| Press Release - 11 September 2009
Assembled ramblers and characters in costume at Molehill Green CM22 6PQ
(near Stansted Airport) at the start of the Heritage Hike - 2pm, Sunday 20 September
Douglas Kent adopts the guise of William Morris, the founding father of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, to confirm his commitment to fighting BAA's plans for a second Stansted runway with fellow organiser of the SSE Heritage Hike Stuart Walker, also in Victorian costume. They are outside Rose Cottage in Bambers Green, one of 40 historic buildings facing the possibility of demolition or (as in this case) compromised setting along the route of the walk.
PROTECTION OF ANCIENT BUILDINGS TO BE HIGHLIGHTED IN RUNWAY RAMBLE
History lovers and those who appreciate architectural heritage are preparing for a very special outing on the afternoon of Sunday 20 September when Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) holds its annual runway ramble, this year in the form of a Heritage Hike.
Organised by Stuart Walker for SSE in association with Douglas Kent of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), the four-mile circular walk has been devised to highlight the threat to no fewer than 40 historic buildings that would be demolished or have their settings severely compromised by BAA's second runway plans.
Hikers will set off at 2pm from Molehill Green, a stone's throw from Stansted Airport in the parish of Takeley after a commemorative photo. Route maps and descriptions in a souvenir programme will be provided to those taking part. A sizzling barbecue will be held from 1pm to 5pm for departing and returning ramblers. There is no charge for participants.
The idea is to show people just what would be sacrificed if BAA's plans for a second runway were allowed, enabling Stansted to become bigger than Heathrow today in terms of flight numbers, land grab and passengers. Starting at Molehill Green, the walk proceeds along footpaths and lanes through to Bambers Green, before turning up the Harcamlow Way to School Lane which leads back into Molehill Green.
The choice of the SPAB as partner for the event reflects the close working relationship it has had with SSE over the last seven years. The Society was founded by William Morris who, at its annual general meeting back in 1889, made clear the responsibility of successive generations to protect heritage: "These old buildings do not belong to us only," he said. "They have belonged to our forefathers, and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not in any sense our property to do as we like with. We are only trustees for those that come after us."
This view remains as relevant today as it was when Morris spoke 120 years ago and is very much at the heart of the SPAB and SSE position regarding the threat to heritage and community from BAA's second runway proposals. The historic buildings now threatened give meaning to the community as a whole and its development in the past, while anchoring the future. Lived in by ordinary people, they are legally protected in terms of changes to their structure or appearance because of their historic value - yet they could be wiped out at one fell swoop if BAA's runway plans were to be realised.
Essex is one of the most richly endowed of all English counties in terms of its historic buildings and rural north west Essex is one of the most notable in England for its medium-sized and smaller historic buildings, especially timber-framed, dating from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. There is a greater density of timber-framed buildings here than almost any part of the country.
While the county does not have dramatic natural features, in the vicinity of Stansted the combination of so many historic buildings of outstanding quality combined with a setting that is nearly all very attractive in a gentle English way creates a landscape of exceptional significance.
The local historic buildings are not grand, magisterial palaces designed formally by architects but examples, in the main, of more humble 'vernacular' construction - cottages, modest barns and other agricultural structures - produced by craftsmen and influenced by local materials, tradition and climate. While timber-framed buildings predominate, frequently with their old wattle and daub infill panels retained, some older buildings are constructed of brick, flint or unfired earth. External finishes provide excellent examples of pargeting and weatherboarding.
More information on the Heritage Hike is available from the Coming Events page or by calling 01279 870558.
NOTE TO EDITORS
As well as the above photograph, pictures of most of the listed and historic buildings along the Heritage Hike route are available on request from Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091 or firstname.lastname@example.org who is also available for comment/interview.