Five people wearing Civic Day t-shirts
Civic Voice logo

Civic Update

23 June 2017

Our new address is: Civic Voice, The Coffin Works, 13-15 Fleet Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B3 1JP. Please update your records.

Last weekend saw civic societies and community groups across England host events to celebrate Civic Day 2017. Thank you to all of you who held an event. We always love to see what everyone has done to celebrate the day and we love to share with you what has happened across the civic movement. We have a special round up of some of the events from Civic Day 2017 below. You can also see more of the events at our Civic Day web page here.

With a specific focus this year celebrating conservation areas, civic societies across the country were holding hundreds of events to celebrate what is great about where they live. Plans this year ranged from litter picks to walks and tours to debates and plaque unveilings. Tell us all about your day — what you did, discovered and danced to! We’d love to see your photos too. Send all your feedback into and for the next few weeks we will highlight different project.

Joan Humble, chair of Civic Voice, which organises the national event, said “We are delighted with the public response and keen interest in National Civic Day. The day was an outstanding example of civic pride across England with civic societies and partner organisations highlighting the wonderful built and historic environment that makes England such a special place. Our thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of this event.”

It may be 348 days away, but keep 23 June 2018 free — we’re back to the fourth Saturday in June which we hope will continue to become a national day for community groups in England.


Civic societies celebrating conservation areas

Photograph: David Blackburn from Ilkley Civic Society posting through a new leaflet

David Blackburn from Ilkley Civic Society posting through a new leaflet

Photograph: Line of people holding a brochure Photograph: Group of people in discussion on walkabout

Designating a conservation area should not be seen as an end in itself: we live in a changing world and for the historic environment to survive and continue to be cherished it needs to be positively managed. We want communities across the country to come together and say "My Conservation Area Matters". That is why we were encouraging civic societies to go out and celebrate their local conservation area for Civic Day. To connect with this theme, the National Trust published a blog by our Executive Director, Ian Harvey, and in partnership with Historic England and IHBC we also published new research.

Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice said, "without the Civic Amenities Act much of what you see in our towns and cities across England could so easily have been lost. But as we continue to see a loss of conservation officers in local government, the civic society movement really is becoming the last line of defence. It was right that we celebrated conservation areas as part of Civic Day.”

Some highlights to be inspired by include:-

With such a demand for leaflets (see further article with Barton Civic Society below) Civic Voice will be bringing together civic volunteers on a national level to produce a national civic "conservation" leaflet for Civic Voice members.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Dozens of MPs support National Civic Day events across England

Photograph: John Glen MP

John Glen MP - picture via Salisbury Civic Society

Photograph: Matt Rodda MP Photograph: Bambos Charalambous MP

Reading Civic Society walk with MP and Southgate Civic Trust photography contest winner

Over 300 people attending the Salisbury Guildhall on Saturday 17th June to celebrate Salisbury’s first ever Civic Day. John Glen MP the newly appointed Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism gave the opening address and said, “It's a privilege to open Salisbury's first Civic Day - wonderful organisations doing great work for our fantastic city.”

Reading Civic Society organised a series of walks around Reading's two town centre Conservation Areas. Matt Rodda MP, the newly elected MP for Reading East, participated in the the first walk on Friday morning 16 June at 10am with a small piece running on ITV Meridian.

Over 150 photographs were submitted by members of Southgate Photographic Society to the Southgate Civic Trust Civic Week.The photographs were taken within the ten designated conservation areas. The winners were presented with a certificate by Joanne McCartney, Deputy Mayor of London and London Assembly Member, together with newly elected MP for Enfield Southgate, Bambos Charalambous.

If you have any images with MPs supporting your Civic Day event, do send them into Civic Voice here

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Civic societies unveiling blue plaques

Photograph: Gavin Orton, Chair of Birmingham Civic Society with the plaque commemorating the 'Civic Pride' ale

Gavin Orton, Chair of Birmingham Civic Society with the plaque commemorating the "Civic Pride" ale

Photograph: Blandford Civic Society members with blue plaque Photograph: Pile of blue plaques for Peterborough

A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker. The brainchild of British politician William Ewart in 1863, it is the oldest such scheme in the world.

With over 100 civic societies regularly erecting a plaque commemorating a famous person or event we asked civic societies to celebrate the 150th anniversary year of the launch of the scheme in the City of London.

So what happened?

1.Leeds Civic Trust launched the "People's Plaque" and asked citizens of Leeds to pay £1 to help fund this new initiative.

2.Castleford Civic Trust's patron, Lord St Oswald, unveiled two blue plaques connected with the First World War. The first to commemorate the centenary of the award of the Victoria Cross to Corporal Thomas Bryan. The second was to mark the site of a maternity home that was built after the war as the town's war memorial.

3.Blandford Civic Society: The unveiling of a Blue Plaque as part of a National Civic Day event in Blandford on Saturday took on extra significance in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. The plaque commemorated the renaming of the former Winchester Square as The Tabernacle after a temporary building for worship was erected there following the fire in 1731, which destroyed the majority of the town, including the church in the Market Place.

The Rev Jonathan Triffitt, Rector of Blandford was invited to unveil the plaque which is planned to be located on the wall of the church’s Parish Centre overlooking the square. He said the connections between the two events were numerous, highlighting the churches’ role on both occasions in offering refuge to victims of the fires. He said it was particularly poignant for him, since before coming to Blandford as Rector, he had spent time working in the London parish including Grenfell Tower, and with the community there. Before the official unveiling of what is the 20th Blue Plaque in the scheme launched by Blandford & District Society in 2009, a prayer was said for the Grenfell Tower victims and their families.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Communities uniting to say "I care about where I live"

Photograph: Group holding cards saying 'I care about where I live' Photograph: Another group holding cards saying 'I care about where I live' Photograph: Two blokes holding cards saying I care about where I live'

Whether you are attending an event or not, Civic Day is for everyone to get involved. We encourage communities and individuals across the country to share pictures of themselves and colleagues holding our "I care about where I live sign". We said that everyone who prints the image attached : … and sends a picture into Civic Voice ( will be in with a chance of winning a copy of The History of the Civic Movement!

The publication is available to purchase here.

We look forward to seeing all of your images celebrating Civic Day 2017. The winning image will be selected by Civic Voice on 1st July.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Civic Day 2018 - only 348 days away!!!

Photograph: Line-up holding banner for Civic Day

Civic Day 20018 is only 348 days away so what are you waiting for. Altrincham, Tamworth and Bracknell civic groups have already been in touch giving us an early insight into their plans.

You don't want to miss out on what we aim to become biggest community celebration of people saying, "I care about where I live". Here at Civic Voice we are seeing people are signing up in their thousands to celebrate where they live. There's a real appetite now more than ever for communities to come together, to get to know our neighbours and to say "I care about where I live".

The good news is, it doesn't take a whole year to organise a successful Civic Day event, but to help you prepare, we have the Civic Day toolkit to download here to help you get going!

Download the toolkit here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Renew your Civic Voice membership now

Have you renewed yet?

We have been busy sending out reminders to all of our members about renewing their membership of Civic Voice. We have now sent renewal forms and contact forms to all of our groups and we want you to get them back to us as soon as possible. This week, Bewdley Civic Society, Blackpool Civic Trust, Desborough Civic Society, the Greenwich Society, Margate Civic Society, Matlock Civic Association and the Wandsworth Society all renewed their membership. 79 of our members have already sent back their renewals so what are you waiting for? Get your renewals in now.

Our hunt for new members

We are also on the hunt for new members. Now is the time to become a member of Civic Voice.

2017 is set to be one of the biggest years for the civic movement with the Big Conservation Conversation celebrating 50 years of conservation areas, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies continuing to give you a voice on a national level and the Civic Voice team continuing to support your civic society in any way we can.

Civic Voice members also receive a number of free gifts. Current offers include a National Trust pass, IHBC magazine on conservation areas (£5 to non members) and the 'History of the Civic Movement' book (£5 to non members).

It doesn't matter if you are a civic society, individual, corporate organisation or charity if you love where you live and want to make a change, we want to hear from you. We have membership packages for everyone. If you would like to learn more about what Civic Voice can do for you click here.

Make sure you renew and don't miss out on what is set to be one of the biggest years yet for the civic movement.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Membership News

This section of civic update aims to give you a snap shot of what our members are doing locally to promote civic pride in their area. If you are a member of Civic Voice and are proud of what you have done this week, email your story to

Join the movement!


300 people visit Salisbury Guildhall to celebrate Civic Day

Picture: Salisbury Civic Society committee at the recent Salisbury Civic Day event

Salisbury Civic Society committee at the recent Salisbury Civic Day event

Over 300 people came to the Salisbury Guildhall on Saturday 17th June to celebrate Salisbury’s first ever Civic Day. Peter Dunbar, chair of Salisbury Civic Society, which organised the event said “We are delighted with the public response and keen interest in Salisbury’s first Civic Day. The day was an outstanding example of Salisbury Civic Society working with partner organisations to highlight the wonderful buildings, environment, opportunities and challenges in our city. Our thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of this event.”

John Glen MP, the newly appointed Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, gave the opening address and said it was “A privilege to open Salisbury's first Civic Day - wonderful organisations doing great work for our fantastic city.” The event was full of stalls and exhibitions from 17 organisations on Salisbury’s historic buildings, natural environment, and local development issues. Local architects had a “surgery” where the public could drop in to discuss architectural issues and challenges, and seek professional advice. Robin McGowan spoke on the work of the Salisbury Business Improvement District. (Salisbury BID).

Read more here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Barton Civic Society launch new leaflets to celebrate local conservation areas

Photograph: Line-up of members holding leaflets

Inspired by the 'Big Conservation Conversation' initiated by Civic Voice, Barton Civic Society has worked with the local council to launched new leaflets giving guidance and advice on conservation areas.

In the lead-up to National Civic Day, Barton Civic Society liaised with North Lincolnshire Council's Heritage Officer and some active members of Barton Town Council to produce two A4/three-fold leaflets to help educate and raise awareness of local conservation areas.

One leaflet is to remind householders living within the Conservation Area of their obligations with regard to making changes to their property while the other promotes the current opportunity for the owners of retail and professional out lets to take advantage of the 'Grants for Traditional shop-fronts in North Lincolnshire Conservation Area'.

Members of Barton Civic Society then volunteered to post the leaflets to properties throughout the local Conservation Area, this being done on National Civic Day.

Both leaflets highlight the part of the local authority's website from which the information in the leaflet has been taken. The householders leaflet includes a map of the town defining the boundary of the Conservation Area and identifies the 170+ listed buildings in the town. The leaflets aim to assist householders who are thinking about changing or adapting their buildings and want to understand more about what is involved and how to go about getting the relevant permissions.

Well done to all in Barton! An excellent initiative to help raise awareness to householders that they live in a conservation area.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Leeds Civic Trust Launch “The People’s Plaque”

Blue plaque to J.R.R.Tolkien CBE

Leeds Civic Trust marked Civic Day on Saturday 17th June, with a stall in the Merrion Centre in Leeds.

The centrepiece of the day was the launch of the people’s plaque, a new initiative to celebrate the life of someone who has made a significant contribution to the development of Leeds and its people. In their first year, this plaque will be awarded to the famous Leeds-born industrialist Benjamin Gott. Benjamin Gott (1762-1840), is one of the most important figures in the industrial revolution. Born in Calverley, he made his fortune in texiles, and was a great innovator – introducing innovations such as steam power to the weaving process.

People were able to sponsor the plaque on the day, and afterwards on a dedicated “just giving” page, for just a pound. In return, they will be listed in a special pamphlet to mark the occasion and will also be entered into a draw to be invited to the unveiling, which will take place in the autumn.

Commenting on the Civic Trust’s activities for Civic Day, Martin Hamilton, Civic Trust Director said:

“Leeds Civic Trust has awarded more than 160 Blue Plaques celebrating important Leeds events, people and buildings, and they are normally sponsored by businesses or other organisations. On this occasion, we wanted to offer Loiners the opportunity to be part of our Blue Plaques scheme by offering opportunity to chip in to sponsor a plaque. “If this scheme is successful, we may ask members of the public to suggest people places or events that should be commemorated in this way.”

You can learn how to donate to this plaque by clicking here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * *

Shrewsbury Civic Society ask What’s Conservation done for you?

Photograph: Shrewsbury Civic Society volunteers at Civic Day event

Shrewsbury Civic Society volunteers at Civic Day event.

'Conservation counts' is what the t-shirts say. And Civic Voice member Shrewsbury Civic Society are the group saying it!

So what is conservation? And how does it help us? This is what the civic society wanted to discuss as part of National Civic Day. Conservation is the process of maintaining and managing change to a heritage asset in a way that sustains and enhances its significance. Shrewsbury Civic Society decided to celebrate for National Civic Day how the town has retained so much of its unique heritage.

Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, England. It is on the River Severn and has a population of approximately 72,000. Shrewsbury is a market town whose centre has a largely unspoiled medieval street plan and over 660 listed buildings, including several examples of timber framing from the 15th and 16th centuries. Shrewsbury Castle, a red sandstone fortification, and Shrewsbury Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery, were founded in 1074 and 1083 respectively by the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger de Montgomery. The town is the birthplace of Charles Darwin.

The Shrewsbury Civic Day, hosted at Bear Steps, the headquarters of Shrewsbury Civic Society, involved a series of talks, exhibitions, walks and debates. Two particular talks were about Conservation in Shrewsbury by Dr Andy Wigley of Shropshire Council who discussed issues about the Special Character of areas in Shrewsbury’s Conservation Area. David Evans (National Civic Voice Trustee) gave a talk on the national picture and the work of Civic Voice in battling for good stewardship of the nation’s built environment.

Read more here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * *

Get Involved!

Sign up for Civic Voice's range of newlsetters

Photograph: Group of conservationists

Regional War Memorials workshops

Photograph: Group holding 'save our memorials' banner

Trustees' Roadshow

Photograph: Trustees

Big Conservation Conversation

Sign up here to receive monthly news on what national and local events are coming up to celebrate conservation areas.

Civic Day

Sign up here to receive monthly news on what communities are doing to celebrate their local area.

Civic Voice Design Awards News

Sign up here to receive monthly news on planning and housing issues in the UK.

War Memorials News

Sign up here to receive bi-weekly news on what communities are doing to commemorate the fallen during the centenary years

Civic Voice is calling for volunteers from around England to attend a meeting or workshop with us to discuss how best to find and survey every war memorial.

Workshops will be announced throughout the year in different locations, so keep a look out for a workshop in your area! You can see them here.

If you can't attend a workshop why not get involved through our War Memorials Condition Survey Toolkit. This is an easy step by step guide which trains volunteers how to carry out condition surveys on war memorials. You can see this here!

For more information or to get involved email

Does your civic society want a visit from the chair of Civic Voice or perhaps you would like another trustee or member of the Civic Voice team to come and speak to your society? We have a number of people willing to come and talk to your society about all things civic.

Many of the Civic Voice team have been travelling the country delivering the talk which is titled 'The Future of the Civic Movement.' If you would like one of our trustees or team members to come and speak to your society please email with your request.