference to the latest piece of good husbandry of our heritage by the University - the extensive roof repairs to the Music School on Palace Green We are fortunate that many of the city's historic structures are in the custody of such a benevolent landlord.