Newsletter – 118

At the time of writing I’m thinking that this time last year winter was upon us with vengeance and we ended up cancelling both the December Lecture and Committee meetings on account of the ice. Let us hope for a better winter this year – but we have started off well with an excellent November, dare I say better than summer? The key item for this newsletter is our special meeting on Wednesday 11th January. This is a new venture where we provide a forum for all members to discuss both issues affecting Cockermouth and the future of the Civic Trust movement in Cockermouth & nationally.  Please make an effort to attend because it is your opportunity to influence our future direction. It is important that we as committee members are able to speak on behalf of the Trust as a whole, not just the committee itself, which is actually less than 10% of the membership. I’ve attached an agenda to the newsletter, but feel free to request other issues to be included.



Talking about membership, we are on declining numbers and I appeal to you all again to consider how we might improve numbers either by recruitment or by what we do. It is perhaps ironic that in the past few years we have had a higher profile with significant successes. Bring your ideas to the special meeting.


National Award

Talking about success, I am very pleased to report that we, with Allerdale Borough Council, were awarded joint first prize in class for the Shop Improvement Grant Scheme in the Georgian Group Architectural Awards for 2011. The class was ‘Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting’.  In this class, the Georgian Group recognise the key rôle that historic buildings play in urban regeneration, and part of the purpose of this award is to acknowledge the contribution made by restored Georgian buildings to the quality and vitality of our towns and cities. As usual, competition in this category was especially fierce.

Britain’s architectural heritage is one of the nation’s greatest assets and the Georgian period (broadly 1700-1837) gave the UK some of our most beautiful buildings. The Georgian Group is the national charity dedicated to preserving Georgian buildings and gardens. Every year they are consulted on over 6,000 planning applications involving demolition or alterations. Their intervention has helped save many Georgian buildings and has protected others from harm. It is often through their influence that a better solution is found. It is an accolade indeed to receive such an award from this society!

We are still hopeful of recognition from the Civic Trust Awards, but see the next article!


2012 Civic Trust Awards

by John Dent

The Civic Trust Award scheme has no connection to the now defunct National Civic Trust or its successor Civic Voice. Established in 1959, the Civic Trust Awards are one of the longest standing architectural and built environment awards in Europe. The awards recognise the contribution of good design to the civic realm. During the past 52 years, over 6500 schemes have received recognition through successful application to the Civic Trust Awards. Each assessment team comprises an Architect Assessor, a Local Authority Representative and a Local Advisor. The team assesses each scheme within their local area and can recommend an Award for outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the environment. A Commendation can be given to a project that makes a significant contribution, whilst many will be considered unsuccessful because they are not of significant national standard.

Assessments are completed each year by mid-November and recommendations are sent to the National Panel for consideration. Successful applicants are notified mid January (though not the level of award) and presentations are made at a national event held in March. In 2012 the award ceremony will be held at The Hub in Edinburgh on Friday, 2nd March.

I acted as the Local Advisor for the Scheme in this area for the 2012 award assessments. I had to provide narrative feedback on the following areas:

–          How has the scheme impacted on the local community?

–          Has the community been engaged by the project during planning, design and construction?

–          Are local people positive about the design and implementation of the scheme?

–          What are the positive cultural, social, environmental or economic benefits to the community?

–          How has the community been consulted and kept informed?

–          Does the scheme provide a positive experience for its users, visitors or passers-by?

–          What is the scheme’s overall civic contribution?

There were three schemes to consider in this area: The Cumbria Archive Centre, Vaugh Steel and the Cockermouth Shopfront Heritage Grant Scheme.

The Cumbria archive facility in Carlisle Castle had operated there since 1962 but it was decided to find a new home for the records that would have more space and facilities. A site was found at Petteril Bank on the outskirts of the city which contained the Grade II* listed Lady Gilford House. The house was restored and a new modern wing built linked to the old house.

Vaugh Steel is a remote farmhouse near Bampton southwest of Penrith, which was last occupied in 1985 by an old lady who survived there despite it having no mains services. This 17th C farmhouse and byre with an attached 19th C barn has been transformed into a large house with the old farmhouse retaining original features with the byre and barn being converted into a modern living space. Wind turbine and solar panels and a heating ventilation recovery system mean that the house is energy self-sufficient.

You obviously will be well aware of the Cockermouth Shopfront scheme so I won’t describe that. Because I acted as secretary to the committee overseeing this scheme, I had to declare an interest and I arranged for a member of Workington Civic Trust to stand in for me on this assessment.

The recommendations put forward to the National Panel cannot be disclosed to anyone for any reason until the awards are made.


2011/12 Lecture Programme (still to come)

All meetings are on a Wednesday, at 19.30 at the Friends Meeting House, Kirkgate.

11th January

Special members meeting, refer attached agenda

1st February

Malcolm Bobbitt, motoring writer & automotive historian, will admit to ‘confessions of a motoring writer’.

7th March

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, Area Commander of West Cumbria Police, will inform us about ‘policing in West Cumbria’.

4th April

David Handley of Oxfam will give us a first hand account of Oxfam’s involvement in a world crisis area, including their longer term response.


Rugby Club Housing Development

The housing development on the rugby club site was resubmitted for planning approval so we took the opportunity to assess the proposals against the national ‘Building for Life’ criteria. This was undertaken at a special meeting without Darren Ward our architectural adviser as he had declared a professional interest. We scored the development 13.5 out of 20, which is quite reasonable at the outline planning permission stage, and have decided that ‘we do not object to the proposals’. A number of comments arose out of the assessment and we have submitted these to the planning authority. We particularly liked the use of a ‘brownfield’, infill site with the included upgrading of existing sports facilities for the town. We noted that there are no properties for rent or ‘affordable housing’, more could be done to segregate vehicles & pedestrians & there are limited pedestrian routes onto the estate and there is very limited public space within the estate itself.

We noted that there were a number of individual objections based on the increased traffic load on the Lorton Road/kirkgate access to town. While we sympathise with this, we decided that this development of 24 houses would have limited impact given the number of houses that already exist on this side of town.


Enhanced Flood Defences

A number of us attended the Environment Agency & Flood Action Group exhibition on the proposed enhanced flood defences for the town. Clearly the proposals are being developed on a very tight timescale in order to ensure the scheme comes under current funding arrangements, or it may never happen at all. We have yet to discuss the detailed proposals at committee, but from our perspective, the only significant issue is the enhanced protection along Rubby Banks. Clearly there is a balance to be struck between the enhanced protection here and the loss of the visual environment. At one extreme is the increase of the existing wall to around 5 feet, which is clearly very intrusive. Alternatives are the use of glass for the upper part of the wall, and the provision of a ‘self raising’ barrier, which does have engineering & reliability concerns since it has not been used on this scale before.


An Appeal for the Peal

By John Dent

A few years ago the residents of Cockermouth were delighted to see that the All Saints Church clock was being restored. During the work a carillon of bells were discovered which worked from the clock. After the restoration was completed, the clock certainly looked pristine and justified its prominent position on one of the important buildings of our town. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards it all came to a grinding halt – it may have looked good but it didn’t go!

The clock is a rare Blaylock clock and carillon. The Blaylock clockmaking business was founded by a John Blaylock in 1768 with his workshop in Longtown. The business specialised in longcase  clocks. The business was passed down through the family to another John Blaylock and by 1818 had moved to Carlisle still making longcase clocks but adding some engineering works as well. The business expanded to produce station clocks for the Lancaster to Carlisle railway, which opened in 1844. Is the All Saints Clock a development of these station clocks? I can’t find any reference to the Blaylocks making church clocks – have I got the right Blaylock? Perhaps someone out there can tell me whether I am right.

The timing seems to fit.  Bradbury tells us that “All Saints Church was burnt to the ground in 1850 destroying the peal of six bells, the organ, church clock, chimes, galleries, pulpit, pews ……”. In fact everything except the bare walls. So when the new church was consecrated in 1854 it would have had a new clock i.e. the present one.

After that bit of history, now for a little bit of good news. The clock will shortly be repaired and there are funds available to cover this work. Unfortunately the funding will not cover the cost, (probably a few thousand pounds), of repairing the carillon. The Church will be making an appeal for the peal. Can you help? Do you know a benefactor madly keen on Blaylock clocks? It certainly would be nice to fully restore both the clock and carillon together but in these days of austerity where can the money be found?


Town Trail Visitors

We are expecting members of Blackpool Civic Trust to visit us sometime in March – they anticipate they will bring around 48 members!


Tour of Cockermouth Town Trail (16):

By Shirley Campbell

Having crossed Brewery Bridge, we now reach the ‘Lake District’s Best Kept Secret’! The original Jenning’s Brewery was founded in Lorton in 1828 by John Jennings. The business grew and by 1874 had moved into Cockermouth. 1887 saw the business become a limited company with 3 maltings and 16 licensed outlets. Other small breweries and public houses were purchased over the ensuing years, including four West Cumberland breweries in 1921 and Faulders Brewery of Keswick in 1926. Water from Jennings’ own, on-site  70 foot well is still used for brewing. Other ingredients include English pale ale malt, Golding hops from Kent and Fuggles hops from Herefordshire.

From being the only independent brewery left in Cumbria, in 2005 Jennings was taken over by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, itself being a public company since 1890 when it was formed by the amalgamation of 3 breweries local to Wolverhampton & Dudley. In 2007, the Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries PLC changed its name to Marston’s PLC. This change was to reflect the fact that in recent years the company had become a national business, having acquired the Marston’s brand itself back in 1999. There no longer exists any Jennings family connection with the business.


To find out more, why not go on a brewery tour?


Community Researchers

A group of 3 community researchers, based at the Kirkgate Centre, are currently undertaking a project to determine resident’s attitudes towards living in Cockermouth, including what they value, what concerns them and what their vision is for the future of the town. Their aim is to talk to over 1000 people, but they are not ‘cold calling’ and are relying on contacts.  If you would like to be included, please contact John Dent or Phil Campbell and we will refer you on.

This project is part of a national pilot, currently looking at 15 areas and may well be rolled out on a fully national basis at a later date.


And Finally

A Happy Christmas to you all.

And – many thanks to David & Pat Hardy for their contributions to committee & organising lectures over the last few years. They both retired from committee at this year’s AGM.


Phil Campbell, Chairman

Cockermouth & District Civic Trust Special Members Meeting

Wednesday, 11th January, 19.30 at the Friend’s Meeting House, Kirkgate







Shop Front Improvement Scheme
  • To update members on progress made
  • To ascertain any continuing concerns from members


Main Street Streetscape Improvement Scheme
  • To remind members of the final plans
  • To discuss the plans & review the Civic Trust ‘view’


Cockermouth Enhanced flood Defences Scheme
  • To update members on the Environment Agency Proposals
  • To discuss the plans & review the Civic Trust ‘view’


Building for Life Assessment Process To inform members about the ‘Building for Life’ national standard, which is now used by the committee to evaluate significant housing developments


Current proposals for housing developments:

  • Sullart Street
  • The Fitz
  • Rugby Club, Lorton Rd
  • To update members of the status of these developments & the outcome of the committee’s assessments
  • To obtain feedback from members on their views on the developments


Future of Cockermouth & District Civic Trust and the Civic Voice movement
  • The Civic Trust has a declining membership. What do we need to do to attract more members?
  • Do we have the right member’s activities & lectures? Are they at the best times?
  • What do members think the Civic Trust needs to focus on in the short to medium term in Cockermouth?
  • Civic Voice is consulting member societies on its future national strategy. What do we as a Civic Trust want to input?


Any Other business Any other issues of concern to members.