The Trust has a number of key projects on which it is currently employed.
The Balkerne water tower, known affectionately as ‘Jumbo’, is the best of its type in England. Built in 1884 Jumbo was both ambitious and dramatic. It is probably Colchester’s best-loved landmark.
Jumbo provided water to Colchester for a century but fell out of use in 1984 and several attempts to find a new use for the structure over the past 30 years have failed. It is currently vacant and designated ‘At Risk’.
The Colchester & North East Essex Building Preservation Trust wants to help give Jumbo a sustainable future – one which preserves its special character. With the cooperation of the current owner and Colchester Borough Council we have conducted a study and produced a report offering different ways forward.
The Church of St Peter & St Paul, in the quiet Essex village of Birch, has stood empty for more than 25 years.
Due to this extended period of neglect the church is now derelict, and the Diocese of Chelmsford wish to demolish it.
The Trust is campaigning to save the building, and has recently completed a viability study which would save the property by converting most of the building into a family home.
Halstead Air Raid Shelters
The Trust is supporting the 21st Century Group, Halstead in visioning an alternative future for a large group of air raid shelters within green space east of the High Street. The land is in multiple ownerships but is part-owned by Braintree District Council who wish to see the site redeveloped retaining just 1 or 2 shelters. The land is also host to abundant wildlife, dense vegetation, trees and natural springs. A site least suited to development would be hard to find.
More on this interesting project to follow.
Many people would agree that shops are the life-blood of urban and rural communities. They can provide goods and services essential for daily life and are without doubt a barometer for the relative economic health of an area.
Vibrant shops are often a consequence of a vibrant, sustainable community. Nevertheless, without design guidance and the vigilant application of it town centres can easily slip into aesthetic decline. A preponderance of ill-advised design decisions can have a cumulative, harmful effect and it is often the shop that is the first indication that things are going wrong.
Historic buildings can make a substantial contribution to the environment and our sense of “place“. They represent fixed points in our shared history and can be landmarks in an otherwise, unremarkable location.
North East Essex is fortunate in having a high density of buildings of historic interest which greatly add to the character and identity of the areas Braintree, Colchester and Tendring. However, a significant number of these buildings are deemed to be ‘at risk’. This term is used when the condition of the fabric of a building becomes a cause of concern. In some cases, this may be no more than the existence of rotten windows but in others it can mean that the entire building is at a point of collapse.
The Grade II* listed building became ‘at risk’ upon its closure as a clock museum. Owned by Colchester Borough Council, the house was a gift to the Borough by the last owner, Bernard Mason who was well known as both an industrial entrepreneur and clock collector.
After the Trust made some very preliminary indications of possible new uses the Borough Council chose to grant a lease for the use of Tymperley’s as a cafe, evening restaurant and function room. A new kitchen has been added and the new venture has a growing reputation for quality dining within the town.
North East Essex Heritage Awards
Why? Because sensitive restoration can be costly and difficult and the Trust wishes to spread good-news stories of where it has been done well so that people may take inspiration from what others have achieved.
There have been several award schemes for good design but few champion purely the historic environment. The Trust feels that we need constant vigilance on the quality of these places as it is very easy to let things slip, sometimes with dire consequences.
Notwithstanding the above, it has not been possible to progress this project to date and is at present ON HOLD.
Conservation Advisory Group
The Trust was in discussions with Colchester Borough Council in regard to establishing a Conservation Advisory Group (CAG). This group would comprise of a small number of experts from various, professional disciplines who will give their time for free in assisting the Council assess proposals for development and restoration. Their role will be non-statutory and purely advisory.
However it has not been possible to progress this project to date and is at present ON HOLD.