Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 15 (Spring 2011)

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The Market Place (below left), granted its Charter in 1227 now has replacement buildings, higher than before but very similar in appearance. The new paving has won Planning Awards
The Horse market (above right), once the site of the Parish Church School, now a bus terminus with new paving, John Bryan's fountain and acres of tarmac! Will the changes be beneficial? Time will tell.

As works have proceeded, the quality of materials and workmanship have been excellent.
Will a new Kettering recapture what was lost? That old character is so important to the civic scene.

Rose Bowl Award 2010


Making the Rose Bowl Award each year is a special occasion for the Society. Our aim has always been to seek out buildings and projects however grand or humble which add to the town's character. We have remained mindful of the town's losses when demolition took place to make way for the Newland Centre and other town centre properties.

With the new developments now taking place around the town has come the most important opportunity we have ever had to support the building and landscaping which could replace all lost ones in such a way that some of the town's character so special to us could be recaptured.

The Borough Council as leaders and commissioners of the projects which they refer to as the 'Suite Sixteen' commissioned local artist and illustrator, Chris Prout, to prepare drawings of how the new buildings might look. Our opinion was that as each illustration was prepared, it encapsulated a character which was so appropriate both in its location and the town as a whole. These illustrations have been enlarged and are posted around the town at many of the sites to be redeveloped. Taking account of this special contribution to the town, the Rose Bowl was presented by the Mayor of Kettering, Councillor Shirley lynch at the last Full Council Meeting of the 2010-2011 year to Chris Prout. Well done Chris and we now must continue to make every effort to ensure the emerging character reflects his illustrations and our hopes for Kettering.

Mary Lock Page retires after 20 years serving
on the Civic Society Committee.

Mary was thanked by Chairman Paul Ansell for her loyalty and support of the Society. Mayor, Councillor Alan Pote and Christine Pote make a presentation on behalf of the Committee.

Over the years Mary has helped to recruit new members, she has reliably promoted events assisting in fundraising activities and being a constant support to the secretary. We are assured by Mary that she will continue to support the Society and she will be welcomed at future events.

Annual General Meeting

Chairman's Report for 2011

Much of this year's Civic work has been planning related. Each month has presented a wide range of issues which we considered should have the Society's views which include objections, clarification and where appropriate, our support.

2010 began with a Planning Application to demolish Northampton House built almost 100 years ago by James Payne from where his business could be controlled. He dealt in fuel, agricultural products and steel. His home was in Corby Village. We objected to the Application which was later refused. The Conservative Club, the Liberal Club and part of the Railway Station were built using the same materials.

There were objections to Tesco opening a store between the Catholic Church and Harry Potter House. Planning Approval was not needed for the change of use of what many years ago was Wallace's Garage. A drinks licence was needed and despite our objection, Tesco solicitor convinced the Council that it would be a safe decision on their part to grant a licence.

The roundabouts which have now been constructed near the Railway Bridge at the bottom of Northampton Road we felt could have been better planned by including one roundabout on either side of the Railway Bridge. The roundabout furthest from the town would serve the Conference Centre (KLV) and all the housing whilst helping entry to the town. The County Council carried out the construction work and commented favourably but we wait to see if it gets built.

Committee members have been watching progress on building work at Elm Bank the former home of the Timson family and soon to open as a care home. Whilst work to this building is very acceptable, we have raised concerns over the state of Bryn Hafod next door, the former home of Charles Wicksteed.

As new building and development work in the town centre is under way, we still await the Council's Design Guide which was promised four years ago. To ensure the design of the construction work reflects the unique character of the town, this guide is crucial and the Council is regularly pressed to publish it. The Planners have been working on the Town Centre Area Action Plan. If adopted, it will be the document by which all Planning Applications are judged. The Civic Society have critically contributed to this document and attended all consultation meetings.

A plan has been prepared by Highway Consultants for traffic flows within the town centre. This has focused on bus routes, one way systems, parking, the inner ring road, road junctions and directional priorities. We had strong reservations about moving the bus stops from Sheep Street (the library) to the Horse Market as well as relocating other bus stops.

There have been particular concerns over the total pedestrianisation of Gold Street, High Street, Market Street and Sheep Street by the Market Place. A particularly well designed scheme for Exhibition Road in London's West End was referred to the Council as an example worth considering. Sadly the advice was not heeded!

Focused on raising funds to progress the town centre redevelopment, the Borough Council have explored a range of opportunities. There isn't much "family silver" left these days and when an approach by ASDA to build a supermarket on the London Road car park, our Society strongly objected and fortunately they were able to acquire the Northfield Avenue Co-operative premises. We don't object to ASDA but we are sorry to see one of Kettering's oldest traders down grade to a few small corner shops.

The Council and key officers remain of the view that relocating from Bowling Green Road would make good sense. We are not so sure and there remain strong feelings that the old Grammar/High School/Council office is a well-known and respected landmark which being centrally placed serves the town well as The Borough Council.

We are now familiar with the planned division of the town into "Quarters". The Restaurant Quarter (alias the old Market Place) is an example. Our concerns grew as it was proposed that the heritage Cultural part of the town which includes the library, Parish Church Art gallery and London Road cemetery to known as the 'Southern Quarter". Again we objected that the remains of the town should be lost. (it will now remain the Heritage Quarter!)

Work around the Parish Church attracted our attention when a Planning Application to remove the church gates and railings on the Market Place side of the church grounds. That Planning Application was withdrawn (but as you can now see work has insidiously happened. Similarly, whilst we knew of the broad proposals to redevelop the Horse Market (former site of the Parish Church School), work just began to happen without our detailed knowledge.

Commercial gains have encouraged developers to build small flats in the town. The number has become a great concern to us as we anticipate the long term social impact they will have. Housing Associations have also been tempted to join in as we see in Meeting lane with its Council approved lap dancing club.

Most of the subjects in this report have taken place through the year and we are grateful to Roger Payne for keeping our website updated. Regularly, month by month various committee members have attended Executive and policy Committee Meetings at the Council where they have spoken on most Civic matters. We have a respected relationship with the Council and week by week are planning consultees.

Finally a thank you to our Committee and all our members for their support through the year.

Paul Ansell

Secretary's Report for 2010

After a successful trip in 2009 to Eltham Palace, Art Deco was the theme for the Society's Annual Dinner in 20 10. Ken Simpson our after dinner speaker gave an illustrated talk by about the restoration of 78 Derngate in Northampton, the former home of W. J. Bassett-Lowke who had commissioned Charles Rennie Mackintosh to design its interior. Dinner tables were set with beautifully designed verses in the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh which Committee member, Rachael Aldridge had made. They were filled with purple and pink tulips and place names similarly followed the theme. Mayor Ruth Groome and Councillor Groome were among 42 guests to enjoy yet another wonderful meal provided by Classic Catering.

Membership numbers in 2010 remained much the same as the previous year. The committee was delighted to welcome Helen Jones to join them.

Much discussion ensued following the last AGM when Stephanie Mercer suggested attempting to raise the Society's membership numbers. Ideas ranging from changing the Society Logo to forming a junior membership were discussed. Simeon Hockley a student from Bishop Stopford School was most enthusiastic to form a junior society and met with members of the committee to discuss how this might happen. However, his efforts proved fruitless as his peers did not share his eagerness and the idea was abandoned for the time being.

The committee was encouraged by Rachael Aldridge's determination to produce newsletters and spring and summer issues were distributed to members. The Society was, and is, as always indebted to Roger Payne for keeping the web site updated, the web is a huge asset for communications. As well as the day to day business of the Society, maps and books from the Society 'Shop' had been sold. Enquiries through emails regarding the history of the town or its people could be answered or directed appropriately, often to Andrea Pettingale, who could assist in her role as Kettering Librarian.

Notice of Civic Society comments regarding its work and town planning ideas were not only posted on the Society's web site, but the Chairman also held lengthy meetings with journalists at Kettering Evening Telegraph in the hope that Society ideas would be made known. The Society forwarded this information to the Saturday section of "Down Your Way" in the Evening Telegraph and the magazine 'A Locals".

Coffee mornings at Toiler proved useful not only in giving the Society an opportunity to show a presence in the town but also in assisting to raise funds towards administration costs. The Society is grateful to Toiler Church and Eleanor Patrick for her dedication. Customers were able to purchase freshly baked cakes by Rachael as well as jams and chutneys, and we were delighted when Mayor Shirley Lynch dropped in for coffee.

The outings to Audley End and the London Proms were well attended and hugely successful, and the weather on both occasions was very good.

However, the Society's formula for evening talks was less successful even though the speakers were excellent. Helen Crabtree gave her talk about Milestones to just 5 people and as a result her Christmas talk on post boxes was cancelled. Her fee and the cost of the hire of the hall and purchase of refreshments would have caused a financial loss to the Society.

At the end of October, the light hearted talk on pumpkins aimed at attracting a younger audience was also poorly attended. However the presentation was excellent and Russell Attwood provided an informative and entertaining evening. Samples of pumpkin scones and delicacies were enjoyed as well as a hearty pumpkin sing song, which lifted the spirits and caused much amusement. It was a great shame that there were not more people to enjoy the evening. Russell had put much effort into making it a success and had given of his time freely. The Society is grateful as always for his support.

Members of the committee with their spouses and families attended the Mayor's Charity Ball on Friday 12th November.

The family of founder member Bill Hulme donated maps and slides of Kettering and Northampton that he had collected and these were passed on to Kettering reference library.

Finally, the mosaic had not been forgotten and a donation of £250 had been received from the Worshipful Company of Weavers via Lord Gorrell our most grateful thanks are extended to him.

Monica Ozdemir

May 2011 trip to Oxford & the Ashmolean Museum

Founded in 1683, the Museum has gradually grown both in size and exhibits on display. The approach to displaying the wide range of artifacts is summarised by the museum as 'Crossing Cultures Crossing Time'. The collections are presented over five interlinked floors bringing together ideas and influences from east and west civilisations.

The whole building has recently undergone a series of alterations and extensions which were opened by her majesty the Queen in 2009. The museum had commissioned the world renowned architect, Rick Mather to create the fascinating transformation we had the pleasure of exploring. One of the most striking features was the central atrium with its cascading staircase gently linking each floor with natural light penetrating from roof glazing right down to the lower floor.

One of the special features included by the architect is the use of glass walls and balustrades making it possible to see into and through the building. Walking down the atrium stairs, one can see visitors on other floors like parts of a working machine, bringing the building life.

The wide range of exhibitions span over many cultures and periods of time. One area of interest for us was the Roman collection a part of which has artifacts from Oxford and a few from Northamptonshire which linked us into wider areas of Europe occupied at one time by Romans. Do family trees go back that far?

The delightful paintings, sculptures, musical instruments and clothing were all fascinating and we would benefit from making several visits to take it ail in. In addition to the museum collections, part of the building includes painting studios, lecture and research rooms.

Our day included a meal in the restaurant which overlooks some of the city and a walk around some of the shops and colleges in the city centre. A most enjoyable day.

Paul Ansell


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, Eleanor Patrick, Andrea Pettingale

This newsletter has been compiled by Rachael Aldridge, Paul Ansell & Monica Ozdemir

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