Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 7 (2004)

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 Another Successful Year

Kettering Railway Station

2003 Steam train trip from Kettering to York on the Union of South Africa
2004 Steam train trip from Kettering to Bristol on the Union of South Africa

One of the Society's aims is to encourage civic pride, and the Chairman remembering the part that former members had played in preserving, restoring, and caring for the environs of one of Kettering's greatest assets, the railway station, came upon the idea to celebrate by putting on a special event that would go down in history. The Union of South Africa steam train trip to York proved to be such a huge success that this year another trip was arranged to Bristol.

The Taw Valley engine was to pull vintage carriages but due to last minute failure the Union of South Africa was quickly chosen to replace it. Enthusiasts were delighted once again to be pulled by the favourite sister engine to the Mallard and everyone enjoyed yet another excellent day out.

William Knibb Commemorated

Last years social calendar began with a fascinating talk by Catherine Hall, Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History and author of Civilising Subjects. Professor Hall gave a wonderful insight into the life and times of William. Knibb.

Later in the year the Society placed it's third plaque in the town, on this occasion in memory of William Knibb marking his birthplace in Market Street Kettering.

Chairman's Letter

As the season of mellow fruitfulness approaches the Civic Scene anticipates change. I have spoken of the transition from preserving and therefore respecting the past to working toward a civic future on various occasions. Several events are presently working in parallel, which have an interrelationship through planning to that future.

Four major development studies have been instigated by Central Government to take a responsible view on future building north of London. The South Midlands Study affects us and several agencies have responded to firmly limit the impact large-scale building may have.

The County Structure Plan which sets the policy for roads, mineral extraction and other topics which can only be considered county wide has been abandoned in favour of a Regional Plan intended to do the same thing on a wider scale. This happens in Nottingham, which is some way from us, and perhaps our democratic input is now at arms length!

The Kettering Local Plan, which sets out development policy for the Borough, is also being prepared again but must respond to the South Midland Study and Regional Plan. Finally, now just out for consultation is the Kettering Town Plan, which makes proposals for the town centre's future. Already difficulties are arising through the number of residential developments, which are being approved. Mostly the approvals are for flats which will no doubt end up for rent and which may mean a transient population and thereby an unsettled town centre! ......do you remember how it used to be? We now need a 21st Century alternative and our attention will be focused on that.

Much town history was (if you'll excuse the phraseology) laid to rest in the London Road Cemetery. Two ageing Chapels set amid Wellingtonians and other trees remain a landmark. As the crematorium took over, the old cemetery is no longer the place it was and we now have plans to explore a multi-faith future, which is now undergoing careful research. 

If you can recall the Festival of Britain, you will remember it spawned its own Architectural style and Northamptonshire County Council made reference to it in designing schools across the county. With its curtain walling, cedar panelling and curved stone entrance wall, Tresham Institute (Kettering Tech!) was one of the town's examples which some people hope will be demolished to make way for yet another housing estate.

The Civic Society is investigating getting the original building listed with the hope that not only could a bit of history be saved but St. Mary's Hospital could be extended?

The Cultural Panel Kettering Council set up to establish ways of defining and giving place to Kettering's own culture has listed a selection of topics, the major one of which in our opinion is the replacement of the McKinlay Theatre with a purpose-built building which the Society hope will be capable of staging drama, musicals, concerts, exhibitions etc. and have a restaurant and gallery to add to the town centres cultural diversity. It is hoped a site could be found in the town centre.

Blue Plaques will feature again this autumn when we plan to commemorate T C Gotch, Tony Ireson, J L Carr and possibly Kettering's Bell Foundry.

Thank you to all of you who have supported our social events and particularly the Train Journey to Bristol. We are looking for inspiration as to what to do next although we won't be approaching Richard Branson yet! Please find time to come to the T C Gotch Talk on December 10th at the Royal Hotel and to make a note that the Annual Dinner will again be at the Kettering Park Hotel when Lady Freeman will be the guest speaker.

A special thank you to our event organisers and especially Monica for much hard work and Mete for putting up with it!  Meanwhile, could we please have a late Indian summer?

Paul Ansell

Links with Gretton Local History Society and Rushden Historical Transport Society

In October a day in Kettering Civic Society's social life was relived during a Steam to York and Harringworth Viaduct Exhibition presented by Elizabeth Jordan of Gretton Local History Society and hosted by the Kettering Civic Society at the Corn Market Hall. It proved to be yet another successful event. More than 200 people came along to see photographs taken on 10th May last year when the Society chartered the steam engine 'The Union of South Africa' for a day taking 480 passengers to York. Happy memories were recalled followed by the question, "When will you be organising another trip?"- And so we were persuaded!

The Society was pleased that J Ann Paul, author of 3000 Strangers-Navvy Life on the Kettering to Manton Railway came along to sign copies of her book.

We are glad to have the continued support of Rushden Historical Transport Society who in their display demonstrated that through hard work and determination over a period of twelve years Rushden railway station has been saved from demolition and is now restored, providing a museum as well as exhibiting road and public service vehicles. A visit there is highly recommended. A long-term goal of the Rushden Society is to restore the Wellingborough to Higham Ferrers railway.

Winner receives a free seat on the steam train to Bristol. The competition was held by the society at Rushden's Cavalcade on a very muddy May Bank Holiday! This photograph of Chairman Paul Ansell with Jamie was taken at Rushden station.

   Photographs of the Union of South Africa going over the Harringworth Viaduct are available in presentation mounts from S Tippleston email stuart@tippleston.com  - 8" x 6" £9.50 and 10" x 8" £16.00

Links - Gretton Local History Society www.grettonvillage.org.uk
Rushden Historical Transport Society www.rht.co.uk
Aerial Photography www.tippleston.com


Environmental Improvement Award

In recognition of making a built contribution to Kettering's civic scene, the Civic Society has a Rose Bowl which is awarded annually to the designer, builder or owner, of a building or landscape, (on one occasion to Tony Ireson for his book, 'Old Kettering a View from the Thirties) which has been completed within the past year and which in the society's view is outstanding in its contribution to the civic scene.

Over the years the Rose Bowl has been awarded to a whole range of schemes and projects, some of which are quite humble. In 2003 the Society had much pleasure in presenting this prestigious award to David McKay for the restoration of the front of 29 Bowling Green Road.

         2003 Award                                                                                                                      2004 Award     

In 2004 the Award went to the Ekta group for their mosaic in the Newlands shopping centre. The award recognises the contribution the young people have made in promoting racial harmony. The mosaic they have so thoughtfully designed and made will be a lasting testimony to their care.

EKTA is a group of young people who attend schools within the Borough of Kettering. The group was established to bring people of ethnic minorities together. The group decided upon the name "Ekta" which means "unity" in Hindi



September 2003 - William Knibb Remembered

 Unveiling the blue plaque in commemoration of the bicentenary of William Knibb,
 missionary and emancipator who was born in Market Street Kettering.


Committee News

Lady Jennifer Freeman is welcomed as the new President by Chairman Paul Ansell, and committee members Mary Lock Page, Sandra Clipstone, Monica Ozdemir, Dorothy Knibbs and Richard Makins. Committee members not pictured, Vice Chairman Robert Mercer, Andrea Pettingale and John Coleman.

Following a varied social events calendar in 2003, the Society completed a successful year by holding its Annual Dinner at The Kettering Park Hotel. A distinguished gathering of members and guests, which included Mr Philip Sawford MP, enjoyed an excellent meal. The guest speaker was Professor Peter Crane, Director of The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

The Society was delighted to learn on the very day, 5th July, on their visit to Kew that it had been recognised as a World Heritage Site. Professor Crane (a former student of Kettering Grammar School), delighted a captive audience with a talk accompanied by a presentation of Kew Garden.

Furthermore CONGRATULATIONS to Professor Peter Crane on the announcement of his knighthood!

The Annual General Meeting was held at the George Hotel. 2003 was the most successful year regarding social activities. However, as far as the Society was concerned, it was the saddest in the loss of its President Dr Robert Wigglesworth and Canon Frank Pearce. Both had been active members of the Society.

Dr Wigglesworth was last able to join us in May for the Annual Rose Bowl Award. He is sadly missed.

Another disappointment was the retirement from the committee of the Minutes Secretary, after serving more than 20 years. It had been the highlight of each meeting to bear the Minutes read by Richard Makins, so well worded and meticulously handwritten. Sadly because of other commitments he is no longer able to carry out this role.

The Society was glad to report that Paul Ansell was re-elected Chairman, Robert Mercer was appointed Vice Chairman, and Monica Ozdemir, re-elected Secretary.

Lady Freeman met with Committee members at the George Hotel in May, and as well as it being a social gathering we were able to exchange ideas about the Society's aspirations for Kettering. Lady Freeman is Director of Historic Chapels Trust and she is an architectural writer. She has an Honorary Doctorate of Arts for Services to Architecture.  www.het.org.uk

After tea the group heard a talk given by Byron Rogers on his biography of J L Carr at the Alfred East Art Gallery. The Society intends to commemorate J L Carr in its Blue Plaque Heritage Trail.

The Society was able to donate £1300 to the SS Peter and Paul Parish Church Bells Appeal from the money raised by the Prize Draws which were held on the steam train trips last year and this year.

A good read recommended:

The Last Englishman: The Life of J L Carr by Byron Rogers.

J L Carr, former headmaster of High-field Junior School in Kettering, is well known for his novels. Amongst them, A Month in the Country which won the Guardian Fiction Award and was made into a highly successful film starring Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth. Available in all good book shops!


Royal Albert Hall Prom 39 14th August

Members and friends enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere at the Royal Albert Hall and witnessed the splendour of the newly refurbished organ as Saint-Saëns Symphony No 3 in C minor, was played by Dame Gillian Weir. Various pieces by Johann Strauss were interspersed with operetta arias by Kálmán Zeller, Lehár and Stolz and sung by Yvonne Kenny soprano. The Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra was Barry Wordsworth.

Photographs are provided by courtesy of Kettering Evening Telegraph and Herald and Post
Newsletter compiled and produced by Monica Ozdemir, Secretary