r e v i e w 31 this will affect our role, but we will use this new influence judiciously. Much of our formal casework is necessarily reactive. With ‘buildings at risk’, however, we aim to be more proactive. At Tonge Hall and Hopwood Hall in Rochdale the society has been working with the council and its conservation officer, David Morris, to help secure repair solutions. Occasionally the society is in a position to offer small grants toward emergency work from its Baber Fund, and in 2009 we did this in the case of the Walronds, Cullompton in Devon, which is now in the hands of a building preservation trust. We also have a small grant fund for almshouse repair and last year we were approached by Middlesborough conservation officer Sally Childes about assistance with repair of listed almshouses at Ormesby. SPAB help extends far beyond statutory casework. For many years we have run a free technical advice telephone helpline on weekday mornings (see the Useful Organisations section at the end of this article for details). This service is currently supported by an English Heritage grant. Homeowners, professionals and conservation officers can ring for information from a technical adviser about any historic building repair issue. We are also happy to discuss listed building consent questions or to suggest specialist professionals. A key concern of the SPAB in the coming decade (and for all interested in the continuing care and use of old buildings) will be energy efficiency and carbon emissions. PPS15, which we have discussed with the Department for Communities and Local Government and English Heritage alongside the IHBC, places energy efficiency in old buildings as a high government priority. We are planning a project for our headquarters building, a Georgian townhouse in Spitalfields, East London, with the aim of demonstrating that it is possible to improve an old building’s energy efficiency without compromising its historic fabric and character. So far the project has concentrated on monitoring the unaltered building. With the help of GE Sensing and Dr Paul Baker of Glasgow Caledonian University, we have recorded its temperature and humidity, and the u-value of its brick and panelled walls. Initial results suggest that solid, traditionally-constructed masonry may have better insulating properties than is often assumed and we are now extending the study to other traditional building materials across the country. Among the many courses that the society runs for owners and professionals, we have recently had new and welcome involvement with Heritage Lottery Fund Townscape Heritage Initiative Schemes (THIs), run by local authorities around the country. The society’s role has been to provide the training that THIs have increasingly undertaken alongside repair work. In places such as Coventry, Hull and West Cornwall our THI courses have covered subjects ranging from conservation principles to joinery repair. In Wigan, a recent THI training day was aimed at young people, perhaps the hardest group in which to generate interest in conservation. The society is dependent on its members but we hope not only to draw on their expertise but also, in turn, to provide them with information and assistance. Matthew Slocombe MA FSA IHBC is deputy secretary of the SPAB and currently involved with its casework in the Midlands and Southern England. He was, until 2009, a trustee of Heritage Link and has recently been appointed secretary of the joint committee of national amenity societies. Notified organisations The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings www.spab.org.uk (technical advice telephone line 0207 456 0916 Mon-Fri 9.30am-12.30pm) Ancient Monuments Society www.ancientmonumentssociety.org.uk Council for British Archaeology www.britarch.ac.uk The Garden History Society www.gardenhistorysociety.org The Georgian Group www.georgiangroup.org.uk The Theatres Trust www.theatrestrust.org.uk The Twentieth Century Society www.c20society.org.uk The Victorian Society www.victoriansociety.org.uk The society’s opinion was sought by Basingstoke’s conservation officer when trial cleaning of this historic timber produced unacceptable opening-up of the grain.