The mark of the conservation professional
Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire
Chloe Oswald explaining at the 2018 AGM CPD event the extent of the flood defences recently installed in Derby
200 Degrees overlooking the Nottingham Canal and Carrington Street Bridge (Source: Author)
Annual School Programme (Source: Author)
Newton Building, Nottingham Conference Centre (Source: Author)
NMott Macdonald’s Exhibition (Source: Author)
Keynote Speaker (Source: Author)
Dr Lyn Wilson's presentation (Source: Author)
Keynote Speaker (Source: Author)
Picture of the canal’s arm taken from a bridge that was inside the pub (Source: Author)
Delegates travelling from the station to the venue were also able to appreciate what is my favourite building in Nottingham, and the building chosen as the cover for the school’s programme, the Prudential Assurance Offices: a grade II red brick and terracotta listed building built 1880-1890 in the Flemish Renaissance Revival Style by Alfred Waterhouse.
The choice of venue for the school was also an excellent one, namely Nottingham’s Conference Centre which is housed in not one but two Grade II* listed buildings: Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building (1956-1958) and the Arkwright Building (1877-81). Both were in a beautiful architectural setting and made for a visually impressive arrival to the school. The wonderfully clear blue skies of the day also made for some good picture taking, as I hope that you will agree! Delegates walking from the station to the venue would have also appreciated Cecil Hewitt’s most notable work en-route, the Nottingham Council House. Many delegates were also able to explore the interior of the building in the evening, during the school’s annual dinner.
Upon arrival to the school, there was the first opportunity for refreshments and exhibition networking within a bustling atrium. Especial thanks to McParland Finn Ltd for sponsoring the refreshments that catered well even for a fussy lactose-intolerant such as myself!
The exhibitions were comprehensive in their range, from Historic England’s Technical Conservation Department to the Heritage Trust Network. Having only worked for the public sector in my conservation career thus far, it was interesting to discuss all things heritage from different perspectives. The image below shows the Mott MacDonald’s exhibition on their consultancy for heritage on archaeology.
Of particular interest to me was the exhibition on the East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework, an interactive digital resource. As an unexpected benefit, it sparked an idea in me for possible research during the IHBC accredited Masters in Urban Conservation that I am currently studying for.
Once the first session of refreshments and exhibition networking had finished, it was time for the day school to be launched to a well-attended lecture theatre. The theme for the school was Heritage Risk and Resilience: confronting conservation calamities. By cruel serendipity, the school followed several national news stories of conservation calamities in recent times, including a fire in 2018 to the very same Nottingham Train Station that many delegates arrived to earlier in the day. Another such story was the, again cruel, second fire to the Glasgow School of Art in June 2018. Liz Davidson, the Senior Project Manager for the Glasgow School of Art, detailed in an interesting but sombre fashion the reconstruction of Mackintosh’s masterpiece as well as dealing with the aftermath of the fire - the single biggest threat to heritage. Accordingly, the first session of the day was concerned with fire, including a presentation given by Oxford University’s Fire Officer on working with the fire and emergency services.
The school was divided into four sessions covering fire (Session 1), Structural Failure & Heritage at Risk (Session 2), Security, Digital Technology and Legal Issues (Session 3) and Flooding (Session 4). Within each session there were several expert speakers who each gave 20-minute ‘short-and-snappy’ presentations to keep delegates engaged throughout.
Like the exhibitions, the presentations for the day school were also comprehensive in their coverage. They looked at the potential impact of various conservation calamities, both man-made and natural, on historic buildings and the historic environment. Far from being only about the harm that these conservation calamities cause, the presentations also positively explored the development of practical solutions to help protect buildings and areas from threat, as well as how to deal with the consequences when disasters do strike. Thus, the event provided ample opportunity for continuing professional development and gave me an abundance of vital information for when I hope to one day become a conservation officer. Perhaps most relevant to this future goal was the very informative presentation delivered by Nigel Hewitson, who was legal director at English Heritage for several years, which focused on the legal powers of saving heritage assets in disrepair.
Hewitson’s presentation was followed by his co-author, Dr Charles Mynors, who presented in an enthusiastic and charismatic manner on the legal consequences of the destruction of heritage assets. Mynors is a lawyer for the Law Commission of England & Wales, showing the high calibre and quality of the speakers in attendance.
As already alluded to, I have an interest in the use of the digital for conservation. As such, my interest peaked with Dr Lyn Wilson’s presentation on digital technology for future proofing against disaster. Dr Wilson is the Digital Documentation Manager for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and her presentation covered many interesting points, including 3D digitisation of heritage assets. Perhaps most interesting of the presentation was the ‘Scottish Ten’, a five year project that aims to use technology to create accurate digital models of Scotland’s five world heritage sites (WHS) in addition to five other WHS elsewhere in the world, in order to better conserve and manage them.
Whilst it is not possible for me to detail all of the presentations that were held throughout the ‘school day’, it would be wrongful of me not to mention the presentation given by the keynote speaker Dr Zaki Aslan, a conservation architect and Director of the ICCROM’s Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah. Having almost exclusively focused on English conservation throughout my education and career thus far, it was interesting to learn about international approaches to recovery and disaster management of historic environments.
It was pleasing to note that whilst the event was held in the East Midlands, the presentations were comprehensive in their geographic coverage, ranging from the international level right down to the local level. Much to my work friend’s surprise, a photo of her family’s bookshop in the historic town of Cockermouth (Cumbria) was included in Helen Brownlie’s presentation on the recovery and improvement of the historic town after it experienced flooding.
The school also included ‘spotlights’ with the last one shining on Brighton’s IHBC Annual School 2020. The success of the 2019 school has set the bar very high and will be a tough act to follow, but I am sure that the IHBC’s South East branch will be up to the challenge.
But the day didn’t end there. Very dutifully, a pub list was published for the annual school which was given to delegates on arrival. It may be claimed that the pub list is a conservationist’s essential for Nottingham, given that the city hosts several pubs which claim to be the oldest in England. Up for debate are the Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem, Salutation Inn and The Bell Inn public houses, which are all housed in Grade II listed buildings. It was only right and appropriate then that the day school should be unofficially finished with a trip to one of Nottingham’s many historic pubs!
We ventured to The Canalhouse, which the pub list informed us is a grade II listed building consisting of a characterful conversion of a former warehouse built in 1895. An arm of the canal runs into the building with narrowboats moored inside.
The pub also gave me an opportunity to network further as I was able to have a detailed conversation with a former PHD student at The University of Leicester’s Centre for Urban History. With the hope and intention of studying for a PHD in Urban Conservation one day, the advice that she gave me was invaluable and the cherry of top to an enjoyable day of learning about all things heritage – thanks again to the IHBC East Midland’s branch. “
The Old Tile Yard at Far Ings in Barton upon Humber
LCOG members inside the pottery