Call for organisations to join forces to mark a golden year for Stamford

Stamford. Photo: SM240712-003ow
Stamford. Photo: SM240712-003ow

Plans are underway to celebrate this year as the 50th anniversary of Stamford being designated the UK’s first ever urban conservation area.

Community groups, local organisations and businesses are invited to a meeting at 10.30am on Tuesday at Stamford Arts Centre to discuss how they can get involved.

South Kesteven District Council is hosting the meeting in a bid to coordinate events that will take place throughout the year.

One of the key events will be the Stamford Georgian Festival, which the district council is running for the third time from Thursday, September 21, to Sunday, September 24.

Stamford Civic Society is hoping to have an exhibition on the 50th anniversary to coincide with the Georgian Festival and the district council hopes other interested parties and organisations will come to Tuesday’s meeting to share their ideas.

Steve Ingram, the council’s strategic director for development and growth, said 2017 would be all about celebrating Stamford.

He said: “It’s an exciting year with it being the 50th anniversary of the conservation area and we feel it is really important to celebrate what’s special about Stamford. We know people in the town feel very proud of its heritage and its conservation area and it’s a good opportunity to celebrate.”

Mr Ingram said representatives from national bodies including the Royal Institute of British Architects and Historic England had already voiced an interest in getting involved, but he said he was keen to bring local parties together.

Conservation groups, heritage organisations, New College and Stamford Town Council are already working to develop events over the summer to commemorate a special year.

Chairman of Stamford Civic Society Gwyneth Gibbs said it was important groups worked together to commemorate an important year.

And Mr Ingram added: “We are trying to co-ordinate an approach to help avoid duplication and to introduce different groups so we can bring ideas together. The aim is to have a good programme of varied events throughout the year.

“The opportunity to celebrate significant milestones like this don’t come along very often so we have to make the most of it.”

The Georgian Festival was launched in 2013 and then was held again in 2015. This year’s event will be the third and Mr Ingram hopes it will attract the same large numbers as in 2015 when an estimated 53,000 people packed the town. The highlight was the burning of the bull and a fireworks display at the end of a replicated bull run, which drew crowds of people to the High Street and The Meadows.

Mr Ingram said the district council was still in the early stages of planning this year’s event but that favourite events from previous years would return such as the horse-drawn coaches, but there would be new events for people to enjoy as well.

He added: “The last Georgian Festival was a huge success and we are determined to build on that.”

According to a report written by late chairman of the Civic Society John Plumb a decade ago, Stamford was selected as the first conservation area after a planning officer Dr K Fennell wrote two lengthy reports in the 1960s setting out policies to combat issues in the town, including the demolition of important historic buildings.

The Government had already planned to undertake four pilot studies of historic towns to define protection areas but because Dr Fennell’s work had already been done, Stamford was selected as the first conservation area in England in 1967.

Anyone interested in attending Tuesday’s meeting should contact Graham Burley at Stamford Arts Centre. E-mail g.burley@southkesteven.gov.uk or call 01780 480846.