50th anniversary of Stamford Civic Society fighting to protect town

St Leonard's Priory in Stamford, which the society looks after
St Leonard's Priory in Stamford, which the society looks after
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THIS year marks the 50th anniversary of Stamford Civic Society.

The society was founded by a small group of dedicated enthusiasts in the early 1960s who set about defending the town’s heritage and actively fighting for its preservation and improvement.

Since then, it has grown to a membership of more than 200 people - one of the largest civic societies in England.

It is most important as a lobby group - keeping a close eye on planning developments, doing what it can to enhance Stamford’s built environment and public spaces and identifying problems and recommending solutions. The civic society has developed partnerships with schools and helped provide history information boards around the town.

The society came into being on October 12, 1962, with an inaugural meeting at Stamford Town Hall.

The Marquess of Exeter was the first president – and was instrumental in getting support to set it up. There is still a strong connection with Burghley House.

Antiques and country house specialist Orlando Rock, who is married to Miranda Rock, present custodian of Burghley House, is the society’s current president.

He says: “I am immensely proud of Burghley’s close association with the Stamford Civic Society.

“I cannot emphasise strongly enough the invaluable work the society and its members undertake to ensure that Stamford remains the vibrant historic town that we all know and love.

“This requires remarkable commitment and determ-ination.”

The first chairman was Basil Lingard Deed, headmaster of Stamford School.

Today’s chairman Gwyneth Gibbs paid tribute to past and present officers and members of the society for all their hard work which has helped to ensure the conservation of the town - for the benefit of those who live here as well as those who visit to see fine examples of period architecture.

She said: ”So many volunteers have given freely of their time, expertise and efforts over the years to make the society the success it is. Here’s to the next 50 years!”

She said the society’s most important activity in the first 50 years was its reports on a possible relief road for Stamford, which were compiled in 1977 and 1984.

She said: “The society was (and still is) very keen to get more through traffic out of Stamford but not at the expense of the access to Burghley House and Park.”

Over the years, the civic society has also installed three information boards in the town, compiled a report on the state of the town’s pavements and worked with schools to encourage children to care about the next generation.