Civic Update

30 June 2017

Our new address is:
Civic Voice, The Coffin Works, 13-15 Fleet Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B3 1JP.
Tel.: 0121 792 8177
Please update your records.

National Civic Day was an extraordinary success for the civic movement this year. With over 500 events across the country, it really was a day for communities to say “I care about where I live”. We are working on a publication to celebrate the work of Civic Day and need you to tell us what you got up to if you got involved. Your feedback will also help us assess applications when we give out the Civic Day Awards at the Civic Voice Annual Convention in Wakefield.

Shrewsbury, The March Society, and Tamworth (see below) are just some of the groups who have submitted reports so far.

With all the "civic action" taking place across England, some of you may have missed the research we published in partnership with Historic England and IHBC. Read the research here.

As many of you know we continue to be worried be the decreasing numbers of conservation officers in councils across England and wanted Civic Day to shine light on this issue. In another move to raise awareness of this issue, we have partnered with IHBC and Historic Towns & Villages Forum to bring you new guidance on what is involved in being a conservation professional. The publication is available here.

Every civic society that is a Civic Voice member will receive two free copies as part of their Civic Voice membership in the next few weeks.


Civic societies celebrating conservation areas

Photograph: Building in Altrincham (video)

Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation Areas with Altrincham

As part of the 50 year anniversary of Conservation Areas and Civic Voice's Big Conservation Conservation campaign, lots of activity continues. Did you know, that as part of National Civic Day, Altrincham and Bowdon Civic Society worked with a local college to produce a video on living in a conservation area. The video is just over three minutes long and is well worth a watch! Watch it by clicking on the photograph above.

Partner organisations are also getting involved. To mark the 50th anniversary of conservation areas, the Twentieth Century Society has been awarded a grant by Historic England to research which areas of primarily twentieth-century development are currently conservation areas and whether other areas would benefit from being designated, or should be valued for contributing to the architectural or historic interest of conservation areas of older buildings.

The project aims to produce information and guidance for heritage professionals, planners, local authorities and the public. There will be a seminar to share the results at the end of the year.

If you know of areas of C20th built heritage (from 1914) that are already a conservation area, or that you think should be considered for designation, please email

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Design Awards masterclass to share lessons of shortlisted schemes

Photograph: The venue for Civic Voice's Design Award Ceremony and Masterclass

The venue for Civic Voice's Design Award Ceremony and Masterclass

We announced our first ever Civic Voice Design Award masterclass last week and are delighted to say that it will take place in the Cheesegrater supported by Richard Rogers Partnership. Delegates who attend the masterclass will hear from speakers from a range of Civic Voice Design award shortlisted schemes. The purpose is to share the lessons of successful schemes.

It will be an opportunity to discuss and debate different approaches to public engagement and to hear why other Civic Voice members across the country have been submitting schemes for the awards.

The Civic Voice Design Award masterclass is free to Civic Voice members and £50 for non-members. You must register to attend here for security reasons.

The event will be chaired by Paul Bedwell, Civic Voice Trustee.

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50th anniversary lecture at Ealing Civic Society to focus on conservation areas

Photograph: Paul Bedwell and three women holding a 'Save our war memorials' banner

Paul Bedwell at a campaign launch to save Sheffield's war memorials

Ealing Civic Society was established in 1967 when many of our founding members were closely involved with local residents’ associations in opposing the Council’s radical plans to re-develop the centre of Ealing. To mark the 50th anniversary of both events, we will be hosting a talk by Paul Bedwell, Civic Voice trustee, entitled 50 years of conservation areas on Tuesday, 11 July at 7:30 PM in the Nelson Room, Ealing Town Hall.

Historic England has been working with Civic Voice and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) to build a picture of their members’ attitudes towards conservation areas half a century on through two parallel surveys. The five most significant concerns identified by both groups were street clutter, loss of traditional paving materials, advertisements, a lack of maintenance and loss of historic details. The most frequently mentioned concerns were with doors and windows, signs and advertising, shopfronts and the deteriorating condition of front elevations generally. Paul will be covering these issues and many more as he delivers this lecture on 50 years of conservation areas.

More information here.

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Civic Voice visit to the National Memorial Arboretum

Photograph: National Memorial Arboretum

National Memorial Arboretum

As part of the First World War Memorials Programme, we are arranging a one day event at the National Memorial Arboretum to recognise the work of civic volunteers during the commemoration.

We want to use this meeting to help commemorate the start of the Passchendaele commemoration and to recognise that it is three years since the programme began. We want to show that the First World War is engaging with new audiences. We also need to consider, once the First World War commemorations are finished, how we ensure people stay involved in the historic environment sector?

We want to stimulate a debate about how the country is commemorating the First World War; what the legacy from the commemorations will be, how that influences the issues facing the historic environment in the future and the role communities can play in that. Discussions will centre on how we can recruit a new frontline of volunteers to conserve the nation’s historic environment, 100 years on. The day will include a tour around the Arboretum and its new Remembrance Centre, which has been shortlisted for a Civic Voice Design Award 2017.

Register for the event here.

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Peterborough Civic Society leading the way unveiling blue plaques

Photograph: Peterborough Civic Society Blue Plaques submitted by Toby Wood

Peterborough Civic Society Blue Plaques submitted by Toby Wood

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.

Who was Thomas Hake? Where was the site of the original Deacon’s School? Which Olympic gold medal winner used to run a sports shop in the city? The answer to these and other questions have just been made clear thanks to the new Peterborough blue plaques that have just been installed in the city centre by Peterborough Civic Society.

Peterborough Civic Society’s motto is ‘Seeking the best for a fine city’ and, to this end, the Society, has over the past thirty years, erected a number of stainless steel plaques throughout the city commemorating people, places and events from the city’s history. However some of these plaques have become outdated, worn or are just in places that make them difficult to notice.

Two years ago the Society decided that Peterborough’s plaques needed a revamp. Toby Wood, the Society’s vice-chairman said, “As part of our wish to encourage people to have increased pride in the city, we wanted to develop something instantly recognisable. Other towns and cities have blue plaques and we felt that using this existing format would be perfect for Peterborough. Some of these new plaques will replace existing but others, for example the plaque on the Customs House, will be new.”

For the whole of the month of June there is a display of all of the plaques, their location as well as background material about the Society in the new exhibitions room in Peterborough Cathedral Visitor Centre.

Read more here.

Can you beat Peterborough's 20 blue plaques? Let us know at

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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

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Share your memories of Goole on film

Picture: Goole Civic Society committee at the recent Goole Civic Day event.

Goole Civic Society committee at the recent Goole Civic Day event.

People will be invited to share their memories of Goole at a pop-up shop as part of the town’s contribution to Hull City of Culture.

Goole Civic Society is collecting memories for a public history project which aims to tell Goole’s unique story to a wider audience and change people’s perceptions of the town.

The society invited people to come to the pop-up shop in the Boothferry Road pedestrian precinct on Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17 to record their memories of Goole and its close connection with the water. The video clips will be collated to form a digital archive for future generations. They will also feature in a short film the society is making about the town. Memories could be about growing up in Goole, working on the docks or at the shipyard, favourite haunts or pastimes, lives of your ancestors, arriving as a newcomer, funny stories or anything that recalls life in the town. The society is also asking people what they love about Goole and what they would tell a visitor about the town.

The project, entitled Reflections on Goole, is funded by East Riding Council 2017 Active Creative Grants, in support of Hull UK City of Culture 17. The film and other material from the project will feature in Goole’s Festival of Water in October, linked to Hull City of Culture.

Goole Civic Society Chairwoman, Margaret Hicks-Clarke said: "This project is about celebrating the town where we live and changing people’s perceptions of Goole. We would love to hear people’s memories of the town and why it is so special to them.

“There is no need to be camera-shy. Several people have been filmed so far and lived to tell the tale!

"We recently acquired a film made by Goole Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1964. It was fascinating to see how things had changed. We would like to think that in another 50 years, someone might watch our film and learn more about our great town."

The pop-up shop was also the society’s contribution to national Civic Day on June 17, when communities across the country say "we care about where we live".

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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.

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Tamworth Civic Society celebrate National Civic Day

Photograph: Line-up of civic heads

National Civic Day - when communities are encouraged to organise events showing that they care about where they live - was marked by The Tamworth and District Civic Society (TDCS) with a Luncheon, Talk and Walk at Drayton Manor Park.

Six civic heads from Fazeley, Tamworth and Lichfield District attended. Guest speaker The Honourable Robert Peel, Vice President of The Gardens Trust - the national charity for researching and conserving designed landscapes (parks and gardens) - spoke about his work and that of the Trust.

The luncheon room was filled with attractive information displays by many local organisations about their work and achievements. Guests also had the opportunity to enjoy the glorious weather with guided walks around the parkland by Drayton Manor's owner Colin Bryan and expert arboricultural input from Robert Peel. Robert's great great grandfather, police founder and prime minister Sir Robert Peel, famously lived at Drayton Manor, which is now a top UK theme park and zoo. (Photos by D. & S. Biggs).

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Next Yorkshire regional meeting heading to Hornsea!

Picture: YHACS Logo

Yorkshire & Humber Association
of Civic Societies logo

The next Yorkshire regional gathering will be taking place in Hornsea on Saturday 29th July in association with Hornsea Civic Society. As usual, the local civic society will be arranging a meal for the Friday evening, 28th July, and guided walks on the Saturday morning for anyone wishing to spend more time in the town.

YHACS recently organised a ‘Futures’ workshop in Wakefield and are proposing to spend some of our time at the Hornsea event discussing the future of the movement – what steps can we take, for example, to recruit and retain members and so on, to ensure that our civic societies are sustainable and have a secure future. We are sure they’d be particularly interested to hear from any of Civic Voice member societies across England who can provide examples of recruiting members. We were particularly pleased that York Civic Trust managed to recruit 60 new members at an event! Read more here.

For more information on this event. get in touch with Kevin Trickett here.

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Photograph: Group of conservationists

Regional War Memorials workshops

Photograph: Group holding 'save our memorials' banner

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Photograph: Trustees

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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.