Reprinted from Newsletter 90, dated 1999 February

Somerset Building Preservation Trust

John Brunsdon

A talk by Russell Lillford

Wells Civic Society members and other interested visitors joined us for this most informative talk illustrated by slides. Russell Lillford, architectural and historic group manager to Somerset county council, has a long association with Glastonbury. He has achieved much for us and would have done more if allowed to do so!

He first outlined the listed-building system, which seeks to protect what is little more than one percent of our total building stock. Most owners of listed buildings proudly take care of them, but legislation is there to restrain those with inappropriate ideas of alteration.

Russell went on to describe the Somerset Building Preservation Trust’s work of seeking to rescue worthy buildings that others will not or cannot tackle. He outlined the problems the trust faces: the first project, Tudor House at Langport, took 10 years to sell; Rook Lane Chapel in Frome partly collapsed during work undertaken without sufficient safeguards; opportunities were lost to purchase back more reasonably the statue from the Temple of Harmony; the success of Robin Hood’s Hut and the financial inability to tackle the concrete house at Bridgwater.

Currently the trust is looking to restore Williton workhouse—a major project. Meanwhile, near Stourhead, the Redlynch entrance built to impress George III could be a useful training exercise in conservation skills.