Bernard Billington – Died 31st January 2015

Bernard, ably supported by his wife Kathleen, had been a staunch member of the Civic Society since its early days and  he regularly contributed his  well-considered views on most subjects discussed at our monthly meetings.

Probably the highlight of his achievements as a member was the fact that it was he who first suggested that the Civic Society should endeavour to get the Queen Victoria statue removed from the Station Walks and returned to a more appropriate site in the town. He also introduced us to his friend Wilf Burt, the stone mason who eventually oversaw the safe transport and re-erection of this statue in the Queen’s Gardens. Bernard personally paid for a new sceptre to replace the original one which had been stolen.

Bernard suffered medical problems in his later years, exacerbated by the rather sudden death of his much loved wife, but although no longer able to attend our meetings, he retained his interest in the society’s activities to preserve and enhance his beloved Newcastle to the end.

Bernard saw wartime service in the RAF, during which time he was “mentioned in despatches”.  This was followed by a career in the insurance industry.

A man of high standards and integrity, his contributions to the work of the society, and his friendship with those who remember him will be greatly missed.

Official Event Commemorates Founder Member Jim Wain


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On Tuesday 9th December 2014 Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society was very pleased to recognise the achievements and generosity of a founder member, the late Clement “Jim” Wain who died in 2011 aged 92 years, when we officially “unveiled” the newly refurbished Queen Victoria Statue in the Queen’s Gardens and presented the Jim Wain Photographic Collection to the Borough Museum.

Jim Wain tidiedJim was a member of a prominent local family all of whom loved our town, actively promoted its prosperity and strove to maintain its unique character. Jim was a real character himself and is greatly missed by all who knew him. He really cared about the town and was a tenacious campaigner. When Jim died he bequeathed three wonderful gifts to the Society. Firstly our memories of his fighting spirit, good humour and constant vigilance in preserving all that is special about our town. Secondly his extensive and unique collection of photographs of Newcastle-under-Lyme and the surrounding area showing its evolution and its treasures and eyesores lost during redevelopments. Thirdly Jim left a cash legacy to the Society to help us to continue his good work.

Members of the Civic Society decided to use part of his legacy to fund the refurbishment of the town’s Queen Victoria Statue. This work was most ably carried out by Hall Conservation and W. Burt inscribed the stone plaque.

At the event on 9th December members of the Society were delighted to be joined by The Worshipful The Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme Councillor Linda Hailstones, her Consort Councillor Peter Hailstones and their Sergeant together with  L. Wallace (Conservation Officer), P. Stepien (Landscape Officer-Landscape Development), D. Adams (Director of Amenities) and R. Tait (Head of Operations) from the Borough Council and stone sculptor W. Burt. Jim Wain’s family was very well represented by his nephews Stephen and William, his sister-in-law Janet and other family members.


On this chilly afternoon The Society’s Press Officer, Jim Worgan, addressed the gathering beside the statue and the Worshipful The Mayor responded by expressing the Borough’s appreciation for the work carried out to enhance and preserve the Grade II Listed monument.


The party then proceeded to the Borough Museum for the official handover of the Jim Wain Photographic Collection and reception.

IMG_3318At the Museum our Chairman, Joan Howe, welcomed our guests and, as a selection of Jim’s pictures were projected onto the wall behind her, talked about Jim and the collection of photos he had amassed. She officially presented the collection to the Museum and introduced William Wain and Teresa Mason (Culture and Arts Manager) both of whom eloquently addressed the gathering. The Worshipful The Mayor was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a year’s complimentary membership of the Society.


Statue Background Information

The original marble statue by Charles Bell Birch A.R.A. is in Oodeypore, India. From this six bronze copies were made and these are now located in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Victoria Square in Adelaide, St Peter Port  Guernsey, Aberdeen, Scarborough, The Royal Infirmary Derby and Blackfriars Bridge in London.

Newcastle, Nelson Place (2)The Newcastle-under-Lyme statue was presented to the Borough by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam and unveiled in Nelson Place on 6th November 1903 by Grand Duke Michael of Russia. It remained in that prime location until the 1960s when the construction of the ring road caused it to be moved to Station Walks.


Station Walks is a pleasant but secluded public space and unfortunately the statue became neglected and was vandalised.

As the new millennium approached Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society launched a project to refurbish the statue and return it to a prominent town centre site close to its original location. With the approval and support of the Borough Council, the Society set about raising funds. The project cost in the region of £10,000 and was funded by the Civic Society and contributions from members of the public, the Borough Council and local businesses.


The statue now proudly stands in Queen’s Gardens at the bottom of the Ironmarket by Nelson Place.


In 2004 the Society commissioned a condition survey of the statue which showed that,following years of neglect and the effects of corrosion, work was required to refurbish the Grade II listed statue.

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2014 – Conservation work and refurbishment completed by Hall Conservation and W. Burt (stone sculptor).



Newcastle Business Boost Awards

The Newcastle Business Boost Awards have just been launched for 2014 and in addition to the usual business categories, the Newcastle Town Centre Partnership is sponsoring a ‘Best for Customer Experience’ award, aimed at Newcastle Town Centre businesses. Entry to this category is only by nomination from the general public (for others, the businesses themselves need to apply). To nominate a business log on to click on the ‘Nominate’ button and complete the simple form explaining why you wish to nominate the business.
There should also be a link from
The closing date is 3rd August.

Queen Victoria Statue Conservation – 2014

Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society is once more proud to be instrumental in the conservation of this iconic statue. To find out more about its history and the Society’s involvement in its relocation and return to prominence just type Queen Victoria in the search box above.

In 2004 the Society commissioned a condition survey of the statue which showed that, following years of neglect, work was required to refurbish the Grade II listed statue.

The Civic Society, with the support of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, has sponsored the refurbishment in memory of our founder member and local businessman Clement “Jim” Wain who loved this town and strove to preserve its character and promote its prosperity.

Work commenced during the week beginning 24th February 2014 and the photos below illustrate some to the work undertaken.


The cleaned statue is heated ready for the application of the base coat of wax, so that it flows into all the “nooks and crannies”.


Wax is applied to the heated area by a stippling method.

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The finished effect after the top coat of wax is applied by the same method.


Civic Awards Scheme 2013 – Results


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This scheme aims to promote and encourage good design and workmanship in new buildings, refurbishment of older buildings and landscape schemes with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

This year we received eight nominations:

One nomination for new residential buildings
One nomination for new commercial buildings
Two nominations for the refurbishment of commercial buildings
Four nominations of landscape schemes

Judging took place on 3rd October. The judging panel consisted of the Conservation Officer and Councillors of Newcastle Borough Council, architects, planners and members of Newcastle Civic Society.

The Society’s thanks go to the judging panel for giving up their time and to all those who nominated projects.

The following three projects will be presented with awards by His Worship the Mayor, Councillor E. Boden at the Civic Offices on 5th December.

The Orchard, Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme has been awarded a winner’s plaque for good design and workmanship in the new residential buildings category.

The Orchard Chesterton

Mellard’s Warehouse, Market Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme has been awarded a winner’s plaque for good design and workmanship in the refurbishment of commercial buildings category.





Keele University Day Nursery, Keele has been awarded a Certificate of Commendation for good design and workmanship in the new commercial buildings category.

Keele nursery.bmp

The Civic Awards Scheme, promoting and encouraging good design and workmanship within the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, takes place every two years and we hope that in 2015 there will be even more nominations which can be made by anyone who identifies a project they feel merits consideration.

Heritage Open Days 2013 Find Out More !


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Come along and see some of our very special buildings !

Chapel of Rest, Newcastle Cemetery, Lymewood Grove, off Friarswood Road (Also accessible from Abbot’s Way, Westlands). A Victorian burial chapel of 1866, with original ceramic tiles and oak pews.

Open Thursday 12th September, 2pm to 4pm


St. Giles Parish Church, Church Street. A Gothic revival of 1876, designed by George Gilbert Scott. The medieval tower is the oldest structure in Newcastle. Climb the tower for the view !

Open Friday 13th September, 9am to 12 noon and Saturday 14th September, 10am to 6pm


Unitarian Meeting House, Lower Street (A34) close to the Parish Church. Built in 1717 (upper storey 1926). Older building burned down in 1715. Attended by Josiah Wedgwood and Joseph Priestley. (Look for the Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society Blue Plaques).

Open Saturday 14th September, 11am to 4pm


Holy Trinity Church, London Road (A34). Built in 1834 of decorative blue brick. Original altars and fittings. Interesting stained glass. Life sized statues by Eric Gill.

Open Saturday 14th September, 10.30am to 5pm


St. Margaret’s, Wolstanton. Red sandstone landmark. Interesting Sneyd family effigies. Grave of Henry Faulds, fingerprinting pioneer and of Sarah Smith, a murder mystery.

Open Saturday 14th September, 1pm to 5pm


Keele Hall. Former home of the Sneyd family. Victorian gardens and arboretum. Guided tours of the hall and gardens. Raven Mason Ceramics Collection on display. Antique pottery identification by curator.

Open Sunday 15th September 10.30am to 3.30pm



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