Salon Archive

Issue: 38

Weekly meeting report

A summary of last week’s meeting (‘May Morris: author, artist and craftsworker in her own right’, by Linda Parry, FSA) will be posted on the website on Friday 13 December – our apologies for the delay, which is entirely due to the fact that the editor lost (but has now found again) his notes on the meeting.

Forthcoming meetings

12 December: A Miscellany of Papers, one of which, the General Secretary promises, will be ‘a spooky seasonal contribution in the spirit of M R James’.

16 January: ‘Chasing the Shadows: some field studies of south Scandinavian rock carvings’, by Professor John Coles, FSA.

Fellows’ news

A number of Fellows have asked for further information about the High Court hearing in respect of the freehold of Burlington House. The General Secretary will speak on this topic at the weekly meeting on 12 December, and next week’s SALON will carry a summary of his report.

Vacancy for a Lecturer Grade A/B in Archaeology at Exeter University

Applications are invited for a new permanent lectureship in Archaeology, within the School of Geography and Archaeology, to be appointed from January 2003, or as soon as possible thereafter. The closing date for applications is 10 December, so anyone seriously interested could contact the Head of the Department of Archaeology, Professor Valerie Maxfield, by telephone (01392 264327) or email (V.A.Maxfield@exeter.ac.uk) immediately to state their intention of applying.

Starting salary will be at scale point 9 (currently �23,296 pa) on the Lecturer scale �22,191 pa - �33,679 pa. The scale will be subject to a cost of living review with effect from 1 August 2003.

Applicants should be able to contribute to one or more of the Department's three inter-related research areas: Cultural Landscapes; Resource Exploitation and Material Culture; and Wetland Archaeology. Preference will be given to a candidate specializing in one of the following areas: archaeobotany; ceramics; petrology; GIS; the material culture of arid- or wetlands; landscape archaeology.

The successful applicant will be required to contribute to both the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes (details of which are available on the Department web site at . He/she will be required to contribute, as appropriate, to core modules, dissertation supervision and fieldwork and to offer option courses in his/her own particular areas of expertise.

APPAG public meeting

Burlington House played host to a public meeting on Saturday 7 December 2002 at which members of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group presented some of the main conclusions from their report, which will be published in January 2003.

A packed meeting heard Lord Renfrew, FSA, Lord Redesdale, Roger Bland, FSA, Dai Morgan Evans, FSA, and Lindsay Allason-Jones, FSA, discuss the current state of archaeology in the UK and propose a number of reforms – among them, making the maintenance of Sites and Monuments Records a statutory duty, bringing an end to competitive tendering for archaeological contracts under PPG 16 and granting area franchises instead, and introducing a bill to make it a specific criminal offence to handle stolen antiquities.

The APPAG report will also call on government departments to work together more effectively in the interests of archaeology. Specifically, the Department for Education and Science will be asked to end discrimination against archaeology graduates who wish to enter the teaching profession (at present, entry to teacher-training courses requires a degree in a core curriculum subject) and the Department for Food and Rural Affairs will be asked to recognise the damage that ploughing and drainage have on the archaeological resource and to implement measures to achieve more sustainable agricultural practices.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be asked to make the protection of archaeology (above and below the ground) a central plank of the new Planning Bill currently before Parliament, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will be asked to ensure continuity of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and to improve museums funding so that they can continue to undertake primary research and provide adequate conservation, storage and archive facilities for archaeological finds.

From the floor, speakers added their own calls for a quantum leap in pay and conditions for archaeologists, for more thought to be given to succession planning, so that the next generation of specialists could be given opportunities to work alongside established experts, for archaeological professionals to revive the tradition of involving volunteer/amateur archaeologists in their work, and for everyone who undertakes excavation work to communicate better with the public, in whose name the work is undertaken.

Summing up, Lord Redesdale said that it was up to all archaeologists to raise the profile of the historic environment and to lend their active support to the APPAG report’s recommendations by writing to MPs and ministers. ‘Letters help to draw the attention of the government and parliamentarians to the issues that people care about’, he said.

Further details of the report will be given in SALON once they are available.

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, which will make major changes to the planning system in England and Wales, was published last week (the full text can be viewed or downloaded from www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmbills/012/2003012.htm.

Measures in the Bill were foreshadowed by the Planning Green Paper and the subsequent policy statement Sustainable Communities - Delivering through Planning, which was published last July. APPAG members in the Commons and the Lords have said that they will scrutinize the Bill to ensure that the protection afforded to archaeology and listed buildings in the public interest is not watered down.

Most measures in the bill are aimed at streamlining the planning system. County structure plans are to be abolished, leaving a two-tier system of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Plans. The Secretary of State will have new powers to call-in major infrastructural projects of national or regional importance and to make a determination under the advice of a planning inspector.

Statutory consultees (including national amenity societies such as the SPAB, the Georgian, Victorian and Twentieth Century Societies and the Garden History Society) will have to respond to consultation requests within a prescribed period as part of an attempt to cut down the length of time taken to process planning applications.

Potentially good news for the historic environment is the requirement that local planning authorities should exercise their planning functions in a way that contributes to sustainable development. They will also have to publish a ‘statement of community involvement’, setting out their policy for consulting interested parties in matters relating to development in their area.

Statutory SMRs in Scotland

While the APPAG report comes down firmly in support of the idea of statutory Sites and Monuments Records, attempts to make SMRs compulsory in Scotland have suffered a setback. Members of the Scottish Executive apparently feel that to legislate would be to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, given that only four out of thirty-two Scottish councils lack SMR provision. Instead Historic Scotland has been encouraged to raise its concerns with the four defaulting authorities. Campaigners for statutory SMRs, to be compiled to agreed minimum standards, have not given up on their objectives: they intend to make another attempt to insert a clause in the Scottish Planning Bill later this year if there is no progress over the four authorities.

Early Day Motion on HMS Sussex

Alex Hunt, Research and Conservation Officer at the Council for British Archaeology, writes to say: ‘Some of you may have been following news of the deal between the UK Government and a Florida-based company, Marine Odyssey Exploration Inc, for salvage from the wreck of the warship Sussex, which sank off Gibraltar in 1694.’

‘Edward O'Hara, Labour MP for Knowsley South, has lodged an Early Day Motion noting concern about the purpose and terms of the deal (the full text of which is given below). The motion has been co-sponsored by APPAG member Richard Allan MP (Lib Dem, Sheffield Hallam, who has also placed a series of eleven parliamentary questions about the deal.’

‘Early Day Motions (EDMs) are a means to raise attention about an issue within Parliament. Once lodged, Members of the House of Commons are free to sign-up to signify their endorsement. They remain ‘open’ for sign-up for the duration of the Parliamentary Session. EDMs are not normally directly debated, but may be referred to in debate.’

‘The Council for British Archaeology wholeheartedly endorses Mr O'Hara's motion and intends to write to MPs to ask that they support it. You too can help very greatly in fostering support for the motion by writing to your MP requesting that they sign the motion. You can find some background information setting out the CBA's concerns about the Sussex deal in our original press release of 8 October 2002 which can be found on the CBA website at www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve/sussex.html.’

Early Day Motion No 250: HMS SUSSEX

‘This House applauds the Government's recent actions to protect the wreck of the American warship Bonhomme Richard and to return treasure illicitly taken from a wreck in Italian waters; welcomes recent improvements to the Treasure Act and its Code of Practice strengthening archaeological reporting of portable antiquities; notes the generally successful arrangement for archaeological investigations in public private partnerships for major infrastructure projects, including deposition of all finds in public museums; further notes the Government has ratified the Valletta Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage and has explicitly endorsed the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, both of which proscribe excavations carried out principally to recover precious metals and cultural objects for sale and dispersal; regrets therefore that the Ministry of Defence has signed a treasure-hunting contract with Odyssey Marine Inc based on the sale of cultural materials from the warship, Sussex which sank off Gibraltar in 1694; doubts whether the project's principal purpose is recovery and disposal of UK cultural assets, conservation of the wreck, or archaeological research for public benefit; questions the technical feasibility of undertaking proper archaeological research at a depth of 2,500 feet; further notes significant domestic and international concern about precedents that this case may set; and asks the Government urgently to reconsider its decision not to sign the UNESCO Convention on the Underwater Cultural Heritage, and to work cosely with national and international experts and governments to develop and adopt effective means of protecting and managing the underwater cultural heritage in the public interest.’

Public Entertainment Licensing Bill

Another Bill, currently in the House of Lords, is gathering considerable opposition, and several Fellows have written to SALON to express their concern. The Public Entertainment Licensing Bill requires all musical performances to be licensed. Contravention of these terms would constitute a criminal offence, with the possibility of a fine of up to �20,000 or a custodial sentence of three months in jail.

The Bill, designed to control noisy late-night events, has been framed in such a way that the rules will also affect folk musicians, carol singers, choirs and church bell ringers. Public concerts in churches will also be illegal unless licensed and choirs are only exempt from licensing if they are performing at a religious service. Many private performances so far exempt from licensing will be caught by the new legislation if they have a money-making aspect, including charity fund-raising.

Other (perhaps unforeseen) consequences of the Bill include the loss of income to historic buildings trusts (local churches often host concerts to raise funds for conservation work), and a threat to the integrity of the fabric of historic buildings if local authorities demand, as a condition of granting a license, that fire exits, lavatories and heating systems are installed.

The Musicians Union is mounting a major campaign of opposition to the proposed new rules. They cite legislation in Scotland as a better example of how public entertainment should be regulated. In Scotland prior permission is not needed for live music during permitted hours. Licensing only applies outside of permitted hours and in cases where music is the main business.

The Musicians Union recommends that anyone concerned that this Bill might have a detrimental effect on our musical heritage, and in particular on live performances by amateur musicians, should write a letter of protest to Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and to their constituency MP.

More than a thousand churches could face closure

Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the Churches Conservation Trust, has warned in the Trust’s annual report that more than 1,000 churches could be shut down in the next decade, and compares this rate of loss to the devastation caused to ecclesiastical buildings at the Reformation. ‘Congregations have battled successfully to keep their churches open until now’, the report says, ‘but church attendance will halve over the next thirty years, from close to a million today to 500,000 in 2030’.

Of the 1,598 churches that have been declared redundant since 1969, the Churches Conservation Trust has taken 337 buildings into its care. Another 357 have been demolished and the balance of 904 have been put to a range of alternative uses – mostly as museums or centres for the arts or for community use.

The risk is that many more will either be demolished or converted to residential use, the Trust warns. Towns and villages might have to set up trusts to look after them if they wanted the buildings to survive in community use. ‘It is not just a question of conservation, there is the equally important question of access, of letting people appreciate these churches. It is impossible to understand English history or architecture without knowing about the English church. It is crucial to our sense of identity’, the report concludes.

Resource announces Regional Museum Hubs

There are no surprises in the list of museum and gallery services chosen to form the nine Regional Museum Hubs that will lead the next stage of museum modernization under the Renaissance in the Regions strategy published in October 2001. The report recommended the creation of a Hub in each of the nine English regions consisting of a leading museum and up to three partner museums which would work together to provide leadership in museum practice and improve standards in the museums sector.

The lead partners in this new strategy are: Leicester Museums Service (East Midlands), Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service (East of England), Museum of London (London), Tyne and Wear Museums (North East), Manchester City Galleries (North West), Hampshire County Museums Service (South East), Bristol Museums and Art Gallery (South West), Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (West Midlands), and Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust (Yorkshire).

Further details, including the names of partner museums, can be found at www.resource.gov.uk/action/regional/00regional.asp.

Matthew Evans resigns from Resource

The decision on Regional Museum Hubs marks the end of Matthew Evan’s Chairmanship of Resource. Lord Evans, aged 61, and the driving force behind Renaissance in the Regions, announced last week that he is giving up his post at Resource, and is also stepping down as Chairman of the publisher Faber & Faber, in order to become a government whip in the House of Lords. Lord Evans was appointed as the first Chairman of Resource when the organization was founded in 1999, and he signalled his intention to be a new broom by characterising the museums, archives and libraries sector as ‘cultural versions of Marks & Spencer – symbols of once-great institutions that failed to move with the times and are now suffering as a result’. Since then he is credited with having won over many doubters and detractors, and of instilling the sector with a new sense of purpose. It is expected that Lord Evans’ post will be advertized in January.

Vacancies for Policy Officers at the National Trust

The National Trust is currently seeking to recruit the following personnel:

 Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer (Regions) to co-ordinate the work of the Trust’s network of Regional Policy Officers, based in London but relocating to Swindon in 2004/05, salary �25,000 - �29,000 pa
 Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer (Environment & Land Use) to help shape the future of farming, land use and environmental policy, based in London, salary �25,000 - �29,000 pa
 Policy & Campaigns Officer (Communities and Development) to co-ordinate the development of policy, advocacy and campaigns on issues such as transport, planning, education, economic policy and the historic environment, based in London, salary �22,000 - �25,000 pa
 Policy & Campaigns Officer (Environment and Land Use) to support and develop the Trust’s external policy, advocacy and campaigns in areas such as environment, farming and land use, based in London, but possibly relocating to Swindon in 2004/05, salary �22,000 - �25,000 pa

For further details and an application form for the above posts, send an A4 SAE (41p) to Jo Morkot, HR Services, The National Trust, Rowan House, Kembrey Park, Swindon SN2 8YL. Closing date for completed applications: Tuesday 31 December 2002.

In addition the Trust is looking for four Regional Policy Officers (salary �18,000 – �21,000) to work with the Regional Director and the Trust’s central Policy and Campaigns team to strengthen the influence and profile of the Trust and provide the main source of external policy information in the region.

For more details and an application form, write to the region you are interested in enclosing an A4 SAE (41p). Closing date for completed applications Tuesday 31 December 2002.

 Devon and Cornwall based at Killerton House, Broadclyst HR Department, The National Trust, Killerton House Office, Broadclyst, Exeter EX5 3LE.
 Wessex based at Eastleigh Court, Bishopstrow, Warminster Jenny Smith, HR Administrator, The National Trust, Wessex Regional Office, Bishopstrow, Warminster BA12 9HW.
 South East based at Polesden Lacey, Dorking, Surrey Carole Taylor, HR Manager, The National Trust, Polesden Lacey, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6BD.
 London based at 36 Queen Anne’s Gate, London (Inner London Weighting �4,030 in addition to above salary) Virginia Harvey, HR Manager, The National Trust, Hughendon Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks HP14 4LA.

The history of railway catering

Several SALON readers have written to say that the railway sandwich has been the butt of jokes since well before the 1970s – indeed, satirical comments on railway catering are as old as the railways themselves. Anthony Trollope makes constant scathing reference in his novels and Heath Robinson portrays a process for the refurbishment of stale railway buns in one of his cartoons. Most telling of all, perhaps, is the fact that Isambard Kingdom Brunel always travelled with his own coffee- brewing kit because he found the coffee served at Swindon station (which had the only refreshment rooms between Paddington and Bristol) undrinkable.