Pavilion gains listed status

The Apollo Pavilion on the Sunny Blunts estate in Peterlee, which has just undergone a �400,000 revamp.
The Apollo Pavilion on the Sunny Blunts estate in Peterlee, which has just undergone a �400,000 revamp.

ONE of the area’s most iconic structures has been honoured by heritage chiefs who have finally given it listed status.

The Apollo Pavilion, in Peterlee, has been awarded Grade II* listed status by Heritage Minister John Penrose after a long-running campaign to have the building officially recognised.

The structure, designed by the internationally-renowned artist Victor Pasmore and known as Pasmore’s Pavilion,takes its place in the top five per cent of all listed buildings in England.

The pavilion was completed in 1969 as the centrepiece of a wider landscape, joining the two sides of a housing estate in the then newtown.

It was subject to much vandalism and neglect in the late 1970s and 1980s and came close to being demolished, before being refurbished back to its original state thanks to a £350,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

An initial attempt to have the pavilion listed in 1998 failed due to its poor condition.

Commenting on the building, which is owned by Durham County Council and run by the Apollo Pavilion Community Association, Mr Penrose said: “This is a striking example of how abstract art and ‘brutalist’ architecture can come together to make a building that is quite unique, and all the more so now that it has been rescued from dereliction in a highly successful project supported by Lottery funding and driven by the commitment of local people.

“Listing at Grade II* means that the Apollo has been recognised as being of more than special interest. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed but it does mean that its status has to be taken proper account of if any development proposals come forward in the future.”

Nick Bridgland, designation team leader at English Heritage, said: “English Heritage is delighted that the Minister has agreed with our recommendation and has listed the Apollo Pavilion at Peterlee at Grade II*. Named in homage of space exploration, the pavilion showed the bold optimism of those building the new town of Peterlee.

“Designed by Victor Pasmore, one of Britain’s leading post-War artists, the pavilion is as much an abstract sculpture as it is a building, providing a focal point to the small park at the centre of the community. After decades of gradual decline, the restoration of the pavilion in 2009 has once again revealed its striking design.”

David Taylor-Gooby, chairman of APCA, said: “We have lobbied an awful long time for this, and it is fantastic news.

“Credit must go to Colin Robson, who worked as arts officer for the old Disrict of Easington council, because he has put a lot of work into this. It has also been a community effort, and we are delighted to have a listed building in Peterlee.

“Peterlee can now can hold its head up, and whatever peoples’ views are on the pavilion, this is something we should really make the most of.”