Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust AGM
Chairman’s Report 2019 – 2020
Despite the pandemic, thanks to the persistence of trustees and supporters we have continued to make progress through the year.
Merger with the Peak Park Trust
The Trust has successfully expanded through its merger with the Peak Park Trust, thanks to the generosity of its trustees, Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes. Formal recognition of this has been delayed awaiting their return to England following lockdown in Spain. Hopefully this will occur before the end of the calendar year. The merger would not have been achieved without the experience and application of our Treasure, Ian Webster, and trustee surveyor Peter Milner, supported by Allan Morrison and Barry Joyce. This merger has given the Trust an asset in the form of the historic Eccles House Farm together with a dowry for its ongoing maintenance. The current tenants are carrying out day to day management, but we look forward over the coming years to developing the full potential of this asset in response to potentially changing market conditions.
Hopkinson’s House, Greenhill Wirksworth
Progress on upgrading Hopkinson’s House has been slower than anticipated, partly due to the restrictions of Covid-19 but, as the property is fully let it is no longer a drain on resources and provides the Trust with a base to meet. Thanks to trustee Allan Morrison for the dedicated way in which he, together with Technical Adviser James Boon, have made the progress on the upgrade so far on an extremely limited budget. Perhaps now, in addition, we need to engage professional agents to manage the property to enable us to complete the upgrade before the next AGM.
With the continuing support of Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and thanks to the leadership and persistent hard work of trustee Peter Milner, good progress has been made appointing consultants, researching history, preparing preliminary designs, connecting with and involving the local community. The site has been made safe, clearance undertaken and work toward a contract for the repair of the shell is underway.
In partnership with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, and under the dedicated leadership of Ron Common, and the assistance of our Technical Adviser James Boon, good progress has been made clearing the building and the site and consolidating the walls which are now almost ready for the roof too be reinstated.
Following earlier feasibility studies and active pressure from the Trust, the sale of the Chapels by Chesterfield BC to a restoring owner, John Thompson, appears to have been a good decision. John, a builder experienced in the repair of old property, has, in his own time, patiently been repairing the property using the best materials to compliment his craftsmanship. Progress is slow but steady and the repair to the walls being completed he is now installing the roof.
After over a decade of frustration and inaction endured by the derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust, the DHBT brokered a partnership between Derby City Council, the University of Derby, Historic England and the DHRT to place pressure on the owner to repair or sell. The administration of this partnership is serviced by our Executive Officer. With the support of the Theatres Trust the DHRT and DHBT are now engaging consultants to research the current cultural market for the potential use of the theatre, both interim and ultimate, and its business viability. And, due to the pressure the partnership placed upon DCC, which in turn has been placed upon the owner, the owner’s architects are now seeking a discussion with the DHBT about potential ways forward. Whilst this offers a slight dawn of hope, I suspect there is more much work to be done before a solution can be agreed upon.
The campaign to rescue derelict field barns on Bonsall Moor continues to be led by Liz Stoppard, despite set backs caused by the collapse of one barn during the torrential rains that led to the tragic flooding of the Derwent this winter. Approaches have been made to the Peak Park to widen the scope of this project to include derelict barns within their area, which hopefully we will be able to pursue once the current pandemic is under control
Derbyshire Buildings at Risk Survey (DB@R)
Initially, our hopes for undertaking this were dashed by the rejection of our application to the NHLF for grant aid; but then raised again by the request to submit for a grant to undertake the first stage; only to be dashed again by the postponement of consideration of this application due to Covid! Still undaunted the Trust have used the opportunity of a potential grant to assist heritage organisations adversely affected by Covid, to apply for funding just to develop a survey app. We consider this to be crucial to the long-term implementation and success of the survey. This is combined with a request for assistance from Amber Valley Borough Council to support them in identifying their built heritage most at risk. So, with potential limited financial support from the Borough, the Trust is in the process of forming a partnership with them to undertake the first phase of the DB@R in Amber Valley, led by trustee Allan Morrison
I thank all the trustees and immediate supporters of the Trust for generously volunteering their time, skills and knowledge, to support the trust over the past, and previous, years. However, as our workload grows, we will need many more volunteers with a wide range of skills to work on our building projects, surveys and social and educational engagement. Our Executive Officer, Lucy Godfrey, has established a system for safely recruiting and engaging volunteers, and we have been able to welcome Melissa Gough Rundle into the Trust to take on the leadership and organisation of these volunteers. This can also be seen as the first step in attracting new blood into the trust and widening our influence to those who may not aware of what the Derbyshire’s built Heritage has to offer.
We enjoyed a fully subscribed Harvest Supper at Haddon Hall in September 2019 and a serendipitous evening of Georgian Carols at Florence Nightingale’s home, Leawood, Holloway, both kindly organised by DHBT Friends, Angela and Richard Palmer. Trustee Barry Joyce actively led a team undertaking a series of walks and talks in historic settings throughout the county, from Lea Wood to Torr Vale Mill to Spital Cemetery. Other trustees delivered talks to various interested societies. Many thanks to Heather Lounds for agreeing to voluntarily lead on the co-ordination of future DHBT events.
Architecture Awards 2020
Unfortunately, to the great frustration of trustee Oliver Gerrish, it has not been possible to hold the awards this year due to social distance restrictions, but applicants have been requested to reapply next year, when we intend to consider work completed in between 2019 1nd 2021
Finally. on behalf of all the trustees, I wish to thank our Executive Officer Lucy Godfrey who has efficiently and effectively supported every initiative of the Trust within the limited time we employ her. With the help of her knowledge and expertise of administration in the heritage sector, and her diligence and quiet communication, the Trust has been able to grow in capacity, activity and influence.
I look forward with anticipation and excitement to welcoming others to join us on our journey through the coming year, whether as Trustees, Friends, Volunteers, Partners or Sponsors to help us safeguard Derbyshire’s built heritage, save those at risk, and encourage the improved access, enjoyment and understanding of it.