Newsletter 121

Since the last newsletter, we have passed our 45th anniversary, being founded in 1967, ‘sapphire’ I believe. So only 5 years until we can celebrate our golden 50th, so lets hope we continue to thrive as a Trust to 2017 and beyond!

There have been ‘ups and downs’ over the past few months. On the negative side, there has been a delay in the streetscape scheme, which causes us some concern over its future. Lets hope all parties maintain their commitment so that the funding is not lost. We are concerned about the general quality of the currently proposed housing schemes in Cockermouth. We feel that too little attention paid now to quality in the design and build will be regretted by all; especially by our future generations. The concept of a town flag went down like a ‘damp squib’ with the Town Council. On the positive side, the shop front scheme has won yet another prestigious award, this time an Angel Award from English Heritage. Also our ‘Walk of Pride Scheme’ has met with some success, sufficient to merit our continued efforts. And our trip to Blackpool was excellent, thanks to the fantastic organisation by Blackpool Civic Trust.

Another big positive is that our membership numbers have touched 100 again and we have two excellent new committee members, Rebecca Hanson and Jane Sheppard. A good sign for our future!

Visit by Steve Graham, Chief Executive of Civic Voice, Friday 22nd February.

I am very pleased to report that Steve Graham, the Chief Executive of Civic Voice will be spending the day with us on 22nd February. This will be a great opportunity for us to keep Steve & Civic Voice informed of what we are doing in Cockermouth & for us to air local issues that might have a national perspective. We will give him a walking tour of Cockermouth and a visit to the Castle. From 12 noon until 2pm, we are arranging an informal lunch-time meeting with him in the bar area of the Jennings Brewery shop/cafe, to which all members are invited. A light finger buffet will be provided. For catering reasons, we will need to know numbers in advance, so could you please let me know if you intend to come, (Phil Campbell – 823485).

Member’s Special Meeting – 2pm, 13th Feb

We have arranged our next Special Meeting for members for 2pm on Wednesday 13th February at the Friends Meeting House. This is an opportunity to raise and discuss topical issues affecting Cockermouth & the Civic Trust itself. I’ve outlined a draft agenda below, but let me know if you want anything added. Please try and come because it is important to have the support and direction from members in what we are trying to achieve as a Civic Trust. It might also identify issues that we wish to raise with Steve Graham.

  • Feedback from Member’s Questionnaires
  • Walk of Pride
  • Main Street Streetscape project
  • Allerdale Plan & Housing Developments
  • Local Listing
  • Cockermouth Flag

2012/13 Lecture Meeting Programme

A reminder of the topics for the remainder of the current season lectures, all to be held at 7.30pm at the Friends Meeting House:

6th Feb – John Whitwell will give an illustrated talk on ‘Maritime Maryport’.

6th Mar – Amanda Thackeray will speak on ‘The Wordsworth House Garden, pre and post flood’.

3rd Apr – Mike Murgatroyd of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England will talk about ‘The Friends of the Lake District’.

Annual Dinner, Wednesday 17th April, 2013

Our annual dinner this year will again be at the Allerdale Court Hotel, at 7pm for 7.30pm. Please note that this is a week earlier than advertised on the membership card. As usual we have arranged an after dinner speaker. This year it will be Vanessa Graham, owner of Banks Ironmongers.

The cost of the meal remains at £18.50 for 3 courses plus tea or coffee. The menu choices are attached to this newsletter. If you would like to come, please complete the ticket application form & return with your remittance.

Although the numbers at last year’s meal at the Allerdale Court were lower than usual, I believe that the meal and talk were well received by everybody there and we look forward to another excellent evening in 2013.

Civic Day Event, Saturday June 15th.

You will be aware that Civic Voice promote a national, annual Civic Day in June each year, this year centred on June 22nd, although Civic Voice recognise that there will be variations in dates for individual societies. The objective of the Civic Day is to promote the aims and activities of both local societies and the Civic Trust movement as a whole. This year a focus will be on membership recruitment.

Our contribution will be an exhibition & coffee morning at the United Reformed Church on the morning of Saturday June 15th. The exhibition will consist of display boards pertaining to activities in Cockermouth that we as a Civic Trust are either involved in or have an interest in, along with members of our committee available to discuss and record comments and opinions. There will also be a book sales desk and a recruitment desk.

Clearly we need volunteers to help with this event, from coffee making through to talking to visitors about our activities. Can you help please?

Annual Trip 2013 – Lytham St Annes

We welcomed over 40 people on our coach to Blackpool at the beginning of November, surpassing expectations. And apart from a hiccup when we had a wait in the cold when our coach got stuck in the traffic, I think we had a magnificent day. Blackpool Civic Trust had pulled out all the stops for us and we finished the day on a restored, traditional tram illuminated in the form of a train, travelling through the illuminations.

Last year if you remember we had intended to go to Lytham St Annes, but decided against it as there was uncertainty about whether Lytham Hall would be open or not. Well it has been confirmed that Lytham Hall will be open this year and Lytham Civic Trust has invited us to visit them this year instead, so that is our intention. We haven’t agreed a date with them yet, but it is likely to be in June, so details will be in the next newsletter. This trip will obviously be very different from Blackpool, but non-the less promises to be just as enjoyable.

Walk of Pride Follow Up – Friday 8th February

We reported in our last newsletter on our first ‘Walk of Pride’ that was held on Saturday 7th July, around Cockermouth Town Centre. The objective if you remember was to identify buildings & streetscape that we are proud of as well as areas that the group felt could be improved for the benefit of Cockermouth as a whole. We wrote to the owners or responsible authorities on both buildings and places that we felt proud of and those that we felt could be improved. On Friday 8th February, we will be having a follow up walk, meeting in Kings Arms Lane at 2pm. All are invited.  The primary objective will be to seek out changes from our first walk, but we will have our eyes open for things new.

We had a good response from Allerdale BC on issues that we identified in their area of responsibility. They have added our concerns to their own issue list and do give us periodic updates on progress. Joe Broomfield, the Allerdale Town Manager, will also be joining us on the follow up walk.

We have had meetings with the owner of the Golden Dragon about potential improvements to this building, which is at a major entrance to the town. He appears keen to improve the building but cost is clearly an issue since significant spend is potentially involved. We have had acknowledgement of our comments made to both the Coop and the agents for Lowther Went, but as yet no indication of whether they will act on any of them. PFK Estate Agents have made significant improvements to their area behind their shop in Cockton’s Yard.

We will compile a fuller progress report after the follow up walk, initially at the Special Member’s Meeting on 13th February.

Heritage Open Days, 12th-15th September 2013

We will be supporting the Heritage Open Days again this year, more details in the next newsletter. In the meantime, please note the dates in your diary.

Castle Tours

We hope to be leading tours of Cockermouth Castle in 2013 both as part of the Festival, (31st May to 2nd June), and for the Heritage Open Days. As usual, tickets will be available nearer the time from the Tourist Information Centre, noting that the numbers are restricted for each tour.

Civic Trust AGM

Tom Hughes retired from our Executive Committee at this year’s AGM, following 35 years service, 10 of which as Chairman. We made a presentation to Tom as a small token of our appreciation of his massive contribution over this period, (not surprisingly a book relating to the railways, a pop up book of St Pancreas Station).


We have decided to offer copies of ‘Bradbury’s History of Cockermouth’ to our members at a discounted price of £10 against the normal retail price of £16.95. I know that many of you will already have well thumbed copies, but if you would like a new copy, please contact Ian Dodsworth either at a meeting or on 823599.

We have also decided to donate a copy of the same book to each of the Cockermouth Schools. These have been inscribed and will be formally presented shortly.

Our new book ‘Cockermouth – Main Street Reborn’ has now been completed by Eric Apperley and is in the printing process. It will be marketed at £9.50 and it records the improvements to the building frontages on Main Street, Market Place and Station Street since the 2009 floods.

Cockermouth Flag (?)

Back in September 2012, Philip Tibbets,  Assistant to the Chief Vexillogist of the Flag Institute, approached us to see if we were interested in the development of a town flag for Cockermouth. Civic Trusts are often the first points of contacts for such proposals. We immediately recognised the potential benefits to the town, giving it an identity that could potentially be flown on buildings such as the town hall and castle and at Cockermouth events. We decided at the outset that a Cockermouth Flag must belong to the Town and as such, the concept and design needs broad support across all interested parties. We consciously decided that it would be better to approach interested parties with a proposal, rather than a blank sheet of paper. With the help of Philip Tibbets, we therefore put together an initial design as shown, (apologies if you are seeing it in black & white, but a colour version is on the website). We quickly learnt that the design needs to be simple and symbolic such that it can be easily recognised from a distance. Even the colour contrasts are important. The design itself reflects the confluence of our two rivers in blue with the castle at the confluence; a daffodil represents the arts and William Wordsworth in particular; a heraldic star represents the sciences and Fearon Fallows and Dalton in particular, (note that an ordinary single star would not be easily recognised at the top of a flag pole).

We have had a mixed response to our proposal so far ranging from very enthusiastic support, through ambivalence to the odd anti letter in the paper. Most disappointing was the attitude of Cockermouth Town Council who decided not to support any concept of a Cockermouth flag.

We now have to decide on whether to proceed with the proposal or let it drop. If we are to proceed, we will need to demonstrate a spectrum of support. If you have views, whether pro or anti, we would like to hear from you, preferably in writing or email.

Sullart Street Development

We are pleased to see that the Sullart Street housing scheme is making progress as we would rather see developments that make use of existing brownfield sites like this in preference to using greenfield areas around the town. However, we are very disappointed with the quality of the scheme currently being proposed and it scored very low when we assessed it against the ‘Building for Life’ criteria. We don’t think this scheme blends in with the town streetscape and it looks like an edge of town housing estate that has been inserted into the town centre. The scheme does not exploit the existing buildings, landscape or topography. It does not continue the lines of existing neighbouring streets and does not feel like a place with a distinctive character. We are in agreement with the Allerdale Conservation Officer in that the scheme exhibits poor architectural quality and & needs to do more to reduce its environmental impact. Cockermouth needs this site to be developed but an opportunity to make it a special place to enhance the town will have been missed if this goes ahead in its present form. We therefore objected to the current proposal.

Consultation – Extended Permitted Development Rights

The Government has recently issued a consultation paper on extending the rights of homeowners and industry to undertake limited building extensions, etc, without planning permission, for a temporary period. The stated aim is to give a boost to the building trade in the current economic downturn. Our concern is that it will allow inappropriate building that will leave a legacy for generations to come. In common with other civic societies, we have written to our MP expressing our concerns and made a formal response to the technical consultation.

Local Listing

There is now the opportunity to create local listings of buildings that are not actually formally listed as national assets, but nevertheless contribute to a sense of local character and distinctiveness in the historic environment. These local lists can be used to identify significant local heritage assets to support the development of Local Plans and will strengthen the role of local heritage assets as a material consideration in the planning process. Civic Voice has identified the development of local lists as a key objective for 2013. We intend to play our part in this in first of all identifying buildings in the Cockermouth area that might merit such listing, then progress their potential listing with Allerdale BC through their Conservation Officer. We will begin this process through our special meeting, but if you have any buildings in mind for such listing, we want to hear from you. A reminder that we now have our own booklet identifying all of the formally listed buildings in Cockermouth, available at any lecture meeting from Ian Dodsworth.


Tour of Cockermouth Town Trail (19):

By Shirley Campbell

The last stop on the trail is the site of the Old Hall. A building probably existed here by 1500, which was rebuilt by the Fletchers, a prosperous merchant family, in the 1570s. The new building was of stone with mullioned windows, a fine 5½ feet wide staircase and gardens reaching to the churchyard with Bitter Beck running through. When the Fletchers left in the C18th, the building was divided into smaller dwellings, shops and what became the Old Hall Inn. This inn closed in the 1920s. There was a serious flood in 1966 when much of St Helen’s street, the bottom of Kirkgate and Market Place were covered with up to 30 inches of water after a culvert at Butts Fold collapsed. This led to what became the ‘Bitter Beck Scheme’. What was left of the Old Hall was demolished along with many other smaller old buildings. The beck was re-culverted and Bitter Beck car park created in 1973. Efforts were made to find funds to restore the building, but so much had been changed that little of the original was left. As Bernard Bradbury said “Cockermouth lost what might have been one of its greatest architectural assets”.

The Old Hall’s main claim to fame was the visit of Mary Queen of Scots in 1568 when she stayed for a night. She had fled Scotland after loosing her last battle, crossed the Solway by boat & arrived in England to seek the protection of Elizabeth I.She landed at Workington after a 4 hour crossing & spent her first night in Workington Old Hall. She travelled on to Cockermouth on the way to Carlisle, but was unable to stay at the Castle. She stayed at Cockermouth Old Hall as guest of the Fletchers who were successful merchants. She had little with her in the way of clothing & the Fletchers gave her 16 yards of rich crimson velvet for a dress. She was well received in Cockermouth with the Town turning out to greet her, & she gave court to the women of the Town before leaving. Her son, James I, visited Cockermouth in 1618 and knighted Henry Fletcher’s grandson, Richard.

This article is the last in our series on the town trail. We started on this journey back in the April 2007 newsletter, at the Kirkgate Centre.

And finally:

Just to mention that 4 of us attended the Civic Voice AGM in Coventry this year. This was an excellent forum for finding out what is going on elsewhere in the civic society movement and building contacts.

Also to mention that we already have 2 firm and one tentative request for tours round our town trail this year. These are Lake District National Park Volunteer Wardens, Cumbria Federation of Women’s Institutes and Lytham St Annes Civic Trust. The WI want the tour based on a cryptic quiz!

Phil Campbell, Chairman

Cockermouth Civic Trust – Annual Dinner

Wednesday 17th April 2013 – Allerdale Court -7pm for 7.30pm

Our dinner this year will be at the Allerdale Court Hotel, Cockermouth on Wednesday 17th April, 7pm for 7.30pm. As usual we will have an after dinner speaker – this year it will be Vanessa Graham. The cost per person will be £18.50. If you would like to come, please return this sheet to Shirley Campbell along with a cheque payable to Cockermouth Civic Trust, indicating your menu choices. Please remember to keep a record of what you have chosen. Address to send to is 27 The Mount, Papcastle, Cockermouth, CA13 0JY. A self-addressed envelope would be appreciated.




Starter Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup, served with homemade rustic bread
Our smooth Chicken Liver Pate topped with Cumberland sauce & served with Melba toast
Garlic Mushrooms with crispy pancetta and edged with a cheese flatbread
Main  Crispy Chicken with a basil & parmesan crust, served with Courgette Provencal & braised rice
Braised Steak slowly cooked in a rich ale sauce with fresh market vegetables & chive mashed potato
Steamed Salmon Fillet with new potatoes, fine beans & Hollandaise Sauce
Sweet Sticky Toffee Pudding
Raspberry Cheese Cake
Fresh Tropical Fruit Salad
Coffee or tea


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NUMBER OF TICKETS_______ AMOUNT ENCLOSED: £________­­­­ (£18.50 per ticket)