President's Report to the North Craven Heritage Trust Annual General Meeting—23rd October, 1992

 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

I should begin by apologising for my absence from the AGM this year, my second absence in a row I'm afraid, though I think I've only missed three A.G.M's. in 24 years so it's not quite so negligent as it seems.

My report isn't a long one, chiefly because much of what used to be included is these days covered by the Journal. Membership at present stands at approximately 320. Our membership secretary is Mrs. Walker and she or Miss Metcalfe are on hand to renew subscriptions this evening.

The year's calendar has included the usual full programme of walks and concerts, one by the Craven Camerata at Eldroth this last summer and the annual visit of Leeds Parish Church Choir which this year sang at Thornton-in-Lonsdale. The concert there was preceded by a talk from Mr. Brassington, who recalled rebuilding the church roof at Thornton after a disastrous fire, an account of which was printed in the Journal. Mr. Brassington was ill earlier in the year but is much better and I'm sure we all join in wishing him a full recovery. Looking forward to next year the Christmas concert by the Leeds Parish Church Choir will be here at Clapham on January 9th. The summer outing this year was to Bowland, led as usual by Mr. Bill Mitchell and we look forward to another breezy account in the next Journal.

Our thanks are due to Mrs. Hobson and John Miller who have edited the Journal and made it a very handsome production. In addition to all the administrative details of the Trust and its affairs it contains all sorts of interesting articles and is a jolly good read.

Mr. Button gave a lecture at Giggleswick on the history of the school which was well attended and I hope that this will be available for reading at some time in the future. The Trust sent £100 to Zion Church towards combating dry rot, money well spent in my opinion because Zion is a delightful building and a very good example of a nineteenth century Nonconformist Chapel. It's the kind of building we tend to take for granted, particularly in the North where such Chapels are not uncommon (though all too often they end up as Bingo Halls or carpet warehouses). Zion is an ornament to Settle and it's nice to be able to show our appreciation. We have also sent a contribution of £50 towards the repair of Long Preston Church clock, which, if you'll excuse the pun, rings a bell with me. I've never carried or worn a watch and am dependent on public clocks of which there are fewer and fewer in working order.

Ingleton Viaduct has been offered for sale and although the purchase price was only £1 the committee felt it wasn't really a bargain. Still it's hoped it can be maintained and restored as Ribblehead is being restored, as Ingleton would not be the same without it.

During the year there's been a lot of discussion in the committee about the relationship between the Heritage Trust and the Building Preservation Trust. I suspect that from the point of view of most members this relationship is largely of academic interest but the history of the two bodies is amply sorted out by Mrs. Hobson in an article in the Journal. As someone who has been associated with the Trust from its inception I think I would say that what is important in organisations such as ours is to keep the purpose of the Trust firmly in view. The Heritage Trust and the Building Trust are not and never have been in competition but complement one another... the Heritage Trust's function perhaps more of an educational one whereas the Building Trust is concerned with the practical application of the principles of conservation as instanced at present in the Croft Barn project in Settle. The Heritage Trust is a watchdog, particularly in the planning field and I cannot see that its function in examining planning applications will ever be rendered unnecessary, or indeed its role as a forum for environmental concerns. The Heritage Trust must always concern itself with the preservation of vernacular buildings but also (my particular hobbyhorse) the details of their appearance .. .doors, windows, which, insensitively altered, can destroy a building as effectively as demolition.

Another concern is traffic. By-pass or no by-pass more and more lorries seem to be coming through the centre of Settle, when some at any rate ought to make the longer journey round and come in over Buckhaw Brow. I think it's part of the Heritage Trust's job to keep an eye on traffic and the composition of traffic because, as it is, (and in this Mr. Leakey has been proved right) where heavy vehicles are concerned the by-pass has scarcely improved the situation at all.

Finally I'm sorry to have to record the resignation of our secretary John Miller. As most of you will know John has given unstintingly of his time and energy to what originally was the Settle Civic Society and then became the North Craven Heritage Trust. He was a founder member back in 1968 and in those early and quite discouraging years there were times when, without his enthusiasm and ideas, the Trust would have foundered. I was coming through Greenfoot car park in Settle the other day, looked up and saw the range of beautifully restored buildings on Victoria Street ending in what was originally our first museum. Those buildings would all have been demolished had it not been for John Miller. Similarly all the buildings that constitute Twisleton's Yard, a textbook piece of restoration would, were it not for John just have been a car park. The premises in Chapel Street were restored by him and the Croft Barn project which is currently in hand. One could go on but to list his achievements is to tell the story of the Trust itself because he was its engine and motive force. If anything needed to be done his was always the first name that came up and what the Trust will do without him I cannot imagine. Happily it's only his job as Secretary of the Heritage Trust that he is giving up and he will be continuing his work on the Building Preservation Trust. It's this more practical side of conservation that has increasingly been interesting him and which offers him the greatest satisfaction. But the Trust will always be in his debt. The Committee wanted to make some sort of presentation to him to mark his twenty four years devoted service but typically he has declined it, but I am sure all members will join with me in giving him our heartfelt thanks.

That concludes my report for this year except to thank all the officers of the Society, all those who have served on committees or worked on the Journal and last but by no means least Mrs. Walker and her stalwarts on the social committee. I'm sure we all join in wishing the Trust well in 1993.

Alan Bennett.

Zion Congregational Church, Settle

Zion Congregational Church, Settle