Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Save Durban House, Eastwood

Durban House Museum / Conference and Exhibition Centre is located at Eastwood, Notts near the Notts/Derbyshire border and is a building associated with the life of D H Lawrence and with the history of the mining industry in the area.

It is situated between the D H Lawrence Birthplace Museum and Brinsley Headstocks (see pictures below). Nearby is Eastwood Library, home to the Lawrence Collection. Eastwood was home for many years to Lawrence and to his friend and fellow writer William Edward Hopkin, said to have been the model for Lawrence`s characters Willie Houghton (in `Touch and Go`) and Lewis Goddard (in `Mr Noon`). Novelist William Howitt was born in nearby Heanor and the Howitt collection, comprising works by both William and Mary Howitt is to be found at Heanor Library.

Brinsley Headstocks, on the site of the now defunct Brinsley Colliery. D H Lawrence`s uncle Jim met with a fatal accident whilst working as a miner here, an incident referred to repeatedly in  Lawrence`s work.

Durban House came to national attention recently when The Observer newspaper printed a letter signed by a number of public figures objecting to the proposed closure/sale of the building by current owners Broxtowe Borough Council.

In part, the letter read ; "Industrial communities like Eastwood are often overlooked. Cultural funding can all too easily be concentrated only in the centre of our cities. We call on Broxtowe council to guarantee the continued survival of this national asset."  Signatories included authors Geoff Dyer, Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, film folk Billy Ivory, Lord David Puttnam, Ken Russell and Rosamund Pike, politicians Glenda Jackson MP and Gloria de Piero MP and a representative of the D H Lawrence Society. 

This is one of those campaigns in which the various parties seem to have trouble agreeing on the facts. Council leader David Watts claims the council paid £1, 000, 000 for the building and spends £60,000 a year to keep it open.  Campaigners  point out that other organisations helped the council out with the purchase price, that commercial concerns have rented space within the building from the council, providing a flow of income, and that it attracts visitors to the area.

Useful articles ; 

R Faulks (reader`s letter) - Durban House Rethink Needed (9 Nov 2010)

Delia Monk - Authors Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis Among High Profile Campaigners to Keep Durban House Open (18 Oct 2010)

Unsigned  - Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis Back Campaign to Save D H Lawrence Heritage Centre (17 Oct 2010)

These are all to be found at . Details of events and activities taking place at the museum can also be found here.

Also interesting ;

No doubt the controversy will continue for a while yet !


Thursday, 11 November 2010

More Woodland Worries

It has emerged that the government intends to sell off more than half of our national forests to private firms. Campaign group 38 Degrees has concerns that this will mean that ancient woodlands will be ruined as companies use them for holiday villages, golf courses and logging etc, and have launched a petition accordingly.

The twin objectives of 38 Degrees` campaign  seem perfectly reasonable ; 1) they don`t want private companies to chop down our woodland, and 2)  they want to see the  trees protected for both conservation purposes and public enjoyment.

Obviously a lot of people share these aims as at present they have over 63,000 signatures.

For more details, visit .

Digressing slightly, the fate of a forest was the subject of an earlier posting of mine, Waingroves Woodland Worries ( this blog, 29 July 2010 ). I don`t usually do updates on earlier postings, as I always provide enough information/links/points of contact for people to check on the eventual outcome if they`re sufficiently interested. In this case, however, I will break my own rule and tell you that the Waingroves Community Association raised £20,000 from voluntary sources and bought the area in question themselves. To their credit, landowners Hansons (a building materials company) had received a rival offer of £60,000 from a bidder wanting the land for commercial purposes, but decided to accept the Association`s offer instead.

Particularly impressive is the fact that the funds were all obtained from individual donations and community fund-raising events - no grants were received by the Association at all. For further details, see Chris Jones - Villagers Join Forces to Buy Woodland ( 9 October 2010 ) at .

Monday, 8 November 2010

Burning Passions in Amber Valley

We`ve already looked at the issue of waste incineration, in my articles Burning Passions ( this blog, 7 Sep 2010 ) and Burning Passions 2 ( this blog, 9 August 2010 ).

Now the issue has cropped up again, this time in the form of an application by Warwick Energy to open a `gassification plant` at Pye Bridge Industrial Estate, Somercotes, Derbyshire.

Their application is opposed by Amber Valley Against Incineration ( ). The issues are broadly the same as those aired elsewhere in Derbyshire by Spondon and Sinfin Against Incineration, Spondon Against Cyclomax and Derby and South Derbyshire Friends of the Earth, with the difference that in this case, AVAIN are also calling into question the suitability of some individuals involved with Warwick Energy (aka Warwick Integrated Generation Ltd) to be involved with such sensitive work, in light of past business dealings with another company.

The AVAIN website is worth a visit, but those who like to hear both sides of the question may like to check out these two articles ;

Unsigned - £8m Gasification Plant Will be Safe, Says Boss (6 October 2010)
Rachel Butler - Waste Plant Emissions Would Not Be Hazard Claims Energy Firm Boss (13 October 2010)

both at

`Thisisderbyshire` also printed numerous articles on the issue during August and September, with more to come, no doubt.

Local MP and real ale drinker Nigel Mills (Conservative)  does not seem to have expressed any views on the issue online, but in a local newsletter he indicated that he "shared the concerns" of campaigners and felt the proposed development was too near to areas of housing for his liking. Mr Mills became an MP for the first time at the last election, and has inherited an interesting constituency.  Lodge House Mine, Heanor Memorial Hospital and Warwick Energy`s proposed plant all fall within his remit and there are concerns over the fate of former industrial sites in the area, notably Butterley Ironworks and Stevenson`s Yard. I don`t agree with everthing he says and does, but as he likes a pint, I say good luck to him !