I keep hoping that Summer has arrived but after a few days we lurch back into a cool Spring. The plants seem equally bemused but are putting on a brave show.
Many of you will have heard that a prime Grade 2 Listed Building in the centre of town has been sold. It is, of course, the Golden Lion and Michael Purchas (the owner) told me about this personally a couple of weeks ago. The new owners are the Coaching Inns Group which owns several similar properties throughout the country. The new owners, Kevin and Lily Charity, specialise in taking over and further improving such town centre inns and hotels. Lily's mother used to live in St Ives and thus Lily is well acquainted with St Ives. I have corresponded with Kevin and know that the Company is committed to the conservation of Listed Buildings.
The reason for Michael Purchas selling the Golden Lion has nothing to do with the imminent arrival of J D Wetherspoon. He wanted me to let you know that he is simply scaling down his before retirement.
Some will ask "What about the Robin Hood?". Well, I asked that question too. A Planning Application will shortly be made to HDC. However, the frontage will be smartened up in time for the Anglia in Bloom competition later this Summer.
We have heard nothing further from Balfour Beatty about the town centre heritage lighting. We will ask the Town Clerk to give them another prod and we will keep you informed.
However, we are pressing ahead with a suitable replacement light for the path overlooking the Parish Churchyard. A postcard photo of the near original has been unearthed and this will form the model for our appeal. We should know on 20th May if our application to the Goodliff fund for £750 has been successful. Perhaps I'll be able to announce the result this Friday at our meeting. If successful we will be halfway to reaching the target of £1500. We intend to raise the remaining money through public appeal. I hope you will be generous too.
Of course, this is not just about a single light but is a way of drawing attention to the other 11 heritage lights which are currently at risk.
Our next meeting will be this Friday, 20th May when we will have a Grand Quiz. Our benefactor Philip Simpson has once again promised £1000 to the Society if we can correctly answer most of the questions. All the questions centre on St Ives. But this year there is a difference. Philip has set 50 questions and our President Bob Burn-Murdoch has set another 50. Bob will also be the Quizmaster so we can be assured of a humorous evening. The layout will be 10 tables of 6 people but more tables can be added if necessary. We will attempt the answers in teams of 6 and there will be a modest prize for the winning team. Nibbles and drinks, including softies, will be provided free - again courtesy of Philip.
Please come along; support your Society, have fun and help us win this valuable prize. Once again, the Grand Quiz will be held upstairs in the Free Church starting at 7.30pm ( doors open at 7 p-m) this Friday 20th May.
Peter Baker and your Committee
This will be a short newsletter this month as I have been hors de combat for a while. However now managing to get around a bit. David Stewart has kindly agreed to host our monthly meeting this Friday 15th April when Jason Peters will speak on the "Lost Forests of Huntingdonshire". This is a change from the programme of speakers published in the Annual Report as John Chapman ( who was to speak on War Graves) is lecturing on a cruise somewhere on the high seas. You may well ask " what about our May meeting?" The answer is that on Friday 20th May ,in the usual place and at the usual time, we will once more enjoy another quiz. This time the questions will be set by our sponsor and friend Philip Simpson and by our President Bob Burn- Murdoch (50 questions from each). Refreshments, ie snacks and the occasional libation, will be on hand courtesy of Philip. We will arrange ourselves into informal teams of about 6 people. The prize for your Society will be £1000. So please put the date in your diaries: come along and wrestle with the posers of what happened in St Ives in the past. It promises to be a great evening and I will certainly be back again to enjoy the event.
You may well know that the Planning Application for J D Wetherspoon obtained approval despite some rigorous opposition from us and others including the Town Council. A further hearing scheduled for 18 April will examine the detailed plans. We can but try!
I am sure that David Stewart will give a short update on the heritage lights saga on Friday. Please come along and enjoy the talk from Jason Peters.
Peter Baker and your Committee
This monthly letter is rather later than usual as I have been in hospital undergoing a major (but planned) operation. However, now back home with very limited mobility. I was aware that this event would have to happen sooner or later and this formed part of my decision to stand down from the Chair.
I'll return to that later.
There's a lot going on in town even if I can't get out to witness it myself.
Work on the Octagon is underway and if I receive any reports as to progress on its future use I will, of course, let you know.
We are launching an appeal to replace an ugly light overlooking the Parish Churchyard. The old Victorian Grade 2 Listed light disappeared many years ago and was replaced with an unforgiving modern sodium strip. We have applied for a Goodliff Grant for part of the cost but hope to raise the rest of the money (£750) through Public Donations. We are calling the Appeal "Lighting the Way": this is a play on words because we also hope it will raise the profile of the 11 other heritage lights in the town centre which are unadopted. We would not wish to see these orphans replaced by the brash steel columns in use elsewhere. A mix of black heritage lights with steel columns would not be at all attractive. The sticking point remains between the Contractors (Balfour Beatty) and Cambridgeshire County Council.
Hopefully, the example of our planned work will serve as encouragement to resolve the issue.
Now to your Committee. Simply put we cannot continue to function without new members. At the last AGM in Oct 2015 I notified all present of my intention to stand down after 8 years but offered to bring any volunteer up to speed.
The time to do exactly this has now arrived and unless at least 3 volunteers step forward I fear your Society will fold. That would be a great pity if you reflect on just how much the Society has achieved over the last 45 years. So now is the time to reflect (but not for too long). Come along - let's rise to the challenge .
Our next monthly talk will be held tomorrow, Friday 18th March, at 7.30 pm in the Free Church when Veronica Bennet will speak on " Sutton Hoo - Anglo-Saxon Buried Treasures". I would like to hear Veronica but obviously I cannot be there so please turn up to support not only her but also your Society.
Peter Baker and your Committee