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The Wick Project

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS MADE AVAILABLE AT A MEETING IN MACKAY'S HOTEL, WICK ON MONDAY 11 DECEMBER 2000.  THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO GIVE THE PUBLIC INFORMATION ON THE HERITAGE LOTTERY FUNDING BID AND THE BACKGROUND TO IT.  AN INITIAL GRANT OF 25,000 HAS BEEN MADE IN ORDER TO ALLOW THE APPROPRIATE STUDIES OF BUILDINGS, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT TO BE ASSESSED PRIOR TO A FULL FUNDING BID.  THE WICK PROJECT WAS SET UP IN 1991 AND HAS CARRIED OUT A NUMBER OF WORKS IN THE TOWN.  THIS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUP IN PULTENEY WILL BE THE BIGGEST IF IT GOES AHEAD.  A PROJECT IN THAT PARTICULAR PART OF WICK WOULD A GREAT BOOST TO THE TOWN.  PICTURES OF PARTS OF THE AREA THAT MIGHT BE IMPROVED ARE INCLUDED.  ON OTHER PAGES A FEW PICTURES SHOW EXAMPLES OF TELFORD'S WORK THAT MIGHT BE RETAINED.  FURTHER COMMENTS AND PICTURES  MAY BE ADDED LATER.  

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  From The Air            Map of area        
    
Pictures of Pulteneytown area being considered for the Heritage Project
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19 April 06
WICK REGENERATION FUNDING BOOST

Wick has been given a 1.5 million boost from Historic Scotland's Historic Environment Regeneration Fund (HERF).

Patricia Ferguson, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, launched the funding initiative last year, inviting local authorities to nominate schemes that would provide real community benefits and revive conservation areas

Speaking about the successful projects, which will share more than 6 million, the Minister said: "What we were looking for were schemes which needed this partnership funding to get them off the ground. The benefits of strong communities in well-designed houses, streets, villages and towns, are enjoyed by us all. This funding will mean real improvement to the quality of life of people in Wick and Whithorn, Leith and Leadhills.

"I am delighted to see such a spread of ambitious schemes across the country and look forward to seeing the positive results that this funding from Historic Scotland will bring. I hope this first round of awards from the Historic Environment Regeneration Fund will inspire other planning authorities to use this scheme to better the quality of their own conservation areas."

Highland Council will use the HERF award to target 36 properties in the largest regeneration project in this year's grants programme.

The local authority will use the money to assist householders to restore traditional details and structures in their homes in the Pultneytown area of Wick.

Links to local building preservation trusts are planned to deliver education and outreach projects in together with the Heritage Strategy Framework Plan and local Community Planning Partnership.

The conservation area grant recipient projects are:
* Bo'ness 300,000 (Falkirk Council)
* Campbeltown 385,500 (Argyll and Bute Council)
* Dunfermline 850,000 (Fife Council)
* Kilmarnock 711,170 (East Ayrshire Council)
* Killin 62,500 (Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park)
* Kilsyth 325,000 (North Lanarkshire Council)
* Leadhills 400,000 (South Lanarkshire Council)
* Leith 468,285 (City of Edinburgh Council)
* Peterhead 650,000 (Aberdeenshire Council)
* Stornoway 300,000 (Western Isles Council)
* Whithorn 370,000 (Dumfries & Galloway Council)
* Wick 1.5m (Highland Council)

The HERF provides financial assistance for area-based regeneration and conservation initiatives. The Fund encourages local authorities to establish Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes and can also support Townscape Heritage Initiatives funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.. Up to 8 million is being made available over 5 years from April 2006.

The HERF was launched in May 2005 as part of a general review of Historic Scotland's grants programme. The results of the review were published in Historic Environment Grants: Delivering Communities, Making the System Work Better.

Local authorities and the 2 national park authorities were invited to make applications for funding up to 1.5 million per authority over 5 years. The funds are to be targeted at conservation areas with demonstrable:
* economic, physical and social need;
* political and strategic support via Community Planning Partnerships and statutory plans;
* partnership, financial and other support packages, both public and private; and
* commitment to best practice and heritage-led regeneration.

June 03
Telford Street

New houses behind the old stonework

27 February 03
Heritage Lottery Award 1.19 Million

 

THE THOMAS TELFORD HERITAGE PROJECT
A Proposal to create a unique tribute to the work of Thomas Telford

Background
The town of Wick, Caithness, Scotland played a leading role in the days of the herring industry some one hundred years ago.  Much of the infrastructure of the town which remains today was created directly as a result of the economic activity and wealth generated by the seasonal industry centred upon the vast shoals of herring which migrated round the north coast of Scotland.

The herring industry became so important to the local economy that the British Fisheries Society commissioned the famous engineer Thomas Telford to design a new town specifically to accommodate the growing workforce employed in catching, processing and packing the herring. Thomas Telford was also commissioned to construct a new Wick harbour to provide shelter to the fishing fleet on this exposed north-east coast.

Telford's Pulteneytown area of Wick comprises two distinct areas.  The upper part overlooks Wick River estuary and was designed by Telford as a prestigious residential suburb.  The lower part of Pulteneytown was constructed on the alluvial floodplain of the river and was planned in great detail by Telford - his specifications and sketches are archived in West Register House, Edinburgh.

Lower Pulteneytown was the residential and industrial area for the workers and activities associated with the herring industry.  It was designed on a gridiron pattern comprising rectangular blocks of property enclosing courtyards.  Each of the courtyards was given over to a specific trade e.g. coat merchants, coopers, carters, gutters and salt curers.  The design was so advanced in its thinking that it has been described as the world's first industrial estate.  Lower Pulteneytown became a self-sufficient community with its own provision shops including bakers, butchers and grocers.  It even had a police station situated in the centre of Lower Pulteneytown.  As the population grew, some of the workforce even found accommodation in the loft-spaces of the terraced houses.

The majority of the streets and buildings which remain today are directly as Telford designed them some 150 years ago.  Many of the streets are named after the directors of the then British Fisheries Society.  Pulteneytown is steeped in the tradition and heritage left by those former years of industrial and economic wealth.

Present Situation

The decline in the herring industry led to a corresponding decline in the economic fortunes of the people of Wick.  Wick had meantime become the County town of Caithness and this role has helped mitigate the loss of income resulting from the closure of the herring fishing industry.  Wick is now the seat of local government and many central government organisations have regional offices in Wick eg Inland Revenue, Customs & Excise and Department of Social Security.

Whilst the more prestigious upper part of Pulteneytown is still a residential area, many properties in Lower Pulteneytown have now fallen into disrepair.  Many of the buildings have been used for storage purposes and some are vacant and for sale.  The area is blighted by the vacant property and is generally perceived as an area of low property values and dereliction.  However, a number of the terraced residential properties are still occupied and indeed a number have recently been renovated using local authority improvement grants.  The award-winning Wick Heritage Centre is situated in a terrace of Telford designed houses within the Lower Pulteneytown area.

The Wick Project was conceived in 1991, and is a multi-agency initiative to bring life back into the neglected parts of Wick, including Pulteneytown.  The Highland Council is currently preparing a strategy for regeneration of Lower Pulteneytown.  It is proposed to encourage conversion of neglected property back into housing to mirror Telford's plans.  Recently two housing associations have shown interest in becoming involved in the proposal.

However, the cost of such renovations are considerable, and given the low property values still persisting in the area, it is unlikely that the strategy can be bought to fruition unless the cost of the conversion work can be subsidised. The Wick Project is actively trying to identify sources of such funding and a number of grants bodies are being approached.  The present discussion with the Heritage Lottery Fund is one such contact.

It is envisaged that the refurbishment of the Telford designed property in Lower Pulteneytown will create a unique example of industrial archaeology which still serves its original use as a residential, area alongside the harbour of Wick.  The Telford Heritage area will become a focal point for visitors to Caithness and strengthen the role played by the Wick Heritage Centre in interpreting the history of Wick, particularly during the former herring industry.

Caithness Development Manager
The Highland Council
34a High Street
WICK
Caithness
KW1 4BS

01955 605858