South West Bulletin No 6
Editor: Neil Buick (email@example.com)
Hard copies of this newsletter may be available. Please contact the editor.
In a matter of weeks, and after nearly a quarter century,
The new complex - made possible through the commitment of Bath and North East Somerset Council to restore a working, viable spa to Bath, and a £7.78 million grant from the Millennium Commission - involved the restoration of five historic buildings, including the 18th century Hot Bath and Cross Bath, under the guidance of Donald Insall Associates, and the construction of a stunning new glass and stone building designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners.
Since the spa was closed in 1978 the Kings Spring, Roman Baths and Pump Room complex had remained
Meanwhile the other two springs and the core medical and recreational spa facilities, had drifted into decay, depressing the whole quarter, yet despite being a mere stones throw from the busiest shopping street in the South West. Various attempts were made to reopen the baths, all of which ended in failure as it became clear that the capital cost of restoration within the existing historic envelope was too great to allow profitable operation.
With a new core building, the new spa complex will rectify this. But in addition to new-build and historic conservation, the project included for a thorough archaeological investigation of existing above and below ground features, and a Thermal Resources programme adding significantly to the monitoring of the thermal springs and geological investigations throughout the valley.
In order to respond to the World Heritage status of the city and thoroughly understand the issues, an intensive conservation area analysis was undertaken jointly by Insalls and NGP. The significance of continuing change emerged, as the citys story reflects the fashion and fortune of spa bathing from pre-history through Roman and Mediaeval, to the elegant Georgian heyday, thence declining through the Victorian period to the sad abandoned site that remained at the end of the second Millennium.
Fundamental to the design was to find an integrated approach where new and old could relate without discord. The key that unlocked the design of the new building emerged from the analysis of the Hot Bath. The younger John Woods unique, elegant and symmetrical building when observed in three dimensions reveals a cube with a cube which became the generating concept of the Grimshaw scheme.
Similar careful analysis allowed Insalls to discover the oval geometry of the Cross Bath before the documentary proof came to light. The overlapping of this primary geometry was then used to tie the old and new together and add symbolic form to this World Wildlife Fund designated Sacred Site.
When the Dutch spa operator
Time will tell how Baths latest reincarnations will fare, but this unique project will soon be attracting visitors back to enjoy Baths special gift, the only natural hot mineral springs in Britain. See www.bathspa.co.uk
Peter Carey, Donald Insall Associates
Garden House in Wimborne,
He began his house in 1959, which became a life-long project that he continually sculpted, extended and added to as he fancied until the end of his life late last year. As a result it can best be described as a curio. It is eclectic to say the least the main living room window originally followed the composition of a Mondrian painting, with rectangular panes of coloured glass inserted to cast coloured light into the house. The hallway pays homage to Le Corbusiers Ronchamp, with coloured lights punctuating the thick concrete screen wall to the study. Salvaged old doors, an etched glass panel from an Edwardian pub and old ceramics were plundered from demolition sites and incorporated into his home. Victorian fireplace tiles surround those he made himself, which depict a traced Picasso drawing. Collaged carpets were a favourite with Noscoe. He often made the trip to the nearby
Sadly Garden House is being demolished. Although absolutely fascinating, it did not meet the stringent criteria set down by the post-war listing programme, being crudely detailed and having structural problems. Its interest was its unique interior, moulded organically over its lifetime, displaying great ingenuity and charisma. A new owner could not be found for the house but, as is common with houses from this period, it is a single dwelling on a large plot, and planning permission had been given to erect three new houses in its place.
However, it is hoped that another example of his work may be listed. While Noscoe was not an architect, he made numerous additions to Canford, among them a new art school (1970), a music school (1978) and the earlier but still intact Cricket Pavilion-cum-Open Air Theatre (1967). As with all his projects, this was constructed by pupils in his art classes with the minimum of professional support, or in fact supervision, which in one case led to a pupils near miss with a sander. The building received a Civic Trust recommendation and is noted by Pevsner in his Buildings of England:
English Heritage is currently conducting a thematic survey on post-war housing. If anyone knows of any building which they believe should be considered we would be very grateful if they could contact the Society. Contact 020 7250 3857 or www.c20society.org.uk
Claire Barrett, Caseworker, The Twentieth Century Society
The need to encourage high standards in building conservation activity is recognised in the IHBC Code of Conduct. It might therefore be anticipated that IHBC would support the recent move by English Heritage to require conservation professionals working on EH grant schemes to be formally accredited - but this may not be so.
In the April 2003 issue of the RIBA Journal, John Fidler, director of EHs Conservation Department, has set out the arguments in favour of accreditation and provides an explanation as to how EH will use the system. EH has long supported the principle of conservation accreditation for professionals provided that any scheme is open to all who are suitably qualified, is based on peer review and assesses individuals and not practices. The existing RICS and RIAS schemes and the register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (
Concern has been expressed by IHBC members that they are excluded from the accreditation system and that their influence in promoting building conservation is thereby reduced. It would appear that only those IHBC members who are also Architects or Chartered Surveyors can qualify for accreditation. Julian Harrup, writing in a recent
EH has indicated that it sees the need to encourage the development of conservation skills in the wider historic environment and IHBC members would no doubt agree with this. The question is how this can best be achieved. The branch would appreciate your views.
Colin Johns, IHBC SW Branch Education Officer
The Good Place Guide, published by Batsford for the Urban Design Group, aims to provide an accessible guide to modern, post war places that one can enjoy visiting, and that generate strong urges to return.
The time is right to establish a contemporary list of good places. Urban design is today at the forefront of planning, and regeneration of previously developed sites is the principal task that the Government asks of planners. Good examples have established themselves, and widening the awareness of such places and understanding their appeal can only serve to generate further good places.
The book sets out to challenge the misconception that modern places lack the qualities of cherished historic places such as Cotswold villages, Devonian seaside towns or
The book itself is compact and usable, withstanding a prolonged examination as readily as the occasional flick through for reference. The sites within it range from the ultra modern -
The book, compiled through the hard work of longstanding Urban Design Group contributors, Richard Cole and John Billingham, is not consistent in its reasons for choosing and including places (Runcorn has never thrilled me), but then one persons definition of a good place is always going to be different from another. Overall, the book succeeds on many levels - as a travellers companion, a guide book, an academic tool, and a source of discussion it makes the grade. It is a book no practitioner in design should be without, and no day-tripper should leave at home!
Richard Crutchley, Urban Design Group SW www.udg.org.uk/news
The DCMS review of heritage protection was announced by Tessa Jowell in November 2002. Its aim is to improve and refocus the way in which
Whilst there are those who will argue that current heritage protection is the envy of many other countries, there are obvious shortcomings: listing and scheduling have proved inappropriate for large, complex historic entities; the process of listing is not transparent; parks, gardens and battlefields have no statutory protection; current designation regimes lack incentives to promote positive management; existing legislative framework is seen as negative and regulatory, rather than positive and enabling.
Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage argues that we need a new system that allows us to fight against the loss of character and creeping degradation of quality in our streets and landscapes while at the same time encouraging regeneration ...[it must]... protect what is important about a historic place or building, but also equip developers with clear thinking on how a building can be changed and how projects can be proceeded with to ensure their long-term economic future.
As part of the DCMS preliminary seeking of views, some IHBC SW committee members recently joined architects, developers, owners and leaders in the heritage sector in regional focus groups.
Ian Lund reports from the
Although a wide variety of opinion was expressed at the meeting, the taking of listed building consent decisions at a regional level seemed to meet with little favour once the coal face nature of much conservation work was explained. The objective of improved quality in decision-making was, of course, widely accepted but could not realistically be separated from a need for additional resources in a hard pressed sector.
Meanwhile, on the very same day in
Delegates also learned about the latest research on management agreements (these might have a positive role for the management of large modern buildings or nineteenth century buildings subject to dynamic use and frequent change), and the unification of consents (perhaps helpful to those struggling to co-ordinate planning, listed building, conservation area, building control, fire and environmental health regulations).
A Consultation Paper setting out the main changes the Government is minded to make will be issued in July followed by a 3 month period of consultation. A White Paper outlining legislative reform is planned for 2004.
Since the last Bulletin the SW Branch has contributed to the Heritage Protection Review and responded on The Draft Strategy for the Historic Environment in the South West and the SW State of the Heritage Report 2002.
David Stirling, IHBC SW Branch Chair
The South West Committee are:
Acting Chair - David Stirling [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Treasurer & Dorset Colin Ellis [email@example.com]
Bulletin Editor Neil Buick [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Education Colin Johns [email@example.com]
Gloucestershire Mike Hill [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Somerset Adron Duckworth [email@example.com]
We welcome the following to the SW Branch: Andrew T Hayes, Denise Haylor, David Viner, Neil D Quinn, Jenny Schillig, Kevin Simpson, Stephen Turner, S C Tyrell (full Members); Eva Ormrod, Guy Bentham-Hill, Richard Fairs (affiliate Members); Monica Watson (associate Members).
Poltimore House in
Jocelyn Hemming of the Poltimore House Trust describes the building: Poltimore House is a grade II* listed building surrounded by parkland and woodlands about 4 miles north east of
Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for the building they would most like to see restored. Support the South West! www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/restoration
Conservation work to a church in
Strachey and Strachey Conservation (www.stracheyconservation.com) brought together a team that required not just first class technical skill but also an intuitive aesthetic approach. They used Lime Technique methods originally developed during the major conservation work on Wells Cathedral in the 1970s and 80s: cleaning surfaces, removing previous cement repairs and iron fixings and stabilising lamination and fractures with stainless steel micro-pins and dowels.
Meticulous investigation and recording marked every stage of the project, for the dual purpose of documenting each instance of damage, treatment and repair and also to aid long-term assessment of the efficacy of techniques used. This was supplemented by an archaeological survey of the tower that was undertaken in parallel to the conservation work, The mortar used for jointwork, for instance, was matched closely to the excellent lime mix used during repointing done in 1876.
The work was completed with the application of a skillfully colour-matched and unobtrusive sheltercoat that, together with the cleaning and repair work, has greatly enhanced the appearance of the tower.
Context and IHBC Website
Regular visitors to the IHBC web site - www.ihbc.org.uk - will be aware that
the Context on-line archive is now fully operational. All the main articles in the first 76 editions are now available. The archive has a key word search engine and there is an index of article titles. New editions of Context will be added 12 months after publication.
The credit for achieving this goes to Peter Badcock, the Institute's IT consultant, who obviously drew inspiration after taking up residency in the SW region. Well done, Peter!
The Context archive may also partly explain the ever-increasing numbers of visitors to the web site. April produced a new record with 113,024 hits. Peter has found that the most popular individual page was Ian Hume's "French Drains" Technical Note. We wonder if everybody found what they were after? The 'South West Branch' page lay in a satisfying 6th place just behind '
Its going to be very difficult for me and my chairman, Neil Cossons, to become the Posh and Becks of the heritage world. Simon Thurley, English Heritage Chief Executive, quoted in Planning.
In anthropological terms, weve been trying to be endogamous now is the time to get exogamous. Christpoher Caitling of Heritage Link, describing the heritage sector at a recent IHBC/IFA conference in
The District Councils, and Swindon Borough, have been invited to contribute to the Wiltshire Archaeological Festival at the end of July. The authorities are working together to produce a small display on the work of the various conservation teams in protecting the historic environment. The display will be part of a larger exhibition being held at
Salisbury District Council welcomes Jocelyn Sage, formerly of English Heritage, as a new member of its conservation team.
The rescue of a small Wiltshire well house has recently been completed. The Well House at Derry Hill, near Calne is a circular timber structure, dated 1900, carrying a conical stone slate roof which provides a cover for the well that once supplied water to the surrounding cottages. This well house, together with similar structures at Biddestone, Colerne and Hilmarton, was provided by the Poynder family of
The Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust, Calne Without Parish Council, North Wiltshire District Council and Viridor Waste Management provided funds for the project.
There is currently a hive of activity in
The HERS scheme, which comes at a timely moment in the town's regeneration strategy, will be a key element within a wider series of initiatives, including the region's Coastal and Market Towns Initiative, which are aimed at putting Looe on a sustainable economic, social and environmental footing.
In Carrick the Falmouth HERS is in its fourth year. In
Full details of news on the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Bid are posted on the excellent web site www.cornish-mining.org.uk and www.historic-cornwall.org.uk introduces the Cornwall and Scilly Urban Survey - a pilot project examining the historical development and historic character of 19 towns that have been identified under the Objective One Programme as centres for regeneration in the Programme Area.
The Cornwall Industrial Settlements Initiative (CISI) is jointly funded by English Heritage, Cornwall County Council and six District Councils. The work has been undertaken by The Cahill Partnership, a specialist conservation planning consultancy based in
The purpose of CISI is to assess the history, character and significance of
Since beginning in earnest in 1999, some 40 of the countys principal industrial settlements have been assessed. These have largely been concentrated in the heartland of 19th century Cornish mining in the west of the County but the programme has recently been moving into new areas, including the Delabole slate quarrying area, the mid 19th century copper bonanza settlements around Bodmin Moor, the Tamar Valley mining, quarrying and port settlements and the China Clay country around St Austell.
Between them, these settlements are associated with all stages of Cornish mining, from extraction through processing and ancillary industries to transport and shipping. The data produced substantially modifies some of the standard received notions of industrial settlement in
Data and expertise is being fed into a number of other projects such as the World Heritage Site Bid, the
As a working tool for local authorities, CISI has had the rare experience of almost immediate application in practical terms, being used as the basis of conservation area designations in the St Just area and conservation area appraisals in both St Just and Looe, in the development of enhancement and regeneration schemes in St Just, Hayle, St Day, Redruth, Looe and Delabole, and to inform traffic management proposals in Camborne/Tuckingmill.
CISI has already proved its value in the immediate context, and looks set to do so for the long-term as well.
Dartmoor National Park Authority is undertaking research into the use of thatch on
Applications for some 400 buildings exist and information about 650 separate thatching repairs has been entered into the Authoritys thatching database, including details of the aspect of the building, the year and season of work, the thatcher and the thatching material. The national grid reference and the listing details (where appropriate) have also been noted together with any references to smoke blackened thatch.
Further research possibilities for the recorded information have been identified and external bodies will be approached to gauge interest in continuing the research.
If anybody is interested in finding out more about the thatching database please contact Val Harrison, Historic Buildings Officer, Dartmoor National Park Authority.
These awards celebrate excellence in completed conservation or restoration projects in museums, galleries, historic buildings, libraries and archives see St Marys, Beaminster, page *. To be eligible, projects may focus on the conservation of individual items or collections, on the decorative elements or fixtures associated with a historic building, or on monuments and sculptures, or on improving the environment in which collections are housed.
Deadline for submission of projects for 2004 Award for Conservation will be 30 September 2003. Contact Susan Hughes Tel: 020 7326 0995. www.consawards.ukic.org.uk