Monday, 1 January 2018

Nocton Hall - a missed opportunity

New fencing

I refer to my last blog about Nocton Hall dated 27 Dec 2017.

The new panel fencing is now being erected, however I see this is being placed in the same location as the vandalised Heras wire fencing.

Vandalised Heras fencing - east side Nocton Hall
[photo taken 23 Dec 2017]
Replacement panel fencing - east side of Nocton Hall
[photo taken 30 Dec 2017]
I think this is a missed opportunity for a number of reasons. As this is a completely new installation, a more effective route for the fencing could have been considered, with ease of maintenance and security at the forefront of the mind.

It would have been easier and more visible, to erect the fencing directly alongside the main access roads of the RAF Hospital site and The Cottage Care Home, encircling the whole site of the Grade II Listed Nocton Hall.

This would have acted as a deterrent by stopping anyone accessing the waste ground to the east of Nocton Hall, the old lawn area to the south (where the cherry blossom trees are located), by protecting the old medieval church foundations/mound to the south-west side of Nocton Hall and also completely sealing off the western frontage of Nocton Hall.

Replacement fencing could have been erected on left hand side
of the concrete kerbing...
... continuing alongside the road, effectively sealing off access to the
mound covering the medieval church remains.
The new fence could have continued alongside the new barrier, then around the
the large trees leading up to The Cottage Care Home... 
... replacing the existing Heras fencing
on the north side of Nocton Hall

The benefits of this approach would have been to:
  • Permit a more level, stable installation, avoiding gaps underneath the fencing
  • Provide plenty of saplings and trees behind the fencing to stop it being pushed over
  • Give improved sight lines along the fencing down the road, easily revealing anyone trying to gain access to the Nocton Hall site
  • Avoid all vegetation which currently provides 'cover' for those attempting to tamper with the fixings and damage the fencing
  • Provide clear, straight views along the road for any CCTV monitoring
  • Allow more open space between the fencing and the dilapidated building, which would give better visibility splays for any CCTV to monitor unauthorised access
As you can see, despite the varying colours of panels being installed, as soon as the saplings get their foliage in Spring 2018, this will give much 'cover' for people approaching the fencing.

New fencing - east side of Nocton Hall
[photo taken 30 Dec 2017]

New fencing - east side of Nocton Hall
[photo taken 30 Dec 2017]
This is only a personal opinion of course - so it will be interesting to see how things evolve over the next few months in 2018.

Happy New Year.


  1. If this new fencing is being put up to "try" and prevent kids getting injured etc,then I applaud the effort at least.However in reality this panel fencing is no more of a deterrent than the useless Heras fencing it replaces and is a waste of money and effort which would be better spent doing something constructive with the place.A lot of people who visit Nocton are not there to do damage or cause trouble,they are either professional photographers or former servicemen (or both) who have an historic connection to the place and treat it with respect.Unlike the kids we saw aged around 10/12(so assumed to be very local),who were merrily breaking up asbestos sheets and seeing how far they could skim the pieces.Once they saw us equipped in safety gear looking like a BBC crew,they ran and climbed up and over the 15ft chain link fencing like the SAS and disappeared into the nearby woods towards the church.So apart from cluttering the local area up,this hideously coloured tin fencing,which looks like its been stolen from outside of a circus will be of no practical use whatsoever,apart from attracting scrap metal "collectors" from far and wide.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I agree the erection of fencing is probably more about health and safety than security. If it had been the latter, then a more permanent solution might have been put in place by Leda Properties when they first purchased the site. Most if not all of the valuable items have since been removed, or destroyed by fire. Copper wire, aluminium roofing sheets and scrap metal have been taken from the RAF Hospital site; decorative stonework, fireplaces, panelling were removed from Nocton Hall. However, I also agree with you that most visitors nowadays do not have malicious intent, but clearly both sites are hazardous areas e.g. asbestos material, falling masonry, exposed metalwork, deep voids in the ground and with unsafe floors etc. In particular, the Grade II Listed Nocton Hall is very unstable for anyone entering the building without safety equipment. It is therefore disappointing that a more professional and permanent security solution has never been implemented. Whilst the inhibitor might have been cost, what this overlooks is the fact that owners of Listed buildings have a duty of care over their heritage properties. In the case of Nocton Hall, the property is now in a much worse state than when it was first purchased. The breaches in the temporary fencing weren't always repaired promptly (much improved in the last few years). Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, but perhaps the site would have been more secure if the job had been done properly in the first place (perhaps saving money in the long term). It might even have prevented both sites being ransacked and in the state of dilapidation that we see today!

  3. I absolutely agree with everything you have said Geoff and thank you for your constructive reply.It is scandalous that no one seems to enforce the legislation to make owners provide adequate protection to listed buildings or repair damage to prevent further decay.There are far too many "mysterious" fires and theft of assets from these types of properties around the country with very little effort at restoration leaving them to go to rack and ruin and usually go beyond economic repair.We were saddened to see both sites in such a dilapidated state as we remember them as they were when operational.Also on our travels recording such sites,we have come across cheeky individuals actually removing metal and cable etc from sites.However,we have found a quick jovial exchange and move on is the best policy to avoid confrontation these days as the police seem to have little interest in such trivia it seems.Finally,we are experienced in exploring such sites and always do a risk assessment and carry all the necessary safety gear,such as helmets,masks,boots,first aid etc,however we were extremely concerned at the local kids that I mentioned in my first reply,who were actively involved breaking up old dusty asbestos and throwing it around,thus breathing the fibres and contaminating clothing which would then be transferred to other family members etc.Perhaps a note could be included in the village newsletter about this and the dangers of asbestos.It may do little good but at least they were warned.

  4. Thanks again. You might be interested in tomorrow's blog which shows Nocton Hall in its heyday - and compares it with the dilapidated building we see today. It also examines some of the causes behind this and why 2018 is likely to be a pivotal year for saving the Grade II Listed ruin.


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