What has happened to the nation’s war memorial hospitals?

Whitby Civic Society members set up a war memorial group with the main aim of keeping the Whitby & District War Memorial Cottage Hospital memory alive, particularly as there was a risk the second hospital on this site was to be sold either partially or fully. The Society is hoping now at least a smaller hospital will be retained on this site, with the rest of the site sold to be developed for extra care housing – no definite decision has been made at this time. We continue to work with the relevant authorities to ensure the remaining artefacts are not lost, and hope to raise a further memorial sculpture to remember all those lost as well as the people who ensured there was a memorial hospital built in Whitby, although it no longer bears this name.

But now Whitby Civic Society wants to know;

  • What has happened to other war memorial hospitals around the country?
  • Does anyone know how many were built following the First World War and how many still remain today?
  • Why were these buildings never registered as public war memorials as perhaps these were our greatest living and working war memorials ever created?
  • They were provided for the town and surrounding parishes with funds raised through donation and fundraising events from the local community, many which could ill afford the small amounts donated after this horrific war. Many of these buildings have now been demolished and sold on, losing both a local welfare facility plus the original war memorial – surely this is totally unethical?

In 1948, with the advent of the National Health Service, the land and buildings were taken as part of the new NHS, many of which have since been closed and the land sold for development – was this ethical, and what has happened to any war memorial plaques and artefacts – how many have been lost?

In 2013 NHS Property Services was established and has raised more than £203million from the disposal of 295 surplus NHS properties, generating valuable funds to be reinvested in the NHS estate, during its first 5 years of operation. Many of the sites were empty and all were no longer needed for clinical or any other use, however, they did require ongoing NHS funds for property related costs such as rates, security and basic maintenance. It is noted sales can only take place once the organisations and commissioners that plan and pay for local healthcare declare an empty property surplus to NHS requirements, but what happens to the war memorial artefacts?

If you can help Whitby Civic Society with these queries send your comments to info@civicvoice.org.uk.

What has happened to the nation’s war memorial hospitals?

Bells to ring out and 10,000 to march past the Cenotaph as the nation says ‘THANK YOU’

Ten thousand members of the public will be invited to march past the Cenotaph to mark the centenary of the Armistice later this year, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright announced recently.

Descendants, family members and the public are invited to apply to take part in ‘A Nation’s Thank you – The People’s Procession’ on Sunday 11 November 2018.

At the same time, people are being encouraged to ring bells around the world, as the government is seeking to replicate the spontaneous outpouring of relief that took place in 1918. As news of the Armistice spread, church bells, which had fallen silent across the UK during the First World War, rang out in celebration.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “On the centenary of the Armistice, it is right that we come together to give thanks to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who returned home to help shape the world we live in today. “The 11th of November offers us a unique opportunity to show our appreciation for the generation who gave so much to secure this hard fought victory. I encourage everyone, whatever their connection to the First World War, to apply to participate in the People’s Procession and join in with the bell ringing programme to help us mark this historic occasion.

Bell ringing and the People’s Procession will take place after the conclusion of The Royal British Legion’s Veteran Dispersal and March Past the Cenotaph, which follows the National Service of Remembrance on 11 November 2018, the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The People’s Procession will provide an opportunity for those taking part to give thanks to all those who served in the First World War to secure the victory that helped shape the rights and privileges we enjoy today.

Members of the public can apply for the People’s Procession here: https://armistice100.org.uk./

Bells to ring out and 10,000 to march past the Cenotaph as the nation says ‘THANK YOU’

Last Chance for funding from First World War Memorials Programme

This week’s deadline date, 30th June, for grant applications is the final opportunity for those seeking to benefit from the First World War Memorials Programme grant funding. One-off, additional money from the UK government has been supporting repair and conservation projects throughout the centenary commemorations. To date over £1.9 of the £2 million available has been allocated to support nearly 490 communities across the UK to protect and conserve their war memorials. Awards have ranged from £74 through to £132,100 helping a huge range of projects. The median grant has been around £1,500 with 85% of projects assisted having a total project cost of less than £5,000.
 Save our Memorial National Arboretum Civic V 2.8.17_43
As the additional funding concludes, War Memorials Trust will continue to accept grant applications but will only be able to make grants if funds have been raised by the charity. This is likely to mean fewer successful applications with lower levels of funding available unless they can find some more generous funders to support grants. To donate to War Memorial Trust’s fundraising for grants you can contact the charity at info@warmemorials.org or 020 7834 0200.
But grants are not everything. The charity believes just as important as our grant-making activity is our role providing conservation advice and support so communities can undertake appropriate works with confidence. If you are concerned about a war memorial you can contact the charity to discuss whether works are needed. They can offer advice on what you could do yourself and what might need professional involvement. Who you might need to consult or permissions required to undertake work. they are also happy to comment on quotes/schedules of work you have received. Well-intentioned works can sometimes have unforeseen consequences particularly if the most up-to-date best conservation practice has not been consulted so do not hesitate to get in touch if you think we may be able to help.  They are busy but are responding as quickly as we can to everyone as we recognise many of you are working towards projects for 11th November.

They also have plenty of advice on their website www.warmemorials.org/helpsheets.

Last Chance for funding from First World War Memorials Programme

First World War programme visits the South to share more success stories


Delegates visit the war memorial in West Hill Cemetery, Winchester. Copyright Lucy Mills-Watkins/Historic England

On June 1st, delegates from across the South met in Winchester at Winton Chapel on the city’s University campus to hear from volunteers about their experiences of being involved in the First World War Memorials Programme over the last couple of years, as well as those who have plans to run commemorative events in their communities in the future.
The day started with a welcome from the Vice-Chancellor of the University who explained how the chapel, itself dedicated as a war memorial after the First World War, is playing a vital role in University life for students, staff and the wider community following a restoration project in 2017.  Delegates also heard from Design Engine Architects about the project and explored the chapel before being introduced to the work of the First World War Memorials Programme.

One of the ways in which these events are different is that, as well as hearing from the organisations involved i.e. Civic Voice, IWM, Historic England and War Memorials Trust, delegates also get a chance to listen directly to the experience of volunteers who have engaged with the programme during the course of the centenary.  In Winchester we heard from Linda Munday, a student at the University, about her positive experience of attending Civic Voice training and going on to successfully apply for two Hampshire war memorials to be listed at Grade II.  Charles Bradshaw from Preston Candover Parish Council gave an enthusiastic account of a conservation project to repair elements of their local war memorial, which was part-funded by War Memorials Trust.  You can read more about this in the Grants Showcase below.

Don’t miss out on your chance to hear about the projects taking place in your local area.  Our next events are being held in:

First World War programme visits the South to share more success stories

Engaging young people in heritage: a summary of a workshop in Leeds.

We’re looking forward to seeing delegates across England in one of our future workshops focused on ‘Engaging Young People in Heritage’ Workshop. Following the workshop in Leeds last week, we thought you’d like to hear a bit more about what’s in store for you at a future session, and find out from some of those who attended what they gained from the workshop.

Delegates came to the Leeds workshop for the following principal reasons:

  • To help extend civic society activities to schools/young people.
  • To glean information about visiting schools and the resources available to help plan activities.
  • Approaches/techniques for delivering information to young people.
  • To network and find out what and how others were doing.

Carlie Silvey, War Memorials Trust’s Learning Officer, ran the workshop and shared
her wealth of first-hand experience of making initial contact with schools/youth
groups, before moving on to examples of the different types of activities that can be
carried out with young people and the resources available to plan them. Delegates
watched a series of video clips of a WMT Learning Officer in action running
sessions, and the children themselves told us what they thought about the

We also heard from Sandra Taylor from Remember the Fallen, who has worked with
a number of schools in Worcestershire. She told us about some of the activities she
had run successfully in schools, as well as those which hadn’t gone as well, and
finished with a list of her top tips for an effective visit.

There was plenty of time during the workshop for delegates to express their views,
share ideas and make new contacts.

At the end of the workshop, delegates made the following comments:
‘There was an excellent variety of talks/presentations…The networking was very

‘Thank you for a well-organised workshop with lots of useful information. I am now
looking forward to planning and carrying out a school visit.’

We look forward to seeing you at a future workshop for what promises to be a thought-
provoking and inspiring workshop. Sign up today here. 

Engaging young people in heritage: a summary of a workshop in Leeds.

Helen Kidman, shares her thoughts on brownfield registers and why civic societies should be keeping an eye on them

Idly watching the Parliament Channel last week, I saw the housing minister Dominic Raab speaking at a select committee meeting about Brownfield Sites. He explained that the Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 required local planning authorities in England to prepare, maintain and publish registers of previously developed (brownfield) land by 31 December 2017. It was stated that some 90% of local authorities have now published a register of such sites. So I went on line and had a look at my local authority’s.

Brownfield land registers will provide up-to-date and consistent information on sites that local authorities consider to be appropriate for residential development having regard to the criteria set out in regulation 4 of the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017. Local planning authorities will be able to trigger a grant of permission in principle for residential development for sites in their registers where they follow the required procedures. Registers will be in two parts, Part 1 will comprise all brownfield sites appropriate for residential development and Part 2 those sites granted permission in principle. Registers should be published locally as open data and will provide transparent information about suitable and available sites.

The Local Plan for  my home area, Bradford, is at the critical stage with continuing arguments over housing numbers still going on. An examination of  the Strategic Housing Land Allocation Assessment (SHLAA) is to commence later this year. The Brownfield Sites Register is a useful document as it can highlight potential sites, some of which have been vacant for a long time which could be used for house building. There are hundreds of sites listed.  We shall be scrutinising the register and map carefully. It’s important that we use up brownfield sites before green field and green belt land.

A cursory glance at the register shows that a number of sites have already been discounted by planners. Additionally, in some cases, the site owner is not known or is not making their intentions clear.  The ownership, at least, should be in the public domain, via the Land Registry. Some sites have lapsed planning applications, sometimes for hundreds of homes.

 Other societies who have problems with housing numbers might find it useful to check out the Brownfield Site Registers in their areas and investigate what is happening to the sites listed.



Helen Kidman, shares her thoughts on brownfield registers and why civic societies should be keeping an eye on them

Elizabeth Allison, Former Chair of Sutton Coldfield Civic Society and Civic Voice Representative on our National Regional Forum shares her thoughts on piloting the Civic Voice Conservation Audit

Why Sutton Coldfield Civic Society are involved

In Sutton Coldfield, we have three conservation areas, including Sutton Coldfield High Street Conservation Area, which last had a management plan published in 2015. The area is not at risk, but as a society we do feel as though the increase in advertising and signage is gradually changing the character of the area. Sutton Coldfield Civic Society has long championed our local heritage and in 2010, we developed a Community Led Conservation Area appraisal, so we are always keen for the society to do its bit to protect local heritage.

As the West Midlands Representative on the Civic Voice Regional Forum I attend meetings at the Coffin Works, Birmingham to help contribute and advise Civic Voice on matters of concern across the country.  This group really does help shape what Civic Voice is doing and although we don’t agree on every issue, I do feel that we are shaping what Civic Voice is doing on a national level. The group also works well as a forum to hear from others across the country and to network.

It was during the December meeting of the Regional Forum other members of the group presented the latest findings from the Civic Voice Big Conservation Conversation campaign. This is a campaign to raise awareness of the loss of conservation staff in local government. It was through this research that societies had been feeding back to research team that the situation is much worse than the national picture painted. We were told than 20% of authorities do not have a conservation officer and nearly 1000 conservation areas are in these authorities. It really does make you worry about the future of conservation areas. Incidentally, it was disappointing to find that one of our local conservation areas, the Four Oaks estate, was listed with Birmingham instead of ourselves as the relevant Civic Society. If Birmingham Council provided this information, one has to wonder how much they do know about conservation areas in their area.

It was through the research of that societies have been feeding back that they wanted to get involved in the national campaign and highlight issues of concern. Nantwich Civic Society (read here) was highlighted as an example of a group who had been assessing the issues in the local area, without any training. It was clear from this that civic societies do want to get involved in assessing the local conservation area and play their part in taking action, but they don’t know where to start.

Alongside this, local authorities have also been saying to Karen that they want extra support, but they need to be given certainty that the information being provided from a community group on the condition of a conservation area is accurate, up to date and not biased. Helen and Karen suggested to us that using a “national audit” would give an authority the confidence that the community group are using the national tool and have been trained to a consistent national standard.

Based on this, Helen and Karen had recommended that some sort of “tool/audit” be developed that allows a group to “take action”, collects evidence of impact and provides useful information that an authority can use.

The idea of a Civic Voice Conservation Area Audit was born.

What is it?

The Conversation Area Audit is a way for a community to assess the condition of a conservation area. It is your “first steps” to managing the change in your conservation area.

The audit provides a simple framework to gain a snapshot of the key issues impacting on your conservation area at a point in time, which can then be used to support you in developing an action plan to address those issues.

The tool provides prompts for discussions, allowing you to consider all the issues impacting the area in a methodical manner. The tool will help you identify where the conservation area needs to change or improve its condition.

The tool is simple and consists of a series of questions which cover the common issues in a conservation area, as identified by Civic Voice and Historic England in a survey in 2016. When you answer the questions, you are then required to fill in a simple online form to help interpret the results.

Does it work?

Having had members who participated in the national Civic Voice campaign on war memorials, we volunteered our society to be one that road tests the next version of the tool.

I had arranged for Sarah James to visit Sutton Coldfield, but unfortunately, I had to cancel. I had thought this would hinder me from knowing how to present to colleagues, but after communicating with the CV office, they sent me the latest draft of the guidance to support the tool. Sarah James was on hand to answer all the questions we had so I could present the idea to our committee. We haven’t gone through any training yet to be able to use the tool fully, I think this might be required to ensure a certain standard of assessment.

In general the civic society committee thought the Civic Audit was a good idea and the idea of using the form as the basis for a National Civic Day project went down well.
The point was made that a few of the criteria might not be suitable in all circumstances, e.g. deciding whether or not UPVC windows had been installed could be difficult in Sutton Coldfield’s Four Oaks Conservation Area, where several of the Arts & Crafts style homes sit on very large plots, often behind hedges but we know that these are the issues that Civic Voice are looking for in the pilot. I think the plan is to ensure different versions exist and could be adjusted to suit the character of the area.

We agreed that by giving us a consistent methodology to follow, we know that we will have a stronger case to make to the local conservation officers.

Should others use it?

Would we recommend the tool to other groups? Yes, we would.

We recognise that we are part of the wider civic movement and know that we are stronger working together.

That is why I attend these national meetings. The more groups we can get using the tool, the more examples we will have of it working. If Civic Voice can then collate this evidence, we will get real examples of the issues impacting conservation areas. Civic Voice can then use this to lobby and campaign with Historic England and Government. 

My advice would be that if you need evidence to show your local authority what the key issues are in your town or you are a conservation officer looking to make the case for further funding? Why not join the Civic Voice Conservation Community & make the case for conservation areas? 


Civic Voice is encouraging people to look more closely at their local conservation area and to take action to ensure they are fit for purpose 50 years after the Civic Amenities Act came into force. This tool kit is aimed at helping anyone who wants to assess and record the condition of a conservation area. 

Get in touch with Civic Voice via info@civicvoice.org.uk and we will provide further information.

So why use it?

Your survey will help to

  • Identify whether the conservation area is in good condition or whether it needs any repairs/conservation
  • Understand what key issues need addressing locally?
  • Create a national database of the nation’s conservation areas.
  • Kickstart any action that’s needed to ensure the future of your local conservation area.
  • Civic Voice plan to hold monthly workshops in Birmingham where you can register to attend and meet other community groups, local authorities and policy makers who are also using the tool. 

So, by using the tool you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration in trying to get the local authority to support your work by using the Civic Voice Audit. By using the conservation audit tool, you are showing that you are committed to “doing the right thing” and having the appropriate training and will be supported by the Civic Voice name.

Elizabeth Allison, Former Chair of Sutton Coldfield Civic Society and Civic Voice Representative on our National Regional Forum shares her thoughts on piloting the Civic Voice Conservation Audit