Chairman's Report July 2012
03 July 2012
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT: 03 JULY 2012.
OF LEICESTER BUILT HERITAGE PROJECT: Conference on Saturday 16th
June. This was the University’s equivalent of the conference at DMU.
3. “TELLING THE STORY OF
LEICESTER PLAN”: I had a meeting with Leicester Museums Service on Thursday
23rd June at which we discussed the future development of Museums
and Heritage Sites. We brainstormed on which was which (e.g. Jewry Wall Museum,
Newarke Houses, and Abbey Pumping Station are clearly museums as they house
major collections. Guildhall, The Roman Baths and Wygston’s House are clearly
heritage sites as they do not) and ways in which they could all generate much
needed income. The Council propose that Leicester Castle, Newarke Gateway,
Wygston’s House and Belgrave Hall all function as heritage sites. (I suggested
that Wygston’s house act as an overspill for the Guildhall weddings etc.) This
was a one-off meeting in advance of a press release, as they were clearly
worried about an adverse reaction from the Civic Society over proposals to
classify Belgrave Hall as a heritage site rather than a museum when it
‘reopens’ next spring after the winter close-down. Although they do have money
to spend on Belgrave Hall, this means that like The Castle, Newarke Gateway and
Wygston’s House it will only open to the public for a guaranteed minimum of 10
days per year, except when they can successfully market its use for meetings,
conferences, weddings and other special events etc. I have some sympathy with
all of this. Visitors on routine opening last year only totalled 13,000 despite
the Gimson furniture exhibition being in there. The Museums Service has six
properties, the resources to manage about five but is suddenly being asked to
cope with nine. A Civic Society strategy needs to promote all the heritage
sites so that eventually they develop into museums with regular public opening.
For a start the Society needs to
help form a “Friends of Belgrave Hall” and I will be attempting to organise
this when I have time in the autumn. A friends organisation will need new
blood. Neither I nor Jennifer, whose hands are full with Friends of Jewry Wall
Museum, will be able to get personally involved, but I shall attempt to involve
this Society, Friends of JW Museum, Leicester Museums Technology Association,
Friends of Leicester & Leicestershire Museums and Leicester Museums Service
in an attempt to generate that vital spark of life. It only needs volunteers
for Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer! (Anyone fancying a go should let me
The Gimson furniture exhibition
will move into permanent gallery space at NW Museum as they have won a large
Arts Council grant for this. As the National Trust is to acquire the Gimson
cottage in Charnwood Forest, they are keen on joint promotion with Leicester
Museums, as they have a ‘black hole’ in Leicestershire membership, due to so
few properties. However they were not interested in acquiring any heritage
sites in Leicester as none “were up to their standard”.
The “Story of Leicester Plan” is
holding an “1850 to 1940” discussion group meeting on Thursday 12th July
at the Town Hall, which I shall be attending.
OF PRESERVATION TRUSTS: The Association of (Building) Preservation Trusts
is to hold a conference at the Guildhall on Friday 6th July. We are
going with our exhibition and I shall be giving a guided walk of (some)
heritage buildings at risk.
AREA SURVEYS: Next survey is Ashleigh Road on 14th July. We’ll
start at the corner of Harrow Road/Narborough Road at 14.00 to do the bit we
missed on 12th May.
6. LOVE ARCHITECTURE: Tim and I had a total of only ten walkers
over the two walks. We have therefore put the following points to RIBA:
6.1. Not counting “Love Architecture”
we have conducted 4 public and 4 private party walks in the last twelve months.
These totalled 230-ish, an average of about 29 each. On this basis 2 walks
averaging 5 each is a waste of our time and something is wrong.
6.2.It isn’t the subject matter. The walkers
said they found it fascinating. It must therefore be timing, publicity etc.
6.3.We recommend that future walks
join our regular corpus and are therefore, a) programmed to ensure advertising
in Leicester Citizen. (i.e. The Mid-February deadline for March Citizen in
respect of June Walks, b) Same price as our other walks, (£3.50 at the moment)
c) Same time as our other walks, (10.30 Saturday morning) d) Same booking
arrangement with Tourist Info. (i.e. 7.5% commission as we are a registered
charity) These should put the whole operation on a par with our existing successful
6.4.Counting Western Park, which we
haven’t done yet, we only have three walks, which cannot be repeated ad
infinitum as the potential audience will wear away. Our main programme has
11 walks with 4 given per year. (i.e. over three years before a repeat) Next
year we could give Western Park and £1Million Pound Street but after that a
serious rethink would be required.