Our Conservation Work
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 Colchester Historic Post Boxes Survey
The Post Box shown above is the one which created the urgent need for a Survey of the post boxes in the Borough of Colchester. It was removed from Mersea Road, near the Grapes Public House. The Civic Society’s concern was that this pillar box was one of only two surviving “Anonymous” boxes which dated from 1879 and were the oldest in the Borough.
At the request of the Conservation Office at Colchester Planning Department, Bob Mercer offered to create a record that would ensure this might never happen again.
Colchester's War Memorials
The impressive war memorial at the east end of Colchester High Street is a major landmark, but Colchester possess more than fifty other memorials dating from the Great War of 1914 – 1918.
In October 2017 Dr Paul Rusiecki was requested by the Colchester Civic Society to produce a survey of all the borough’s war memorials connected with the Great War. The aim was to establish whether any of them required repairs and/or refurbishment during 2018, the centenary of the Armistice, and the year in which funding for such matters might reasonably be expected to end. We are pleased to report that none were found to be in need of repair.
Colchester's Cast Iron Lampposts
A recent survey by Robert Mercer (for Colchester Civic Society) has established that Colchester currently has 300 unique cast iron lampposts. These 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 Bourne Mill Cannock Mill Project
This was one of the societies earliest and most significant conservation projects, completed almost fifty years ago and two members of our current executive committee have been associated with the society long enough to have played a small part in this.
The Society bought the land between Bourne Mill and Cannock Mill, cleared the stream of vast quantities of rubbish, cut back undergrowth and restored the footpath so that its future as a properly maintained public open space could be assured. The land is now in the care of the Borough Council and as the photos below demonstrate they have continued to keep the path , with its long sections of boardwalk, in good order.
Survey of Historic Street Names
In the Autumn of 2019 ,Colchester Borough Council voted to adopt the new national criteria for local listing . This meant a much broader range of artefacts might be now listed . Colchester has an unusually large heritage of ceramic street names as well as a modest number of earlier cast iron street names which these largely replaced.
The following survey, conducted by Bob Mercer, includes a photographic record of each individual sign and position along with the distribution map, which is the necessary detail for that listing .
The Southway Murals
Colchester Civic Society in collaboration with Colchester in Bloom began fundraising in 2014 in order to restore the series of concrete murals produced by husband and wife team Henry Collins and Joyce Pallot, which were installed in Colchester’s Southway Subways in 1973 -1974.
A grant from Essex Heritage Trust enabled feasibility work and initial restoration of the Abbeygate Street Mural. The full restoration of all the subway murals was made possible by a £55,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and also a grant from The Hervey Benham Trust.