CHAIRMAN'S REVIEW 2009 – 2010
I am very pleased to report that the Trust is proceeding most satisfactorily with a flourishing wedding business based in the historic and beautiful Haldon Belvedere and a full project book once again.
Though weddings are a really fine way of providing our fully restored Belvedere with a living that guarantees its future, we need to be concerned with our real purpose in life – the restoration of Devon's historic buildings in need of refurbishment or repair.
So I am delighted to tell you that one of the most important town centres in Devon has become the property of the Trust due to the hard work and dedication of the project panel with Mike Hickie, Mike Scott and Will Gannon taking a prominent part in bringing the negotiations to fruition. The prime mover in the acquisition of the Tavistock property was Mike Scott – a member of the projects panel who worked tirelessly to manage what became a complex property transaction.
The Guildhall and quarter sessions court right in the centre of Tavistock were purchased only weeks ago and we have already started on the process of deciding which repairs are the most urgent and how to guarantee the buildings a thriving future.
Of course part of the buildings are still occupied by the police and will continue so to be until the new police station is built some distance away ready for occupation in a year or so. The buildings actually date back to 980 when King Ordulf built the abbey but they were destroyed by Henry VIII with the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1540s after which the buildings were passed to the Russell family, the Dukes of Bedford. In 1847 the Duke built the court and police station by renovating the old buildings.
The court was once malt houses and stables until redesigned by Plymouth architect John Fouldsden in a similar fashion to the Old Bailey. The magistrates' retiring room was once the home of Judge Trout, a forerunner of the infamous Judge Jefferies and the spiral staircase that winds anti-clockwise is said to be the only example in the country within a 5 spired tower. The original entry was through the Court Gate into an area used to house Napoleon's soldiers before becoming a wood store.
In summary there is so much for the Trust to do when possession finally passes that we must soon make a start in assessing end uses and determining priorities. To this end we have started consultations with the Tavistock Town Council about how best to proceed. Our normal practice is to invite local representation to join us at Trustee level and so we would be pleased to hear from local folk who have special interest in this fine range of historic buildings.
The success and valuable financial contribution to DHBT made by the Haldon Belvedere continues under the direction of the Steering Group chaired by Tim Legood. The hard work of our Manager, Ian Turner and everyone involved either with the Steering Group, in maintaining the grounds or in dealing with the functioning of the building during weddings and events is rewarded by a developing and thriving business. Thanks, also, to the Friends of DHBT and the volunteers who assist at weekends. The support of the Trustees of the Stringer Lawrence Memorial Trust is also gratefully acknowledged.
The future of DHBT is in the hands of the Trustees and Friends who seek to generate conservation projects. We remain ready to assist developers and local authorities to preserve and maintain the fabric of historic buildings as we have so successfully achieved in the past.
The thanks of the trust go to our Company Secretary, Debbie Parnall for all her work during the year and also to Members of Council and those on the PRC for all the support received during the year. I also thank Tim Legood for his vital work of Hon. Treasurer and also the many other trustees who have offered help and assistance during the year.
Finally it is my sad task to report that three of our most active trustees have passed away during this last year: John Lawrence, Chair of Trustees in September 2009, Arnold Sayers, ex-President in November 2009 and Mike Kelsey, Trustee in December 2009. Our thoughts are with their families.
Chairman, Devon Historic Buildings Trust