A new campaign has been launched to improve health and safety at National Trust properties and the group behind it are urging the public to get involved.
The newly-formed Friends of the National Trust, an independent group, is spearheading the campaign, whihc has come about after dangerous masonary was discovered at the National Trust-owned Longshaw estate near Sheffield.
A fastening attaching a large stone finial to the roof of of the Lonshaw Lodge had broken, meaning the 13.5kg piece of stone could have come crashing down at any moment.
The stone was also split in two places and a visitor also noticed a second large finial above the main route used by visitors was also cracked.
Building inspections are only carried out every five years by the National Trust.
And it’s the prospect of what might have happened at Longshaw that has promoted the new campaign.
“Imagine what would have happened if that stone had come crashing down on to someone walking below,” said a group spokesman.
“It is only through sheer good fortune that it didn’t.
“By launching the campaign we want to enable the National Trust to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
“The National Trust’s property portfolio is vast and old buildings can deteriorate quickly.
“By encouraging the millions of visitors and 62,000 volunteers who give their time to the organisation we hope they will ensure a closer eye is kept on the state of buildings.
“Any health and safety concerns raised will then be flagged up with the Trust to ensure they focus on matters that need urgent attention.”
While acknowledging the tremendous work carried out by the National Trust, the Friends group believe by involving those millions of visitors and many volunteers, the threat posed can be minimised.
A new website has been set up at www.friendsofthenationaltrust.co.uk where volunteers and visitors can highlight areas of concern which will then be passed to the National Trust.
An additional feature will soon be included on the website that will enable contributors to send in accompanying photographs.