PRESIDENT'S REPORT TO THE NORTH CRAVEN HERITAGE TRUST ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING FRIDAY 11 OCTOBER 1991

Alan Bennett

I must first of all apologise for not being here in person to deliver this report. It's only the second AGM since our inception that I've had to miss and it's come about through a confusion in my engagement book. I'm also rehearsing a new play at the National Theatre and a revival of Wind in the Willows at the same time, so I've got my hands full. However this means that this is the first AGM report to come to you by fax, courtesy of the National Theatre.

This year has been relatively quiet. Many of our more active members have been taken up with the management and day to day running of the Museum and the Building Preservation Trust's housing project at Croft Barn. Of course the Museum and the Building Preservation Trust are off shoots, and very vigorous ones at that, of the Heritage Trust But now they are beginning to go their own way and acquire an identity of their own. This leaves the North Craven Heritage Trust for the moment with less of a definite role. There are still planning matters to oversee, of course and social and fund raising activities to organise but at the moment, those apart, there's a bit of a lull; the children have grown up - the parents, while not ready to put their feet up, find themselves at a bit of a loss.

Mr Shevelan has been our Chairman for the last two years and his term has now expired. Our thanks go to him and in his place we welcome Mr Ray Doughty, who has had connections with the area since 1966 and came to live at Stackhouse on his retirement in 1984. I know he is keen to help the North Craven Heritage Trust find a new role and a separate identity, and we look forward to his term of office.

A new development this year has been the introduction of a Membership and Programme Card, which summarises the aims and activities of the Trust for the year, and has the names and addresses of the Committee. We have gained many new members as a result of last year's recruiting campaign and our thanks go to Mrs Walker who oversees the collection of subscriptions and, with the team of helpers, the distribution of the Newsletter.

Another departure is the Journal, an annual publication of some sixteen pages edited by Mr Miller and Mrs Hobson. It will provide an opportunity for more in depth articles with illustrations, and will be a fuller record of the Trust's activities.

The Committee has been involved with various planning matters, including the state of the Mill Dam at Holme Head here in Langcliffe. Local residents have become very concerned about the fact that it's now just a mud flat and the Committee raised the matter with the Craven District Council who have passed on the correspondence to the National Rivers Authority and we await results. We are incidentally more fortunate in Craven than in many parts of England, where so many streams have dried up and the sound of running water quite rare.

The Craven District Council and the North Yorkshire County Council and English Heritage are all concerned, not before time in my view, with the number of bogus windows and doors appearing in the area. These have been shown up by the photographic survey undertaken in connection with the Town Scheme. These features have always been a bugbear of mine, particularly the supposedly Georgian doors on offer at builders merchants. If I have to choose one single object to represent all the things that have gone wrong in England in the 1980's it would be that nasty little door.

These and other unsightly developments are touched on in the draft of the Yorkshire Dales Local Plan published by the National Parks authority, a discussion document which has been circulated to local authorities and amenity groups for comment and which the Committee will be discussing before sending in a report.

I am not going to go through every item dealt with by the Committee as often, like the Hellifield By-pass scheme, they have been dealt with in the Newsletter. I would like particularly to mention the Settle Town Scheme, though, under which owners of buildings inside the Conservation Area receive grant-aid for external repairs. Annulled at one point, the grant-aid has now been renewed and a survey of the properties carried out which will form a valuable record of Settle as it looked in 199O..and as we hope it will go on looking!

The Folly in Settle still gives rise to rumours, the Craven Herald saying at one point that the Heritage Trust wanted to buy it. The Chairman has asked me to make it clear that if anything was done the purchasers would have to be the Building Preservation Trust not the Heritage Trust, on account of our charitable status. But there are so many problems involved in the financing of any such scheme that while the new owner, Mr Humphrey Burton, is anxious to help it's not at all plain what can be done.

There has been a full programme of walks this year and in July Mr Mitchell's annual field day took the form of a trip to Bowland and in rather better weather than Mr Mitchell usually enjoys.

There has been slow progress with the Endowment Appeal with a number of small donations and a splendid one of 1500 from Mr Eric Baines of Austwick. We were able to get a further 500 tax refund on this through the Government's Gift Aid scheme, which is a much simpler scheme than a Deed of Covenant, whereby tax is refunded on any gift of 600 or over. I know these days it's beg, beg, beg wherever you turn but I would like to recommend the Endowment Appeal for any gifts that you feel able to make, or, as mentioned in the Newsletter if there's any possibility of adding a codicil to a will.

The curator of the Museum, Angela Edgar will be giving a separate report. I'd only say that the Museum flourishes, despite the annual loss of 1500. I'm not sure that it could ever be run at a profit but this deficit is due not to any shortcomings in the organisation but to the end of the MSC scheme in September 1988.

The Building Preservation Trust is of course a separate organisation but members will of course want to know what has been happening, particularly in the Croft Barn scheme. The aim is to provide two flats for sale and two for letting to local people, and at the same time tidy up an untidy corner at the entrance to Settle. The scheme has received financial support from various national bodies, English Heritage and the Civic Trust's Architectural Heritage Fund, and also from the North Yorkshire County Council and the Craven District Council. We are particularly grateful for the generous personal support of Dr Pam Douglas and for a most magnificent gift of 6000 from Mrs Clayton, which under the Gift-Aid scheme I mentioned, brought in a further 2000 in reclaimed tax.

Finally I'd like to draw your attention to the objects of the Trust as set out in the Membership Card in the hope, which I express every year, of involving more members in active work for the Trust. It can be in town planning, recording of buildings or the protection of the environment. There's always heaps of stuff to be done. We just don't have enough active hands to do it. In this connection I'd like to welcome a new member, James Walker of Hellifield. Mr Walker has a degree in Conservation Studies from the University of York and has been involved in various surveys of barns and vernacular buildings in Yorkshire. He has made his skills available to us and we are hoping that he'll be able to hold workshops for members interested in the barn survey. Barns are one of the most threatened parts of the Dales scene, some of them of such character and grandeur no effort should be spared to save them from demolition, or, which is often the same thing, conversion. We also need articles for the journal, research done for exhibitions and an archivist to keep our multifarious papers in order. It need only be a few hours each week but if undertaken on a regular basis can make all the difference to the smooth running of the Trust. It can also be quite enjoyable!

In conclusion I would like to thank all of you who have contributed to the work of the Trust this year and to apologise again for not being here in person. Alan Bennett President NCHT