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Utilities and Communication Structures

Front cover for Designation listing selection guide: Utilities and Communications Structures

Designation Listing Selection Guide

A guide to outline the selection criteria used when designating utilities and communication structures.

Communications constitutes a small but significant category of historic buildings. The provision of technical services to send and receive messages (postal and telephone networks) is dealt with here alongside the utilities, as both are functional in purpose and both developed alongside each other. The provision of public water, gas and electricity supplies and the removal of waste and sewage are known collectively as the 'public utilities' and by the mid nineteenth century were coming to be seen as the responsibility of central and local government, although ventures were often set up with joint private/public capital. They helped create a safer and healthier environment and some municipalities and corporations saw such improvements as being one of the principal justifications for their existence. Consequently many of the buildings were monumental in scale, and set in carefully designed landscapes.

For the purposes of designation, items such as post boxes, telephone kiosks, drinking fountains, water troughs, items of traffic control, and electrical distribution kiosks are assessed primarily as items of street furniture, and are accordingly dealt with in the Street Furniture selection guide. Well-heads, well-houses and conduits are treated as utilities. Buildings such as the showrooms and offices of gas and electricity boards are dealt with in the Commercial Buildings selection guide. It is also advisable to consult the Industrial Buildings selection guide as there is necessarily some overlap with Utilities and Communications Buildings in areas such as power generation.

This is one of a series of guides which set out some of our approaches to designating buildings. Covering twenty broad categories of building types, they including historical overviews and special considerations for listing, plus select bibliographies. They are primarily intended to develop understanding of designated buildings and structures, and to offer insight into designation decision making.


  • Introduction and definitions
  • Historical summary
  • Specific considerations when consideration utility and communication buildings for designation
  • Select bibliography

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed


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