Context 167 - March 2021

36 C O N T E X T 1 6 7 : M A R C H 2 0 2 1 ALICE YATES Reflections on a resilient heritage project Resilient heritage projects aim to strengthen organisations, build capacity, and better manage heritage. The London Historic Buildings Trust recently undertook one. In Kilburn’s Tin Tabernacle at the end of January, the Heritage of London Trust Operations announced its strategic objectives for the next five years, along with its new name and new website. This marked its rebirth as the London Historic Buildings Trust. Interim direc- tor Celia Mead explained to an audience of old and new friends, funders and project partners that ‘after 27 years we have reflected, reformed and rebooted’. Mead’s words emphasise that, for the first time since it was founded in 1993, the London- wide building preservation trust had recently reconsidered its priorities and future. This reform started during a resilient heritage project funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, and was energetically continued by Mead as interim director, a role that was supported by the Pilgrim Trust. The trust’s new strategy continues to be delivered by its capable project managers, with a great deal of input and time from all trustees. The decision to undertake a resilient herit- age project was prompted by several factors. The trustees were aware that they needed to undertake more projects and needed more staff to help deliver them. They needed to consider how to sustain the trust following the sale of Thorpecombe House, which had released capi- tal, but meant a loss of rental income. Historic England was encouraging the trust to apply for a grant to cover project manager salaries. It stressed the need for the trust to review its strategic direction and governance procedures before submitting the application. At its inception the trust had been set up on the revolving fund, building preservation fund model to work with Historic England and local authorities, to reduce the amount of heritage at risk in London. It had done so successfully, particularly under Malcolm Crowder’s long tenure as its sole, part-time, project organiser. But the context in which the trust was operating had changed, and it needed to know how to position itself strategically, in light of current trends and new funding opportunities. The trust commissioned an independent review from the consultant Daniel Rose. It formed a central part of the resilient herit- age project, along with the strategic plan. The review’s findings were initially a hard read for the trustees, but most of its recommendations were adopted. Linking each piece of work together was the key: the independent review Cambridge Hall, Kilburn, started life in 1863 as an episcopal chapel (Photo: Anna Barclay)

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