Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Runways running on...

Molehill Green pic: http://www.stopstanstedexpansion.com/



BAA’s debt mountain seems likely to prevent it from obtaining the compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) it would need to allow a new runway to be built at Stansted. As a consequence, Molehill Green, the picturesque Essex village threatened with extinction by the proposed new runway now seems far less likely to be buried under concrete.

This latest blow for BAA was identified in an Appendix to last week’s Competition Commission report which ordered the airport operator to sell Stansted Airport but gave it up to two years to do so, raising the possibility that BAA might press ahead with its second runway application in the hope of obtaining approval and achieving a higher selling price.

Legally, however, CPOs can only be granted if a developer can demonstrate that he has sufficient financial resources to implement the project within a reasonable timescale. It seems very unlikely that BAA could demonstrate this because its latest financial accounts show debts of £18.1 billion and negative equity of £1.7 billion as at 31 December 2008.

In the light of the new information, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has written to the Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities and to the Chief Executive of BAA calling for the proposed Public Inquiry to be abandoned.

SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone commented: “Without CPO powers, plans for a second Stansted runway are dead in the water. The list of obstacles just gets longer and longer. It’s time for BAA to do a reality check.”

Ms Barbone added: “We recognise of course that a new owner could be in a stronger financial position but a change in ownership would give rise to all sorts of other issues. Either way, the current plans are going nowhere and both BAA and the Government must realise that by now.”

A copy of SSE’s letter of 26 March to the Secretaries of State is available online at:

The Competition Commission’s final Market Inquiry report into BAA (including Appendix 10.6 on the interaction of Stansted divestiture and the second runway planning inquiry) is available online at: http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/rep_pub/reports/2009/545baa.htm.


Pictures of listed buildings threatened:

Other threatened buildings:

Previous posts linked to this:


Worrying news also from here:


I have posted before about this magnificent institution:


and the sad news about what has happened to the Stephenson Trust:


Both the Lit and Phil and the Mining Institute are wonderful historic buildings and any threat to their continuing existence, no matter how glitzy the bauble offered in the short term, should be strongly resisted.

Yes we are in desperate need of funds but selling our souls to corporate external funding is not the way to do it...

Apologies for the pauses in blogging, but my mind and fingers have been busy on weighty matters connected with trying to save historic buildings, and no time for much else over the past few days. I think knackered is the technical term.

What I need is a few sessions of R and R and TLC at Nether Cottage:


Holistic therapies in a historic building. Wonderful!

Special offer also:
Special offer for March & April:
Recommend a friend: if your friend books and pays for a treatment then you can claim a treatment for yourself to the equivalent value absolutely FREE!

Best of luck Jayne, lovely new website. Great pics!


Signing up is easy, do post news and views!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Switching off!

Today is the day we are all being urged to turn off our lights. Your light switch, your vote.

For all the latest information:



Sign up now!


This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from.

VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.
VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

All over the world, major landmarks will go dark for the hour:


Join us. Switch it off. You know it makes sense.


Sign up for Earth Hour

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Wonder of ... the internet


The Republic is having a wee pause, partly to gloat about the Caltongate news:

and partly through distress re the failure of Elizabeth Pascoe's legal challenge (she simply can't afford to fight on)

but mainly as I am bogged down with paperwork regarding another bit of heritage I'm trying to protect from the Philistine.

More on Elizabeth later.

News of more grant aid for seaside resorts on the Heritage Forum:

Also, I received this e-mail this morning, which I thought I'd pass on:

I'm from glue (an agency) who are working with Woolworths on their digital relaunch. I stumbled across your article Pick n Mix


which we really liked.

We've been working on creating a permanent collection for people to contribute to celebrate Woolworths history. This can be found on Facebook or the Woolies blog and would love to know what you think or if you have any contributions, we'd love to add those.


Look forward to hearing from you.



Fiona Carver Account Manager glue London
31 Old Nichol Street Shoreditch E2 7HR
Tel: +44 20 7033 4782 Mob: + 44788 261 1956

New Media Age’s Most Respected Agency '04 '05 '06 '07
Sunday Times’ Top 100 Small Companies '06 '07

Back soon!


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Hip hip...

Hooray! The news of the probable demise of the ghastly Caltongate scheme in Edinburgh's World Heritage Site dominates today's heritage news (see also yesterday's blog updates) as Mountgrange has gone bust, and today I can do no better than simply add these links to those posted at the bottom of yesterday's post:

The full cast of those responsible is assembled there, and all the back story is at

Wilson's Weekly Wrap:

City centre site now available – world class architecture wanted

..The project is - to all intents and purposes - dead, despite the optimistic noises being made by Manish Chande, one of the Mountgrange directors that he has another investment vehicle that could buy the assets out of administration. Given that nobody is lending money for commercial development just now, It’s difficult to see new finance being raised to simply carry on with the development as is. And that doesn’t get away from the brutal reality that nobody other than the city’s ingenuous council and that regular backer of losers, the Chamber of Commerce, had bought into this particular project. The trouble is, times have changed, even during the gestation of the ‘Caltongate’ scheme. People know when they are being offered cod consultation and resent it. They are also – despite many architects’ views to the contrary - able to recognise quality when they see it and nowadays expect it, especially in a city with the architectural and urban credentials that Edinburgh has. Which brings us to the nub of the problem – the many drawings published for this project illustrated a commercial style of architecture so unremarkable that it could have been in any city in the world. This may be unfair to the architects involved, but they produced the drawings so they can’t complain if the public isn’t convinced by what is put in front of it. What was required here was a modern form of architecture distinctive to Scotland’s capital and we can only hope that out of the Mountgrange ashes a phoenix will arise that is both appropriate for Edinburgh and genuinely world class in terms of its architectural quality....

Full article here:

and it's hard to disagree, really.


Listed buildings were to be demolished for that!





Monday, 23 March 2009

Good luck Elizabeth...

I know you don't like the limelight, but thank heavens for the brave who have convictions and battle on.


Also, the SAVE Liverpool exhibition moves to London:


Meanwhile, it seems that another group of campaigners are seeing light at the end of the tunnel:

Caltongate was no more than Scotch Mist
With Caltongate Developers Mountgrange now in administration Save Our Old Town Campaigners, against the scheme from October 2005 say, they are full of hope at last for the future of the capital`s historic core. They will be discussing this at a special public SOOT meeting on April the 1st, which will raise a few more smiles to add to those seen today when spreading the news of Mountgrange going into administration. "The buildings that have been emptied and at risk from demolition should be bought back to life and serve the community and city’s needs once again " says campaigner and local resident Sally Richardson adding "This news proves what SOOT has said from day one, that speculative led development is not the way to develop our cities sustainably for the community or environment involved"

Mountgrange in Administration -

for more info on meeting and campaign see


Mike Wade in the Times, Tues 24th:

Heritage Forum:

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Jeepers creepers...

As a demonstration of its powers, a Jeep was driven up the steps of the Capitol building on 20 February 1941

The weekly dose of Michael Quinion's online World Wide Words popped into the Republic's inbox this morning, and I thought that the discussion on the origin of the word 'Jeep' might be of interest to citizens of this Republic, so here it is:

Questions & Answers: Jeep
[Q] From Patrick Neylan: “I was just about to chide someone for believing Jeep to be an acronym of ‘Just Enough Essential Parts’ and was about to point out, with just a trace of smug superiority, that Jeep is, of course, a corruption of the initials GP, short for General Purpose (Vehicle). Then I thought, ‘Hang on, how do I know that?’ It seems there’s a lot of dispute, with some very credible arguments against General Purpose. You don’t seem to have tackled this one. Might I suggest an investigation?”

And here is the discussion which ensued:


Of course for many, the Land Rover is the far superior vehicle, but that's a whole other discussion.

Pic: Wiki (GNU Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Landrover_Serie_I_von_1952.jpg

More on those here:


Don't miss the video posted by Caius Plinius on his latest blog:


viral it may be but fun!

Also - for those who enjoyed the links in me blog from Thursday re the c20th Soc, here's an unofficial group on flickr, whose pictures you may also enjoy:


I particularly enjoyed this set, as I was a keen follower of the efforts to have it listed:


and that site led me to this slideshow about Le Corbusier:





Do join up and join in - any news and views welcome!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Latest news from SAVE

One of the buildings to be demolished under plans to extend Elvian School, Reading (pic credit: SAVE Britain's Heritage)

The latest news from SAVE is of the annual lecture (Ptolemy Dean on Britain's Vanishing Views), a special offer on publications, advance notice of the 2009 Buildings at Risk publication:

All We Need is Love:

The SAVE Buildings at Risk Catalogue 2009/10
200 pages. Full colour

The SAVE Buildings at Risk catalogue has become the definitive survey of the most enticing, romantic and unusual vacant and 'problem’ buildings throughout England and Wales. The latest catalogue features buildings to suit a range of tastes and budgets – houses in town and country, agricultural and industrial buildings and redundant churches.

Although not all the featured properties are openly on the market, many could be secured by a determined buyer. This year’s catalogue also features five ‘success stories’ – buildings from previous registers which have since been lovingly restored, as well as a section offering useful advice on the sometimes complex negotiations which can be necessary in order to acquire‘at risk’ buildings.

£15 (£13 for Friends) plus p&p


Here's the flyer:


Also from SAVE, disturbing news about proposed demolition of two handsome historic buildings in Reading, as part of a school expansion plan:


Text from SAVE letter to Elvian School:

SAVE Britain’s Heritage is deeply dismayed to learn of the plans by Elvian School to demolish two handsome Victorian villas - Rotherfield Grange and Oakland Hall.SAVE has campaigned for historic buildings for over 30 years and, during that time, we have shown how a wide range of building types, from police stations to mills, can be successfully converted to a number of new uses. For the school to claim that these two substantial, well designed and well maintained houses are ‘not capable for conversion to a viable form of use’ is patently absurd.

SAVE is also concerned that the fact that the building has been turned down for listing is being used as an argument for its destruction. This is akin to claiming that a painting is worthless as it is not in a national collection – there are thousands of good quality buildings all over the country which do not make the listing grade but are of architectural and historic value, and help define local character.

Reading has lost too many good buildings over the last few decades and cannot afford to lose more. We urge the school to show some imagination and vision and integrate these two villas into the plans for the new school. To lose them would be a tragedy.

and the sad news of the demolition of a historic villa in a conservation area, highlighting once again the lack of teeth of so much of our 'heritage protection' regime:


( Picture: SAVE)

More from:
http://www.savebritainsheritage.org/, an organisation which needs all the Friends and supporters it can get.


HERITAGE FORUM: http://www.joylandbooks.co.uk/forum/index.php

Thursday, 19 March 2009

PPUK readers...

Parkham Wood House courtesy Twentieth Century Society see report below.
Anyone reaching this via another website - my internet connection was severed last night (about 250,000 of us I think), when I managed to get back online in the early hours I was once again a non-person, locked out; that's despite the post by RobT saying we could all get things off our chests! Everyone except me, eh Rob? I gather in the case of one poster stating problems with getting his paid-for ad on site that wasn't what was meant!

I did receive a very kind PM from one person, but I have no idea if the internet connection problem meant my reply wasn't received. If there were others, I didn't get them.

As I am again locked from the site, I am unable to retrieve any PM's, indeed there are contact details and PM's containing useful information locked away from me for good it seems.

My crime? You tell me!

Not a site I would recommend. Caveat Emptor.


A new listing

News today in Building Design magazine is of a new listing:


Well done the c20th Society!


A 1960s cliff-top house in Devon inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier has been listed.

Parkham Wood House, by West Country architect Mervyn Seal, was awarded grade II status after being put forward for protection by the Twentieth Century Society.

The house sits on a cliff overlooking the town of Brixham, Devon. The building was praised by English Heritage and the DCMS for being a “very interesting example of English domestic architecture that faithfully follows particular aspects of international 1930s architectural idiom and theory, as expressed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier”.

More here from the c20th site:

and more from here:

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Thinking small!

Bekonscot Model Village Geograph pic © Copyright Ray Stanton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Model villages, like crazy golf, miniature railways, piers, variety shows, and seaside amusement parks, used to be the sort of holiday treat children adored (as did many an accompanying adult) alongside ice cream cones and other delights.

In fact, I once saw Sooty and Harry Corbett in a show at Scarborough, and I still have Sooty's autograph. Quite how a hand puppet with arms but no fingers managed to write so legibly is a mystery still; the autograph book was sent backstage and re-appeared later with autographs and good wishes from all the cast, so I didn't actually see the signing.

Sadly, the rise of the cheap package holiday abroad meant the demise of so many of those once thriving UK attractions, yet some do hang on in there despite it all, and in 'credit crunch Britain' it appears people are keen once again to enjoy some of the more simple pleasures a holiday at home has to offer. OK, the weather may not always be what it could be, but possibly that might also mean seaside towns could witness a resurgence in the use of Winter Gardens, and at least you won't find your underwear has gone to Barbados while you have arrived in Benidorm.

Southport's Land of the Little People, which fascinated so many children, alas is no more, (along with the wonderful Pleasureland and so much else at Southport) although another model village has risen to fill the gap: the Model Railway Village is situated in King's Gardens opposite the Royal Clifton Hotel and near the Marine Lake Bridge. The Model Railway Village opened in May 1996 and was created by Ray and Jean Jones. The website is lovely, with taster videos of what can be seen:

The Land of the Little People was demolished in the late 1980s to make way for the aborted Winter Gardens/SIBEC shopping development. Its site is now occupied by a Morrison's supermarket.

The Land of the Little People opened in 1957, and was a detailed scale model of an English town set in two acres of landscaped gardens. The Lord Street attraction included a miniature hospital, school, castle, airport, farms shops, thatched village and tiny model railway. The original owners, Harry, Tom and Bill Dobbins, opened two more model villages in the 1960s, Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, Devon and Merrivale Model Village in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk:

Once you start delving, it's surprising how many of these still exist today, including at Godshill:

Bourton on the Water:


Corfe Castle:

Forest of Dean:



And no doubt many more besides.
UPDATE: 18th March
Nick has kindly posted these in the comments section, I will add them here:

There is also a fantastic model village at Sewerby near Bridlington: http://delightfullyjaded.com/bondville-model-village/

Skegness Model Village:


Wimborne Model Town:

"Personally, I will not rest until every model village in Britain is catalogued on Nothing To See Here..." The splendid Nothing to See Here website is at:


although I think it still has some way to go before all are included, what is there is fascinating with plenty of pictures to entice.

Of course, the most famous of all is Bekonscot Model Village, the oldest in the world (1929) and even nominated as an Icon of England:


Bekonscot Model Village
Bekonscot Model Village is a mini-miracle, a major masterpiece on a minor (1:12) scale. Not one but six model villages nestle in the one-acre site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, complete with a Gauge 1 model railway threading through it. Thatched cottages, a Tudor house, a castle, a windmill, a coal mine, a fairground, a cricket match, a scout camp and a fox hunt – all rural England is here.

Unlike some model villages, these ones are mainly fictional, allowing the founder Roland Callingham, his gardener Tom Berry, and their host of enthusiastic successors to let their imaginations run free. Although some place-names and businesses have their real-life counterparts (Enid Blyton’s house Green Hedges, for example), others are excuses for gloriously bad puns: the greengrocer is Chris P Lettis.

Beckonscot was opened to the public in 1929, making it the oldest model village in the world. In 1992 the decision was taken to send the village back in time, reversing the annual modernisations. Visiting Bekconscot today is a voyage of discovery, not only into a spectacularly detailed miniature world, but into an idyllic view of England’s past.


I did not, however, think that the world of model villages was anything which would be a contender for the next SAVE Buildings at Risk catalogue,


but the Himley Hall Model Village certainly seems as though it requires a great deal of TLC, although now rescued from its original site and hopefully to be resurrected in the near future. The story is told here, with a detailed set of photographs too:


On 18-19 August 2006, Tim Dunn plus friends and team from Bekonscot moved the remnants of the long-forgotten Himley Model Village from Dudley (West Midlands) to Beaconsfield.

This project has taken 18 months to complete since we first discovered the village, rotting and rusting away in the corner of a stately home parkland. The Model Village closed in 1994 and has been lying dormant since we rediscovered the site in 2005.

We need your help! We have brought several buildings back and need assistance in restoring them, as we are setting up a charitable Model Village Museum. We would like to hear from you if you:
  • have memories of Himley Model Village
  • know what real buildings these models are based on
  • would like to help us restore these attractive wooden buildings

You can contact Tim Dunn, project leader, on 07973 174 357 or themodelvillage@yahoo.com

Another small (ouch) piece of news is that the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate is on the market;


it was offered for sale last year, but there's now an auction in the offing with a considerably reduced guide price. It would make an enchanting puppet theatre, and I see until recently it was available for civil marriages; let's hope it finds a sympathetic new owner and isn't simply allowed to be demolished or converted into something else. Alongside a renewed Dreamland, a tiny theatre offering miniature delights would greatly add to the regeneration of Margate.

And while on the subject of moving, how about this?

RECORD reports from New York's East River as the Lieb House by Robert Venturi, spared from the wrecking ball with a relocation, floats from New Jersey to its new home on Long Island.


HERITAGE FORUM: now at http://www.joylandbooks.co.uk/forum/index.php

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Spring has sprung...

Visby, Sweden, World Heritage Site

A brief blog today as the garden beckons, the weeds are growing, and I need to be out there.

pic: http://www.kitchengarden.org.uk/index

However, all is not a wasted journey here, as I can link to:

  • a report on the wonderfully successful launch event for the Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park on the SAVE Dreamland campaign site:
  • news and an update on what's happening at Edinburgh World Heritage:

the Director's Notes (not the catchiest of titles, really, but does the job):

and a brief report on a visit from experts from the World Heritage Site of Visby, pictured above :


More people posting news and views on the new HERITAGE FORUM would be good, do join in!


Back later!


Sunday, 15 March 2009

Dreamland wins royal approval!

pic courtesy of Save Dreamland Campaign (click to enlarge)

An update of what is happening at Dreamland, Margate, which I have written about here:
and here:

The launch of the plans for the Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park is tonight; above is a picture of the planned River Caves and waterchute. The River Caves has parts rescued from the very sad closure of the historic Pleasureland Amusement Park Southport, the waterchute a last-minute rescue from the flattening of the park at Rhyl. There's not a lot left now of our historic seaside parks.

Sea Heir
Prince backs heritage park plans

Prince Charles
has given his full support for plans to revive Margate’s Dreamland theme park.

His Royal Highness holds monthly meetings with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s chief executive Ros Kerslake, and during a recent meeting the next in line for the throne showed a keen interest in the development of Margate’s iconic landmark site.

The trust is providing advice on the renovation of the park, which includes plans for a £12 million heritage fun park and cinema, to the groups working on the project.


MrKerslake said: “The Prince of Wales is very pleased that his trust is working in Margate and that it is supporting the re-use of local heritage assets.”

A multi-million pounds bid for funding for the ambitious scheme, also backed by artist Tracey Emin, will be submitted in April, with the decision due by September.

A vision of dreamsDreamland rebirth plans go on show

This is the first
image released of how a newly regenerated Dreamland could look if multi-million pound plans for a heritage theme park go ahead. The image, along with plans for the world’s first Heritage Amusement Park, will be unveiled on Sunday at a party being held at the Sugar Lounge in Margate.

Jean-Marc Toussaint is working with the Dreamland Trust to help design the layout of the park. A writer, illustrator, creative consultant and concept designer, Mr Toussaint has worked on projects in Europe, Russia and the USA including French parks Park Asterix and Grand Parc Medieval. In the plans the theme park is to be revived and the Grade II listed seafront cinema will also receive a makeover. It is likely to become a music venue and museum showing Margate’s youth the ages, from mods and rockers to punk.

Sea Change, a cultural grant scheme, has already given money to the Margate Renewal Partnership to carry out preparatory work for the heritage amusement park and in June will tell the group if it has secured more funding for work to begin.

An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund will be submitted next month and a decision will be given in September.

A raft of meetings, including a trip to the Prince of Wales’s home Clarence House, have taken place to discuss the project. The Dreamland Project at the Prince’s Regeneration Trust is led by Roland Jeffery, who will also be attending the party on Sunday.

Dreamland Trust treasurer and Shell Grotto owner Sarah Vickery said: “We are delighted with the high profile support that Dreamland is receiving.”

Peter Beck, construction manager at Waterbridge, the company which owns the Dreamland site, said: “We’re very excited about the project and we’re all very positive. We wouldn’t have come this far with it if we didn’t believe it could work. It seems to be gaining support and that’s important because we still need to secure the funding for Dreamland. The funding is essential. With regards the Scenic Railway we’re about 30 per cent complete with the structural analysis and we’re about to move on to commission a three dimensional survey which will see a 3-D map created of the structure which will fill in the gaps. We don’t have the original plans of the part that burned down so that’s the next stage.”

The news has also pleased Margate artist Tracey Emin, who said: “I’m happy Margate will be given part of its soul back. I travel all over the world and whenever I’m asked where I come from and I say Margate the next word is always Dreamland.”

Plans for the heritage amusement park include more than 30 rides, some of which keep the white knuckle spirit alive. The Trust also hopes they can purchase a large Ferris wheel as well as securing cable cars linking the sands with the park.

Designs will be officially unveiled this Sunday at the Sugar Lounge in King Street, Margate, at 7.30pm. The free party will include music from Thanet councillor and DJ Mick T chosen by those attending...

Isle of Thanet Gazette

A click on the word 'image' in the above report will bring the full article and more news of the plans.


For more on Sea Change:


Much excitement from this strong supporter of the campaign!

For all the latest discussion on Dreamland:


and the newly-launched heritage issues discussion and news forum, as posted here yesterday in this blog http://nemesisrepublic.blogspot.com/2009/03/bit-of-chat.html (do join, all welcome):



Saturday, 14 March 2009

A bit of chat...

Full of hot air? The inflatable pub!
Well, as many readers will know, this and several other blogs began because a heritage related forum to which we had been contributing for a long time became a less than hospitable place to be.

So the good news today is that there is now space on part of another forum where conservation and heritage and 'historic environment' related news, views, information and campaigns can be shared and discussed, and maybe a bit of fun had as well. Links to blog updates can of course be posted there too, and a wider audience may ensue:

Do please register and join in! The other sections of the forum have a keen membership, and it's lively and heritage related too.

Thank you to Nick Laister, for creating this niche on the wider Joyland forum. I can heartily recommend a browse here also:

And sort of connected with historic buildings, I came across this today, an inflatable pub, so you can erect your own local in the back garden! Given the rate at which pubs are currently closing, a cause for major concern, this 'Welsh stone' instant inn may be just the job!
Here's the video:

Certainly cool!


Friday, 13 March 2009

SAVE Lancaster from Centros!

Richard Griffiths Architects alternative scheme for Lancaster

I was going to write about Lancaster soon, but I have brought that forward as now events have taken an interesting turn with the news revealed on Wednesday that Centros, the developer of the extremely nasty and destructive major scheme which the council passed in its 'wisdom' (the scheme spans two conservation areas) has decided it will not bother turning up to the public inquiry.

Lancaster's historic former brewery, to be demolished under the Centros scheme

As one of those who wrote and asked that this application be called in by the Secretary of State, I am rather pleased to hear this, although this news leaves the council holding the baby unless Centros additionally withdraws its plans. So presumably those of us opposed to the plans have to plod on with our objections and prepare for the inquiry until Centros does the decent thing, and admits that fat profits are all that matters, not genuine heritage led regeneration of historic places. (See Wednesday's blog http://nemesisrepublic.blogspot.com/2009/03/in-praise-of-architectural-heritage.html)

But fear not, SAVE Britain's Heritage, which has been carrying out a strong campaign alongside Lancaster group It's Our City (with some considerable help from architect and TV presenter Ptolemy Dean, who has written and illustrated articles for Country Life on the subject, and blasted the plans in architectural journals to try to prevent this act of civic vandalism) has also today revealed the alternative plans it has commissioned from award winning Richard Griffiths Architects.




In light of news that the developer behind one of England’s most controversial town centre redevelopment schemes has pulled out of a forthcoming Public Inquiry, SAVE Britain’s Heritage has revealed its own blueprint for the regeneration of the historic ‘Canal Corridor’ area of Lancaster.

The current scheme, by retail developer Centros, and backed by Lancaster City Council, hit the headlines when it became the first application in the north west of England to be called-in for Public Inquiry since 2001. Described by SAVE as ‘astonishingly destructive’ and heavily criticised by English Heritage and other bodies, the proposals involve the demolition of over 30 buildings,18 of them within conservation areas, and the obliteration of a medieval street pattern.

In a bizarre turn of events Centros has now backed out of the Public Inquiry, leaving Lancaster City Council to fight it alone.

SAVE’s Secretary William Palin
described the situation as ‘chaotic and embarrassing. As I understand it there is no precedent for the applicant and developer failing to attend an Inquiry of this kind. The council which will now be faced with a huge legal bill for what will in all likelihood be an open and shut case, with the application refused.’

With the Centros application in apparent disarray, SAVE has commissioned acclaimed conservation architect Richard Griffiths to produce an alternative vision for the 8 hectare site. The drawings show how the existing network of streets and courtyards with their characterful mix of 18th and 19th century sandstone buildings could be retained and transformed to produce a vibrant and intimate area of shops, restaurants, arts uses, workspace and housing, with the possibility of a new area of retail and housing to the north of the site.
William Palin,

SAVE’s Secretary says ‘In the current financial climate there is little appetite for large, brash, retail schemes and Centros’s reluctance to push the scheme forward has confirmed this. If the council is serious about long-term regeneration then it should be advocating a conservation-led scheme which will create a real place and dovetail with the rest of this beautiful, historic city. The first stage in achieving this is to produce a masterplan that can be implemented in phases as funding becomes available. If the council has real aspirations for this part of the city it should be looking at examples such as Covent Garden or those guided by Richard Griffiths at Oxford Castle and King’s Cross, London. Now is the perfect time for Lancaster City Council to engage with other architects and developers and produce a new vision to unlock the wonderful potential of this site.’

Richard Griffiths says
‘The Lancaster Canal Corridor is an area of great charm, a charm that is veiled because of the current derelict condition of the site. We believe it can be transformed through conservation-led regeneration as a focus for development of the site, contributing to the wider regeneration of Lancaster as a whole. The Canal Corridor has the potential to become a creative hub for the town with a rich variety of uses.’

The SAVE scheme has been endorsed by local group IT’S OUR CITY which has been a fierce opponent of the Centros plans.

Cal Giles, the group’s Co-ordinator says ‘IoC fully supports the conservation-led alternative presented here by SAVE and Richard Griffiths’.

For further information contact:William Palin (Secretary), SAVE Britain’s Heritage, 70 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EJ. Tel: 020 7253 3500. .

For more details of the Richard Griffiths scheme plus accompanying text go to

SAVE Britain’s Heritage
has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architects, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Richard Griffiths Architects
has established a reputation as one of the leading practices in the field of conservation, carrying out work of the highest quality in repair and creative adaptation of historic buildings to accommodate new uses. Sustainability lies at the heart of all work of the practice, so that the legacy of the past, with all its embodied energy and memory, can continue to serve the needs of present and future generations. The practice has worked on two similar successful conservation-led regeneration schemes, Oxford Castle and the Regent’s Quarter in King’s Cross, London. At Oxford Castle, the formerly closed and inaccessible site of Oxford prison has been transformed into a vibrant new quarter of the city, with bars, restaurants, residential units, a heritage centre, and a major new hotel. At the Regent’s Quarter, three whole urban blocks containing a number of unlisted but fine 19th century industrial buildings have been restored and opened up by the creation of a new pedestrian route and spaces through the middle of the blocks.
The practice has been successful in gaining funding for its projects from the Heritage and Millennium Lottery Funds, and its work has been recognised in awards by the RIBA, the Civic Trust and Europa Nostra.

Historic Mitchell’s Brewery (above) and these 19th-century buildings (below) on the Stonewell ‘nose’ are due to be flattened as part of the Centros scheme

A charming corner of Lancaster, to be demolished under the Centros scheme.

More details on the SAVE website, http://www.savebritainsheritage.org/
including a slideshow of the buildings under threat, and the It's Our City site


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Brighton Churches: SAVE report

Click to enlarge

Today's blog is an encouragement to all to buy and read the latest SAVE report, out today,

BRIGHTON CHURCHES: The need for action now

text by the late Thomas Cocke, edited by Adam Wilkinson, picture captions by Susan Palmer, design by Olga Gusarova-Tchalenko, and with absolutely stunning photographs by Matthew Andrews.

For more information and order form click here:



Let's hope that some action can be taken, the wealth of beauty and history encapsulated in these buildings is astonishing, and to allow this to decay while churches are closed and made redundant is not to be contemplated.

This beautiful book is a fitting tribute to the life and work of Thomas Cocke, 1949 - 2008, who sadly and tragically died while it was in preparation.

Please buy.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

In praise of.. The Architectural Heritage Fund

The UK has, beavering away, often unsung and not widely known about by the general public, a variety of organisations, national and local, connected with 'built heritage'.

Today, I thought I would highlight the Architectural Heritage Fund. As someone who has had help from it in the past, I can thoroughly commend it and its work to anyone with a building in their locality at risk and which could be part of a community rescue.

The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity founded in 1976 to promote the conservation of historic buildings in the UK. It does this by providing advice, information and financial assistance in the form of grants and low interest working capital loans for projects undertaken by building preservation trust (BPTs) and other charities throughout the UK.

Only organisations with charitable status are eligible for financial assistance from the AHF. Any charity with a qualifying project is entitled to apply for an options appraisal grant, or a loan, but the AHF’s other grants are reserved for BPTs – charities established specifically to preserve historic buildings.

Financial assistance is available only for buildings that are listed, scheduled or in a conservation area and of acknowledged historic merit. Projects must involve a change either in the ownership of a property or in its use.

The AHF has an extremely useful online database:

Funds for Historic Buildings now extended to cover the whole of the UKFunds for Historic Buildings, the AHF’s online database - www.ffhb.org.uk – has been given a bright new look and extended to cover the whole of the UK, having previously been only for funding sources in England and Wales. FFHB is one of the most popular and well-used resources in the heritage sector, and its extension now makes it even more valuable, with over 200 separate sources of funding included. It is fully interactive and searchable by location, type of building and nature of ownership, and completely free to use. The AHF is able to offer this service thanks to support from English Heritage, Cadw in Wales, and now from Historic Scotland and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland: Environment and Heritage Service.

It additionally publishes information and reports:

Report on the impacts of heritage-led regeneration on communities commissioned by the Agencies Co-ordinating Group (The Architectural Heritage Fund, The Civic Trust, Institute of Historic Building Conservation, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust and the UK Association of Preservation Trusts)Launched at the recent 'Place, Space and Conservation' conference in Manchester this Report, commissioned by the Agencies Co-ordinating Group (The Architectural Heritage Fund, The Civic Trust, Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation, The Prince's Regeneration Trust and the UK Association of Preservation Trusts) and written by Ela Palmer, looks at the impacts of heritage-led regeneration on communities, and highlights some significant findings from examples throughout the UK. The Executive Summary (7.37MB) is also available on this website.

The report's author, Ela Palmer:

(and if you need a Historic Buildings Consultant, I recommend you contact Ela Palmer.)

I additionally commend the case studies section of the AHF site for inspiration. It's not all doom and gloom on the conservation front, regeneration doesn't have to mean demolition and 'iconic towers', beloved though they may be of developers out to make a fast buck http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2009/03/bye-bye-beetham.html and local authorities with little idea.

Here's one, which is connected with the blog from Monday
http://nemesisrepublic.blogspot.com/2009/03/darn.html about the ghastly Pathfinder demolitions in Pendle:
Church declared redundant 1989• acquired by property developer 1990• Planning application approved to convert to nursing home 1992• Application to demolish Church refused 1996• Feasibility Study produced by HTNW 1996• Church acquired by the Trust in 2000

Rescue and regeneration of a northern mill-town: Nelson,

The Heritage Trust for the North-West is making great efforts to maintain the character of what many would regard as a typical traditional northern mill town, containing terraced houses and cobbled streets. Like many other similar towns in the region, it has social problems linked to high unemployment. St. Mary’s Church, in the centre of the Conservation Area, is the only listed Anglican church in the Borough of Pendle. It was declared redundant by Blackburn Diocese in 1989, sold, and has lain empty ever since. The local authority wishes to clear most of the surrounding housing, against the wishes of many inhabitants, most of whom are from the town’s substantial Asian population. The trust has acquired the church, which it intends to return to Community use. It has also purchased the school for workspace and community facilities, and one of the houses. It also has plans to restore other dwellings and rejuvenate local commercial premises. By preserving the historical integrity of the town, the trust believes that it can involve the whole community in its regeneration, thereby reducing social tensions, minimising exclusion, and engendering a sense of

Organisation: Heritage Trust for the North-West

Website: http://www.htnw.co.uk/index.html

Grade II listed church, in St. Mary’s, Nelson Conservation Area
Architectural Heritage Fund assistance: £218,250 loan offered in 1999, £15,000
Project Organiser Grant in 2000

The latest wonderful news on St Mary's is that it is to become a Centre for Traditional Building Craft Skills.

Read about it here:




Monday, 9 March 2009


A least, that's what the new Scottish Environment Minister says we should be doing, in today's Scotsman:

Darn your socks to help save planet, says minister
By Jenny Haworth
Environment Correspondent

SCOTS should be darning their socks and looking to their grandparents for advice in order to lead greener lifestyles, according to the new environment minister. Roseanna Cunningham's advice came as a survey revealed that people in Scotland saw the environment as a global issue rather than a local one...


Easy to scoff, but it's a wider message, in our throwaway, Primark fashion society, which is worth considering. Certainly I belong to the generation which did try to make things last; I am even old enough (just!) to recall making clippy and proggy mats from old clothes, a skill which is still seen at places like Beamish Museum:


See the mats in use on page 5:


Super pictures, including one of mat making. I have the implements and I can just about recall how to do it. In times past, the mat went on the floor during the day, and on the bed at night. For anyone who hasn't been, Beamish is a recommended day out. I was at the opening ceremony, wonderful to see how much it has prospered since then.

So, in the interests of planet saving, today here's a post on another blog giving details of HOW TO DARN SOCKS in various ways:


Food waste is another issue; as a nation we throw away a great deal of food which could easily be eaten, thus further saving of the planet gains to be made:

Household Food Waste
An estimated 6.7 million tonnes of household food waste is produced each year in the UK, most of which could have been eaten. This wastes good food, costs us all money and adversely impacts on the environment. The amount of food we throw away is a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases in the UK.

To help reduce the amount of food that is thrown away, WRAP and its partners are running a 'Love Food Hate Waste' consumer facing campaign to encourage behavioural change. We are working with the UK grocery sector, food industry, Government and organisations such as the Food Standards Agency to develop practical solutions and improved communications to make it easier for consumers to get the most from the food they buy and waste less of it.


Here's the Love Food Hate Waste site, full of useful tips and recipes:


Unavoidable Household Food Waste
Some food waste is inevitable (e.g. vegetable peelings) and WRAP is working with consumers, local authorities and others to minimise the amount of food waste that reaches landfill.
Home Composting is a fantastic way of recycling food waste such as fruit scraps, vegetable peelings and tea-bags, while making your garden more beautiful. Find out more about home composting and see if there are any low cost compost bin offers in your area.
Local Authorities can also advise about community composting and food waste collection schemes.

As an avid composter, I can recommend it, not to be sniffed at (!) is the therapeutic effect also of seeing all that waste turned into something sweet smelling and full of nutrients to help with the organic veggie growing... another way to cut down food miles and have some control over the quality of food we eat.

By banding together, it's possible to work as a community also to help the environment; here's one example:


Unfortunately, some types of recycling are still not happening; the UK government's Pathfinder scheme is bulldozing on, razing sound buildings which, if grant aid was given to refurbish, could stand for many more decades. That's despite all manner of critical reports about how ineffective, inefficient and downright unpopular it all is, especially with the communities which it is devastating. However, the gravy train is running, the official bodies are being paid, and that means the voices of reason are not being heard.

Sad to find this on the SALVO website yesterday:


Demolition starts on 100 Brierfield homes
Lorries from Hapton firm Howard Stott Demolition rolled into the area on Tuesday 17th February armed with security barriers. These were used to secure properties on two of the streets, Belgrave Street and Claremont Street, where the demolition will began. Around 100 old houses below the railway and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are being demolished to make way for a new housing development under the Government's Pathfinder scheme.Stone from the houses will be retained and used for garden walls at the new properties.Pendle Council's housing programmes manager Julie Palmer said the demolition has to be completed by the end of March.

You Tube

That video should be a source of shame for all involved, Pendle Council for allowing the place to become run down, Elevate East Lancashire, the Pathfinder body which refuses to consider anything but demolition, and the government, for not pulling the plug on John Prescott's ghastly scheme long before now.


As SAVE showed in its plans for the re-use of Toxteth Street, Manchester:


re-use is sustainable , popular with local communities, and cheaper than demolition. But the council voted for the wrecking ball anyhow.

SAVE has been informed that the Compulsory Purchase Order for 520 houses in Toxteth Street, East Manchester has been confirmed by the Secretary of State. The news comes as a bitter disappointment both to SAVE and residents who have been fighting plans for demolition. The comprehensive redevelopment scheme has been funded by government's controversial Housing Market Renewal (Pathfinder) Initiative.



Another council which just doesn't get the message is Tower Hamlets; here's Dan Cruickshank campaigning in today's Building Design for the re-use of Robin Hood Gardens:

Dan Cruickshank attacks Tower Hamlets and English Heritage over Robin Hood Gardens
9 March, 2009
By Will Henley and Phil Clark

Architectural historian and TV personality Dan Cruickshank has given the east London council and heritage body a drubbing over the Smithson’s estate.

TV presenter and historian Dan Cruickshank has launched a blistering attack on Tower Hamlets council and English Heritage over their failure to back the listing of Robin Hood Gardens, which he warned would lead to a “grotesque acts of barbarism” if it is demolished...

...To destroy [the Robin Hood Gardens buildings] would be one of the most grotesque acts of barbarism, vandalism - architecturally, visually, socially,” said Cruickshank.

“Having failed to maintain and manage those buildings properly… they [the council] are taking what they think is the easiest solution to level the site. They are utterly wrong. What amazes me though is English Heritage – their job is to assess and step back and realise the raw potential of even problematic housing schemes, and they’ve utterly failed to do that.

It is incredible that they are not listed. Buildings of that quality, comparable buildings – the Goldfinger buildings - Trellick Tower [and] Alton are listed - Sheffield Park Hill is listed, Keeling House is listed – why on earth is this one not listed?”


The article with which I began today's blog ended with this, which I quote with some cynical amusement:

THE Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall began their ten-day tour of South America yesterday with the issue of climate change at the top of their agenda. Prince Charles and Camilla arrived in Chile, but they will also visit Brazil, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Highlighting the issue of global warming is a major theme, and this week the prince will give a dire warning on climate change to the world. Their chartered Airbus arrived at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez airport close to Santiago. They were driven away in a limousine, followed by a motorcade of six cars.

It's a lovely day. I think I'll go and talk to the rhubarb.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

Dreaming of Dreamland

Fire engulfing the Grade II Listed Scenic Railway, Dreamland, Margate, following an arson attack in 2008 (pic courtesy Nick Evans/Save Dreamland Campaign).

More good news from the Save Dreamland Campaign website, updated yesterday evening.

Read it, and a great deal more besides (even a mention of the Republic) here:

Friday, 6 March 2009
'I Dream of Dreamland' event - more details
We are formally unveiling our plans for the brand new Dreamland Amusement Park at a special public event on the evening of Sunday 15th March at the West Coast Bar, King Street, Margate. The layout plans and images have been assembled over the past few months by a team led by The Dreamland Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign, site owners the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company and the Margate Renewal Partnership. Sunday will be the first time these plans have been seen in public. In addition to unveiling the plans, we will be presenting old footage of Dreamland and the Scenic Railway through the years, playing a seriously good Dreamland soundtrack and having an all-round fantastic time. The Dreamland of tomorrow will echo the thrilling theme parks of the past, and this is your chance to climb on board, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!

(click pic to enlarge, courtesy Save Dreamland Campaign)

Please do pass on details of the event to all, and get along if you can make it.

That's following the news last week:

Saturday, 28 February 2009
Dreamland meeting in royal residence
Susan Marsh and Nick Laister of The Dreamland Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign were again in London yesterday for meetings at the offices of The Princes Trust in Clarence House, the Prince of Wales's official residence. The first meeting, which started at 10am, covered some of the business discussions that have to take place between The Dreamland Trust, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (the owners of Dreamland) and Thanet District Council. The discussions were facilitated by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Thursday, 5 March 2009
Urban Panel comes to Dreamland
The last two days have seen some of the most intensive meetings so far in the bid to bring an exciting new 21st Century tourist attraction to Margate's Dreamland. On Wednesday 4 March, the Government's Urban Panel visited Margate. The Urban Panel brings together the expertise of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and English Heritage to help Local Authorities, development agencies and others to engage in major regeneration of historic towns and cities. Nick Laister and Sarah Vickery represented The Dreamland Trust at a special evening dinner with the Urban Panel at No6 Brasserie in Margate. Also in attendance at the dinner were Richard Simmons (Chief Executive of CABE), Les Sparks OBE (Chair of Urban Panel), Dr Andrew Brown (Regional Director, English Heritage) and Cllr Sandy Ezekiel (Leader, Thanet District Council).

That same evening, Susan Marsh was busy representing the Dreamland Trust at a meeting of the Margate Round Table, at which she gave a presentation on the work of the Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign.

On the morning of Thursday 5 March, Nick Laister attended the Urban Panel's site visit to Dreamland. Nick presented the Trust's vision for the site and answered questions from Panel members. He then joined Susan Marsh and Sarah Vickery for a Meeting of the Trustees of the Dreamland Trust at the Walpole Bay Hotel in Cliftonville.

At midday, the Dreamland Client Group (The Dreamland Trust, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, Margate Renewal Partnership) and their advisers (The Prince's Regeneration Trust, Levitt Bernstein Architects, Locum Consulting) presented their proposals for a Heritage Amusement Park at Dreamland to the Board of the Margate Renewal Partnership (MRP) at the Margate Media Centre. The support of the Board is essential if the project is to be delivered, as it requires 'buy-in' from the key stakeholders in the town and south east region.

Roland Jeffery of the Prince's Regeneration Trust opened the presentation and he was followed by Nick Laister, who set out the Dreamland Trust's vision for a "thrilling theme park from the past", with a slideshow showing why the proposal will be a unique visitor attraction of international importance. Nick was followed by short presentations on the business plan from David Geddes of Locum Consulting and the masterplan/architectural designs by Mark Lewis of Levitt Bernstein Architects. The MRP Board is chaired by Pam Alexander (Chief Executive of SEEDA). Other Board members present included Victoria Pomery (Project Director, Turner Contemporary); Dr Andrew Brown (Planning & Development Director for South East, English Heritage) and Richard Samuel (Chief Executive, Thanet District Council).

The Board presentation was followed by a meeting of the Dreamland Client Group, at which further work was carried out on the amusement park proposals and further planning of the big public launch event of the Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park in Margate on Sunday 15 March at 7.30pm. The Trust hopes to see a big turnout for what is expected to be a lively evening...

It's difficult to believe that it's not even a year since the fire which devastated the Grade II Listed Scenic Railway, Britain's oldest surviving roller coaster:

Monday, 7 April 2008
This afternoon came the news that most members of this Campaign hoped we would never hear. A fire has partially destroyed the Scenic Railway at Dreamland, the UK's oldest roller coaster and a Grade II listed building.
Approximately 25% of the structure (the main lift hill and much of the central part of the ride) has been lost, and so has the workshop, which housed all the original trains...(Save Dreamland Campaign news site, April 2008)

an event which could have seen the end of dreams of reviving Dreamland as a Heritage Amusement Park, against all the odds following its closure and site clearance. The Scenic was left alone, alongside the Grade II* Dreamland cinema, (a significant part of cinema heritage, with its organ intact) deteriorating through standing empty. So far, the arsonist has not been caught. Rumours of course abound, the site owner has not been the most lucky of people where fires are concerned at other properties either, but so far the police seem to have drawn a blank.

Remember too all the campaigning and work has been done voluntarily by those with a passionate belief that, despite the horrors of the demolition of Cyclone 'woodie' coaster at Pleasureland, Southport, (not aided by English Heritage and the DCMS, who messed up badly) the closure of that historic park following a desperate last-minute campaign to save it and the remaining historic attractions on site, and the ongoing uncertainty about what is happening to historic rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, amusement parks and rides are an important part of our history and heritage and should be valued as such.

The Dreamland Trust is still in need of donations to help the campaign, so please do consider sending a bit of cash, no matter how small all donations will, I know, be welcome.

For anyone with a wider interest, do look too at the many splendid publications (and a great deal of information too) available on the excellent Joyland site:

Sometimes, all the work and worry and heartache of campaigning to save parts of our heritage, despite the knocks, setbacks and at times official b*lls up and indifference, has a result. I fervently hope and believe that, in the end, Dreamland will re-open and be once again a great place to spend leisure time, and additionally aid the revival of Margate, a town not without problems but also with solutions to be found. The Turner Gallery is all very well, but it can't do it alone. Heritage led regeneration needs to take place alongside renewal and the new.

Never give up.