Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 36 (September 2020)

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Kettering’s High Street Heritage Action Zone secures £4,354,000 from
Historic England and Kettering Borough Council to improve the High Street !
Kettering Gallery Library and Museum receives £3million from
Central Governments Get Building Fund!

Kettering’s High Street Heritage Action Zone secures funding from Historic England for four-year project

The HSHAZ is a Historic England initiative intended to breathe new life into town centres by revitalising old buildings and helping to regenerate a vibrant place for locals, businesses and visitors. Historic England has confirmed the secure funding of £1,480,000 for the Kettering High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ), with the four-year project beginning late this summer that will restore our historical town centre. The funding of £1,480,000 supports an anticipated total of £4,354,000, including a contribution to commit £2.4 million from Kettering Borough Council towards the cultural-led regeneration plans.

The first milestone of the project will see public realm and street scene improvements in the southern end of the High Street. Kettering Civic Society is the local Historic and Cultural representative and we sit on the board together with Cllr Dearing, Cllr Edwards and Cllr Adams, Kettering Town Centre Partnership who are the business community representatives.

As part of the consortium the Society is working with the Council and Historic England to ‘breathe new life into high streets that are rich in heritage and full of promise - unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors’. The High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme aims to help with the recovery of local high streets from regenerating historic building as well as engaging our community through art and cultural projects. Already we have taken part in Zoom meetings following research and we provided 17 mood boards showing photographs and illustrations of how the High Street has looked in the past. We have the Rotary Club of Kettering Huxloe’s book A Pictorial History of Kettering and Tony Smith’s wonderful books containing photographs of old Kettering as well as the Society’s own Kettering Revisited to thank for producing these valuable records. These will assist the consultants, Influence, with design and community projects.

There has already been public consultation on ‘Improvements to the Pedestrian Area’ through an online survey which took place on www.thisiskettering.com/HAZ and during the Town Centre Conference which we attended at the Council offices in February. Technical documents and application forms have been developed for the various grant schemes which will be open for property owners of historic buildings within the HSHAZ area to apply.

Kettering Gallery, Library and Museum receives approval of £3million from Central Government’s Get Building Fund

Kettering’s Alfred East Art Gallery, Library and Manor House Museum (GLaM) is one of 300 projects nationally to have secured funding from the Central Government’s Get Building Fund which will stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the country. The total project is worth £3.9m and over the next two years will deliver transformational improvements to the facilities.

The project’s objective is to revitalise and extend GLaM to become a Creative and Cultural anchor for North Northamptonshire, which provides a blend of cultural amenity space and teaching facilities, while protecting and enhancing the historical fabric of the buildings. GLaM is one of 12 projects funded in the South East Midlands (SEMLEP) region. The project will now enter the final due diligence stage, with final funding approval from SEMLEP’s board in the Autumn.

Rochelle Mathieson, Head of Commercial & Economic Development at Kettering Borough Council said: “This funding represents a fantastic opportunity for the borough of Kettering and is fundamental to our cultural-led regeneration aspirations, it will complement the existing High Street Heritage Action Zone, whereby the projects collectively achieve over £8m of investment into the town over the next 4 years. The Gallery recently celebrated its 107th anniversary of it’s opening. Sir Alfred East hoped that the people of Kettering would “find something in the Gallery to make their lives bigger, better and brighter….” This remains a core sentiment of the project GLaM and we look forward to working with SEMLEP on taking it forward. I would like to thank our partners at Northamptonshire County Council who represent Kettering Library and the British Library led Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Northamptonshire, our dedicated and passionate Gallery and Museum staff, volunteers and friends of; collectively this team have worked hard to develop the ideas needed to make this project a reality.”

Cllr Scott Edwards, portfolio holder for community and leisure at Kettering Borough Council, said: “We  are absolutely delighted  to be awarded this funding. The Gallery, Library and Museum (GLaM) are, combined, a tremendous asset and resource for Kettering  Borough and beyond; this award will revitalise and extend GLaM to become a Creative and Cultural anchor for North Northamptonshire helping us make even better use of the buildings and collections and enhance and integrate the services on offer there.  

The investment will enable the development of a programme of events and activities to strengthen community links and support creative businesses.  GLaM will harness local passion, creativity, innovation, skills, ideas and develop local talent to grow the economy through Culture led regeneration building on a century’s worth of cultural investment making it fit for the next 100 years”


On 8th July 2020 the Executive Committee of Kettering Borough Council Meeting was held when Martin Hammond, Executive Director of Kettering Borough Council, presented the following Report, the purpose was to seek approval of the commissioning of public art, marking the involvement of Kettering people to the anti-slavery movement in the early nineteenth century.

2.1 Members will be aware, that following the murder of George Floyd in America in May 2020, a world wide campaign under the banner of Black Lives Matter, has highlighted the legacies of slavery, the continuing perception by many that racism has not been adequately tackled in this country and others, and which has sought a more serious set of remedies. A large number of protest events, including a well-attended event in Kettering town centre on 12th June, has continued to keep the spotlight on this issue, and has, as a consequence focused attention across the UK on monuments and works of art which feature historical figures complicit in some way in the slave trade or slavery itself.
2.2 In Kettering, there are no such monuments and indeed, Kettering has a proud history as one of the crucibles of the anti-slavery movement in the early nineteenth century, associated with, amongst others William Knibb. Their work is commemorated in the Borough Council’s own Coat-of-Arms. It should be said that there are also voices that have questioned the priorities of William Knibb, and which argue that his contribution to the anti-slavery movement was coincident with other objectives, not a primary driver.
2.3 Following Black Lives Matter protests, the Council received a number of approaches to mark the contribution of William Knibb , either by installing a statue or by some other form of public art which told his story. A petition containing 1358 names as at 30th June was received on 13th June, and individual members, as well and the Civic Society, also wrote on the merits of creating a permanent memorial.

3.1 Whilst in many ways a straightforward request, a statue in itself rarely tells the full story about an individual and their contribution to society, and it may be that there are other ways in which William Knibb and related aspects of local history can be remembered and their work highlighted, if that is what the committee would like to do. The Council has no recent history of commissioning major public works of art although smaller features, such as the Market Place (Time Line), have been commissioned through a design competition.
3.2 If members are willing to explore the best way of marking this strand of local history, then a design competition could be run, with an upper financial limit, a suitable area (s) of the town that the commission (s) would be located within, and a judging panel set up to agree the winning design.
3.3 At the same time as any such competition would be running, the Council will be engaged in the re-design of the public realm in Kettering Town Centre, as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ). This also includes provision for public art to be commissioned which captures aspects of the areas local history. It would be appropriate to ensure that the two sets of activity are aligned. HSHAZ funding has been agreed in detail with Historic England and any re-alignment of that budget would need the agreement of Historic England.
3.4 Additionally, October is Black History Month and it might be possible to commission a programme of workshops and educational events, through our gallery and museum. This will enable people to develop an understanding of the anti-slavery movement through a number of different perspectives and lenses, be a more interactive learning experience and resource that schools and educational establishments can access and use as part of a longer-term project.
3.5 Finally, the Kettering Mosaic, currently in storage with the Civic Society, depicts a modernist, abstract interpretation of Kettering’s Coat-of-Arms and shows Kettering’s rich religious, cultural and industrial heritage, including links with to the brith of the Baptist Missionary movement, and the abolition of slavery.
There are plans to erect the mosaic on the Tresham College building in Windmill Avenue, but further fund raising is needed to achieve this. (Members will also be aware that the Borough Council made a loan to the Civic Society to enable them to remove it from its original location when the building was demolished in 2007).

4.1 To ensure continuity it would make sense to align the commissioning of this proposed project within our plans for cultural-led regeneration within Kettering town centre, which includes street scene improvements-by aligning delivery and integrations of themes it will ensure aesthetic consistency throughout the town.
4.2 It would be important to seek historical as well as technical expertise prior to launching any design competition to ensure it is robustly researched and the specification is suitbale. Such expertise could be paid for within the overall design competition funding envelope.
4.3 There are a wide range of stakeholders who would need to be engaged in the commissioning process, including the Civic Society, Historic England, the cultural consortium, faith organisations, BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) community (ies) and of course this Council and its successors.

5.1 At this stage, no consultation has been carried out and this could be incorporated into the design and commissioning process. This report responds to the community input to date. It will be important to enter into early discussions with Historic England.

6.1 The initial cost of a design competition, including acquiring some historical and technical expertise, can be met from within existing budgets and is estimated to be under £10,000.
6.2 It will be important to set an overall financial envelope for the work itself, to guide the design competition. A discussion is needed with Historic England about aligning, supplementing or utilising the HSHAZ resource to serve the objectives set out in this report.
6.3 An assumption has been made that any contribution from the Borough Council/SHAZ would sit alongside or match fund-raising from the community* and interested groups, or via a crowdfunding exercise .

7.1 The Council would be making a statement about area’s history, advocacy for better treatment of BAME communities and therefore can make positive statements on issues of equality.

The Executive Committee is recommended:
to support the proposals from the community that some form of public art be commissioned to mark this areas historic contribution to the anti-slavery movement and to feature those local people who worked to abolish slavery.
To seek to commission public/cultural art through a design competition, jointly determined with local stakeholders, and to provide funds of up to £10,000 to support the design competition process.
To consider, with Historic England, how this project can best sit alongside the High Street Heritage Action Zone planning and delivery, and how work could be funded; and
To celebrate Black History Month via newly developed interactive digital presence which aligns to local history through different ‘lenses’ leading to a full exhibition and launch of the public art commission in Spring 2021, at an estimated coast of £30,000.




We are sorry that we have been unable to meet socially for coffee mornings, quizzes, lunches and outings.
Your support of the Society is most appreciated and without it we would not be able to fulfil the Society’s aims.

A most generous donation of £300 has been received from David Laing via the Laing Foundation Trust.

Contributions totalling £313, towards public art in the town centre in recognition of William Knibb have been gratefully received from;
Jim Hakewill, George Burgon, Lyne Powell, Yvonne Hamilton, John, Greta. Jaqueline Knibbs, Frances Pope, Jenny Thornton,
Mary Page, Don Pilkington, Tom Murphy, John Gorrell Barnes, Diane Bulley, Graham Bell.

In conclusion - A book

We have recently been given a book, 'To Be A Pilgrim, Memoirs of a Kettering Doctor' by Peter McCormick, a wonderfully fascinating read which is highly recommended.
 If you would like a copy please email the secretary.
Peter is not selling the book, but wishes to deliver/post it, personally; when you have read it you will understand....
He is well known in Kettering in his role as doctor, steam engine enthusiast, and for the amazing voluntary work that he did in Africa with children, especially those with cancer.
A tremendous story showing great humanitarianism and civic pride.


If you would like to know more about membership of the Society email the secretary or download a membership form