Eyes & Ears
‘Eyes and Ears’ is an initiative that aims to make a real difference to the everyday ‘look and feel’ of Colchester. It encourages everyone to keep their eyes and ears open on their daily travels around the town and to be on the look-out for things that need flagging up for action.
Colchester Civic Society has a long history of involvement in conservation projects, from the Scheregate Improvement scheme and the Cannock Mill/Bourne Mill project of the 1960’s, through to the Southway Murals Restoration in 2018 and the current project to repaint Colchester’s Cast Iron Lampposts.
The Civic Society is keen to commemorate important people, places and events in the town and has been involved with the erection of several blue plaques and the restoration of others plaques including one which commemorates John Ball, one of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt.
Colchester's Cast Iron Lampposts
A survey in 2019 by Robert Mercer established that Colchester had 300 unique cast iron lampposts, plus around thirty more bought in from sources outside of the town. (you will find a link for the survey at the bottom of the page) The Colchester cast iron lampposts were made for the Borough Council by a number of Colchester Foundries during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. The pattern, or wooden former used to produce these castings was owned by Colchester Borough Council and passed to the foundry which had the current contract to supply castings for the street lighting. Originally these would have all been for gas lights, but in due course they were converted to electric lighting.
The Society encourages the best modern architecture and is prepared to comment on planning matters at every level. We respond to consultations on planning issues, from specific sites to the more general Local Plan. We also support the conservation of our older buildings of merit – buildings that are of historical importance, add to a street scene, are architecturally pleasing or simply of sentimental value within the community.
The society takes a keen interest in all matters appertaining to highways, including future new road plans serving the Colchester area, issues for local residents regarding local roads, pavements, signage and any changes. We meet periodically with Essex County Highways to represent the views of the Society and its members and gain valuable insight into strategic highways plans.
Colchester Civic Society believes that the network of Public Rights of Way should be protected, cherished and expanded. It believes it’s important to properly consider rights of way issues as an integral part of local planning and development work and wherever possible to seek to extend and link up the network of Public Rights of Way in order to increase public access and environmentally friendly travel options.
The Civic Society recognises the importance of trees. We encourage the preservation of trees, remind developers of their responsibilities to ensure the survival of newly planted trees and plant trees ourselves.
The society feels that Colchester should be for everyone and that a balanced evening and night-time economy is best for the town. Accordingly, we monitor applications for licences and object to those we feel would disrupt that balance.
The Civic Society is a consultee of Colchester Borough Council when there are new streets to be named in the urban part of the Borough. Our concern is that our street names reflect Colchester’s rich heritage, both recent and in the further past. This was not always happening until we became involved.
Publications & Films
Colchester Civic Society is occasionally involved in the publishing of books, research and films. 2018 has been a productive year with the publication of the book The Historic High Street, a website and two films about the work of Henry and Joyce Collins, with particular focus on their concrete murals in the Southway subways. Also just published through this website is a major survey of Colchester’s war memorials commemorating the Great War 0f 1914-18
Heritage Open Days
The Colchester Civic Society, like Civic Societies throughout the country, is involved with Heritage Open Days. Our members steward a number of the properties open to visitors during this event at the beginning of September each year.
The Society believes that interpretation boards are extremely important. We have contributed to the cost of a number of boards around the town and with Colchester In Bloom we have also erected interpretation boards to provide information about the recently restored Southway Murals.