Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 1 (September 2000)

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Alfred East | Rectory | Tony Ireson

Kettering Railway Station 

A conducted tour of the work being carried out on Kettering's Railway Station recalled for me, our first meeting with British Rail  some twenty plus years ago. Then, BR were proposing to cut the tops of the cast iron platform columns and replace the glass canopies with plastic sheets. The relatively new Civic Society objected vigorously, resulting in that first meeting ending quickly and acrimoniously, with BR's Area Manager leaving for Nottingham and Bernard Kaukas, Director of Environment, BR Board, catching the train back to London.

Dismayed by all this, I telephoned Bernard Kaukas the next morning asking for another meeting where both sides could try to reconcile their views. Bernard agreed. Another meeting was held, the Civic Society's views were upheld and the Victorian columns saved. It was particularly gratifying then, on our tour of the present restoration work to see the cast iron columns cleaned and painted and where rust had gone too far Railtrack were having new columns made from casts of the old ones. We noted the considerable care being taken to ensure that all restoration work on the old building was of a very high standard. 

Not so pleasing is the vast steel structure at the south end of the Station which Committee members eyed with near horror. But as so often happens, we were faced with the functional benefits against the aesthetic appearance. The benefits of three lifts as an option to the old subway are indisputable but we left the station feeling that even functionalism can - if the will is there - be tempered with delicacy. 

Members visiting the Station were; Arthur Heath, Vice-Chairman Ted Wright, Joe Minney, Mrs E Jones, Mrs J James and Mrs M Ozdemir. Sincere thanks to Mr Lewis of Bovis for his insightful tour around the construction taking place

Station | Rectory | Tony Ireson | Top

Sir Alfred East, R.A. 

A brief biography Alfred East was born in Lower Street, Kettering in 1849 and left for Paris in 1880 to devote his life to art, achieving wide recognition as a landscape artist. Just after 1900 he became president of British Artists and continued in his office until his death in 1913. The town's art gallery was built especially to house the collection which he gave to the town. The Gallery is situated in the heart of Kettering in Sheep Street. It was built in the classic style costing 2,600 and opened on 31st July 1913 by the Hon. Earl Spencer KG. Lord Lieutenant. It consists of two Galleries and a Corridor. The bust of Alfred East can be seen on a limestone plinth between the Library and the Gallery. The paintings of Alfred East were on exhibition here together with works by eminent artists such as T C Gotch and J T Nettleship (both of whom were townsmen of Kettering), and Frank Salisbury. Works by these artists are to be found in the principal Galleries throughout the world. Exhibitions are frequently changed now showing a variety of artwork in various medium produced by people of all ages. 
(Taken from information leaflets in the Alfred East Gallery)

All Welcome at Unveiling of Sir Alfred East Plaque The ceremony for the opening of Morrison's Superstore will coincide with the unveiling ceremony of the Sir Alfred Edward East RA Plaque. Morrison's have generously donated the plaque in honour of the life of Sir Alfred Edward East RA and remembering the site at 20 Lower Street where he was born.  Paul Ansell, architect and member of Kettering Civic Society has liased with Mr Fred East and Morrison's in the design of the plaque. Councillor John Coleman will perform the opening of Morrison's at 9am on Monday 2nd October and afterwards, with Mr Frederick East, unveil the Plaque nearby. Committee Members of the Civic Society, Kettering and District Arts Society, Friends of Alfred East Art Gallery and other invited guests will then meet at the Gallery for refreshments

Station | Alfred East | Tony Ireson |Top

Rectory, Market Place 

The Society's history of involvement in endeavouring to protect the unique rectory site and its listed Rectory is almost as old as our first meeting with British Rail. The site was earmarked many years ago for demolition of old buildings and construction of a Rectory. Objections poured in from the national conservation bodies and almost universally the proposals by the Diocese were rejected- based on the outstanding beauty of the site adjacent to the Church and uniquely sited in the centre of the town. The original proposals for development were shelved. The Society objected to the recent application by the church for a new Rectory on the grounds that it was too close to the old listed building and thus demeaning the Listed buildings value. English Heritage supported this view and appealed to Kettering's Planners to reject the application and enter into discussions with English Heritage on a more acceptable position for the new building. The Council's planners gave this appeal short shrift, ignored it, and approved the application of the new Rectory. Now developers intending to build eighteen houses in the Rectory grounds and convert the listed buildings into five apartments have acquired the remaining site. The Society has suggested that such a development will generate an excessive amount of traffic and a proposed pathway could encourage unwelcome visitors to the gardens. In turn we proposed that the number of houses be reduced and then to be formed crescent shape to form a `cathedral close' type development. This time it is to be hoped that the views of English Heritage will be placed before the council and that planners will heed the opinion of the Governments own architectural advisers.

Station | Alfred East | Rectory | Top

Congratulation to Tony Ireson! 

Tony Ireson had more than his allocated proverbial fifteen minutes last month, (and quite overdue) when he and his home, 'Beech Cottage', hit the headlines. The Daily Mail, on August 11th 2000, devoted a whole page showing an aerial mew of the cottage amidst the Newland Centre and the latest development alongside it. It illustrates a true picture of the tireless battles fought by himself and the Civic Society for the preservation of buildings as significant legacies of the past. Tony's crusade also won recognition from Country Life magazine, when in the same week it devoted a double page feature to his own well documented account of situations, past and present, in his book 'Old Kettering and its Defenders'. Still there was more to come. The Evening Telegraph referred to his book as they congratulated him via Memory Lane, on receiving an honorary masters degree from the University of Leicester. Indeed, these are hearty congratulations that extend from the members of the Civic Society also. 

However, by no means did the story end there. Tony had yet a chance to sit down before the cameras from London Weekend Television invaded his `utopia-in-the-middle-of a-concrete-jungle" again. They began filming a programme last week, and it is to be rather ominously titled 'Houses From Hell.' Surely that won't affect Tony's ever lighthearted approach to the situation. We look forward to maintaining a high profile of like causes of the Civic Society.

See also the articles in SAGA and COUNTRY LIFE magazines 

Details of purchasing the books are on the publications page