If you seek his monument, look around you

Photo:Ken Fines receiving a framed certificate confirming that a tree had been planted in his honour

Ken Fines receiving a framed certificate confirming that a tree had been planted in his honour

Photo by Maureen Brand

Photo:The tree in Sydney Street was a Himalayan Birch

The tree in Sydney Street was a Himalayan Birch

The legacy of Kenneth Fines is North Laine itself

By Maureen Brand, (former) North Laine resident

Maureen Brand wrote this piece about Kenneth Fines for the North Laine Runner in May/June 2008 after hearing that he had died. In autumn 2014, at the time of honouring Ken with a blue plaque in North Road, it seemed a good occasion to republish it in the November/December 2014 issue.

I met him when I was NLCA Secretary

I first met Kenneth Fines when I was Secretary of the Community Association.  I had read the history of the area and knew that it was Ken who in 1976 as Borough Planning Officer had nominated North Laine to be designated a Conservation Area.

Conservation areas usually only for the grand Regency squares and terraces

This suggestion had come as a surprise to some at that time who had regarded conservation areas as appropriate to the rather grander Regency squares and terraces.  The Argus in 1977 reported that critics claimed there were too many tatty buildings in North Laine to make it worth preserving.  There were also fears that the new conservation area would stifle industry and one councillor in 1976 feared it could become “embalmed”. 

A distinctive, intimate character

Ken saw it differently: the phase of growth in Victorian times after the coming of the railway should be recognised.  It was Ken who proposed that the new conservation area should be called ‘North Laine’ in recognition of the old field systems.  “The area generally has a distinctive, intimate character derived from its lively admixture of terraced houses, small shops, workshops and street market”, he wrote. 

We planted a tree in his honour

Whilst quietly modest, it was apparent that Ken was delighted when we decided to mark his contribution to our area by planting a tree in his name in Sydney Street.   His smile was twinkling, his pleasure evident.  Ken was a lovely man.  There have been plaques to other notables saying something along the lines “If you seek his monument, look around you.”  Much the same can be said of Ken Fines and North Laine.  What might it have looked like today if he had not had that vision?

 

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 192, May/June 2008; and reprinted in No 231, November/December 2014]

This page was added on 15/12/2014.

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