It would be fair to say that Wymering Manor in Portsmouth has not always been treated with the respect that a structure of such a venerable age deserves.
Reputedly the city’s oldest building, the manor is mentioned in the Domesday Book, although the majority of the house as we know it dates from Tudor times. However, aside from a period as a youth hostel, it has been underused recently and has fallen into neglect – a fact that was clear to see when it failed to sell at an auction a couple of years ago.
But as we report today, a brighter future could be ahead with the news that a trust has officially taken over at the manor.
Pointing out the manor’s disrepair is intended as no slur on Portsmouth City Council, however.
Whether one agrees with it as an economic strategy or not, we live in times of austerity, of limited economic growth, and so the focus at all levels of government has been to downsize, and to reduce the amount of money given out as grants. Central government squeezes local authorities, and in turn they must set their priorities – and education, social care and other essential services will come first.
But with this can come a new dawn in volunteering. It goes beyond just signing up to something for an hour a week, and instead involves taking control of a building, service, facility, park or whatever.
We see it at Wymering and we are seeing it as the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, having overcome many obstacles waits in the wings to take over at Fratton Park.
And while the amount of money from government may be reduced to a trickle, there are plenty of other places to look for cash, such as the National Lottery; an avenue now available to a registered trust.
With all its politically charged implications, we shy away from calling Wymering’s new dawn a product of the Big Society, but we are pleased to see it in the trust’s hands, and hope it will soon see some tangible improvements.
There is a history of tenacity and of taking pride in one’s home town in this area, and this is just the latest manifestation. Long may it continue.