Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 14 (Autumn 2010)

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The Town’s “Suite 16” projects are gently progressing. The Market Place with its Timeline has received several awards though we watch with bated breath as the new restaurants take shape. The steel framework appears alarmingly high and hopefully the finished building which reflects details on the Corn Exchange will leave us feeling more comfortable.

The contract has now been let for completing the market Place and work will shortly continue up Market Street finally ending at the Horse market. We expressed our concerns at the December Planning Meeting over the damage which the Horse Market will endure as the central area which now looks very attractive is decimated to create the bus terminus, taxi rank, and parking which includes space for disabled driver’s vehicles. Our pictures show the present scene which is about to be lost to an exhaust fumery!

Planning Consultants Savills proposed that the town centre should be developed into “Quarters” to emphasise specific uses. Clearly the Shopping Quarter around Gold Street is an obvious description.

The encouragement to create Restaurants rather than Cafés around the Market Place gives purpose to the title, “Restaurant Quarter”. Of special concern to our Society is the          evolution of title once known as “The Heritage Quarter” which developed to the “Cultural Quarter” as it includes the Library, Art Gallery, Museum and Parish Church. As the area stretches as far as the London Road Cemetery, Council Officers have suggested it be rebranded the “Southern Quarter”…We Object! And will continue to press for a name   derived from the area.

Discussions continue to find a new use for the Council Offices. The Gotch designed building is one of the town’s special landmarks. Whilst there will not be a prize, suggestions as to what the building could be used for if the Council were to move away are invited.

One suggestion was “Tate Modern in Kettering” possibly prompted by the colour on the fascias and gutters which are identical to Liverpool’s Tate Modern. Who copied what? Do you have a serious  suggestion?

An important part of the towns image is the part played by Shop fronts. Kettering's present “Local Plan” is gradually being replaced with new Local, Regional and National Policies. Kettering had a specific section on Shop Front design and this is about to be replaced by a new Shop Front Design Guide. This was introduced at the Council’s Planning Policy Meeting in August. The document gives a broad brush approach to design in general with examples of existing shop fronts of special quality. The Civic Society will contribute its views with the recommendation that the Guide is featured in the Evening Telegraph.

The search is on to find investors in the town to continue the Suit Sixteen proposals for the Shopping Quarter. Several names have been suggested and we watch for development in the present financial climate.

As a change to this serious side of our Society, the Committee looks forward to meeting you at the serious of Autumn/Winter talks.

Paul Ansell, Chairman


“The Civic Society was interested to discover that Kettering Council had made an award submission to the Royal Town Planning Institute for the work undertaken on the Market Place.

The Society has viewed the Market Place refurbishment in the context of the Town’s evolution. A succession of materials over the past thousand years marked its growth. Ironstone quarried locally was first used until it was used for making cast iron, replaced it with limestone imported from Weldon direction, followed by locally made bricks. The Market Place sitting as it does in the Town’s Heritage/Cultural Quarter displays all of these materials.

With any evolution, there are successes and regrets. In Kettering’s case, the loss of older town centre buildings to make way for a shopping centre halted the town’s evolution some forty years ago.

Time has moved on and a team of Council Officers and Consultants have set about bringing new life to the town. Having copied the now age-old process of having “Quarters” in the town, Kettering has now clearly defined what these could be, relating them to the present shopping services and facilities now existing.
To ‘kick start’ the process of encouraging investment, the Market Place is the first key location to undergo a transformation. This is significant in that a Market Charter was granted in 1224 and could most readily be refurbished.

It is important to see the Market Place project as a ‘kick start’ to redevelopment in the other Quarters of the town which collectively have been branded the Suite Sixteen projects.

The Civic Society’s emblem is taken from an engraved stone in the church wall near to the Church Rooms overlooking the Market Place and this connection prompted a caring eye being cast over redevelopment proposals.

Old existing buildings like the Royal Hotel and properties leading from the Market into George Street have curved corner plan forms which the new Market paving relates to and echoes. Rebuilding the long demolished hotel and shops as restaurants and flats further puts back some of the past. The canopy now sits like a broach on a dress on the Market.

Since the inception of the redevelopment proposals, the Civic Society has pressed for a Design Guide which would encapsulate the colours, textures and forms which the Suite Sixteen schemes should be based upon to reinforce the character and uniqueness of “Kettering”. Whilst this document has yet to be published, the styles and colours proposed for the first of the new buildings to over-look the Market Place remain loyal to Kettering’s character.

The Market Place must be seen as a turn-key to the Vision for the town and in this context must be viewed as a success. The materials particularly help this and having placed a time line in the paving, gives further opportunity to bench mark future success.

The Civic Society have used other towns and locations as a reference particularly for traffic and landscape and Kettering Council were recommended to visit Ashford in Kent and also consider the approach of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in developing the townscape of Exhibition Road by a design by Dixon Jones. Kettering’s population is relatively small at 86,000 rising possibly to 135,000 and again the vision into which the Market Place fits is to be commended.

We started this letter with reference to evolution and it is encouraging to see the number of consultations which have taken place with town’s people and the work shops which have also taken place. Through this feed back, early proposals have been evolving.

To the Royal Institute of Town Planning, the Civic Society would commend Kettering’s Town Concept, its emerging Market Place as the first demonstration of its intent and award an appropriate commendation to help it on its way.”


Letters were sent to Northamptonshire County Council and Kettering Borough Council about the Northampton Road roundabout

The drawing above shows the idea. Click here to view the letter


Visit to Audley End House and Gardens by Helen Jones


A glorious summer morning heralded the Civic Society trip to Audley End House and Gardens. After a minor hitch on the departure time, we enjoyed a pleasant ride to Essex arriving mid-morning.

First stop the tea-rooms after which my friend and I headed for the service wing. This recent development portrays the daily life of the staff of the house in the 1880’s. There were a variety of rooms, kitchen, scullery, dairy, meat and game larders and laundry all containing Victorian fixtures and fittings. The scene was brought to life by costumed interpreters cooking, washing and ironing in the traditional ways. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though the gamekeeper and game larder were a little hard for two 21st century vegetarians to handle!

After a pleasant lunch we joined a group to listen to the history of the house. Sir Thomas Audley was originally given the grounds by Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monasteries, adapting the abbey buildings as his mansion. There then followed various rebuilding and adaptations with the house moving into the hands of a range of nobility. Robert Adam was engaged to design some neo-Classical rooms whilst Capability Brown re-modelled the grounds.

Having listened to much historic information we then toured the house looking at furnishings pictures and natural history collections. The house though well presented was not particularly to our taste so our viewing was essentially brief and we decided to make the most of the weather and explore the grounds. The 18th century parkland with an artificial lake created with water from the river Cam was a delight, with the Classical Temple of Concorde a notable feature. We wandered through the 19th century formal parterre garden and enjoyed taking time to sit and admire Robert Adam’s ornamental garden buildings, all was very tranquil with plenty of space for each visitor. Onward to the thriving organic walled Victorian kitchen garden, with its box edged paths and huge vine house where one could imagine the delicacies cultivated for the aristocracy indoors.
As the time for departure drew near we walked back to the coach ending our visit with an ice cream as we watched the steam trains run by a local enthusiasts group. The day was really enjoyable and those who organised the trip should be congratulated on its success.

Thank you.


The Royal Albert Hall
Prom 48: Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

Now a regular feature in the August programme, our pilgrimage to the Proms is always a pleasure. The wide range of orchestras, soloists, composers and conductors increased dramatically this year to include a selection of new works as well as possibly less classical ones. To choose which journey to London to enjoy is not always simple particularly as a major composer is featured through the summers programme each year and may not be everyone’s choice. I think now in terms of the tastes of our 30 pilgrims.
This year, Beethoven featured strongly and our choice included his Third Symphony together with Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture and Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. Each piece was a delight to enjoy. Special mention must go to conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguin and baritone soloist Simon Keenlyside whose singing of Mahler was sensational. When new performers come to the Proms, it certainly brings fresh interest and the choice of both conductor and soloist was a triumph.
The orchestra was comparatively small in number but the young conductor certainly knew how to bring out the very best from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. A personal star performer was the French horn player who had outstanding skill. The various journalists in the audience and Radio 3 team all shared our opinion.
Our evenings return journey home normally taken for granted was this year special in that we came home by sat nav! It took us everywhere in London and our pilot (sorry, driver) just followed it-what a pleasure. Maybe next year’s concert may include ‘The Planets Suite’? By sat nav, of course!
We look forward to next year!

Paul Ansell

Kettering Arts Centre

It has come to the attention of Committee members that Kettering has a new Arts Centre! Housed in St. Andrews Church in the town centre it is co-ordinated by St. Andrew's Vicar Rev. Nick Wills. One of the aims is to bring a wide variety of performers to suit all ages and most palettes. Ranging from stand up comedians, author readings and music to children's entertainment it is hoped that this will add to Kettering's cultural scene and make use of the church building and opening it up to the wider community. For further information go to www.ketteringartscentre.wordpress.com


Civic Charity Ball

Wicksteed Park, Kettering
7.00 pm Friday 12th November 2010
Carriages at 1.00 am

Dancing to Sonny & The Honey Dippers, and the Bill Burton Disco
Four Course Dinner including Roast Turkey and all the Trimmings
Evening Dress

Tickets cost £31and can be booked via the council Offices. Please state that you wish to be seated on the Kettering Civic Society Table.
This year the Mayor's Charities are the Kettering & District Prostate Cancer Support Group and the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Do visit our shop where there are many interesting items for sale
or view the programme of events

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

Committee members
Rachael Aldridge, John Coleman, Susie Corke, Helen Jones, Mary Lock-Page, Eleanor Patrick, Andrea Pettingale

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