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HO: 92 Micklegate, York YO1 6JX +44 (0) 1904 651 880Telephone:
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by William B. Morrell

“This book illustrates the properties which are, or have been, owned by York Conservation Trust Limited; to introduce it I will describe the history of the Trust, and its aims.

In the days before conservation had become as popular as it is today, my father, Doctor John Bowes Morrell, and my uncle, Mr Cuthbert Morrell, had each been buying medieval properties in York, which they restored and rehabilitated.  They believed that such properties were an essential part of the heritage of York which would disappear if past neglect was not arrested and reversed.

The publication of this book is a memorial to our Founders and to their original conception.

All their properties were eventually combined under one company, Ings Property Company Limited, the shares in which were held by members of my family, though without any expectation of profit or reward.  After the death of my father in 1963, it had always been our intention to convert the Company, or its activities, into a charitable trust, but it was not until 1976 that the name of the Company was changed to York Conservation Trust Limited and it became a registered charity. By becoming a charity, the Company avoided taxation and was therefore left with more cash with which to carry on its activities, but one of the requirements of the Charity Commissioners was that properties could only be sold on long leases, thereby giving the Company some control over their future preservation.  From time to time we do sell listed buildings; we are always interested, within our financial means, in any property which is worth preserving for the benefit of the City.

We have evolved certain principles which guide us in the conservation work which we undertake.  The work of restoration is carried out to the highest standards by local craftsmen employed by local builders.  When major restoration has to be done we employ local architects with special knowledge to supervise it.  We aim to purchase properties in the more derelict, run-down, parts of the City that by example we may persuade others to do likewise, and eventually the area or street may gain conservation status and so qualify for additional grant aid.  Wherever possible, we try to follow the advice given by Lord Esher in his excellent study of York.  We are interested in groups of houses as well as individual ones which, after restoration, will enhance the appearance of the whole street and improve the streetscape.  Wherever possible we aim to restore buildings so that the upper storeys can be lived in, for it is men and not walls that make a City and there is a need to encourage people to live within the City walls.  This policy means that we retain some properties in the best sites in the commercial area of the City, the higher rental income from which enables us, as a charity, to finance purchases in other areas which are not so attractive to strictly commercial developers because of the longer periods of appreciation in rental income.  We also need the rising income from such commercial properties to compensate for the lower incomes from the controlled rents of domestic letting.

The maintenance costs of repairs to old buildings is high, and all our profits are ploughed back to provide for this and for the purchase of new properties in run-down areas of the City.  We have not created a revolving fund to finance further acquisitions, but in times of inflation, with fluctuating  interest rates, the finance from the sale of a property is effectively devalued by the time it comes to be applied to the restoration work on a new property – there is now a time lag of years, rather than months, due to the lengthy process of obtaining the necessary approvals from various authorities.

Members of my family are still actively involved and steps are being taken to provide for the future, so that interested members of the family can continue to participate in the conservation work in York carried out by the Company”.

(The foregoing Preface was written by Mr. Morrell a few days before his death on 11th December, 1981).