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August - September 2008


Heritage is our Business

by Martin Verden

Illustrations by Baj Mathur

Built environment: Sketch of High Street with Harrow Old School and Vaughan Library

Introduction: Harrow Heritage Trust is a local charity and an umbrella amenity organisation, affiliated with ‘Civic Trust’ a nation society. The primary aims of the Trust are to protect, preserve, restore and enhance both the natural and the built environment of Harrow. The Trust is keen to reach out and make aware every body of the importance of ‘Caring’ for the places where we live and work. The Borough of Harrow is attractive and very rich in its heritage. It possesses beautiful parks, playgrounds and open spaces which are spread around Borough, including areas of ecological, scientific and environmental importance. There are the three medieval villages of Harrow on the Hill, Pinner and Stanmore, an attractiveMetro-Land and other residential areas.

Natural Environment: Lake at Bentley Priory

There are many local shopping centres and one large Harrow Town Centre. The work of the Trust is quite varied and it is involved in almost all aspects and activities which relate and affect the character of our environment.

Nature Reserve: Stanmore Country Park

Linking with the Young: The Trust believes that the children are the future ‘Keepers and Custodians’ of our environment and heritage. In view of this the Trust has, since its inception in 1985, worked with children and young people. The Trust has initiated various projects whereby the children are encouraged to recognize and value the existing characteristics of place(s), explore how we can keep them in good condition, how to enhance them, and see if there are some neglected areas which can be improved and how to improve them. To facilitate this process the Trust has produced five ‘Trails’ to help families to explore their local environment. The trails are of Grims Dykes, Harrow on the Hill, Hatch End, Pinner and Stanmore.

Major Project: Sketch of The Headstone Manor

Bio-Diversity: It is relatively a new but very important concept. It can simply be described as rich variations of habitats of plant life and animals including human beings and the importance of their interdependence. The Trust is closely working with the Harrow Council in various initiatives including preparation of a strategy to sustain bio-diversity of Harrow. Harrow Nature Conservation Forum: The most important work of the forum is to maintain the reserves under the stewardship of the Trust. Our nature reserves bring a real breath of country air. In them one can see wild flower meadows, cows grazing, touching a few hundred years old trees and listening to birds singing. There are seven Nature Reserves and all are open to public and freely accessible. Three of the large reserves lie in the green belt and rest are spread around the Borough. In addition, the Trust is consulted by the Harrow Council in respect of new policies and plans affecting the green belt and open spaces.

Tree Planting Scheme: The Trust has initiated various schemes of planting trees in public and private areas / gardens.

Public Works of Art: Inner View at Alexandra Park

Public Works of Art: The Trust recognises the importance of the role of art in environment in determining the quality of our lives. Our primary objective is to promote opportunities to provide works of art in Harrow that will enhance and improve the environment and increase public awareness of the significant contribution that can be made through art. A work of art can take many forms. A piece of outdoor art can give an identity and uniqueness to a location – conjuring up images of that place. In order to bring a distinctive visual enrichment to the Borough, the Trust encourages and promotes the creative and imaginative use of art in public places. We have successfully installed sculptures, stained glass, murals and tiling through out the Borough.

Heritage grants: Walled Gardens at Canons Park

Harrow Museum and Heritage Centre: The Trust in partnership with the Council is involved with this major project since it was established some 20 years ago in the historic grounds of Headstone Manor. The 14th century Manor is Grade I listed building surrounded by a moat and approached via a foot bridge. Within the complex there is a large and impressive Tithe Barn listed Grade II* and a listed Grade II Small Barn.Works are planned to restore parts of the Manor and the bridge. Once completed it will give the public the opportunity to see the historic timber framed building and its secrets of how it was built and changed over centuries.

Plaque Scheme: Zoroastrian Centre, Rayners Lane – previously an Art Deco Cinema

Heritage Grants: The Trust has been pump priming projects by giving small grants to the owners to carry out authentic repairs and to restore buildings of historic and architectural interest including schemes for places of archaeological interest and historic landscapes. Our pump priming money of thousands of pounds have resulted in works over £ 3 million. Plaque Scheme: The Trust carefully selects a building of historic and / or architectural interest, research its history, and if considered worthy, consults the owner of the building with a view to fix on the building a heritage plaque engraved with a brief historical description.

Harrow Heritage Trust and Harrow Observer Awards 2008 – Winners

Sweetmans Hall, a 300 years old house authentically restored

Ad Astra – an ultra modern high tech new house which is an iconic building, truly a product of 21st century

Architectural and Environmental Awards: The purpose of the awards scheme is to encourage the highest design standards, and thus to give public recognition to projects large or small, which have made a positive contribution in enhancing their neighbourhood. The scheme could be of a new building, an extension, a restoration and renovation of a building, a landscaping project or an environmental improvement scheme. Our biennial award scheme alternates with the scheme of national awards scheme of the Civic Trust. There is also a special award – Bobby Feakins Shield, for local schools’ environmental projects.

Graffiti: there are certain areas and buildings which suffer from dereliction and decay and are therefore more prone to attract graffiti. It is our belief that graffiti attract more graffiti and therefore the first attack of graffiti needs to be removed and cleaned sooner than later. The Trust encourages constituent associations to form their local teams to have occasional clean – up – events.

To sum up, the Trust remains committed to raise awareness among residents of the Borough about heritage issues through publications and out-reach work by participating in Borough wide events and fairs.

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