The poster booths that stand in Howardsgate have a complicated legal history. Currently, the land on which they stand has reverted to the Crown Estate. This explains why they have been neglected for so long and complicates any proposal about their future. The Society believes that their loss to the town as an act of vandalism.
However, these structures were designed by Louis de Soissons and represent something that is different about the town centre and the Society believes they should be retained to explain the town’s history and origins. The Society is supported in this regard by the Chamber of Commerce and the Town Centre Partnership The Society concluded a long time ago that there was no point in looking at these structures from a commercial viewpoint as, in its opinion, there was no appreciable commercial return that could be had from these structures other than scrap metal. These structures have no sale value other than a nominal one as their removal cost, and restoration of the pavement, would exceed their scrap value. The Society determined that the best way forward was to mount a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to acquire these booths and refurbish them so that they carried the story of the town and explained its place in the whole garden city movement. It is proposing that faces of the booths be replaced in such a way that the form and bulk of the poster booths remains the same. The refurbished four faces of each will be replaced with separate “interpretation” boards highlighting aspects of the town and its brief history and its significant impact. The bid is complex as the standards required by the Heritage Lottery Fund are demanding as regards the refurbishing of heritage structures of this sort. Further, it is proposed that the bid supports a walking programme around the Town Centre for all school children in the area as part of the curriculum that gives them a practical view of their town’s local history. The outcome is one where structures designed by Louis de Soissons, the town’s designer, are not just retained but used to shout about the place – something the Society thinks is lacking in the town centre. The design of our town centre is unique and the refurbished booths and their interpretation information will give visitors to the town centre good insight into why the town appears how it does today, that is, unlike any other. We are proposing to refurbish the two remaining poster booths, there were others around the town, however they removed entirely some years ago.