Newsletter No. 40 June 2008

The Conservation Area


The Society agreed to provide a grant to aid the restoration of the building opposite Kent Gate, complementing a Hambleton Town Scheme Grant.   In the event, this proved useful as we well placed to suggest improvements and to ensure that the work was done to a good standard.   The restoration was finished early in 2008, thereby completing the major work needed in this area. It was good to see the massive sandstone lintels, a relic of Victorian industry, as part of the restored building.  However, there is still scope for more minor improvements in the locality. While we are still working at some of these, progress is slow.


Following our survey of street signs with staff from County Highways and the District Council last year, many signs have been removed, although sadly the signs warning of the risk of skidding remain: apparently they are required due to the material used for the road surface.


Our contribution to conservation is made mainly through the Conservation Area Advisory Group, which advises Hambleton Planning on issues and comments on planning applications in the Conservation Area.   The application for building houses behind the west side of West Green went to appeal, following its refusal by Hambleton.    We were relieved that the original Planning refusal was upheld. Applications for two prominent buildings have been approved over the year.   Work has started on Oakland House, on the corner of West End and the Thirsk Road.   The other application is for the development and restoration of the Manor House, including features lost after the Second World War.  Both promise to enhance the appearance of the town.


Stokesley Scene


Hugh Charman was invited to write an article to go in a book to mark the 30th anniversary of the Stokesley Scene, due to be published in September.  This was produced by pupils at Stokesley School, and included many topics of local interest.   It provided an impressive demonstration by the pupils of awareness of and involvement in local issues.    The article was based on a review of the annual newsletters for the past thirty years (it is worth noting that newsletters have been produced for forty years with this issue).    Looking back over this period, the Kent Gate project was chosen as the one that gives greatest satisfaction.   An abiding memory is of the inspection of the site for our grant application.   It was a very wet autumn day, and the scene was one of desolation, with muddy puddles, weeds, rubbish and decaying buildings.   This had to be counteracted by a prospect of the Gate’s restoration being a catalyst for transforming the area.   Fortunately this has been realised.   The main lesson is the importance of a vision of where we want to go, undeterred by the difficulties or the years that might be needed for its realisation, bearing in mind the warning, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish”  (Proverbs 29.18).


The Pound, Springfield


We congratulate the Parish Council on the success of their application for the listing of the Pound.   The Society provided the following note on its historic importance, with help from the Local History Group:


Stokesley Pound is an important feature of our historic heritage.   It was used to keep stray animals until their owners made the necessary payment to retrieve them.   We do not know when it was built but can say that it pre-dates the Enclosure Acts of the eighteenth century, when the open field system was used.  At that time every rural town and village had one, as it was essential to stop stray animals from wandering on to the fields and damaging crops.   Now, to our knowledge, the only remaining pounds in the area are in Stokesley, Swainby and Osmotherly.   It is a feature that symbolizes an important development in rural history.


The Society has had a long association with the Pound, restoring it in 1982 using old hand made bricks, and helping to arrange for its lease to the Parish Council in 1984 and for land to be donated for the nearby seat.   The Society continued helping with maintenance, installing bird boxes, and laying gravel until SPIOTA Thursday Working Party took on the task.


Public Meetings


Our public meetings with talks on topics of local interest continue to be popular.   We found that nearly all our speakers now use a digital projector, so the Society has invested in one.


A concern shared by the committee over recent months has been the need for younger people to become involved to ensure the continuation of the work of the Society and the Conservation Advisory Group.   To help encourage interest Hugh Charman gave a talk “Stokesley, a Place Worth Preserving” to the  March public meeting, about the features that give the town its character, and the contribution made by local people to ensure that they are preserved for future generations.   We were encouraged by a good attendance.  The conclusion was that vigilance and input by local people is needed to safeguard Stokesley’s distinctive character and buildings.   There is a need for fresh people to participate; this can be done through taking an interest, by using Stokesley Trail to explore the Town, and by letting the Society know should you wish to know of opportunities to become more involved.