Issue 127

1st June
to
1st September
2015

Please click a heading or just scroll down to read the articles, click the Up arrow to return here


Front Cover by Micky Thompson

Now is the time to get out and about, so this month’s cover picture is of Silbury Hill, on the A4, close to Avebury. It is the largest man made mound in Europe and was finished in about 2400BC. Although there is no access to the hill to prevent erosion, it is a very impressive site and close to Avebury, which to my mind is better than Stonehenge, being larger and you are free to walk amongst the stones.

If you haven’t yet discovered the tea shop in the library at Avebury Manor you are in for a big treat, with the accent on big. They serve the largest slices of homemade cake there that I have ever seen and it is a real treat to be served tea in the style of the 1930s.

This July, I will be participating in Marlborough Open Studios with open house every weekend in July. Also showing will be the oil paintings of Gaenor Farren-Smith and her cloudscapes are something special. As usual when out and about, don’t forget the camera.


Message from the Chairman of CHAIN


Spring is here and what a lovely March/April we have had. The town looked its best for Hocktide and St George’s Day with the flags flying and some super window displays. I was delighted to be invited to the Hocktide lunch along with David Piper, editor of Chain. We had a really good lunch and it was lovely to be part of such a special tradition, so thank you to the Constable Susan Hofgartner.

Since the last Chain Mail the date of the AGM has had to be changed and is now Monday 15th June at 7.30pm in the Magistrates Room at the Town Hall. I look forward to seeing many of you there. Ted Angell has settled into his role as Handybus Coordinator and is doing a great job, we have had a flurry of new volunteer drivers which is good news, I’m having a job to keep up with all the CRB checks.

I would like to thank David Thorpe and George Ham for all their help in getting the end of year accounts together while our treasurer, Michael White, has been poorly and send all our best wishes to Michael.

The Trustees are planning to have a cream tea for all our volunteers at the end of June and your Coordinators will be in touch with the details. It is an ideal opportunity to put faces to names as the office staff and drivers can meet up, and it is our way of thanking the volunteers who make Chain the wonderful organisation it is today.

If anyone is interested in becoming a Driver for us, either using their own car or driving the Chairman Vehicle then please get in touch with the office. (683727 9-11am weekdays) or myself on 683302 or by email janette.kersey@hotmail.co.uk

Thank you to everyone in the town who supports Chain and helps us with donations as this, and our wonderful Volunteers is what keeps Chain working for the whole community.

Janette Kersey


Editor

Hello,

So another year flown by and once again CHAIN MAIL brings you the wonderful HADCAF programme in our middle pages. As we went to the printers on the 12th of May, it is just possible that there might be some variations!

My sincere apologies to the W.I. of Hungerford, Mary sent their copy in so early that I forgot it for the current printed edition of CHAIN MAIL, but it is here in this edition now, and I promise to print it in September. Do click on YOUR WI on the left

It is not often that we do improvements to our house but, last winter as one of the last things we did was to buy, and have installed a wood burning stove. The living flame and clean burn is a delight to behold, but what was most impressive was the way Rafal went about its installation. Phone calls and e-mails returned most promptly and then when we discovered that we had to have a larger fireplace surround, I have to say that nothing was too much trouble for that young man to tackle. So he comes with your editor’s recommendation. Actually a year or so ago David Thorpe and I compiled a short list of Tradesmen that we, or a friend, had had good reports on. This list is available from the CHAIN OFFICE or on our website. It was done to help our own townspeople and newcomers alike. If you have a recommendation that you would like to give us please drop me an e-mail. We have tried to keep it to LOCAL tradesmen, but of course you can’t get everything in Hungerford. We do update this list from time to time and one or two have been removed!

Of course the one above costs money, but the next recommendation of mine is FREE (see below). We have had some of the gadgets fitted and they do work, so it will save you money in the form of reduced water metered bills.

Now I did invite the Pharmacist from Boots to do an article on ‘’The Queues’’ and how if possible we could all help. Unfortunately his copy had to be ’’approved’’ and guess what, there is a delay!
I have told him that we could still print it in the next issue. I have been a victim of these queues myself but surprisingly when I went to collect the last two prescriptions there was only one person in front of me. So it isn’t always intolerable!

Goodbye Sarah, Hello Headmaster see Headmaster in the left index.

Thanks & Best Wishes, David Piper 01488 683152        davidhpiper117@gmail.com

Letters, articles and adverts should be sent to me by the 7th of the month preceding
publication, i.e.7th August for the issue on September 1st. but don’t leave it until the last minute, there might not be space. If you send something to me I try to acknowledge
within 3 days. No reply from me, then I have not got it, so please re-send.


Hungerford Mayor

Plus ca Change, plus c’est le meme chose!

But not quite! The Town Council is pleased to welcome new Councillors Doris Colloff and
Claire Winser into the strong team of the ten Councillors who have been re-elected unopposed. Three more councillors are still required to make a full house. If you have just 6 hours per month to join the team facing the challenges of leading the Town through the next four years, please consider joining this lively volunteer group .

What would you be joining? Over the past few years the Town Council has re-established itself as a non –political organisation concerned for the well- being of the whole Town. Successive Mayors have forged strong links with the other major organisations of the Town, the Chamber of Commerce and the Town and Manor, and many of the town’s voluntary groups. Your council strongly lobbies our WBC councillors as a conduit to represent your concerns about the town in the WBC political arena, and has established positive consultation processes with the politicians of West Berks Council. Our professional Clerk’s team coordinate with their officials and workers, with some success, from our high visibility office in the Library.

The Town Council will be reviewing its increased portfolio of activities accumulated as WBC devolve more to local councils. A 99 year lease on the Croft Field and community building opens opportunities to develop activities on the site for the benefit of the Town. The Purchase of the Triangle field opens a new era in the use and management of this open space, for sport and leisure activities.

Sustaining the dramatic improvement seen at the Youth and Community Centre, and Wired Youth Club, and the visible improvement in the management of the library toilets, provides a strong template for developing the two newly acquired assets.

Same as before? Not quite! but I hope you will join me in wishing the gallant band of volunteer councillors who now represent our Town, wisdom and good fortune in tackling the four challenging years ahead. And with a nod to the good work undertaken by past councils, may they continue to preserve and develop the Town in the interests of the whole of this unique community.

Signing Off
Roger Thompson, Ex Deputy Mayor


Names and telephone numbers of new councillors
Claire Winser 01488 684443
Doris Colloff 01488 685295


Chain’s Page

THE HANDYBUS –
20 YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY OF HUNGERFORD –
AN UPDATE AND GREAT NEWS!

In the last edition we outlined how fortunate we had been to benefit from the provision of the community Handybus over the last 20 years through the services of West Berkshire Council. We referred to the concerns about the future financing by West Berkshire Council of this valuable community asset.

Given the pressure that local authorities will be experiencing on their costs in the coming years, West Berkshire had confirmed that the costs of the continued provision of such a vehicle would come under serious examination. So CHAIN was very concerned that there was a strong possibility that the service could be lost after 2016. The Handybus provides an essential service to those in our community who are less mobile and may have difficulty accessing essential services, community or social events.

At the end of 2014, the Department for Transport announced a ‘one off’ fund against which bids could be made for the provision of community minibuses in rural communities. We became aware of this and West Berkshire Council also highlighted the fund. Given the current uncertainties, CHAIN has submitted a bid for the provision of a ‘bus.

As a result, in March 2015, the Department for Transport advised CHAIN that the bid had been successful and a procurement process is now underway. Our new bus will be one of three hundred community buses awarded by the Department.

This is great news since it assures the future provision of a community bus for some years to come.

However it does also represent a challenge! This is because the full costs of running the service will be borne by CHAIN and the local community, rather than West Berkshire Council. West Berkshire Council has indicated that it is part of their policy to support community transport such as CHAIN’s but we do not know how far such support will go. West Berkshire will be able to achieve savings as a result of this change. We would like our community to benefit from some part of these savings and we will be discussing this with West Berkshire Council.
So great news and but plenty to do.

We will keep everyone up to date in future editions of CHAIN Mail.

 


VOLUNTEERS URGENTLY NEEDED



Car and Chairman Drivers
– are needed to replace those who for one reason or another have been forced to give up driving.

A hugely satisfying job helping those in need…Doing only as much as you wish or can manage. Expenses reimbursed.

Driver Coordinator
– A Lady or Gent able and prepared to act as a communications medium between the CHAIN Management, Hospital Parking Authorities, collating and paying drivers expense forms and banking client donations for the Treasurer.

“Chairman” Coordinator
– To coordinate and care for our soon to be purchased new Wheelchair Vehicle. Taking care of Tax, Insurance and Blue Badge replacement as well as organising servicing, fault repair and vehicle cleaning.

Contact David Thorpe on 01488 685080 or email david.fthorpe@btinternet.com

New Wheelchair Vehicle Fundraising Update


Our campaign to raise £12000 to enable the purchase of a NEW vehicle has been so far very successful, mainly due to the amazing generosity of a relatively small number of local businesses, Chilton Estates, Hungerford Town Council and other private donations, as well as The Greenham Common Community Trust for their grant and top up. Grateful thanks go to all these amazing people, but we are still some £2000 short of our goal, so any further donations, however small, when topped up by the Greenham Common Trust could see us there very soon.

Grateful thanks to everyone of these contributors. David Thorpe


Bits 1

Also on this page……..Flea Market ………..Food Bank………New Events? ……..

CHAIN AGM
Monday 15th June at 7.30pm
in the
Magistrates Room at the Town Hall.


 

FLEA MARKET on the steps of the TOWN HALL for a trial period
to be held on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays

Excerpt below from Wikipedia explains………………..

A flea market (or swap meet) is a type of bazaar that rents space to people who want to sell or barter merchandise. Used goods, low quality items, and high quality items at low prices are commonplace.

Many markets offer fresh produce, unique products, old clothes, and plants from local farms. Renters of the flea market are vendors. It may be indoors, as in a warehouse or school gymnasium; or outdoors, as in a field or parking lot or under a tent. Flea-market vendors may range from a family that is renting a table for the first time to sell a few unwanted household items, to scouts who rove the region buying items for sale from garage sales and other flea markets, and several staff watching the stalls.

Flea market vending is distinguished from street vending in that the market itself, and not any other public attraction, brings in buyers.


WEST BERKSHIRE FOODBANK supports local people in crisis. Clients are referred to the Foodbank by Agencies who are helping them. They are given food equivalent to three meals a day for three days, and may be referred more than once if needed.

Between January & March 2015, parcels for 647 people (including 184 children) were distributed from the centres in Hungerford, Lambourn, Newbury & Thatcham – that’s over 5,800 meals.

THANK YOU to everyone who has given longlife, tinned or dried food and other essentials such as soap, toothbrushes & toilet rolls, through our one-off supermarket collections, or regular donation points at Hungerford’s Churches, Library, Scouts and more. If your workplace or community group is interested in hosting a collection point, please contact info@westberks.foodbank.org.uk      or          jbartter@talktalk.net


 

Calling ALL Event Organizers Secretaries or whoever,

If you would like your event added to these pages for Free, and also
put to our website What’s On (which can have an awful lot more data) FREE please e-mail me by August 1st at……… davidhpiper117@gmail.com

You can of course e-mail me at any time to have your event added to What’s On
on our website and this is also on Hungerford’s Townsite which is FREE


DON’T DELAY DO IT TODAY


Grumpy’s article

Readers have survived the “perfect storm” of voting in West Berkshire which at least meant shoe leather was saved on multiple trudges to the Polling Station. However, Hungerford, while it should be congratulated on producing a stronger [numerically] field than at previous elections, did not fill the Town Council’s candidates list sufficiently to provoke an Election. This admittedly involves a financial saving to the town’s electors/ratepayers. Maybe, in the Town, some of this saving can be directed to resolving the return of the pigeon problem [and resultant mess under the Railway bridge]; I thought that, once resolved in the last few years, it might be part of the Mayor’s oath on entry to the office that this problem would not recur..

Tony Blair, before he turned tail for more financially productive pastures, electioneered that three “Es” were paramount: “Education, Education, Education”. Maybe, in Hungerford, three “Es” should again figure for our local councillors and MP to resolve. First: Education has become a problem area here despite the undoubted application and efforts of the last two John Of Gaunt College Heads; Hungerford is the size of community that cannot justify the evident lack of impetus lost from a laudable on-site and burgeoning Primary education when pupils migrate to their Secondary and Tertiary stages. Second: Electrification of the railway-line ; by falling short of the Hungerford station, the truncated programme to be implemented has serious and negative implications for the town’s economy; even the Government-stipulated but independent assessment of viability was over-ruled in reaching this decision. Third: Edification. Why was the determination of the location for the hundreds of houses that Hungerford must accommodate over the next 15 years procrastinated over a period of more than a year until a date after the election?

Panaceas are to be found. A Grumpy suggestion was that Hungerford garages could usefully emulate their continental counterparts and put pails of clean water at the pumps for debugging windscreens. Such handy aids are now to be found at the Texaco/COOP filling station; thanks. Grumpiness is more than offset by features such as Rod’s bedecking of the High Street with a variety of flags relevant to the town’s calendar as well as reflecting national events. The Wednesday market as well as the regenerated Sunday market are starting to attract support; “Use them or lose them”! However, it was sad that more of the six thousand populace could not find time to support Rod’s Clean-up of the Town Centre about a month ago. The Common’s Clean-up a week or two beforehand attracted a larger number of volunteers.

Another recurrent event was the annual Hocktide festivities in which the Town appears to participate enthusiastically [ including your Editor’s participation on the top table at the Hocktide lunch]. Once the confusion of many [including components of local government in Newbury] between Hungerford’s Town and Manor and Hungerford’s Town Council, is cleared-up, there emerges recognition that the former provides, at no cost to the rate-payer, appreciable direct financial support aggregating several thousands of pounds each year to a score of local initiatives, charities and clubs, as well as managing and making available town amenities such as The Common, The Marsh, The Town Hall complex all of which one can evidently see being enjoyed by so many residents .

Grumpy


Hungerford Surgery

The Surgery has been extremely busy over the last few months and I would like to thank you all for your understanding when we have had to cancel appointments due to illness, this is sometimes unavoidable and happens at short notice but we do our best to get patients seen if at all possible.

As I explained in the last issue, Dr Helen Dace is no longer a Partner at the Surgery but continues to do some Locum work for us. We are delighted to announce that we have a new Partner joining us from 1st July, Dr Emma Alcock, who will be taking over Dr Dace’s Patient list. In the meantime the continuing four Partners will see her patients together with the Locums who are helping us to cover this interim period.

Our Repeat Prescriptions can now go electronically to a Pharmacy of your choice so please let a Receptionist know who you would like to be your nominated Pharmacy.It may well be Boots, Hungerford but can be any Pharmacy you request as long as they do electronic prescribing.

I know there have been problems over the last few months regarding Prescriptions and I would you to have some understanding of what happens and why. The Surgery asks for Repeat Prescriptions to be ordered online, put in our secure Prescription Boxes at reception, or outside the back door. If you have no repeat slip there are forms on reception to complete. We do not accept telephone requests as it is not a safe and secure way of taking details of what is needed (of course there may be some exceptions to this but they are few in number). When the Prescription is printed it can then be either sent electronically to a Pharmacy of your choice or collected by you from Reception, or posted (if a stamped addressed envelope if included), or collected by Boots to take to the Pharmacy (which they do around lunchtime each day). We ask you to allow 2 working days for this to happen and then your Pharmacy will need to order the medication before dispensing it to you. I hope this gives you some insight into what happens to your Repeat Prescriptions.

From my request in the last issue for patients to become members of a Patient Participation Group, I have had 3 more patients who have contacted me, showing an interest in forming a group. I therefore propose to hold an Open Meeting for any patients who would like to help form and run a Patient Participation Group. This will be on Thursday 11th June 6.30 -7.30pm and will be held in the Surgery Waiting Room with at least myself and Dr Alex Anderson present from the Surgery.

Janette Kersey Patient Services Co-ordinator

 

Virtual Museum

The Town Pond

All towns and villages used to have a town pond. It was usually on the green in the middle of the town – rather like the splendid surviving village pond at nearby Aldbourne, Wiltshire.
Sometimes the ponds were used for animals to drink from; some were used for the ducking-stool in which miscreants would have suffered public humiliation as punishment for misdemeanours.

In Hungerford our pond was rather different. It lay about half way up the slope of the High Street (outside what is now 35 High Street), and it served a different, even more important, purpose.

The Constables Accounts for Hungerford record just how much money and effort went into maintaining the pond in good condition and full of water. It was surrounded by rails (to keep stock out). Some lime trees were planted around it in 1718, but they failed to survive, and were later replaced by firs.

Its true purpose was as a reservoir of water for use by the local men to put out any fires in the upper (southern) part of the High Street. The northern (lower) part of the town was well served by the river Dun, but the slope up the High Street required a water supply on the higher ground – hence the importance of the town pond.

Hungerford had a great fire in 1566, destroying many properties, and Marlborough lost about 250 houses in the fire of 1653. After the Great Fire of London (1666) various measures were introduced – fire insurance (in 1680), and soon the first fire pumps were made. Hungerford had our first fire pump in 1702. The magnificent surviving pump in the Corn Exchange entrance is probably our second pump, partly paid by the Sun Fire Assurance Company, and dating from 1737.

The pond was eventually filled up in 1805 when more efficient fire pumps made it redundant.

For more on this or any other aspect of Hungerford’s fascinating history, visit the Hungerford Virtual Museum – www.hungerfordvirtualmuseum.co.uk

Hugh Pihlens


The Old Codger

The Old Codger………

Well its all over, thank goodness, but I do still feel sorry for that smartly dressed chap, Nigel. I met him once at a hotel bar in Yorkshire when he very politely asked to go in front to get his pint to take into his meeting! Should it be the time for the Conservatives to introduce proportional voting/representation?

I just wonder now how many of the promises will get broken and or delayed, especially for us OAP’s?

Would somebody please tell me why that really popular Barnes coach (bus) on a Thursday to Newbury has been discontinued? Are West Berks Council really aware of how much needed this service is? Yes the Handybus does do a Newbury run, but of course cannot take the vast number that the coach was able to take. Is anybody trying to get it back? If you are perhaps you might like to update CHAIN MAIL’s Editor please.

I see that the BY-PASS issue for Hungerford has been raised again, North/South or East/West or both? The article never said. I can’t see (as a pedestrian) how a bypass would harm trade as our parking always seems to be full up, so how could those travelling through be able to stop and buy? If the issue is because of the A4 traffic from the west has to queue from the Chilton Foliat turn, well tough! If it is because we sometimes have to crawl down the High Street from the railway Bridge to get out onto the A4 well leave a few minutes earlier. It’s not as though we have anything like a RUSH HOUR is it?

Mind you one of the worst traffic problems are the queues that do build up a odd times by vehicles trying to get into the FREE Tesco car park! Perhaps it should be sealed off and all entry and exit over the Railway crossing, or as it is so narrow that way just entry from there, with Exit to the High Street. Well…………………..

I notice that somebody was grumbling about the lack of response to the Town Clean up operation.Well as a lot of these things happen year in year out why oh why don’t Organisers get their act in gear and get it publicised well in advance? The Adviser, Towns Web site, this publication and our own website would all play their part in publicity I am sure if only we were TOLD early enough.
Just set your e-mail calendar to notify us in advance…seeeeeeeeeeeeeeemple !

The above goes for all sorts of local event organisers as well

So Bridge Street is really coming alive and when Gregg is allowed to move on (see his update below) and the shop further down finishes its renovation it will look smart, but we now have a problem next to Hungerford Haberdashers with their unattractive window covers. In that state it can’t be conducive to attracting prospective clients to the building, can it.? How about something more attractive then?

By the way I am a supporter of CHAIN, so don’t forget to come along to the AGM on
Monday 15th June at 7.30pm in the Magistrates Room at the Town Hall.
You might even recognise me!
Well that’s that, all the best, The Old Codger


Gardening by Stacy

A little FictionStacy Tuttle

The trailers for Kate Winslet’s latest film “A LITTLE CHAOS” thoroughly intrigued me. Here is the story of two gardeners -Sabine de Barra, played by Winslet, and the famous Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts)- vying for the chance to design a new fountain for King Louis the Fourteenth at Versailles. Of course as a student of Garden History I felt that I was well acquainted with Andre Le Notre’s exploits, yet here was a tale I didn’t know and a woman I had never heard of. Was there then my counterpart- a female garden designer (I know I’m no Kate Winslet !)- working in 17th century France? Well rather disappointingly but not surprisingly Sabine de Barra is a fictional character and the story is charming but completely made up.

Blenheim Palace Formal Gardens

Furthermore the filming took place entirely in England. Locations such as Waddesdon Manor, Ham House, Cliveden were used with the landscape scenes being shot at Blenheim Palace. Blenheim’s formal gardens, although in the style of Le Notre, were actually designed and created by another Frenchman Achille Duchene as recently as the 1920s. They exhibit all the characteristics of a Le Notre garden- parterres with clipped box to create formal, geometric shapes with an infill of swirls and curves like a piece of filigree work or an Aubusson rug.

Water features heavily in Le Notre’s garden with lavish fountains to demonstrate the ability to control it. The French formal garden was demonstrating not only the King’s wealth but also his power over even nature itself. It could be made to bend and curve to the will of the garden owner. There are many examples of Le Notre’s gardens still in existence in France so if you are popping over the Channel why not visit Vaux-le-Vicomte, his first project, Fontainebleau or of course Versailles. If you are not travelling, Blenheim Palace is very close by.

It has a lot to offer- there are Formal Gardens, Water Terraces, an Italian Garden, a Rose garden and a fairly recent introduction The Secret Garden (much more informal and very tranquil). All of this is surrounded by a park landscaped in the style of that other well known landscaper
Capability Brown.


Nature Notes by Hawkeye

Wild Flowers

So far the flowers this year have been exceptional. The winter flowering snowdrops and aconites were exceptional. The primroses of spring were stunning and there were daffodils everywhere. Unfortunately nearly all were cultivated.

Everybody recognises the yellow trumpet shaped flower but many people do not know that there is a true English wild daffodil. It is completely yellow, an almost insipid yellow. The single flower grows from a bulb and is supported by green spear-shaped leaves. Wild mature daffodils grow to about 12 inches.

Our native English daffodil is exactly the same flower that grows abundantly in Wales.

A friendly expert told me it was a woodland plant and does not grow in Scotland and Ireland because it is too cold and wet there in the spring. The same naturalist told me that our spring and winter flowers were stunning this year because last year was so wet. Apparently the rain caused the bulbs to swell and make way for the goodness to trickle back down into them.

My friendly expert also told me the scientific name for the true wild daffodil is Narcissus Pseudo Narcissus which is quite amusing but puzzling. He further said that most of the planted daffodils will naturalise. Ironically they came from the wild stock which people stole in the first place. It is very easy to produce new daffodils (and new snowdrops) which gardeners call cultivars.

The bluebells were also stunning this year. I suspect for the same reasons. It is enough to make one start a wild flower diary. There are stunning flowers blooming every month in the Hungerford area but summer is the most prolific time.

The Southern Marsh Orchid is the speciality wild flower of Hungerford Marshes and it should appear again this summer. However it never appears in the same place as previous years. This orchid is pink, about six inches tall and my books say it is fragrant(?). Surprisingly I have never found a common spotted orchid on the marshes.

I hope this summer is hot and dry so that I can see some butterflies. The first and only flier I have seen this year was a male Brimstone on March 21st. The same day I saw my first summer visitor of the year – a Willow Warbler. Walks over the Marshes this summer should be rewarded by sights and sounds of various warblers and in particular Sedge Warblers another marshes speciality.

Hawkey



Hungerford Library 

Library Fest was a great success again this year, with events held in all West Berkshire libraries. Thank you to all those who took part. Hungerford library hosted workshops in stop motion animation and drawing animation storyboards. You could have made a cushion from a favourite t-shirt, or a textile picture in ‘Pictures in Stitch’. The Watermill put on a production of ‘The Selfish Giant’ which was very popular with under 6s. We held a fantastic percussion workshop where we learned to play the spoons! There was an amazing art installation called ‘Tales of the Unfinishable’ which was a textile-based exhibit of unfinished work and the stories behind them.

Watch for information about the Summer Reading Challenge starting in July. We will have children’s craft activities throughout the summer on Wednesday mornings. We will also be running the reading challenge for older readers, called Grown-ups2! for readers over 12. Check our website or watch for posters in the window.

We are now a collection point for the Food Bank. You can collect a ‘shopping list’ and drop off your donations at the library.

We offer several FREE courses and events at the library:

IT Lessons for beginners of any age. Six weekly 1:1 sessions tailored for the needs of the individual student. Don’t be afraid if you know nothing about computers! Our excellent volunteers will take you through whatever you would like to know. Please contact the library on 01488 682660 for further information or to book a place.

RhymeTime sessions are on Wednesday mornings at 11:00 for children under 4.
Craft and Chat takes place every Friday morning from 10-12. Come along to this free session and bring your knitting or other crafts, enjoy a chat and a cup of tea while sharing your interests with others.

Art Group meets every Tuesday, 2-4pm. If you are interested in art and would like to share your skill or learn something new come along. It is not teacher led, but it is a good opportunity to enjoy your hobby in the company of others.

Book Groups – We have 2 book groups. One meets on the first Friday of the month at 5:30, and the other meets on the third Friday at 5:30.

If you are interested in any of these activities please contact Hungerford Library on 01488 682660, hungerfordlibrary@westberks.gov.uk

WiFi is free to library members.

Do you find it difficult to visit your local library because of age, disability or other special circumstances? You might benefit from our At Home library service where a library volunteer will choose and deliver books or audiobooks to your home. Contact the At Home Library Service on 01635 519827 or email newburylibrary@westberks.gov.uk

Check out our on-line services for access to audiobooks, ebooks and emagazines, as well as ordering and renewing books. www.westberks.gov.uk/elibrary

Lisa Richardson

 



Steam by Tony Bartlett

N.B. more details and illustrations of trains reported on in this article can be found in the Steam Special section of this web-site on the Sightings page wherever a reference of the form Sighting: dd/mm/yyyy is quoted.

The 2015 season started off in a very optimistic mood with a full programme of excursions and a photogenic locomotive restored to main line duties. I was excited about seeing Mayflower in operation – a slightly smaller 4-6-0 locomotive than the Pacifics we are used to seeing like Clan Line and Tornado – so I trekked down to Basingstoke on 14th February for its first visit, and my anticipation was well rewarded in spite of the awful weather (Sighting: 14/02/2015).

A better opportunity presented itself with the St. David’s Day special to Cardiff, for which Mayflower passed through the Vale of White Horse in the superb sunshine which has been the mark of the early part of this year. The loco was visibly working harder than the Pacifics, without any diesel support, and put on a good show of sound and steam (Sighting: 01/03/2015). In contrast, Tangmere crossing the Common a few days later with a Cathedrals Express to Bristol looked extremely ‘laid back’, barely managing to lift its exhaust above the top of its train (Sighting: 07/03/2015). We were only to find out later how significant this train was!

The highlight so far was when we had Mayflower passing through Hungerford on the 1st April with another Cathex, from Oxford to Kingswear and Dartmouth (Sighting: 01/04/2015). Again the locomotive was putting on a fine display of steam in action which I captured, again in great sunlight, on the Common but …
… two days later the world of main line steam excursions was turned upside down when the West Coast Railway Company (WRCR) was issued with a Suspension Notice. This prevented it from operating any of the steam excursions it had contracted with the tour operators. The suspension arose out of a misdemeanour on the Cathex which had come through Hungerford during March, which proved to be the trigger prompting Network Rail (NR) into action over concerns for safety of the rail network. Significantly WCRC operate the large majority of main line steam trains, causing those due to run in the intervening period to be postponed or cancelled.

The railway tour operators and their booked customers have a massive investment which is in jeopardy, but there can be no compromise on the need to protect the safe operation of the rail network. The Railway Touring Co were able to engage the services of the British Pullman steam operator DB Schenker for their Great Britain express which came through Hungerford on 28th April (Sighting: 28/04/2015) – a welcome relief from a gloomy situation. The DBS programme should continue normally with a Belmond British Pullman through Hungerford on 13th May (Sighting: 13/05/2015) – providing a last view of Clan Line before its withdrawal for heavy maintenance.

As we close for press, NR has announced that they have “re-instated the WCRC track access agreement”, leaving the way open for a very carefully phased resumption of that

Tony Bartlett

 


 

Roger Day

As I mentioned in my previous article (Chain Mail issue 126) over recent years I have bought a number of very interesting WW1 period postcards at fairs, flea markets or on eBay, and it’s usually the image’s subject matter that’s caught my attention. However, occasionally the message scribbled on the back can add considerably to a card’s interest and the example reproduced here is a case in point.

It was taken by Hungerford photographer Albert Parsons and is titled ‘689 ASC MT Camp 1916’. It shows Albion 3 Ton lorries and tents on Hungerford Common and is similar to another card in my collection. The message on the back was written by Sidney Taylor who has helpfully highlighted his tent with a blue pencil mark and addressed the card to his father in Windsor.
From this limited information i.e. soldier’s name, unit and father’s address, I have been able to trace Private Taylor’s WW1 military service. Before the war he had served for over two years as a driver with the Territorial Force. On 5th August 1914, the day after Britain declared war on Germany, he was mobilized as part of the South Midland Divisional Supply Column (Motor Transport) Territorial Force. On 16th March 1915 he joined the regular Army Service Corps (ASC) at Bulford and ten days later was sent to France where he served as a driver with 328 Company ASC.

On 28th May 1916 he was back home in England, but his service record does not reveal the reason for his return. However, we know that he was now serving as a driver with 689 Company ASC, which from 11th June 1916 until early August was camped on Hungerford Common – it was during this period that Private Taylor sent the postcard in question. 689 Company left Hungerford on 8th August 1916 for service in Salonika and no more is heard from Taylor until 21st October 1917 when he was admitted to the 33rd Stationary Hospital with a Hernia. This seems to have finished his active service and during April 1919 he was discharged from the army at Fovant, Wiltshire, and the following month awarded a 30% pension.



This exercise shows that from time to time the message on the back of a postcard is often more interesting than the image.

ROGER DAY

 



HAHA by Belinda

An Allotment in Hungerford…………

There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting up the allotment on a sunny day, listening to the sounds of nature and other allotment holders working! The Marsh Lane site is in such a beautiful spot, surrounded by hedges with the canal and Freemans Marsh beyond. Allotments seem the ideal link between town and countryside.

We get such a variety of wildlife on the site and it’s a pleasure to be able to get so close to it (most of the time). This year we’ve enjoyed watching a kestrel family – a very welcome addition to the site as they can deal with some of the small mammals which love our broad beans so much! Every plot seems to have its own robin; singing away and picking off worms and insects as they get dug up. The ever-present male pheasant struts around the plots like he owns the place – enjoying the all-you-can-eat pick-your-own that we plant and sow for him each year!

We see so many different butterflies: peacock, comma, brimstone, tortoiseshell and cabbage whites to name a few. We’ve seen some amazing looking caterpillars; spiky, hairy and multicoloured – even some tufted and with horns! All have their preferred foodstuff – often eating our young plants and nibbling off seedlings before they’ve had a chance to grow strong but they don’t all want our fruit and veg. A lot of them are happy eating weeds or hedgerow plants.

Each year we discover new wildlife as allotment holders get more adventurous and choose to grow different types of vegetable. Last year was the first time we saw the asparagus beetle; such an interesting looking creature emerging from the ground as a larvae, but if they’re brushed to the ground that can be enough to kill them as they don’t have the energy to climb back up the stem before dying (allegedly). A discovery this year is that bean weevils are what has been nibbling the edges of our broad bean leaves over the years – we’ve previously thought it was birds or slugs or ants.

It’s not so surprising that people resort to using pesticides. It’s hard to imagine growing a field of cabbages without using vast amounts! Unfortunately altering the food chain can kill the good guys too.. Think of all those little ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies and beetles which help keep our plants pollinated and turn organic waste back into lovely rich compost.

We don’t claim to be organic on our plot; we’ve guiltily resorted to using slug pellets and spraying washing-up liquid on aphids but we use other protection where possible and encourage the ‘friendlies’ to our plots with flowers and a supply of water. Appropriate netting helps protect enough fresh chemical-free fruit and veg for us and the wildlife each year, so we’ll stick with growing our own!

http://www.plot7marshlane.blogspot.com/            Contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274
www.haha-hungerford.org.uk                                  https://twitter.com/MLAllotment

Belinda


Marsh Lane Open Day
15th August 2pm BBQ, tombola, produce, stalls


Hungerford Football by Ron Tarry

Since the item in the previous edition of Chain Mail on Hungerford Town Football Club, a number of people have asked how they can support a local club which contains few, if any, local players, referring to those days when most of the players were locally based, if not born in the town. I too regret those more carefree post-war years, but it is a “trick of memory” to believe all, or most, of the players were local in those days.

Apart from a number of players who came from nearby towns and villages, I remember Alfie Leinweber, a German ex-prisoner-of-war and Chico Garciaz, an American serviceman playing for the club. Those were the days when few of the players owned cars, there were few television sets, and certainly no “wall to wall football” dominating the screens, it was an era which will never return.

For anyone keen to watch local players, we run a team called “The Swifts”., named after a Hungerford team which existed a century ago. This team competes in the North Berks. League and is comprised entirely of young local lads who pay to play. Entry is free to their home games at Bulpit Lane, and the club and bar are open, with live football on television available.

The Hungerford Juniors also run an under-18 team, who play many of their games on the Town Ground, whilst the Legion of Hungerford also have a team which play at the Triangle Field on Sunday mornings,

There are therefore plenty of locals to watch, if the level of football played by the first team does not tempt you.

We are “punching well above our weight”, the highest standard of football in West Berkshire, playing against clubs with distinguished histories who have much greater resources, and we are doing the town proud.

Ron Tarry. President Hungerford Town F.C.


Health by Liz

Look forward to travelling ……naturally.

Many of us will be considering travelling abroad this summer, either as a welcome break from work or as a business trip. Liz Chandler, of Natures Corner, who has visited both India and the Amazon over the last decade, searches out the latest natural travel remedies to help us adjust to changes in climate and our daily regime.

Passport? Sunscreen? Insect Repellent? There’s plenty to think about in preparation for time away from home. Over the past five years more of us have travelled abroad than ever before and high growth is forecast for the long haul sector of the travel industry. Some of the issues we face when travelling are sunburn, insect bites and jet lag.

Exposure to the Sun

Most people get some enjoyment from a sunny day, but it remains a risk factor and aside from lotions, it’s worth thinking about supplementation. Providing better cellular protection than beta carotene, vitamin C or vitamin E, Astaxanthin is very helpful for those who wish to tan whilst minimising the risk of skin damage and burning. Found in red ocean plants it is a powerful antioxidant that provides some protection against UV light exposure and is even useful for protecting sensitive eyes and looking after the long term health of the skin. When considering sunscreens, dermatologists report that up to 15% of people experience some level of skin irritation with chemical sunscreens, so choose wisely and look for creams and lotions without parabens and other toxic chemicals.

Insect Bites and Stings

At best, bites and stings can cause irritation and discomfort and, at worse, they can pose significant danger. Neither scenario is ideal when abroad or in the U.K., which is why it’s advisable to take an optimum strength thiamine (B1) supplement two weeks in advance of any travel. By changing the acidity of the blood, thiamine helps to ward off unwanted visitors. For best protection use a natural insect repellent such as Neem and Citronella, in addition to the vitamin B1.
Jet Lag

Contrary to popular belief the well known supplement Melatonin is not available without prescription, but a homeopathic remedy simply called ‘Jet Lag’ can provide the solution to that ‘out of sync’ feeling.

There are a host of natural remedies available to make our travels more comfortable, and here are some quick one liners to consider:
Panic Attacks – L’Theanine
Food Poisoning – Citricidal
Stress Headaches – Lavender
Prickly Heat – Urtica Cream

So for all your travel needs, think natural!

For more information on these nutrients and suggested daily doses and dietary changes, call into Natures Corner or email info@naturescorner.co.uk

 


Our Community

Update for May

The Hungerford and Lambourn District Neighbourhood Team covers the areas of Hungerford, Lambourn and Kintbury.

The team have had a really busy month. We have seen an increase in rural crime and it appears to be predominantly in the Hungerford and Lambourn area but we have also had several reports in the Kinbury and Inkpen area too. Some of the stolen Items include trailers, a 4×4, compact tractor, garden tools, hand tools and a large disc cutter. We are working closely with the farms and businesses to try to prevent and detect any further crimes.

On the afternoon of Monday 20th April, the team conducted a speed enforcement operation in Holt Road and Blandy’s Hill in Kintbury between 1:30pm-3:30pm. We issued three speeding tickets to motorists. One was from out of the area and two were local residents.

PC Drewitt worked alongside West Berkshire Council on Thursday 9th April in a test purchasing operation in Hungerford and Lambourn. All shop premises selling alcohol were tested and we are very pleased to say that there were no sales to underage buyers.

PC Parfitt & PC Drewitt had a great afternoon spent with the youngsters at Springburn Childcare one afternoon. The children tried on police kits and had an insight into what equipment they use. We apologise for any noise we made to local residents, for some reason the children loved the sound of the siren.

PCSO Lee Bremner will be conducting a ‘Have your Say’ meeting in Lambourn on Friday 22nd May on the Market Square 10:30am-11:30am. Please pop along if you have anything you wish to discuss with her.

A 25 year old male from Thatcham has been charged with drink driving after officers stopped him on Station Road, Hungerford at 2:30am on 5th April.

 


Jack Williams

Fond & Distant Memories ….Bridge Street by……………. Jack Williams

As I write this article for Chain, I have just returned from St Lawrence Church where the Hungerford Royal British Legion branch has completed the “ laying up” of our old standard and the dedication of a new flag .A very precise and quite emotional ceremony which we wished to complete before our branch padre, the Rev. Andrew Sawyer retires after 25 years service to the Town and Royal British Legion .I am sure that readers will be aware that Margaret and myself are regular members at the Bridge Street Methodist Church and whilst we change our ministers much more frequently than the Anglicans, we have been well served during my 87 years.

Let me remind you of Rev. Donald Collin, a padre in North Africa in WW2, and Rev. Peter Stanley, both keen cricketers. Then Rev. Charlie Gill who became a Town Councillor and Rev. Wallace Edwards who was a very special Christian minister at the time of the 1987 tragedy. I am particularly pleased that Greg and Rachael Furr have now received full planning permission to renovate the derelict property next to their shop. We remember this as a small tobacconist which also gave good service to local fishermen with their displays of fishing flies etc. A very appropriate position as the River Dun ran directly beneath the property. I do hope that Greg and Rachael can be successful in their renovation as it will greatly enhance this Bridge St corner. This street seems to be undergoing an excellent change, new retailers appearing, even though the provocative underwear designs next door to the Church do raise a few eyebrows!

In past times, I particularly remember the Red Stores, a hardware shop, Arthur Chivers’ bicycle shop, the chemist and next-door off-licence. Also Bill Razey’s radio shop, Trigg’s sweet shop with a small library attached, not an uncommon event in the 30’s.Then the Barley Mow pub where Peter Stirland now trades. The pub always seemed to feature a barrel of sweet cider selling at 6d a half pint. The largest premises in Bridge Street were Wooldridge’s builders yard, running alongside the Canal and spreading at the rear to the River Dun. Building material was everywhere on the open ground and the yard foreman Don Harris was willing to negotiate prices with all us eager young “do-it-yourself” participants. This whole area is now the most attractive Canal walk development.

Way back in 1952 we lived in No 1 Canal Side owned by Miss Allen. It was in an appalling state of repair, but at 7s 9d a week we were prepared to make renovation a prime target and in 3 months the house was transformed with plumbing, electricity, new floors, fireplaces which all helped to make it more comfortable. There was a problem as the Canal was on the point of closure with bank to bank weed and small frogs who wanted to live with us! An old railway ganger Mr Elderfield lived two doors away and some of his homemade wine was quite drinkable. Major Harvey lived at the edge of the builders yard with a large conservatory on the Southern wall. He was kindness itself and would always deliver a large bunch of grapes when they were ripe. Some hardship, but for us it was the “Good old days”.

The Methodist Chapel in Bridge Street, a fine building, has had a good deal of alteration in the last 50 years, but the schoolroom premises were of great value .During WW2,

Intermediate Christian Endeavour (Inters ) 30 young people aged 15-18, met there twice a week 7pm-9.30pm and there was great friendship, indeed some marriages occurred. Finally we can’t leave Bridge Street without a mention of Caswells Yard. Vic Caswell was the town blacksmith a pillar of the Fire brigade, indeed his was the marriage before ours that had an escort of firemen making an archway of axes .This wedding in the twenties and ours in Sep 1951.The only other Fire Brigade wedding I recall was Norman and Barbara Barr’s

The Bear on the corner with so much history attached, has a plaque on the Bath Road wall recording the event but can you really picture William of Orange arriving there in 1688 with 15,000 soldiers. The Glorious Revolution, when he came as an avowed Protestant to take the English throne, marched all the way from Devon and spent three days in Hungerford and Littlecote while negotiations took place, so that any sort of bloody changeover could be avoided. You may recall that we re-enacted the whole scene when we converted St Lawrence’s Church into The Bear Hotel in1988.There was a more recent glorious event when the original Twinning Charters were signed with Ligueil and Roy Tudor Hughes arranged the most marvellous meal for our French guests at The Bear.

JW


Hungerford Primary School

Hungerford Primary School Summer Fete

The Hungerford Primary School PTA will be holding its Summer Fete on Saturday 4th July on the school grounds from 12.00 – 4.30 p.m. We are currently interested to hear from people who would like to have a stall at the event. The Fete will have a variety of stalls and wonderful events suitable for all ages and interests. We are welcoming contributions from commercial organisations, independent traders and charity organisations to contribute to the event, from estate agents to food stalls from the farmers market and all in between!

Commercial stalls will be charged at £10 per stall plus public liability insurance. Charity stalls (such as clubs and associations) will not be charged for a stall, but asked to run an activity / masterclass with any profits going to the Fete. The activities can be designed to promote their cause. The day promises to be a great day out for all members of the local community. Please email hungerford.primary.pta@gmail.com if you would like more details.

The school is also very excited about the arrival of a piano at the school, partly funded by PTA fund-raising, along with a grant from the EMI music foundation, and donations from CDK Global and Newbury Building Society. The piano will enhance the quality of music in assemblies, drama, music lessons and musical clubs amongst many other uses.

Hungerford Primary School PTA (registered charity 1027420) provides events and activities for the children of Hungerford Primary school to contribute to their development and enables the community to get involved with the school through attending events or volunteering.


Jo’G

Let me introduce myself. ……My name is Alan Henderson and in September I will be the new Headteacher of John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford. I am absolutely thrilled to be taking the reins from Sarah Brinkley and I look forward to the exciting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead at John O’Gaunt.

I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself. I am a 40 year old Northern Irishman, married to Louise (who is also a teacher), father of Georgia (12) and Isobel (8), dog owner and living in Salisbury. Having worked in the midlands for the first 11 years of my career, I moved to Wiltshire nearly 6 years ago to take up a job in Southampton, before moving to my current post as Deputy Headteacher at St Edmund’s School in Salisbury.

I am a keen sportsman having played a lot of rugby and cricket in my younger days and fairly recently I have discovered the ‘joy’ of running. I am very aware of Sarah’s outstanding marathon exploits this year, and I can only claim to have run the Bournemouth half marathon last October, but anyone who knows me will appreciate how completely out of my comfort zone that was. Despite the fact that I couldn’t walk down stairs comfortably for about a week, I am intending to run it again this October.

My passion however is skiing. Having come to the sport in my 20’s I now ski as much as I can with my family throughout the winter, and have come to appreciate a number of things as a result. The first is that my children are faster learners than I am. In the very near future Georgia will be a considerably more competent skier than me, and it’s only a matter of time before Isobel is screaming “I’ll wait for you at the bottom dad!” as she disappears into the distance. As a father and a ‘grown up’ I sometimes find it hard to accept that my children are better at something than I am, and I sometimes have to be reminded by my wife that the competitive streak in me isn’t always a good thing.

Isobel is what some people might call a ‘book worm’ and not particularly sporty. It was hard work challenging her to put on a pair of skis and step well out of her comfort zone by trying something completely different. I won’t lie to you, there have been some really tough days, lots of café stops for hot chocolate and an endless supply of Haribos on standby for those really difficult days. Every one of those bad days (and there are still some of course) was completely worth it when I see the utter joy she now experiences when she is on the mountain, and I’m trailing in her wake.

This example of my own children reaffirms my passionate belief that if young people are given opportunities to stretch and challenge themselves beyond what they consider the ‘norm’, then they can surprise themselves, their parents, and achieve something they never thought was possible.
So the next time your child has an opportunity to try something new and interesting, and they say “I can’t really be bothered” or “it’s not really for me”, please encourage them to have a go. You never know, they might just love it.

I look forward to working with and getting to know the Hungerford community in the coming months and years.

Alan Henderson


Blasts from the Past

The Editor of the Bridge, Iris Lloyd, has passed to me a copy of the “Hungerford and District Times” from October 1990, which was given to her by the printers of the Bridge, and I have selected some items which I feel may be of interest to you all. I trust you agree.

The front page contains details of the new Burbage by-pass, which by-passes the village on the A330/A346 road between Swindon and Salisbury, which from the report was long awaited. Two photographs also appear on the front page, one of the former England Cricketer Fred Trueman, who was guest speaker at the Cricket Club dinner held at the John O Gaunt School, and also a picture of new road lights being installed outside the Total Garage on the A4. The price of un-leaded petrol was 51.6p per litre. An interesting advertisement announced the forth-coming arrival at 128 High Street of Arosa Body Clinics, who gave Swedish Massage, along with Bust Lifts, Face Lifts, Excess Fluid elimination and Cellulite Treatment.

On page two appears a two column article about the Town & Manor, and an appeal from Hungerford Theatre Club, for singers to participate in the forthcoming production of Oliver. Also there is a map showing 23 shops in the High Street and Charnham Street, 17 of which are antique shops. Further on in the paper there is a report on the West Berks. Conservative Assoc. Cheese and Wine evening at Meadowview Squash Club at which it appears. most of the prizes on the Tombola, were claimed by the Young Conservatives, who sent a delegation. Mrs Gwyneth Bullock, is stated to have been present running one of the stalls.
In the “where to eat” section, The Wheatsheaf at Chilton Foliat was under fairly new management, and was offering a three course Sunday lunch for £4.95, a head, and “Behind the Green Door” in Church Street was advertising a Beaujolais day with Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner at varying prices. This later reverted to its original name of the “Angel”, which has now closed.

In the property section, an immaculate Tudor style detached house in Hungerford with four bedrooms, double garage, etc. etc. was on offer for £130,000, and on the sports page Hungerford Town Football Club was recorded for one win and two losses, and were in 10th place in the Vauxhall League Division Two South. It must be said however that the losses were to the top and fifth placed clubs in the League.
More from the usual past, next month.

Fred Bailey.


Your W.I. in Hungerford  

         One for the Ladies


I think we would all agree that Hungerford is a wonderful place to live. We have beautiful countryside on our doorstep and all the facilities one could ask for in our town. We also have a good number of social activities to take advantage of and it always surprises me how few of us take the opportunity to get out and mix with other members of our community and to meet and mingle with our fellow townspeople, preferring instead to stay within our own little groups of familiar faces, missing out on the chance to meet new people and widen our horizons.

I had heard that there is a Hungerford branch of the WI (Women’s Institute) and thought I would give it a try, so popped along to a meeting last year. I was on my own and saw no familiar faces there but was given a warm welcome and made to feel at home straight away. The WI has an undeservedly ‘frumpy’ reputation but I have found it to be full of lively, opinionated and interesting women with views on every subject under the sun.

Meetings take place on the first Wednesday of every month between 7.30pm and 9pm, a great excuse to escape the confines of the home for 1.5 hours and we have a variety of things going on, often with an outside speaker as well. This has become a very enjoyable part of my life and widened my circle of friends and acquaintances and I would like to recommend it to any woman who would like to get out one evening a month to meet new people and enjoy a sociable evening. Visitors get three months meetings free so that they can try it to see if they would like to join, and the membership is very reasonable – I decided to join on my first evening but still got the three months free anyway.

So all you ladies in Hungerford, whatever your age and whatever your interests, you will find good company at the WI so why not pop in to see us and give it a try? Remember – the first Wednesday of every month, 7.30pm to 9.00pm at the Croft Hall. Just turn up, no booking necessary!

M.G.

Church Bells

A Potted History of Modern Bell Ringing

The bells are rung to call the faithful to worship, to celebrate weddings and births and in remembrance of lost loved ones and wartime sacrifice. As I write this a quarter peal of 45 minutes duration is being rung to celebrate the safe arrival of baby Alexander, the first child of Hungerford ringer Rebecca and her husband Rupert.

But how did ringing evolve to what it is today and was it always considered so quaint?
Prior to the 14th Century most bells in churches and monasteries were hung on a spindle and simply ‘chimed’ by pulling a rope but ringers began to experiment with new ways of hanging the bell to get greater control. However, in 1536, the Reformation led to the desecration of religious buildings and the removal of many church bells.

By the 1600s, churches began to rehang bells, adopting a new method of mounting bells on a whole wheel with the addition of a stay and slider to be able to ‘set’ or park the bell in the upside down position. The ringer could now rotate the bells 360 degrees and stop and start the ringing at will.

During the reign of James II (1633-1688) bell ringing became extremely fashionable amongst the aristocracy as it provided physical exercise and intellectual stimulation. In the rural churches, however, bands of ordinary ringers strived to outdo one another.

In the 1700s, in rural areas, standards of behaviour deteriorated with bell ringers described as layabouts and drunks. The ringers earned a few shillings for their services which was often spent in the village inn. Attendance at church services was considered no part of ringing and swearing, smoking and a barrel of beer in the tower became normal. I can assure you that this occurs strictly outside the tower these days.

In Victorian times church leaders wanted to improve the standard of ringing, ensure good behaviour and encourage ringers to attend church services. Therefore, many churches had the floor of the ringing chamber removed and the ropes lengthened so that the ringers now performed in full view of the congregation. This can still be seen in many churches around the Newbury area today.

By the late 19th Century, women began to take up bell ringing. As more women became interested, the Ladies Guild of Change Ringers was formed in 1912.
During World War II all church bells were silenced, to ring only to inform of an invasion by enemy troops. Thankfully, since the end of the war, bells have triumphantly rung out across the land.

If you would like to join us in this uniquely British past-time then visit us in the tower of St Lawrence’s at 19:30 on Wednesday nights or 09:30 on a Sunday mornings.

Minna