Tuesday, 9 August 2016

In the News: Some Comments

Delays, Delays, Delays...

As ITV reported:

“All of tomorrow's ferry services between the UK and Channel Islands have been cancelled, after a technical problem with the Condor Liberation. Services between Guernsey and Jersey have also been cancelled today. One of the three main engines shut down when the boat was travelling from Poole to Guernsey and it was forced to continue at a reduced speed.”

It is clear that despite all the assurances from management earlier in the year, what Condor desperately needs is some kind of backup to take the strain when this happens, especially as it seems to still be happening with remarkable frequency.

Mist Flights

And meantime fog has delayed flights, as ITV notes:

“Around 1,000 passengers had their flights cancelled yesterday after thick fog hit Jersey. But, re-booking onto new flights is proving difficult as the Battle of Flowers week begins, one of the island's busiest weeks.”

One of the few ways in which matters can be improved so that aircraft can land under lower fog levels than at present is the demolition of the old airport building. As BBC News reports:

“Work to demolish Jersey's old airport building will begin next year, under plans to redevelop the site. The top two floors of the terminal, known as the 1937 building, have been removed to meet safety criteria.”

“Chief executive Doug Bannister said demolishing the building would help to relax some restrictions on aircraft landing in fog, allowing more in. Currently pilots must be able to see the ground from 200 ft up before they can land. That could be reduced if the size and shape of the airport buildings are changed.”

However, the heritage lobby have been trying to prevent this. An airport is, apparently, some kind of museum time capsule, and not something that actually has planes landing and departing. A working airport needs to keep up with modern safety standards.

Living Heritage

The heritage lobby also tried to prevent St Lawrence Church getting much needed toilets, opening up a doorway that had been closed off in the 1950s. The cannon doorway was infilled sometime after 1958 and the infill granite cannot be considered ‘historical’. It had been opened in the 18th century when Parish cannons (in case of French invasion) where stored in Parish Churches.

The Church is currently not accessible to disabled people (there are steps up and down on entry) and has no toilet facilities. The proposal which was rejected but passed on appeal seeks to address these issues.

With people living longer, it is increasingly important to ensure disabled access. The proposal also set out the care and concern for the historical and architectural features that had been witnessed through its restoration.

Unless we are going to relegate our Parish Churches to empty museum pieces, heritage sites that are rarely open to the general public – and there are several in Southampton like that – we need to acknowledge that the function of the church is to provide a space for people to congregate. When we lose site of the people, any raison d’etre for heritage also goes out of the window.

There is an interesting paper by Wen Luo, Yecheng Liu, Ying Jiang on an idea in China called “living heritage”:

“Living Heritage hasn’t got a clear definition in academic circles. In some article, it means a heritage site which was still in use and maintaining its initial function. It’s the opposite of the heritage sites which was dead or becoming an empty shell.”

“Living Heritage is a broad concept. It not only cares about the intangible cultural heritage with outstanding value, but also cares about the traditional culture, the traditional life style, the conventional wisdom which still alive in our lives.”

So in the case of St Lawrence Church, both the outward architecture, and the congregational culture form part of the “living heritage”. One is tangible, and the other intangible, and if the link between the two is broken, all you have is a building maintained as a mausoleum to past culture.

But the intangible impacts on the tangible. Look at any of the Parish Churches, examine the maps drawn in John McCormack’s “Channel Island Churches”, and his notes on the architecture, and it will be seen that all the churches have evolved to meet the needs of their congregations., and been changed architecturally as a result. Naturally, we want to preserve the best of the past, but we must also allow for future changes that do not detract, but only enhance the symbiosis between the tangible and intangible.

1 comment:

James said...


Not sure you ever watched Goodness Gracious Me, and the recurring sketch with the two competitive Indian mothers that always ends up with the the line, "Yes, but how big is his danda?".

This is the role Doug Bannister is playing: it's I want the biggest and flashiest building project. (I suppose the Jersey version is "how big is his dandara?"). Never mind that a third of the population lives in slum housing, never mind that the water system is falling to bits, never mind the state of the harbour terminal, let's build a new flashy white elephant.