February 2014

Will Palin, former Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, is currently acting as Director of Conservation at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich as of Monday 3 February 2014. 

In this key role Palin is responsible for all aspects of the conservation at the world famous heritage attraction which includes the Grade 1 Listed Wren/Hawksmoor buildings, and is Schedule 1 Listed Monument (both the ensemble of Baroque buildings and the remains of Greenwich Palace).

As Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage Palin led campaigns to ensure that historic buildings were not simply preserved, but brought back into life. He took forward the rescue of Castle House in Bridgewater, Somerset and a major group of Regency houses in the former Naval Dockyard at Sheerness, Kent as well as supervising a series of successful legal challenges to demolitions of historic buildings such Mitchell's Brewery in Lancaster which led to sweeping new controls over demolition of all buildings. Under Palin the organisation also led opposition to the Pathfinder initiative. SAVE saw the initiative not simply as destroying old buildings, but places that had sustained communities for generations, and it proposed innovative approaches to retaining and improving original developments. Since leaving SAVE Palin has been engaged with the Georgian Group, where he had been Education Officer earlier in his career, the Ancient Monuments Society and other conservation organisations.  

“I am delighted that we have someone of Will’s experience and expertise joining us at this exciting time in our development,” says Brendan McCarthy CEO of The Greenwich Foundation, the charity set up in 1997 to run the Old Royal Naval College. “The Greenwich Foundation was established to conserve this remarkable site for future generations and to extend public access both to the buildings and their rich history. A highly respected champion of heritage conservation with a strong commitment to education and access, Will is the ideal person to lead this vitally important part of our work.”

'The Old Royal Naval College is one of the grandest architectural ensembles in Europe. I am thrilled to be joining the team there as Conservation Director and look forward to the task of caring for, and encouraging access to, these magnificent buildings.

One of my first tasks will be to take forward the Painted Hall project, involving the meticulous cleaning and repair of the largest painted interior in Britain. It is challenges like this which must make this job one of the most exciting in the field of building conservation.'

The ORNC already has an established reputation as a leader in conservation and access as illustrated particularly in its recent work on the west wall of the Painted Hall. As well as ensuring that the work was done to the highest standard, the organisation was a trailblazer in public engagement with the conservation process. The associated programme of events and activities, particularly the scaffolding tours that enabled people to see the work at close quarters, proved extremely popular. The ORNC recently embarked on the mammoth task of conserving the 72 Victorian lanterns on the site and future projects include the second phase of the Painted Hall conservation as well as work on the Jacobean Undercroft (the sole remaining part of Greenwich Palace which is still accessible) and the Victorian Skittle Alley.

See here for all exciting news regarding the Conservation project.


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