In 2007 Bourne Chapel of Rest was under threat of demolition, evoking memories of two earlier occasions when the Red Hall was almost lost to the town, showing that history sadly repeats itself. The threat to the chapel galvanised the formation of an action group led by Roger Callow, together with a revival by Rex Needle of his application to English Heritage to get it listed, with support and helpful advice from a number of amenity societies I alerted, including the Victorian Society, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the Chapels Society and the Ancient Monuments Society. The successful listing of the chapel averted the threat of demolition, but its future now needed to be secured. Bourne Preservation Society (BPS) came into being in 2008 under the aegis of Jack Slater in response to public concern about this, and has spent a lot of time and effort working to find a solution, all on a totally voluntary basis, ever since.
But BPS is by no means just about the Chapel of Rest. It is dedicated to the amenity of Bourne and making the town a better place in which to live and work, and of course to visit. To that end we have been working closely and productively with South Kesteven District Council (SKDC), in particular on the Bourne Conservation Area. When, following consultation with residents, the decision was taken to extend the conservation area along North Road and West Road, SKDC kindly distributed our explanatory leaflet to all residents and businesses within both the original and the extended area. The purpose of the leaflet is to try to explain what it means to be in a conservation area, what responsibilities it brings with it, and what benefits it confers on everyone, if the simple rules and guidance are observed. Copies of our Conservation Area Leaflet are available on the SKDC website.
We need to be vigilant in identifying buildings in Bourne that are potentially under threat, if a proper future is not secured for them. These at the time of writing may include our recently vacated Town Hall, as well as the Old Grammar School and Wake House. We should also look at where there may be scope for potential improvements. What about Bourne’s finest house, the Red Hall? Instead of making it a feature of the town and showing it off to all who approach the centre by car from the south, we hide it away behind a barrage of unsightly commercial structures. It should have a setting worthy of its distinction, where it can be a showcase for the town. We will have more to say about Bourne’s fine buildings in future articles.
BPS cannot function adequately without support from the people of Bourne, and that means we ask for some degree of commitment to making our town a nicer place in which to live and work. To get involved, download a membership application form from the information section of our website www.bournepreservationsociety.co.uk or contact Jack Slater on 07903047418. Membership is our only source of income, but even if, for whatever reason, you are unable to join us as members, you can still support us by word of mouth recommendation to others, and of course everyone is welcome at our member meetings which are held at Wake House on the third Monday of each month. There, at the cost of a mere £2, anyone who is not a member may learn a great deal about the history, heritage and architecture of our town. Like us, our guest speakers give their services entirely voluntarily.