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Three new listings recognise black British history

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The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) today announced three new listings in south London acknowledging black British history

Brixton Recreation Centre, artist Kevin Atherton’s sculpture Platforms Piece at Brixton railway station and sculptor Ian Walters’ bust of Nelson Mandela at the Southbank Centre are all listed Grade II, on the advice of Historic England.

Heritage minister Tracey Crouch said she was ‘thrilled’ to list places and sculptures with such a strong connection to black British history. She added: ‘Our nation’s heritage encompasses people from a wide variety of cultures, backgrounds and traditions and it is vital that we continue to recognise all that have played a role in shaping our history.’

Brixton Recreation Centre, designed by a team led by architect George Finch for Lambeth Borough Council and completed in 1985, is known for its monolithic brick massing and illustrated Finch’s socialist principles by maximising the space available for the public facilites. It features three pools for swimmers of different abilities, a glazed subathing deck and a climbing wall that rises through the atrium.

Brixton became home to a significant Afro-Caribbean community in post-war Britain and the building was chosen by Nelson Mandela as one of the venues for his historic state visit in 1996.

The DCMS also handed a Grade II listing to the life-sized sculptural group Platforms Piece made in 1986 by artist Kevin Atherton. The statues of waiting passengers are positioned around Brixton railway station, close to the recreation centre.

The three cast bronze figures are thought to be the first public sculptural representation of black British people.

Also listed today is sculptor Ian Walters’ bust of Nelson Mandela at Royal Festival Hall, part of the Southbank Centre in central London. The bust was erected in 1982 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the African National Congress, and was a focus of the Greater London Council’s Year of Anti-Racism in 1984.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: ‘We want to make sure that when we celebrate historic places, everyone, regardless of gender, race or orientation, sees their places represented – places that resonate for them and represent the history of this country as they see it.

‘Today we are identifying and protecting three places that are linked to a specific time and place; but black history has been present in our nation throughout the centuries and right across our historic environment.’

Historic England is calling on the public to add details of their own stories and pictures relating to black history to the National Heritage List for England.

In September, Historic England reviewed a number of its listings, including Oscar Wilde’s former 19th century red-brick London terraced home in Tite Street, to recognise their their Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) heritage.

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