Richard worked in local politics and for Wiltshire Council. He became involved with the Historic Buildings Trust, was a Trustee for Wiltshire Museum and worked on the Devizes Wharf Plan Development plan in 2017.
Lord Lansdowne and Historic Buildings Trust save the Assize Court
Yes, well I was lucky wasn’t I to be able to be involved not just with the museum but also with the Historic Buildings Trust when the opportunity arose to look at this further. There’s lots of history and wanting to do something about the Assize Courts. It was clearly heading down hill for the last 20 years, and finding a way to do something about it was not easy, all sorts of thoughts had gone through the Council’s mind and other peoples mind, but when I got involved in the Historic Buildings Trust it was quite clear there was potentially a chance to do a deal which was Lord Lansdowne was going to be involved, because somebody we know locally here was also prepared to put a significant amount of money to support it, a huge generous gesture. And with that and the money that the Historic Buildings Trust got, Lord Lansdowne was able to go, whilst I was part of that organisation, to Dubai where the owner lived, and have tea with him and agree the terms on which he would sell it and he said the owner at that time said that he had never made a loss on any property he’d owned, so as long he could sell it at no loss , then he’d do that.
Well, it wasn’t worth, after 20 years of dereliction, half of what he paid for it, but with the support of the sponsor with some money from the Historic Buildings Trust, Lord Lansdowne was able to do a deal and he deserves enormous credit for having pulled that off and then set up the Devizes Assize Court Trust and that is now working with the museum to progress it. But I mean what an exciting moment to be involved in all this and find that not, what had been a lost cause and no vision situation suddenly turned into positive opportunity, and since then of course, Devizes Assize Court Trust has done some wonderful work in getting the plans drawn up and opportunities identified, and the building stabilised at least.
Recorded with Linda Redden, Bath Spa University.