A civic society is hoping to be able to honour an inspirational Moorlands woman who helped save many historic buildings from demolition. The late Janet Broome was an inspirational force in the community of Leek. One of the most monumental feats she accomplished was to spearhead a long running campaign to preserve Leek’s historic town centre in the 1980s.
A civic society is hoping to be able to honour an inspirational Moorlands woman who helped save many historic buildings from demolition.
The late Janet Broome was an inspirational force in the community of Leek. One of the most monumental feats she accomplished was to spearhead a long running campaign to preserve Leek’s historic town centre in the 1980s.
Now, following her sad passing just over three years ago, the Leek & District Civic Society wish to honour Janet by placing a ‘Blue Plaque’ on one of the buildings she helped save.
A number of blue plaques have already been placed on buildings of importance in the town by the society, with most also recognising prominent figures.
Now the society is hoping they can gain planning permission to put a blue plaque in honour of Janet on the Red Lion in Leek’s Market Place.
A spokesman for the Leek and District Civic Society said: “35 years ago Janet Broome spear-headed a campaign to save Leek town centre.
“Leek and District Civic Society would like to honour her memory by installing a blue plaque on The Red Lion in the Market Place.
“In 1986, SMDC planned to sell the town centre to developers in exchange for new council offices.
“Janet, from April 1986, wrote to and involved The Georgian Group, Save Britain’s Heritage, Private Eye, Lucinda Lambton, writer and television broadcaster on architecture, HRH Prince Charles, The Guardian, The Times and many others, all letters written received sympathetic replies.
“Janet met Gavin Stamp, an architectural historian and Kenneth Powell the Secretary of Save Britains Heritage in the Red Lion on April 21. Gavin Stamp on April 26 in the Daily Telegraph and Kenneth Powell in Country Life July 1986, both wrote articles supporting her concerns.”
The society spokesman continued: “On 2/9/87 Dixons put in a planning application to demolish the rear of the Red Lion Public House and Hotel and to convert the front into offices.
“The degradation of this Grade 11 listed building and many other listed buildings was a step too far for the public and for Janet whose involvement to organise a petition against the town centre redevelopment was launched.
“On 4/11/87 Janet left Stoke Station for London to deliver a petition to the House of Commons, she represented the Moorlands Ratepayers Association and the Chamber of Trade.
“She met our MP David Knox and presented him with Leek’s petition for a Public Enquiry. There were 7,700 names on the petition to save the historic town centre.
“Whilst in London she met the Secretary of the Royal Fine Arts Commission who also pledged to support the call for a Public Enquiry.
“One month later the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, wrote to David Knox informing him that a call-in for the decision by the Secretary of State of the application for development of Leek Town Centre by Dixon Commercial Properties.
“This is the letter which saved the redevelopment of the town centre. Dixon/Seiferts withdrew and would not face a Public Enquiry.”
The spokesman added: “In 1987 our town centre was saved, so was The Butter Market, The Red Lion and Fire Station, also The Market Place in its original form, inclusive of Stockwell Street and Derby Street and many listed buildings in the vicinity.
“Without Janet’s intervention the outcome might have been very different and a significant part of Leek’s heritage would have been lost to future generations.
“Leek & District Civic Society is submitting a planning application for the late Janet Broome for a blue plaque on The Red Lion and expects a positive response from SMDC.”
Janet, who passed away at the age of 84 in 2018, was a remarkable lady who not only strived to save the preservation of her home town, and was a keen and dedicated supporter of the community-run Foxlowe Arts Centre, but she also pursued an extensive career in lecturing and demonstrating on the history of a number of culinary delights including bread and herbs.
She was a Fellow of the UK Herb Society and was also voted Best of ten speakers at one of the USA Herb Society National Conferences.
The Leek & Moorlands Echo contacted Janet’s husband, Colin Broome, about the society’s intention to recognise his late wife with a blue plaque.
He proudly said: “Janet led the fight to stop 17 listed buildings being demolished.”
He added of the intended blue plaque in her honour: “She would be ok with it but she did not go out for the glory. She was very modest – just liked to get things done.”
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