John Wild – Obituary


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John Wild, who sadly died on 28th September at the age of ninety three, had been  a member of the Civic Society from very soon after its foundation in 1968.

John Wild and Councillor David Clarke

John Wild with Councillor David Clarke

An Architect by profession, he made his skills freely available and helped to stay the tendency of certain developers to vandalise parts of Newcastle which were rich in heritage.  The project to save Maer Hills from totally unsuitable development was just one of the many causes he espoused, and he also gave valuable guidance in preserving Maer church from decay.John Wild

A very active member of the Civic Society, he served as Honorary Secretary and later as Chairman for many years, before being elected as President.  In 2002 John resigned from the Society due to increasing hearing problems, and was elected an Honorary member to mark our appreciation of his enormous contributions to the work of the Civic Society.

On 18th December 2007 the Town Mayor, Councillor David Clarke, and members of the Borough Council decided to issue Certificates of Outstanding Service to certain valued citizens. John Wild was the first person to receive one of these prestigious awards, in a ceremony at the Civic Offices, attended by his family and colleagues from the Civic Society. With typical modesty, he felt that this was as much an honour to the Society as to him personally.

John Wild (left) with Councillor David Clarke and Jim Worgan

John Wild (left) with Councillor David Clarke and Jim Worgan (right)

John was a real gentleman, of great integrity. Polite, gracious and always ready to listen to others,  but also a man of inner strength and convictions to uphold what he knew to be right.

He will be greatly missed, by his family, by the Society and by a Borough to which he devoted so much of his time and energy.

English Heritage Angel Award Recognition



This year Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society was nominated for an English Heritage Angel Award for the conservation work undertaken on the Queen Victoria Statue that stands in the Queen’s Gardens in the Ironmarket.

English Heritage received over 100 nominations for an award. This resulted in very strong shortlists. Unfortunately our project was not shortlisted but NuL Civic Society has received the certificate below in recognition of the quality of our nomination and the work undertaken to conserve and preserve the Grade 2 listed statue.

Angels award

To view the winning projects please visit the English Heritage website using this link

DENIS DUFFY – Obituary


Denis Duffy

Denis Duffy President of Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society

Denis joined the Civic Society in 1991.  A regular attendee of our monthly meetings, he was a staunch supporter of the Society’s projects.

For many years he was the hard working and conscientious Honorary Secretary, and would often deliver minutes to members by hand, always finding time for a chat as he did so.

In 2009 Denis was elected as President of the Society and in 2014 he became one of only four elected Honorary  members, positions he held with considerable pride for the rest of his life.

His knowledge of the locality and buildings was of great value to the Civic Society and his well-informed advice was readily given whenever requested.

Always cheerful and ready to help on any occasion, Denis became a good friend to all of us who knew him, and he will be greatly missed.

The Rt. Hon. the Baroness Williams of Crosby visits her mother’s birthplace

On 16th July 2015 the Rt. Hon. the Baroness Williams of Crosby visited Newcastle-under-Lyme to give a lecture at the North Staffordshire Medical Institute. Whilst in Newcastle she took the opportunity to visit 9, Sidmouth Avenue , the house in which her mother, Vera Brittain, was born.


In 2007 Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society commissioned a blue plaque to commemorate the life and work of Vera Brittain.


Having admired the plaque, Baroness Williams walked into Brampton Park to see the recently installed sculpture of “The Lady in the Park” that depicts a young woman during the 1st World War sitting on a bench reading a letter from the King. Inscribed into the stone paving nearby is an extract from Vera Brittain’s “The Testament of Youth” that refers to the lady being “….in the leafy Brampton”.


Baroness Williams was also interested to view the nearby sculpture, carved from the trunk of a chestnut tree, depicting Thomas Brown Tivey of Wolstanton in his 1st World War soldier’s uniform. Thomas survived the war and became a writer and lecturer at the College of Building.

Baroness Williams then returned to the house in Sidmouth Avenue to have tea with its current owner. This was, apparently, the first time she had been inside the house where her mother was born.

28 High Street – Decorative Ironwork Restoration


We are please to report that the restoration of the decorative ironwork at 28 High Street has been successfully completed. This prominent landmark building overlooks Red Lion Square and the War Memorial in the town centre. It has changed little over the past hundred years and was, for many years, Wain’s Chemists.Set 1 - 54

Parts of the decorative ironwork over the fascia had been lost and the remaining panels were covered in many layers of paint.


We contacted Calibre Metalwork Ltd in Stockport who came and removed the remaining panels. They expertly stripped them back to the metal revealing the original fine, detailed castings which they used to make new panels to replace the missing ones.


The quality and craftsmanship of their work is outstanding. Throughout the project Calibre Metalwork Ltd. kept us informed of progress and liaised closely with our roofing contractors. We would have no hesitation in recommending Calibre Metalwork Ltd. ( to anyone considering similar work.

Calibre picture

We contracted Steve Emery Roofing Ltd. of Newcastle-under-Lyme to make waterproof the roof area whilst this work was undertaken and to repair/replace the leadwork.  As is often the case, inspection revealed some quite extensive areas of rotten woodwork which also needed to be replaced. Although the job became more complicated than we originally thought, Steve Emery Roofing Ltd. completed the work to a very high standard.

Fortunately both our contractors worked well together and although the job took rather longer than anticipated we are delighted with the end results as are the building’s owners who made a substantial contribution towards the costs of the project.



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.

QVS 0314 008

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




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