Civic Trust News 2015

Winter 2015

Our Summer break is now a distant memory and the nights are getting darker and the days shorter, doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself.

Our October and November Meetings will still be taking place at The Cricket Club even though building work should be starting at The Cricket Club shortly. The Cricket Club have kindly offered to let us use the Bar area when the lounge is being refurbished so we can carry on as normal. We wish the Cricket Club all success with their new extension and if it goes half as well as their teams have performed this year it will prove a great venue for their supporters and for the Civic Trust.

Our programme for 2016 is coming together nicely with new speakers and some of our old favourites, it looks an exciting year.

One thing which may lift the gloom will be the exterior lighting at St Mary’s. The current lights are getting a little old and out of date, consequently The Civic Trust have decided to fund new LED exterior Lighting for the Church which hopefully will be installed as soon as possible.

It may seem that little is happening in Brook Hollows, but since feedback data from the village was handed to ESBC, many thanks to all those who completed the questionnaires, work has commenced in preparing proposals and plans for submissions to hopefully obtain further funding to ensure the best possible solution for the long term maintenance and viability of Brook Hollows as a valuable and much loved part of Rolleston.

The saga of our Village Neighbourhood Plan continues and angry exchanges have taken place regarding ESBC’s apparent obstruction to the progress of The Neighbourhood Plan to allow the progress of their own Local Plan to adjudication before The Neighbourhood Plan. It must be remembered that Rolleston submitted The Neighbourhood Plan some two years ago and it passed independent inspection with the recommendation that it proceeds to adjudication. ESBC’s actions speak for themselves in this sorry saga. I was distrustful, and perhaps a little cynical, of the order of precedence contained in the “Localism Bill” which appeared to put the actual local people at the bottom of the decision chain, despite the political statements at the time that this new legislation would give “local people” a say in the development of their surroundings. I still cling to the hope that my cynicism was misplaced.

We also still await the decision of The Secretary of State re the College Playing Fields Development which is due in November. To use those wise words of wisdom, “Don’t Panic”

Following my Chairman’s report for 2014/2015 in the summer edition of our Rollestonian Magazine I am pleased to report we have recruited a further member to the Committee, Ann Overton, but we would welcome more help if anyone is willing.

2015 Events

Weds 18th November
Malcolm Goode Burton’s Role in WW I

No December event

Autumn 2015

Following my Chairman’s report for 2014/2015 in the summer edition of our Rollestonian Magazine I am pleased to report we have recruited a further member to the Committee, Ann Overton, but we would welcome more help if anyone is willing.

The year 2015/2016 has started well and our hard worked volunteers continue their sterling work in maintaining the troughs on Brookside and The Spread Eagle Island. Their efforts are much appreciated and make our village a much prettier place for ourselves and our visitors.

Our programme of talks began in May with a presentation by Dave Robbie concerning JRR Tolkien and his connections with Staffordshire, including some very interesting local connections. Tolkien spent his service years on Cannock Chase and if you have walked on The Chase you have undoubtedly trod some of the paths he used in The Lord of the Rings Triology. In June Maragret George related the history of Chartley Castle which is found between Uttoxeter and Stafford. How many know it is even there?

Our events started with the plant swap on May 10th when we managed to raise £150 for St Mary’s and our walk and talk on May 20th was a visit to Sinia House. Forty members enjoyed a guided tour round the house followed by welcome refreshments at The Albion nearby.

Brook Hollows has taken much of my and the Committee’s time in the first few months of this new year. I reported in The Summer Edition that discussions were ongoing with The Borough Council following the petition re Brook Hollows and letters from The Parish Council and ourselves. I am pleased to report that action has been taken by East Staffs Borough Council and following further meetings and discussions they have agreed to help. A considerable cash sum has been ring-fenced by ESBC in their Budgets to start us on our way and other bodies have shown a willingness to help. Our own Borough Councillor Beryl Toon is giving active support and attends the meetings with us and our local MP Andrew Griffiths has also added his support. To gauge the level of support for the proposed expenditure in Brook Hollows East Staffs Borough Council requested feedback be obtained from local residents and provided a short questionnaire to be issued locally. The Civic Trust has manned displays at The Transport Festival and The Community Day to make these questionnaires available and hope these will persuade The Borough Council that Brook Hollows needs to be preserved for the local community.

The Borough Council wants to help, but we must show that the village is solidly behind this project.

If you wish to show support we suggest you contact The Parish Council or ESBC.

Autumn Programme

Please note that due to building works at the Cricket Club some meetings may be held at The Old Grammar School in St Mary’s Churchyard. Please check the village noticeboards for announcements. All meetings commence at 8.00 pm.

Weds.16th September
Keith Blood The Derby Friargate Line

Weds. 21st October
Steve Booth The Fauld Explosion

Weds 18th November
Malcolm Goode Burton’s Role in WW I

No December event

Summer 2015


Chairman Peter Barnett
Secretary Vanessa Winstone
Treasurer Michael Hill
Committee Sue Fraser Roger Gawthorpe


This year has been a little frustrating for myself and the Committee following the Special Meeting held in January 2014 with the aim of strengthening the Committee and re focusing the Civic Trust.

A lot of interest was shown in the meeting and some good ideas were generated, the Committee worked hard on the ideas put forward and in particular the growth of the use of electronic communication. We now have 80 members on our e-mail circulation list. We have tried new ideas and reshaped events.

Despite these efforts we can only report that membership is at best static. Our meetings are reasonably well attended but we still rely on our much APPRECIATED small band of regulars. At the meeting in January we were bursting at the seams, where did they all go? It may not always be obvious what RCT are involved in so let me tell you what we did this year.

Meetings Programme

Our programme started in April with another talk on our local surroundings by Janet Spavold. We make no apologies for again inviting Janet as her talks and local knowledge are always interesting and lively.

The June talk had a military air with Major Edward Green talking about the Staffordshire Regiments in World War 1.

Poisons in the Garden featured in September, and in October Rod Pearson gave his talk “Time Gentlemen Please” . In November our Committee Member Ali Lewis told us of her narrow escapes in the devastating earthquakes in New Zealand and showed the devastation caused. Very sobering.

January saw the return of a very popular speaker and local historian, Richard Stone, talking of Muses, Models and Mistresses, and in February Tim Moss told us of life on a coral atoll Sue Barke has entertained us with another fine talk on the day in the life of an undertaker.


Our first event of the year was in May with our usual plant swap, this time held in the Church as clay was being puddled in the old grammar school to prepare for the well dressing. The event was well attended as usual and refreshments provided to all. We managed to raise £235 for St Mary’s.

May also saw our Walk and Talk event moving to Ashbourne and forty members toured the town in two groups. It was surprising what Ashbourne has to offer and what hidden gems there are to be seen. The evening finished at the Cock Inn in Clifton for sandwiches, chips and a beer, some members took the opportunity to visit one of the goals, the downwards, of the Ashborne football match.

The summer event was a total departure from usual with a talk by Dr David Leahy on The Staffordshire Hoard The event was held in John of Rolleston School and was a sell-out. Special thanks to all the Committee who worked so hard to make a success of the evening and to Beryl Toon who produced the food for us on the evening, even though it was her birthday. We managed to raise £ 1407.09 for the Alms House Appeal, the only problem is that we now have to think of something else that will match or better such a good evening.

Our final event was our annual mulled wine at Apple Acres in January.

Village Projects

Spread Eagle Island
Watering continued throughout the summer, dying plants were replaced, weeding was continual and other plants were added. I personally have heard people say what a wonderful asset for the village the island now is. Many thanks to members of our Committee, Karin Kay and the Parish Council for their continued efforts. The anvil has been restored, our Civic Trust Award Plaque put up and we have now installed a water butt and rainwater pipes behind the bus shelter to help with the watering.

Troughs on Burnside
We continue to work with the PC to keep the troughs filled with flowering plants throughout the year and they do contribute greatly to the feel of our village. Again many thanks to the small band who work so hard to maintain them. We have suffered from vandalism this year and on one terrible evening some mindless yobs tipped most of the troughs into the brook. It was amazing what the response was from the village with people turning out on the Sunday morning to put matters right. It really shows how much the display is appreciated.

Brook Hollows
We continued to write to and lobby ESBC throughout the year as it was clear the agreed maintenance works scheduled to be carried out by ESBC were not being done. Others were also concerned with the apparent failure of ESBC to take seriously the village’s concerns as to the state of the area that a petition was raised by Brian Chinn, and this, together with our letters and prompts from the PC appears to have persuaded ESBC that the problem has to be addressed. Works have been carried out by ESBC and a meeting has been held at the Town Hall, which was attended by the PC and the Civic Trust, and proposals re desilting the lake are back under discussion. We still have a long way to go.

Millennium Orchard
The Civic Trust raised concerns with the PC as to the state of this facility. The PC immediately took notice and organised a working party in the autumn to clear round the trees and strim the dense undergrowth prior to inspecting and pruning the fruit trees. Members of the PC and the Civic Trust still have the callouses and aching backs after the Saturday morning’s work.

Village Archive
By agreement of the members the Civic Trust created a subcommittee to champion the creation of a village archive. This is still in its early days but progress has been made in gaining the support of the Parish Council, the Parochial Church Council and other village bodies in the proposals. The next stage will be the development of a sound business plan for the provision and management of this village facility.

Our magazine continues to be a must read for a lot of people in the village and is one of the most useful sources of village news, information and events. Through the hard work and determination of Tom and Clare, and our friends who deliver it all round the village, we have this wonderful advert for Rolleston and all the good things that happen here. We have a lot to thank them for.

The year has been dominated by the village’s ongoing battle with ESBC over the progress of our Neighbourhood Plan and the proposed developments by Burton College and on Tutbury Road. I don’t feel it is appropriate to go into details in my report, but what I must do now is to stress my heartfelt thanks for the work put in by the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Planning Group over the year, in very difficult and stressful circumstances. To keep going in the face of such a hostile atmosphere is extraordinary. The effort by all has been magnificent but I feel I must mention the effort and work put in by Barry Edwards. This has been over and above what any person should be put through in the defence of his village. The battle goes on.

Committee and Membership
We come now to the source of the frustration that I mentioned earlier. The Committee has again worked extremely hard to make a success of the year and I think all the details of our work reported above clearly show that.

I ask you to remember my appeal at the beginning of 2014 in that we faced the loss of a number of long standing committee members who, through no fault of their own, can no longer give the commitment required.

I have to report that we have lost five members of the Committee at the end of the year 2014/15. This leaves us with a core group of five to take us through next year.

Membership is about the same as last year as is the attendance at our meetings. We still have to question if there is a role for The Civic Trust as it now stands and must look for ways to ease the burden on such a small Committee. Perhaps we need to liaise with other local Civic Trusts to ensure the good work goes on.

Summer Programme

Sunday May 10th 2 pm – 4pm
refreshments available
Old Grammar School Room
Proceeds to St Mary’s Fabric Fund

Wednesday 20th May
6.45 for 7.00 pm
refreshments to follow at the Albion Shobnall Road

Wednesday 17th June
talk by Margaret George
Rolleston Cricket Club 8.00 pm

Spring 2015

Civic Trust Recent Events

November – This month’ The Christchurch Earthquake – A unique and personal experience’ was the title of the talk given by Ali Lewis. Ali a Civic Trust committee member, and husband Steve, have spent several years living and working in New Zealand. They still visit their former home and it was on one of these visits to Christchurch that they experienced the trauma of living through the devastating earthquake in February 2011, which claimed the lives of 185 people. The earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and had followed a previous quake some six months earlier. This had no fatalities but had significantly weakened the buildings which were so badly affected in the subsequent disaster.

As a former teacher of geology, Ali spoke from a professional and personal point of view and clearly New Zealand has a very special place in both her and Steve’s hearts.

During the quake and continuing aftershocks, the couple sheltered with their friends in the safest place in the house –under the stairs – a cosy experience by all accounts! Emerging after things had quietened down several hours later they discovered the devastation that will affect that area in particular and New Zealand in general for decades to come.

This was a fascinating and impassioned talk of surviving a personal encounter with the one of the more extreme forces of nature.

January – Our first talk of the New Year was presented by Richard Stone. His subject ‘Models, Muses and Mistresses: The Pre Raphaelites’ shed a good deal of light on the role of the women who were an integral part of the Pre Raphaelite society. Formed in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Daniel Gabriel Rossetti, the Pre Raphael Brotherhood was a new movement in British art influenced by nature, jewel like colour and the medieval period.

They had several regular models who often posed for the brotherhood members, some of them formed close relationships with the artists and affairs with the models were not an unusual occurrence. Lizzie Siddal was one such muse, who had originally been spotted by artist Walter Deverell and was painted by Millais for his beautiful work Ophelia. Lizzie came to the notice of Daniel Rossetti who went on to use her exclusively as his model and stopped her from modelling for other artists. Rossetti married Lizzie after a long and tempestuous relationship but her health had been compromised since her modelling job for the Ophelia painting when she had lain in cold water for several hours, subsequently suffering from pneumonia. It has also been suggested that she had other health issues - depression, anorexia and an addiction to laudanum. She died young at the age of 32 in 1862.

There were many other girls and woman employed by the brotherhood as models, several of them went on to marry well and others become well known artists in their own right. It was a close knit group and they were in some cases related to each other or the artists.

Richard’s talk, as usual attracted a large audience, who much appreciated his knowledge and interest in this fascinating subject.

Forthcoming Programme

Wednesday 18th February
Talk by Tim Moss
“Living on a Coral Atoll in the South Pacific”

Wednesday 18th March
AGM andTalk by Sue Barke
“A Day in the Life of a Funeral Director”

Wednesday 15th April
Talk by Dave Robbie “JRR Tolkien in Staffordshire”

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Last updated: 31 December 2015