Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 16 (Autumn 2011)

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Chairman's Letter

This morning, Wednesday 7th December, I saw a member of Kettering Councils Grounds maintenance team cutting the grass near the Council Offices. Grass cutting in December led me to thinking how different one year is to the next weather wise and from there actually how each year varies from the next in many ways. This lead onto how different the Market Place is this year from last, the town’s evolution is gently underway. In the wider picture, finances not only here but over much of the world are in a serious state with limited funds, how can our towns evolution move on? We can be very pleased with much of the recent progress and watch and wait for the politicians to resolve the difficulties. Natural evolution does not progress at the same speed year on year and neither does Kettering’s.

What prompts evolution? This surely is the cultivation of new ideas, fresh objectives. Our civic thoughts continue to explore ways the town can evolve without losing its unique character. Of special interest is the heritage Cultural part of the town spanning from the Market Place to London Road Cemetery. There are special landmarks which must not be lost but how can they fit into the evolution plan. Our ideas include extending the rear of the Council offices to provide more space for the increasing number of civic related activities which already include the Registrars presence, Inland Revenue Officers, Blood testing, and other non-council services. It is possible for the Magistrates Court to be included as well as Police links.

The Art Gallery with its fine collection of valuable paintings could extend into what is now the lower car park which itself could be landscaped similar to the area near the church. Car parking is necessary and a conservation quality multi storey car park with the Police and rescue services relocating in the future, the Police Station site including the Court will become available for redevelopment. Finally, it is suggested that the London Road Cemetery Chapels could be extended to create a multi faith centre. Would all these ideas form part of a valuable evolution in the Heritage, Cultural, and civic part of the town?

Planning Policies and regulations have been developing during the last year. During August, Kettering Council Approved the Town Centre Area Action Plan which sets out to guide and control both building and open spaces. With it comes a Shop Front Design Guide. Of national importance, the Government introduced a Draft National Planning Policy Framework by way of a “Localism Bill” which aims to give more freedoms and flexibilities to local government by reforming the Planning System to make it more democratic and effective. This all sounds like planning jargon to which our Civic Society responded as strongly as possible, as did many National Bodies such as English Heritage and C.P.R.E.

Each year the Society awards its Rose Bowl to mark a special contribution to the towns Architecture and Civic Scene in that year. This year the award will go to Avery Care Homes for the outstanding conversion and extension of Elm Bank, a grand house in Northampton Road to a care Home. The East Midlands Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute has highly commended the conversion and a joint presentation will take place on 13th December.

Our social life this past year has not been quite as active as in other years with trips to the Proms and the British Library being cancelled for reasons beyond our control. We look forward to next year’s programme.

Arthur Heath and Paul Ansell in 2000
(Photograph courtesy of Kettering Evening Telegraph)

Perhaps the most important happening of the year has been the passing of our founder, Arthur Heath. Important in that in a very full and active life, he gave so much to the town tirelessly defending the town’s civic scene. He actively encouraged a wide range of people to join the Society and work alongside him in town focussed endeavours. Hardly a week passed without a letter appearing in the Evening Telegraph challenging, questioning, reprimanding happenings in the town. Arthur was not born in Kettering and somehow brought with him a delightful North Country humour and his gentlemanly care was well demonstrated in his family life.

Importantly we shall miss Arthur and yet the Society he founded and its principles remain with us so he is never forgotten. Thank you Arthur.

Each year this time, the Society asks its members to renew their membership and hopefully bring new ones too! Our Committee would welcome some new members if you feel like joining? Meanwhile thank you for your support this year and enjoy a Happy Christmas.

Paul Ansell (Chairman)

Social Events

This year has had its ups and downs in several aspects. We have had some excellent visits. Following a fascinating talk at the Annual Dinner from Charles Lister, we explored the gardens and saw for ourselves the amazing transformation and restoration of the gardens and waterways at Boughton House. In July we experienced a delightful day wondering around National Trust homes and gardens, Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House. A most successful and enjoyable day was had by all.

Flower Festival Exhibit

On the down side, for the first time, we were unable to secure seats for the Proms in August. We were so looking forward to the Brahms concert, but then so were many others and the tickets were sold out instantly they became available. It is our thought that we must now move with the times and book over the internet at a click of the key and pay by bank card in that same instant. This is an area of banking that our Society will need to investigate.

The Society was delighted to be invited to contribute to the Saint Peter & Saint Paul Flower Festival in June. A combined effort from the Committee produced this arrangement depicting Kettering past and present.

Another disappointment came when we received an apologetic phone call from the British Library informing us that because a visit from her Majesty the Queen, the library would be closed in the afternoon of the 10th November!  However, we shall re organise the visit for the New Year.

Next year’s events are in the planning and we and intend to provide you with dates for your diaries with your membership cards in January. 

Are you looking for Ideas for Christmas Presents? 

Kettering Civic Society 2001-2005 DVD
produced by Roger Payne - £5

St Gyp-in-Mowsden by Arthur Heath ISBN 09528235 - £9.99
A View from the 1930s by Tony Ireson - six volumes
Book 1 - ISBN 0950980013 £7.99 Book 2 - ISBN 0950980021 £6.50
Book 3 - ISBN 095098003X £6.50 Book 4 - ISBN 0950980048 £6.50
Book 5 - ISBN 0950980056 £7.99 Book 6 - ISBN 0950980064 £7.99
Kettering and its Defenders by Tony Ireson ISBN 0 9509800 0 5 - £7.99
Tony Smith, Kettering Revisited - Pictures from the Past £14.99

Photos of the steam train trip Union of South Africa over Harringworth Viaduct £10 & £15

Greeting cards and notelets The Garden at Beech Cottage 50p each

Map & Booklet of Kettering 1826, £15

To place your order contact Monica Özdemir either by phone (01536)723682 or email.

For more information and other ideas visit our shop where you will find many interesting items for sale

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