Colchester & North East Essex Building Preservation Trust (CNEEBPT) was set up in 1995 for the purpose of acquiring historic buildings “at risk“, restoring and selling them and using the proceeds to acquire more buildings.  However, the trust also has a much wider brief, and can also fund relevant research, publish pamphlets and books, and raise funding for major projects.

Who we are:

The Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees composed of conservation and other professionals, heritage experts and Councillors.  We are actively developing new opportunities to broaden our profile, in particular by supporting others with conservation projects by offering assistance to local groups who are looking to undertake Community Right to Bid/Community Asset Transfer process, or working with developers to assist regeneration with valued historic buildings at its heart.

Board of Trustees:

Advisors to the Trust:

  • Alderman Henry Spyvee

Trust Director:

What we do:

Building Preservation Trusts (BPTs) are not-for-profit organisations which seek to promote, rescue and sustain historic buildings for the benefit of the public.  Trusts can defined by two characteristic:

  • BPTs are most often, registered charities who act for the benefit of the local community and,
  • They have access to specialist sources of funding that is not available to either a council or a private developer

Founded in 1995 CNEEBPT is a registered charity (Registered Charity No. 1044514) and Company Limited by Guarantee (registered in England No. 3020005).  The Trust’s mission is;

“To preserve for the benefit of the towns people of Colchester and North East Essex, in the county of Essex, and the nation at large whatever of the historical, architectural and constructional heritage which may exist in and around Colchester and North East Essex in the form of buildings (including any building as defined in Section 336(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) of particular beauty or historical, architectural or constructional interest.”

Please visit our Charity Commission overview for more on our charitable status.

The Trust finds ways of taking on vulnerable historic buildings and restoring them to active use, working with owners, voluntary organisations and local communities.  The Trust acts as a focus to encourage and assist all those who are interested in conserving Colchester’s rich built history by:

  • setting high standards of conservation and repair in our own projects and in those we are actively promoting;
  • encouraging the involvement of local communities in our activities, including conservation work;
  • engaging and training young people to gain experience in – and hopefully enjoy – building repair and traditional local craft skills.

Why is there a need for a BPT for Colchester?

51° 53′ 30.12″ N, 0° 54′ 10.8″ E

A brief history of Colchester…

The historic town of Colchester in Essex, has a long and rich history, which allows it to lay claim to the title of Britain’s oldest recorded town.  The first provincial Roman capital of Britain, the town of Camulodunum (or CAMVLODVNVM in latin) was built in AD43 during the reign of Emperor Claudius, on the site to of a Brythonic-Celtic oppidum (Iron Age fort) named “the Fortress of Camulos”.  The Celtic town had been was named Camulodunon after the Celtic deity of war Camulos, a fact which has lead to speculation that the town is one of many possible sites of King Arthur’s the legendary citadel Camelot!

By the time of Roman settlement the town was already a centre of power and commerce for Cunobelin (c.5 BC – AD 40), king of the Catuvellauni, and its fortress had been overseeing large swathes of Southern and Eastern Britain since between 20-10BC.

Little of the Pre-Roman town still exists, but the Roman influence is easier to see and to visit.  The affluent Roman town would have contained a number of large and elaborate temples, at least two theatres (which still survive), and a Roman Circus (chariot racing track) which was discovered in 2004 underneath the Victorian military Garrison.  However, following the attack by Boudica’s forces during the Iceni revolt of AD 61, the town was sacked and many of these buildings destroyed.

However, by AD 80 the town had largely been rebuilt with the colonia protected by 2750m of new stone wall (2.4m wide and including defensive towers and six large gates) and defensive ditch.  These walls, which can still be seen in many parts of the town, are believed to be the first town walls of this type in Britain, predating other parts of Roman Britain by more than 150 years.

The towns history does not stop with the fall of the Roman Empire, as from the ashes of the Roman town grew a thriving medieval town.  One such example was the formation, by 1076, of the largest Norman keep in Britain, Colchester Castle, which was built on the vaults of the Roman temple of Claudius, and remains the most intact example in Europe of Norman castle architecture.

The turbulent history of the town continued through the dark ages to the seminal period of the Second English Civil War in 1648, during which time the town’s Royalist garrison was put under siege by the Parliamentary forces of Sir Thomas Fairfax for twelve weeks, a siege which ended in the brutal execution of the Royalist commanders in the grounds of the castle.

Despite this bloody history of war and conquest, the predominant heritage features of the town are largely of the Victorian era. A booming population and increase in Civic pride saw a the procurement of a number of the towns significant landmark buildings including the Town Hall and the Balkern Watertower now known lovingly as “Jumbo“.