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Make Sure You Get to See Darryl Walker’s Exhibition at Bear Steps Gallery Sunday August 6th – Saturday August 19th 9:00am – 5:00pm

Shrewsbury’s Civic Day – Saturday 17th June

Shrewsbury Civic Society Presents: “A Day to Say I Care About Where I Live.”




What’s Conservation done for you?

In 50 years of Conservation rules, this is the first opportunity for Shrewsbury to
celebrate how the town has retained so much of its unique heritage.
One-off events at The Bear Steps, St Alkmund’s Place:
• Join us for the opening by the Mayor with short introductory messages
from Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Shrewsbury Civic Society. 11.00am
• Visit rarely shown exhibitions by: Shropshire Historic Environment
Record Archive and the Civic Society (loop and exhibition about renovating
the medieval Bear Steps in the 1960s).
• Take a free Guided Walking Tours around the town and its Conservation
Area. (Martin Wood / John Brown) 12 and 1.00pm
• Ask Shropshire Council ‘Surgery’ about Listed Buildings and those in
Conservation Areas, includes the Design and Conservation Awards
Scheme (11.30 – 4.00pm)
• Take the quiz/questionnaire to raise public understanding and gain views
about heritage and conservation (UCS university students) and THE
CONSERVATION TABLE at The Bear Steps. (Most of the day.)
• See the Civic Day ambassadors (UCS university students) distributing
leaflets around the town (1.00 – 4.00)
• Walk from the Lord Hill Column to the central Bear Steps, linked with
Waterloo Day and Lord Hill. (starts 3.00pm)
• Half Hour talks starting at 4.30pm (In the Bear Steps Gallery)
• Refreshments: between talks and during exhibitions (Pimms )

 Civic Day Timetable 17th June 2017
Join us in the Bear Steps Gallery for:

The half-hour talks in the early evening.
4.30pm Lord Hill and the Column
A talk by Richard Hayes about the
significance of Lord Hill and the Column’s
history to the Abbey Foregate Area.


5.30pm The Shrewsbury Wayfinding Project .
Aleks Vladimirov of the Shrewsbury BID will
give the first talk and ‘unveiling’ the first of what
is coming for the town’s signposting.


6.30pm Conservation in Shrewsbury
Dr Andy Wigley of Shropshire Council will
discuss issues about the Special Character of
areas in Shrewsbury’s Conservation Area.


7.30pm Civic Pride and Conservation
David Evans (National Civic Voice Trustee) will
give the national picture and the work of Civic
Voice in battling for good stewardship of the
nation’s built environment.


All talks are free. Come to one or all.
Pimms and soft drinks available.

The Next Civic Forum – A Special Evening Featuring Speaker Dr James Pardoe. Thursday 11th May 7.00pm

Shrewsbury Civic Society has enlisted the services of Dr James Pardoe to front the next in this season’s packed out series of lectures on Thursday 11th May,  7.00pm at Bear Steps.

Dr Pardoe is Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Director of Design, Heritage and the Built Environment at University College Shrewsbury.  His talk is entitled ‘Towards a Sustainable Heritage for Shrewsbury.’ He said: “I plan to do a brief overview on why we set up the MSc programmes and then look at some issues surrounding the notion of sustainability and how it can be applied to Shrewsbury.”

The Civic Society’s Chairman of the Planning Committee, Mike Carter said, “We are delighted to be hosting this talk, which is likely to be of great interest to many. My advice is to be there early to get a seat.”

Following this talk there will be a short discussion on recent planning issues affecting the town.

The evening is free to SC members and non-members will be required to make a small donation.



Shrewsbury Civic Society’s Newsletter Makes Front Page News in the Local Press

Last week’s Shrewsbury Chronicle featured two stories on its front page from the latest Civic Society Newsletter. The pieces were by editorial team members Martina Chamberlain and Simon Beedles. Former CS Chairman Simon Beedles highlighted the need to act before its too late over the Quarry pool site and Planning Committee member Martina Chamberlain outlined the latest status of the controversial Stew building.

SCS Newsletter Editor Richard Bishop said: “To make the front page with one story is good but with two at the same time demonstrates the quality and tenacity of my editorial team.”

If you missed them, here they are again:


Time to Act Before its too late       Simon Beedles

‘There could be more at stake than just the loss of the Quarry Swimming Pools.’
The Shrewsbury Chronicle 2nd March edition carried the headline ‘COUNCIL IS SOLE BIDDER FOR POOL’. If the bid by Shrewsbury Town Council is not successful then the article says that Shropshire Council will close the pool and build a new one at Sundorne. Shrewsbury Civic Society (SCS) supports the campaign to keep the Quarry Pools where they are so good luck to the Town Council. Let’s hope they succeed.
If the fight to keep the pools where they are works then SCS will be happy, as will all the other campaigners for this cause. But what happens if Shropshire Council wins and the pools move the Sundorne or indeed anywhere else? What happens to a site in the centre of Shrewsbury which is part of the Quarry? A site, together with the Quarry, enjoyed by the people of Shrewsbury as far back as memories extend. What will happen to the site?
The Quarry is a part of Shrewsbury visited by residents throughout their lives. It is an integral part of the town. It is hard to find anyone who does not appreciate what it offers and will offer
to the town, residents and visitors forever. It is impossible to calculate how many people have been swimming and then enjoyed a walk, game or played in the Quarry afterwards. Anyone around before 1966 will remember the Victorian Baths which offered the same opportunities as the existing Pools. The history of the site is engrained in any true Shrewsbury resident.
If the Quarry Pool closes we think the site must remain in public ownership, in a use which can be enjoyed by the public as it always has been. It must not be sold for a one off payment to help fund a budget deficit, as a short term fix and lose the public facility forever. Shropshire Council need to know that there is a strong feeling that if the Pools close the site needs to be used to continue to help people to enjoy the Quarry.
There might be calls for the site to be sold for a hotel, a car park, housing, a pub, a restaurant, a medical centre, the list goes on. It could be suitable for any of these if the County Council want to raise quick cash and lose the site forever. The County Council may have an alternative use in mind which does keep the site in public ownership and does mean it can be used as it always has been in unison with the Quarry but if not the SCS campaign to keep it for Shrewsbury is stated, clearly, here.
It’s time to act, before it is too late. If we wait until a decision on the future of the Pools is made and closure is the result it will be too late to raise the issue. The site must stay with the public as part of the Quarry. SCS does not want the Pools to close but if they do we do not want to lose the site. It must stay for Shrewsbury. It will need a use and one that can sustain itself; a use that is economic to run and which contrib-utes to the enjoyment of the Quarry; a use that people will remember in the future with affection as they do the Victorian Baths and the Quarry Pools.
It will take time to develop the ideas and the economic model but something to compliment the use of the Quarry is essential.
We could start with a pavilion designed for peo-ple to use all year round when enjoying the Quarry. The idea needs to be developed and other uses incorporated but it’s a start and it can work. More on the pavilion idea in another Newsletter. If the Pools close the site must stay in public ownership and use. Let SCS know what you think.
If you don’t tell Shropshire Council what you think, ( you can do it through SCS), the site may be lost and the money used in a scheme like the Meole Brace roundabout works. Which would you rather have?


The Stew and Other Planning Matters              Martina Chamberlain


Shrewbury Civic Society has just heard from Historic England that the society’s application to have the Stew listed has not been successful.
The Frankwell mansion house with warehouse has been considered for listing on a number of previous occasions, initiated by the civic society.
This time, we put forward that additional knowledge, gained during the appeal process, had further strengthened the case of the building’s historic and special interest. We still believe the Stew merits the protection afforded by listing, as do many others with expertise in the field.
The listing adviser, Gill Guthrie – who travelled by train from Cornwall to view the building and spent around two hours in our town – acknowledges in her report that the Stew “is a particularly interesting survival of an early eighteenth century town house in Shrewsbury”.
Also “it is one of the few surviving buildings which reflect both the residential and industrial development of Frankwell in the c18 and c19”. There is no reference to the river trade in these descriptions, an historical association she describes as “interesting” , but says does not add to the case for the building.
This requires special interest in a “national context”. But if even the local and regional interest is not adequately defined by this report? We are currently considering an objection to the outcome.
We will also be pressing locally for a redesign of Frankwell Quay and immediate environs, to create a better river frontage and improved setting of the Stew and maltings, which they deserve. Shrewsbury’s river trade
history is important, and regional history is part of our national history.
Listing is a protection system that has been in place since 1947.The test is architectural or historic special interest, with the final decision to list being taken by government (the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). However, they act on the recommendations of Historic England formerly English Heritage.
Meanwhile, we are delighted that Monkmoor Hangars, and their splendid all timber Belfast roof trusses, have been saved from demolition at appeal. The civic society had added its voice to those protesting against their destruction to make way for housing development.
The buildings date from towards the end of WW I and were used to accept, test and equip aircraft. During World War II they were used to carry out repairs or break up damaged aircraft. They are the only remaining WWI hangars in Shropshire but their distinctive early twentieth century form of construction – the roof trusses- are also cited as of significance in the appeal decision.
The inspector also deemed the retention of employment at the site on Monkmoor Trading Estate important.
The buildings are currently occupied by four businesses, which employ 32 people.
The civic society has been approached by the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust who are thinking of putting up a plaque at the site to honour the wartime history.
The proposed building of over 600 houses at Weir Hill, in the east, is engaging the civic society and a number of other important local organisations concerned about sensitive development.
The green fringes of our town, particularly those which border the river, which this does, are highly prized by townsfolk and make Shrewsbury a beautiful place to live.
An earlier report on the development of the site identified ways to reduce the impact on Shrewsbury’s skyline and retain pastoral character through a restrained approach.
There are ways of mitigating the most deleterious effects and we should be demanding them.


‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ talk by Dr Nigel Baker Thursday 9th March

The first Civic Forum this year takes place on at 7.00pm Thursday 9th March at the Bear Steps.

The forum, now in its third year features a talk by Dr Nigel Baker entitled ‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’.

After the talk there will be a question and answer session on recent planning issues concerning Shrewsbury. This is a chance for the public to catch up with the latest planning applications and air their views on those applications.


‘Shrewsbury’s Real Hight Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ by Dr Nigel Baker.

Pride Hill can claim to be Shrewsbury’s ‘real High Street’ on two counts. Historically, that was what it was called first – in Latin, it was the Altus Vicus (literally high street), along with the near end of Castle Street, before c.1300. At that time the street we now call the High Street was still known either as Gumble-stool Street (Ducking-stool Street) or Baker’s Row,only becoming the High Street later in the Middle Ages. And, much closer to our own time, Pride Hill and Castle Street were where all the familiar high-street multiple chain-stores of the 20th century went: Boots the Chemist in 1907, Woolworth’s in 1927, Mark’s and Spencer’s, Littlewood’s, and so on. In most towns, this process led to the widespread destruction of historic buildings and townscape and, ultimately, to the sad, dull, homogenisation of the English high street.

But this is Shrewsbury, while there have been losses, there are startling survivals too. Pride Hill has the remains of Shrewsbury’s earliest-known house, built c.1250, with architectural features of ‘cathedral-like quality’. Along much of the north side of the street, the familiar shops in their Georgian and Victorian buildings conceal the remains of a series of stone undercrofts, commercial basements and taverns from the 13th and 14th centuries, trapped deep in their cellars; these are rarely visited, except of course for the ancient MacDonald’s setting. Right across the street, Thornton’s can lay claim to being the town’s most primitive design of shop, a type being built more than 800 years ago. Even the big shopping centres of the 1980s are partly confined by property boundaries laid out before the Norman Conquest.

Pride Hill presents many classic instances of the kind of townscape, the three-dimensional archaeology, that makes Shrewsbury so distinctive – where old buildings, ancient boundaries, buried remains, and terraced hillsides, fit together to form the ultimate historical jigsaw puzzle, while continuing to pose questions like, how old are the Shuts of Shrewsbury?

We look forward to seeing you at what will be a very interesting talk.

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker


Shrewsbury Carnival Day is also National Civic Day Saturday June 17th 2017

It’s a day celebrated nationally to say “I care about where I live”.

In Shrewsbury there will be lots of events with a focus on Conservation and our heritage.
What’s having a Conservation Area done for you?
The day will be bigger than last year and complement the Shrewsbury Carnival.
It’s based on the Bear Steps by St Alkmund’s Church.
Exhibitions by Shropshire Archives, and one about the renovation of the Bear Steps building.
Guided walking tours around the town and its Conservation Area.
A Surgery by Shropshire Council about listed and Conservation buildings, inc SC’s Design and Conservation Awards scheme
A quiz/questionnaire to appraise public understanding about heritage and conservation.
Civic Day ambassadors distributing leaflets around the town.
Costumed Town Heritage additional tour guides.
March from Column to Bear Steps.
Keynote talks in early evening (TBC)
Involved so far are: Shrewsbury Civic Society, Civic Voice, Shropshire Archives, Shropshire Council Conservation Dept., The Column Group, Town Crier, BID, and Shrewsbury University Centre.
Others are joining and offering many more ways to celebrate.
We’re planning a mix of events for fun and for awareness-raising.
If you or your organisation could consider supporting it contact Mike Carter 0n 01743 233893.
Email: with “Civic Day” in the title.
We need helpers: eg sandwich-board walkers, guides, musicians, designers, etc. We’d also like to see activities in the Special Character Areas as well as the Town Centre.     Mike Carter

Planning Matters.

Some recent issues from the Planning Committee of Shrewsbury Civic Society. October/November 2016. Mike Carter.

1. There is an application to turn Shrewsbury’s Rail Station information hall into a Costa coffee shop. The Civic Society regrets the loss of an information point, thinks this is a reasonable place for a coffee shop but objects to any siting of tables and advertising outside on the forecourt.

2. Beechwood House on Town Walls is a large building stretching back to Belmont Bank. The application for this is welcomed since much of it has been unused and looks unkempt. The Society is keen to see a high quality renovation used as houses and apartments.

3. Manser’s Antiques have been housed in a distinctive and prominent building near the English Bridge. There is an application for the change of use of the building to a vets/animal hospital. The details suggest little amendment to the building’s exterior. However, we feel that the elevations should not be affected by any changes and should remain looking true to its original design. Conservation Planning Officers have identified the cautions needed.

4. Shrewsbury’s Copthorne Barracks have been in the news as an application to turn the site into a “village style” housing estate is contentious. The current application is for Outline Planning consent and does not show the quality of the proposed buildings. (We understand that the government has ruled that redundant MOD land must be used for housing.) The Society has concerns for the lost opportunity for a mixed development that could encourage much needed businesses/employment but also about the proposed high density and loss of sufficient open space. If there is to be housing here, we would encourage maximising the use of the current buildings and leaving more open space (especially the whole parade square). There should be a high quality design and a condition that ensures a full contribution to infrastructure, eg to ameliorate traffic issues and to provide school places.

5. Shrewsbury’s Dana Prison is now the subject of a detailed application. The Civic Society is generally delighted to see a feasible plan for the use and regeneration of the site. Our previous comments have welcomed the imaginative ideas although there were some doubts about traffic and parking issues. These concerns (and others) are being discussed and may lead to amendments to the application.

6. The Stew still stands unloved. An Appeal established that the building may not be demolished but it is in urgent need of repair. An agreement was reached about this last January but never acted on. We are told a new initiative is underway. Meanwhile, knowing its heritage significance, the Civic Society has applied for the building to be listed but we remain extremely concerned.

7. A planning application for developments at the Ditherington Flaxmill has now been made. The Society is delighted to see some progress on this extremely long-running and difficult project. We were invited to view the plans before application and felt that the windows should remain authentic to the original design rather than to those of its later uses. It has now been passed but not using our suggestion .

8. We are pleased to hear that the ivy that was covering the Listed Dovecot to the rear of the Tudor Whitehall has now been removed. The Society had discussed this with the Council. We are seeking to identify other buildings whose current condition mars the town’s built environment.

9. Shrewsbury Civic Society Planning Committee occasionally welcomes colleagues from other Shropshire Civic Societies for meetings with senior staff of Shropshire Planning Authority. These meetings share common concerns and enable updates of the County and National context of planning legislation and the implications for Shropshire’s supply of housing land.

10. There are other ways in which the Society tries to encourage conservation of the best of Shrewsbury’s built heritage and tries to promote the best quality designs for developments. For example, the outcomes of the Awards Scheme are explained elsewhere. (See the November 2016 newsletter.)

Halloween Horrorfest from October 16th at Bear Steps Art Gallery

Gallery manager Dave Lupine talks to talented young artist Alberto Pitalua ahead of Horrorfest 2016.


The original Halloween Horrorfest started in 2013 as a collaborative exhibition of only 3 artists; myself, my Belarusian wife Yuliya and Whitchurch based metal-work artist Lee Smith, and it was held in the small Link Room gallery upstairs at Bear Steps. The following two years we raised the bar each time, with 2014’s being held in the main hall and incorporating seven exhibitors and 2015’s utilising all three galleries and including a myriad of styles and mediums with work from sixteen contributors. Horrorfest 2015 proved to be a very popular exhibition, attracting vast numbers of visitors from far and wide and becoming the most financially successful exhibition of the year for Bear Steps. One of the principal ingredients for this surprising, but very welcome, success was the inclusion of Spanish artist Alberto Pitalua who exhibited his artwork for the very first time and sold virtually all of it during the Horrorfest’s two week run.

Language teacher Alberto originates from Malaga, but moved to Shrewsbury two years ago. He was a late addition to last year’s Horrorfest, contacting me only a few weeks before it began about the possibility of exhibiting at Bear Steps at some point, and the moment I saw his artwork I knew I had to grab him to join the show. In preparation for the Halloween Horrorfest 2016 I interviewed Alberto to discover a bit more about this quiet, charming and incredibly talented young artist.

D.L: Hi Alberto, good to see you. So when did you first develop a passion for art?

A.P: Hi Dave, good to see you too. Well I remember spending a lot of time drawing in my room when I was very young. My parents bought me some art books that I used to read for hours and then copy the paintings and illustrations.

As a rather shy boy I preferred to be on my own, immersing myself in my inner-world and developing my artistic skills.

D.L: You decided not to pursue a career in art though?

A.P: Well when I grew older I became more interested in exploring the world around me, travelling. Meeting people, learning new languages. Foreign languages was another passion of mine, and as there was no art school in my home town and, to be honest, art isn’t regarded as a realistic way of making enough money to earn a life, I decided to  study foreign languages at university to become a language teacher. However, I never lost my interest for art and kept painting and drawing as much as possible and whilst working as a teacher I attended several art courses and workshops and met some artists who encouraged me to continue developing my skills.

D.L: So when did you first make the conscious decision you to wanted to exhibit your works to the general public?

A.P: Well two years ago I moved to Shrewsbury, it was then I felt more confident and decided it was the right time to exhibit my work. I contacted different galleries and that was how I met you and you suggested I take part in the Halloween and Christmas shows you were curating in 2015. I will always be so grateful for the support that you, Yuliya and the Shrewsbury Civic Society gave me to start exhibiting my works. I feel as if I were a spoilt child because you have all been so generous to me and I felt such a warm welcome from the very beginning. To be honest, it has been very special to me to start this journey here at Bear Steps, at this amazing building with such nice location, and I have been very lucky to have the help and support of such friendly and inspiring people.

D.L: What does the Bear Steps Halloween Horrorfest mean to you personally?

A.P: The Halloween 2015 show was fantastic. Apart from the success I will remember it as a great experience, I learned a lot and met new people, that is the most important part to me. Obviously it was great to sell so many works (we all have to pay bills and art supplies are quite expensive) but it gave me so much encouragement to continue exhibiting my work.

I am really excited to take part in the Halloween show again this year, where I will exhibit five of my new works. These are mostly portraits where I explore the dark side of love and sexuality, focusing on concepts such as desire, the passing of time, self-destruction and revenge. It’s gong to be great to exhibit together with other artists, some of them good friends, see the people’s reaction and hear their feedback. I’m hugely looking forward to it.

D.L: 2016 has been a very busy year for you on the artistic front, amongst various other shows across the county you had your first solo show with us at Bear Steps. Can you tell me a little about that?

A.P: Yes, in May I had my first solo show, ”Reinventing the Impossible” at Bear Steps. It was a journey to celebrate freedom and the power of imagination. I created a main character, ”Madame Incredula”, who appeared in three works, a veiled woman that personifies emotional weakness, who is too afraid to follow her dreams and even abandons the possibility of love. The viewers could accompany her in a journey among her dreams and nightmares to discover a new universe where everything is possible and everyone can find their own freedom. The most important message that I wanted to convey was that it is never too late to reinvent yourself and do what you want to do, to be brave enough to be what you want to be.

D.L: How would you describe your work and particular style?

A.P: Surrealism is the style I identify most with. However, I consider myself to be a very curious person who likes to try new things so I am sure I will develop my style over the coming years and make sure it is as varied as possible. I don’t like to simply repeat the same things over and over, without challenging myself. I need to get stimulated by new ideas and approaches, but always maintain the same core essence and personality. My works are full of symbolism, there is always a narrative involved, they are a puzzle, an enigma, that needs to be solved by the viewer, with as many possible interpretations as varied as their own personal backgrounds and circumstances.

D.L: Who and what do you consider your primary influences?

A.P: I get inspired by lots of things every day. Life is my inspiration, especially travelling, fashion, music, cinema, literature…I especially like artists such as Salvador Dali, Hyeronimus Bosch, Egon Schiele, Rene Magritte…and contemporary ones like Vladimir Kush, Sergey Tyukanov and Andy Kehoe. My works are also influenced by writers, such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. P Lovecraft and Stephen King, and by movies such those created by Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro and Alfred Hitchcock. Shrewsbury has been a great source of inspiration for me, its architecture, its gardens, the people I have met here, in general its atmosphere has influenced my work a lot. It’s an inspiring town, full

of history and charm, and it is impossible not to fall in love with it. I feel very lucky to be living and working here, the only downside is the weather, which I will never get used to, it’s especially difficult for someone coming from the south of Spain.

D.L: Can you tell me a little more about the creative process?

A.P: I have to say I am fascinated by this and how different artists approach their work in different ways. Inspiration usually come to me at night, just before gong to bed when I take some time to sketch new ideas, but I must confess that I am a day person, so I am more active during the day when I do most of my painting and experimentation. Sometimes it’s just an idea, a concept which needs to be developed through lots of sketching and thinking, but other times it’s such a clear vision that only needs to be directly transferred onto paper or canvas. Sometimes it takes just a few hours to create something, sometimes it takes months or even years to finish a piece. Sometimes it can be frustrating, especially when you don’t get the results that you are striving for, but in general I consider art as therapy. It helps me to escape from the pressures of everyday life and discover and understand parts of me that I didn’t previously know. It is an amazing journey which enables me to share my imaginary worlds with others and to connect with people on a much deeper level than I would otherwise get through casual conversation.

D.L: So, after Halloween Horrorfest 2016, what does the immediate future hold in store for Alberto Pitalua?

A.P: Well I am going to take part in Chester Arts Fair at the end of November, I would like to definitely continue exhibiting in Shrewsbury and maybe I might start a project I have had in my mind for several years: to illustrate a story I wrote some years ago and finally decide to publish it sometime next year. I am very excited about the future. I am very passionate about everything that I am doing at the moment and I hope I can have more opportunities to develop my style and artistic career in the future.

D.L: Well thank you for the interview Alberto, let’s hope the Halloween show is as well received and successful as it was last year, and all the best for your success and future projects.

A.P: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure. I’m so happy for the opportunities you have given me and I’m sure the Halloween Horrorfest will run for many years to come and produce lots of exciting new talent for the future.

The 4th incarnation of the Halloween Horrorfest will be on at Bear Steps Art Gallery from Sunday October 16th until Saturday October 29th, and with this year’s featuring macabre masterpieces by 20+ artists it shapes up to be the biggest one yet.



Harriet Devlin Talk at Bear Steps Thursday 20th October


The Next Forum Meeting – Thursday 20th October at Bear Steps

The next SCS Forum Meeting features Harriet Devlin MBE as the speaker and will include an opportunity for questions about planning matters in Shrewsbury.

Harriet runs a Masters Course on Conservation Planning in Birmingham and lives in an early renovated timber framed house in Cressage. Her talk will focus on the trials and glories of timber framed historic buildings.

Date: Thurs 20th October Time; 7.00pm, Venue: Bear Steps Gallery. Title ‘Conservation creates Consternation – Saving old buildings’.