Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 20 (May 2015)

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Following a successful Annual General Meeting and inspiring talk hosted by Wicksteed Park and given by Charlotte Widgery at about its evolution, the committee, which was re-elected, is bursting with enthusiasm and big ideas for 2015. The Chairman’s and Secretary’s Reports give an idea of how busy we were last year and this year we continue to have high expectations for the Society and Kettering.

The business side of the Society’s aims and objectives continue to take precedent however, and the committee work hard to fulfil these. We were disappointed not to be awarded Heritage Lottery Funding for the mosaic and we endeavour to address this. As times change so has communication and keeping members informed of our work is challenging. At times you may think that ‘nothing is happening’ Civic Society- wise in terms of Kettering Town Planning and the Mosaic but nothing could be further from the truth. We are keeping a watchful eye on Planning Applications and respond accordingly.

We are not discouraged by our second attempt and failure in securing Heritage Lottery Funding to restore and reinstate the Kettering Mosaic. Through researching how best to inform the community about the Mosaic project we encountered a great deal of eagerness by groups who wish to become involved in creating a publication and heritage trail radiating from the mosaic. The trail will touch on aspects depicted in the mosaic, namely, Kettering Grammar School, Kettering’s coat-of arms, Kettering’s industry and important links with the Baptist Missionaries not withstanding its involvement in the abolition of slavery.

What does being a member of Kettering Civic Society signify? The modest membership fee of £10 is a gesture of support for the Society’s aims and objectives, it goes towards running the Society as well as funding the Blue Plaque trail and the Mosaic fund.

This year we will continue raising funds of £35,000 to reinstate the mosaic. The last publication by members of the Civic Society was in 1984 and a new book featuring the Kettering Mosaic will take place this year co-ordinated by local author Ian Addis, this is an exciting venture that we will wholeheartedly embrace.

Members are invited to take a more active role in activities that will result in the promotion of Kettering. Please do get in touch with us if you would like to be involved in researching subjects which are part of the mosaic for inclusion in the book. If you would like to hold your own fund raising events such as coffee mornings, afternoon teas, dinners….your contributions are welcome!

The Committee is considering running a ‘Pop-Up’ shop in the Newlands Centre. Often members of the Society enquire how they might contribute and this might be an opportunity to volunteer for a few hours a week? It is envisaged that we sell Civic Society books, cards and local merchandise alongside exhibitions and a sale of work by local artists, possibly act as a booking office for local events and attractions.

If you feel inspired to participate in this venture whether you have sales experience or not or whether you are an artist willing to sell your work, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Higher National Diploma students studying Graphics at Tresham College have been working with the Society to create a new branding and through their research they have been discovering more about the town and its cultural heritage. We look forward to sharing experiences with you.

We have been privileged in participating in the Montagu Monuments heritage information discussions and we look forward to our Annual Lunch and Talk in Warkton on 23rd May. It is not too late to join us if you have not already booked!

The Society has supported the Wicksteed Parks Heritage Lottery restoration project. The television coverage of the unveiling of the sculptures you may have seen.

This year we will have several opportunities to meet socially; experience and popular demand has led us to choose places of interest that we know our members enjoy, namely an interest in the Arts and Design whether it be buildings, gardens or music at the Royal Albert Hall. The Proms Programme is now availabe and we will be booking seats shortly.

We look forward to you joining us!

Kettering Civic Society Annual General Meeting
2nd March 2015 7pm Celebration Suite Wicksteed Park

Chairman’s Report 2014/2015

The civic scene featured in a variety of ways through this year. Landmarks such as the restoration of Northampton House to provide a funeral parlour for undertakers Averil Phillips and Family would have warmed the heart of James Payne whose company built the house as offices over a hundred years ago. As our Annual Meeting takes place, Northampton House will be re-occupied for its new use. Having been pro-active in the restoration, the Society’s actions turned to preventing the old Buccleuch Hotel, now a restaurant, from being demolished to make way for flats. Our actions helped save a landmark in Stamford Road.

Whilst old buildings are important to us as Charles Wicksteed’s crumbling old house in Hall Lane is, there are some unusual occasions when every developable parcel of land in the town comes forward for development consideration. Following the Governments resolution to find suitable sites for Gipsy residences over the whole country which could be for either mobile homes or dwellings, over 500 sites were brought forward by the towns Planners for due consideration. Fortunately, all the possible sites in Kettering were gradually disregarded for a variety of reasons. Some nine sites are now being brought forward across the whole Borough and will meet Government objectives for a minimum of fifteen years.

Two old Kettering families, the Holmes and Lambs set up solicitors offices in West Street. The old stone buildings have now been granted Planning Approval for conversion to houses and flats and the Approval also includes building four new houses. The solicitors practise continues today, generations later and much of their business is now carried out in new Corby premises.

A further Civic Scene Consultation took place in the form of stakeholder discussion with agents acting for Alledge Brook developers regarding Kettering’s proposed Eastern District Development. Some five and a half thousand houses, schools, shops, and community centre are all part of the proposal. The contribution the Agents were seeking was a description and definition of Kettering’s character such that it could form the design approach to the new areas. It is difficult to know whether the same consideration was ever given to Ise Lodge?

The Civic Society many years ago went to a great deal of practical effort to save Drovers Hall by repairing the roof and stonework. The partial restoration saved the building from possible demolition. Special refurbishment and conversion to a restaurant took place and later Kettering Borough Training held a range of courses there before moving on to a new home on the Horsemarket. The building became vacant and was remarketed. We went to a great deal of effort to secure the lease on it for the Society possibly in partnership with the Council. Lack of funds finally brought our hopes to an end.

Planning Permission was granted early in the year for niche shops around Soan’s Yard which at present includes the old Fire Station which was converted by the Council for a range of community uses including the Citizens Advice Bureau. Our interest in the town centre widened as funds became available to install further bollards like those at the top of Market Street. The new bollards would keep traffic out of the town which disappointed us. We had several times tried to encourage the Council to use Exhibition Road close by the Royal Albert Hall in central London as a perfect example of controlled vehicular access working very well with pedestrians.

To widen our approach to National Lottery Funding, Applications to assist us in our bid to re-erect the Kenneth Budd Mosaic, we have been to meetings at Warkton Church whose members have been bidding for funds to restore the Monuments created in memory of the Montagu and Buccleuch families from their early days at Boughton Park. The sculptor’s skill is world renowned and it was from these meetings that it was suggested the next years Civic Society lunch should be held at Warkton. Adam Clarke, a Leicester City Councillor and member of the City Civic Society had been appointed as a community co-ordinator for the Monuments Lottery Bid. He has since become a useful contact for us with their Society and a link to other Leicester events. Our Lottery Bid continues.

A campaign was set underway to save 6 Station Road, the property next to Northampton House. It had been used in the past as a car sales centre and later as a training centre for the Centre for the Unemployed. The Council own the building and after it has been standing empty for many years now look to sell or re-develop the site. This approach has raised concerns in the town which we are still trying to address. A letter to us from the Council is on our website outlining their present position.

The East Midlands Association of Civic Societies is known as EMACS. Their meetings are held over the Midlands and Wellingborough Civic Society hosted one of these which proved to be a very special introduction to Sarah Mcleod who founded the United Kingdom Association of Building Preservation Trusts known as A.P.T. The Society has established itself as being experts now in all aspects of taking on a building, finding funds, restoring and if necessary finding either managers for the buildings or new buyers. We hope that their services could be very useful in Kettering, possibly the Royal Hotel?

Our social scene which has included a trip to the Proms and Salt’s Mill, this year included a special new venture by way of a four day trip to Scotland. The Charles Rene Mackintosh trail particularly in Glasgow was the main purpose of the visit which also included visits to Dumfries House which Prince Charles actions enabled it to be saved and Drumlanrig Castle, the Scottish home of the Duke of Buccleuch. A very tight schedule meant a lot was included in four days and its success has now prompted a trip to Northumberland for 2015.

Each year our Rose Bowl Award is made for a contribution to the civic scene in that year, usually for a building of some sort. This year, Barton Hall with its Orangery was chosen for a range of reasons. Its restoration and guidance from English Heritage made it special and as a part of the presentation made by the Mayor, Councillor Duncan Baines, our Society held its Annual Lunch there.

Paul Ansell, Chairman

Secretary’s Report 2014

This time last year committee members attended a series of workshops hosted by Wicksteed Park. Themes included Social Enterprise and Building Successful Partnerships and we learned first-hand from Wicksteed Park’s experience of gaining Heritage Lottery Funding how to approach working towards funding applications and working with the community.

Out of this came the thought that having premises would assist the Society in having a public face and soon after, Drovers Hall became available for rent. Every effort of exploration to make this come to fruition was made by committee members, from meetings with the Leader of Kettering Borough Council to asking for public financial and voluntary assistance through a leading article in Kettering Extra newspaper. The committee hand-delivered 500 copies to members and around the town. As Arthur Heath used to say, “All publicity is good publicity”. We did achieve a dialogue amongst Kettering people and much voluntary support was offered. Sadly financial support was lacking.

The idea of renting Drovers Hall as a community hub did not succeed, however, the research proved to be a useful exercise which might assist in future ventures!
Promoting the Society was discussed at last year’s Annual General Meeting and it cannot be denied that every effort was made in 2014 to reach out to our community. The Mosaic has been a focus and we have all worked hard to keep people informed of the progress being made to restore and reinstate it. Vital in spreading the word was Andrea Pettingale who gave illustrated talks at the Alfred East Art Gallery, Fuller U3A, and Isham over 60’s Club, at Wicksteed Park and the Salvation Army over 60’s club. This contact proved to be invaluable in gaining evidence of community support which we could demonstrate and include in our Heritage Lottery application.

The committee met regularly to decide how best to promote the heritage of Kettering through the mosaic and it was decided to create a heritage walk radiating from it’s proposed new place on the Newlands Centre highlighting places and people depicted within the mosaic’s image along the way. The ‘walk’, cycle ride, car ride would reach out to Warkton Church and the Montagu Monuments passing our Blue Plaques on the way. It is envisaged that volunteers would research the story within the mosaic which in turn would be recorded and presented in a publication and new website should Heritage Lottery funding be granted.
To further promote the Society we held two exhibitions at the Newlands Centre in partnership with The Friends of the Alfred East Art Gallery.

In April Rachael Aldridge set up a Facebook account for the Society and this has been a valuable asset to relay the Society’s activities in reaching those keen on social media. Simultaneously Carolyn Bushell set up a Twitter account for the Society. We need more practise here!

Roger Payne continues to maintain the Society’s website which is invaluable especially as postage has become more expensive and news can be relayed instantly.

Coffee mornings continue to be a valuable means of keeping in touch and we are always grateful to Eleanor Patrick and our committee for making these occasions run smoothly.

2014 proved to be another successful year for interesting trips to Salts Mill and the Proms not to mention our first residential holiday to Scotland and we were blessed with good weather every time.

We look forward to another successful year.

Monica Özdemir, Secretary

Click here for details of our full 2015 programme

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President: Lady Freeman (Dipl Cons AA)   Chairman: Paul Ansell, Dip Arch RIBA    Secretary: Monica Özdemir

If you would like to know more about membership of the Society email the secretary