Issue 119

1st June
1st September 2013

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

Front Cover by Micky Thompson

I took this picture of St Lawrence’s Church with the Canal in glorious sunshine towards the end of July last year. I used one of those digital cameras that in size and complexity sits between a compact and a digital single lens reflex, which has all of the bells and whistles. It is called a bridge camera and comes fitted with an amazing zoom lens. If you don’t want to lug a big heavy camera bag full of different lenses, but would like something a bit better than a compact, then a bridge camera is well worth a look.

HADCAF is upon us once more, and the Art & Craft Exhibition is again held in the Corn Exchange in July, this time on Saturday 20th 10am -5pm & Sunday 21st 10-4pm. It is open to all so why not air your


Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Well at last we have some sunshine and Spring seems to have arrived as I write this at the beginning of May.

Chain has had a very good few months and has recruited some new Drivers which is great news. But we still need more Drivers, so if you have a few hours to spare to either drive your own car, the Handybus or the Chairman vehicle then please contact the Chain Office on 693727 or Janette Kersey on 683302.

The Chain AGM is being held on Monday 10th June at 7.30pm in the Magistrates Room, so please come along and find out more about your local volunteering organisation.

We have through some very generous donations, been able to purchase a new Chairman vehicle and for those of you who don’t know, this is a vehicle which can take people out in their wheelchair. If you know anyone who might need to use the Chairman please tell them to contact the Chain Office on 683727. Also if you have a family member who you would like to take out in their wheelchair then we can give you some training on using the Chairman to enable you to use it as a family.

There are lots of events coming up over the next few months including HADCAF. The programme is included in this Chain Mail. It is a wonderful programme so don’t forget to get your tickets from the Newbury Building Society.

As always, thank you to all our wonderful volunteers because without you there would be no Chain and I think Hungerford is truly blessed to have so many people prepared to help in our community

Best Wishes, Janette Kersey


Hello and how is your Summer going?

Do I have an issue for you! What with the centrefold devoted to a mini programme for
HADCAF, and new articles by new contributors who have responded to my appeal from the last issue, it’s a bumper issue.

Are you (young or old or somebody you know) wheelchair bound or really handicapped with walking and have no or very limited means for transport, then do contact CHAIN office as we have a specially equipped estate car that could help you to get to the Doctors/Dentist/Hospital etc.

Regarding volunteering for Boating for the disabled at Great Bedwyn, Rebecca’s e-mail address hiccupped in the last issue so here it is properly….
The Bruce Trust at Great Bedwyn (the season has started), contact or call 01264 356451

Free information event Keep Calm and Volunteer Sunday 2nd June 10am to 3pm
The Corn Exchange Newbury. West Berkshire is an incredibly self supporting district and volunteering ranks very highly in peoples’ interests. Volunteer Centre West Berkshire is a long established charity (1974) and promotes volunteering to the public. The range of volunteering opportunities that they hold on their database system is immense and visitors to their offices just off Northbrook Street in Bolton Place are often amazed at just how many things there are to do. Every year the Volunteer Centre runs two volunteer recruitment fairs. The next being on Sunday 2nd June at the Corn Exchange Newbury.

40 West Berkshire charities will be there, all taking part in the theme of Keep Calm and Volunteer. Find out how you might get involved,

Due to lack of space the Hungerford Surgery article has had to be split over 3 pages, 20, 21 & 36 however if you still need a Doctor out of hours please telephone
West Call 0118 978 7811.

Didn’t UKIP do well, I wonder what we will all do when it comes around for us to vote? Will they have encouraged the current lot to re-think a lot of their policies. Amongst the worst of the worries they cause are the possible ‘Grab Back’ of some of our pensioners so called freebies, Bus Passes, Winter Fuel Allowance, TV licence etc etc…Really gets under my skin when most of us have paid out taxes all of our lives.

Thanks & regards, David Piper
Tel: 01488-683152

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


Access to information has never been easier; or at least the aficionados of Wikipedia and the like would have you believe. Possibly they are right if you have the will and the electronic means, (and skill) , it is possible to look hard and deep into almost every nook and cranny of Government and in some cases into the private lives of individuals. But leaving Leveson and the pros and cons of phone hacking aside, it seems to me that for most people, there is a great paradox in the field of providing a simple and effective means of ensuring that the great British public are aware of those things that involve them.

The massive growth of social media platforms where individuals can broadcast their every move if they so desire together with the explosion of TV and radio channels have given us all a huge choice of entertainment and sources of information much of which is uncorroborated and downright dangerous. The world is awash with streams of data, opinions and mush – that phenomenon of building up a story or a personality upon the basis of sensationalism.

Is it the classic case of not being able to see the wood for the trees? Have Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin , e-mails and texting not just given each and everyone an opportunity to “be on top of things” but at the same time obscured the key messages of a community?

The historical means of such communication has been either by word of mouth or by writing and CHAIN MAIL is one such example of keeping readers in touch with things but it cannot claim to be up to date with a production lead time of 2 months. The Editor will probably know the demographics of its readership but I doubt whether there is a large proportion of teenagers or Twenty-somethings who would rather look for the immediacy that today’s electronic devices provide.

Hungerford retains many traditions, some like Hocktide are unique.. We also have the historical personage of a Town Crier whose Bell can raise attention for all those in his presence at the time, but it is no longer the case that a loud voice will reach all those who need to know. The plethora of communication channels is both a blessing and a major challenge for your Council as we seek to attract the attention of all age groups and sectors of interest. It is a challenge that we gladly take on but as with all such matters, we value your views and ideas.

And so in the immortal words of Delia Smith (at Norwich City F C) , “Come on then, let’s be having you!”

Cllr Martin Crane, Town Mayor of Hungerford


The Beeb………..

For me it was a nostalgic and slightly emotional feeling watching the BBC TV programme showing the Television Centre closing.

The 29th June 1960 is embedded in my mind as on that night the
TV Centre had its official opening and I was lucky enough to be there.

At the age of 18 I went to work for the BBC, from living in a small
village in Kent to living and working in West London. In those days new secretarial recruits were sent out for around three months, working a week or two at the time in various BBC departments to get an idea of how the Corporation operated. This way we learnt about the many different aspects which made up the BBC, including Bush House which housed the Overseas Section. One of special mention was Ealing Film Studios which had then recently been acquired and at that time David Attenborough (or Sir David as he is known today) was preparing for his Zoo Quest to Paraguay expedition.

The end of those three months was followed by three weeks at the BBC Training Centre in Marylebone Road, then for me into a permanent post as secretary to the House Manager TV Centre.

The Centre was a fascinating place in which to work and to enter it each day was exhilarating to say the least. The main area was a circle affectionately known as the ‘doughnut’, off which were the studios with a statue of Helios – the Greek God of the sun in the centre.

The opening night, broadcast from studio 3, was exciting though I didn’t get to see the actual variety programme as I was working in an information office especially set up for the evening in the car park. Though we did get to see the opening sequence, which started right in front of us, with a camera televising the dancers as they danced into the studio. Many stars of the day took part including David Nixon, Richard Hearne, Arthur Askey, Alfred Drake, and the show was produced by Graeme Muir.

After the show there was hospitality in one of the large studios and this was laid out with food and drinks on long trestle tables and I was able to pop in see it all and to mingle with the many invited celebrities.

Such a memorable occasion. M.R.


Also on this page……..Jumble………..CHAIN AGM ………HHA Steam……..Literary


If you and your parents or guardians have lived in Hungerford for the past three years and you are going on to further education or an apprenticeship, you can apply for financial help from the







The Clerk to the Trustees, The Town Hall, High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire


Jumble & Good As New Sale.

Royal British Legion 15th June, 11am-2pm.
Refreshments, raffle, cakes sale. In aid of funds for the
Hungerford community Theatre – for the next exciting Town Show!


CHAIN’s AGM All welcome to attend.

Come and hear about our

Volunteering opportunities!

Monday 10th June at 7.30pm

in the Magistrates Room , Town Hall

Open to non-members…

Join Hungerford Historical Assoc.
Summer Outing 19th June on a
Coach & Steam Train, with Lunch all for £30…
Contact Margaret Smallwood 01488 608326


Literally a Date for Hungerford Literary Festival 19/20th October 2013

Bits 1

Also on this page……..A Poem ……….Rotary………Malaysia……..Bus & Train

  Well, Well, Well

Your well-being is of utmost importance. The best way to achieve this is through exercise and good nutrition. Why is it so important to look after yourself? Because you are better off to help others when you are feeling good in yourself. Some of you of a certain age may have heard of my mother, Lotte Berk, who became so famous for introducing her exciting and different exercise technique. That was in the early sixties when fitness started to become trendy. Royalty, celebrities, models…they all flocked to her classes. Her unique exercises became the smart thinking of the day. They still are.

We have learnt so much about the value of exercise, and not just how it helps us to stay more flexible and mobile as we grow older. We have learnt the benefits of exercise throughout our bodies: muscles, heart, lungs, circulation, back problems, arthritis, and more. Exercise helps against depression, lethargy, tiredness, and of course is invaluable in releasing stress – and who hasn’t ever felt the hand of stress weighing them down? You may feel you’re coping but stress is taking a strain, leaving your body full of tension. We need to exercise. It doesn’t matter too much what kind of exercise you choose so long as you enjoy it. Make it fun, not a chore.

Esther Fairfax has written a memoir, My Improper Mother and Me, about her extraordinary life and her incredible, charismatic mother. It is available at Hungerford Bookshop and Amazon. Esther’s website is:

The Ridgeway Walk.

We went walking yesterday, my friends, their child and I
In the pouring rain, with the leaden grey sky
Over the Ridgeway, miles from any town
Peaceful and tranquil with the only sound
Of skylarks twittering way up above.

Seven miles we tramped, hard going through the mud
No grumbles from Lucas, just a beautiful smile
On his cheeky face as he tested the depth of the puddles
then one more fall, makes ten to add to his troubles.

We eat our lunch in a force nine gale
All friends together, we’re having a whale
Of a time huddled together, ignoring the weather
Hands so cold, just keep smiling-don’t bother.

Covered in mud from head to toe
He still keeps smiling with his rosy glow
He wants Pizza Express to come and deliver
“His lunch in a box”, he says with a shiver.




Starting on the 7th July riders will cycle from Hungerford via Portsmouth to Hungerford’s Twin Town of Ligueil enjoying probably the best the Loire Valley has to offer on the way, before heading back via Argentan and Pegasus Bridge, a well-known D-Day Landmark, near Caen.

On the 13th July the weary cyclists will then cycle back from Portsmouth to Hungerford,
just in time for the Carnival.

Why are they doing this? Simply, to prove they can and to raise awareness of a
very local and worthy cause Bruce Trust Barges
and international cause, End Polio Now

Check out for more details of the ride

and please visit
to sponsor the cyclists.

Letter from Malaysia (2)

It seems a long time ago that I wrote anything for “you folks back home”. It has really been quite busy.

I started working for Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) back in January and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. It is nice to get back into the rhythm of working. Pupils come by bus in the mornings from Singapore and I am responsible for collecting the passports in from the bus attendants. Also parents who drop their children at the school have to sign over their children’s’ passports. So from about 8am for the first hour of the day I am kept very busy. The collection of passports by parents starts around 3.30pm culminating around 4.30pm. The passports for the buses back to Singapore are dealt with separately at the end of the day. The day in between is quite varied and there is always something to do.

At half-term (back in February) Trevor and I visited Melaka. It also coincided with the end of Chinese New Year. The hotel we stayed in was close to all the recommended sites and within easy walking distance. Chinatown has one of the biggest temples outside China. We also visited the various museums and one of the malls had a lion dance in full swing. The lion dance was followed by three men dressed as Chinese warriors dancing to Gangam Style – it was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time.

The photo shows a small detail from the Cheng Hoon TengTemple in Chinatown

The University of Reading Malaysia held its ground breaking ceremony at the end of February. Sir John Madjeski was amongst those doing the honours with hard hats and spades. Trevor said that the day went well.

The term has just ended and we are off to Port Dickson, just a little further on from Melaka for a well-deserved beach holiday!

All best wishes. Carolyn


Don’t miss the train or bus, get up to date current timetables from Hungerford Library and the Town Council Office…..FREE

Tally Ho Plea

As you can see, this is a plea for help to get our beloved pub back!

Under threat after two hundred and fifty years.

There has been a pub on the site of The Tally Ho in Hungerford Newtown for over 250 years. Last year, to the astonishment of the locals it was sold to a development company.

Their plans for 3 houses on the site were turned down after regulars rapidly mounted a rearguard campaign. As seems to be a growing practice, the developer exercised permitted development rights and established “professional offices” on the site, in this case an estate agency managed by his daughter.

Meanwhile, local residents established a limited company and found 20 supporters prepared to invest. The Tally Ho Community Pub Ltd now has sufficient capital to purchase the premises with the aid of a loan and has entered into negotiations with the developer.

We have many plans for the pub, which will of course be a free house. The pub will have more of a “community feel” to it than during it’s previous existence as a tied house. We plan to promote local beers and feature local produce. Longer term plans include the provision for a micro brewery, B&B accommodation and community shop.

Our proximity to Junction 14 of the M4 has always ensured a reliable flow of passing trade. We have a robust business plan, based on figures provided by the previous landlord. A copy of our business plan can be obtained by email from or from any of the directors upon request.

We now need to raise further capital to refit the bar and kitchen, which have been removed by the developer. This is where you come in! What’s more, the tax man wants to help you!

If you have ever wanted to be a part owner of a pub, then this is your chance. Under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), it is possible to qualify for tax relief at a rate of 30% of the value invested in shares in the company. So, if you were to invest £1000, most normal tax payers would qualify for a £300 deduction from their tax bill. There are additional benefits for most tax payers in the form of capital gains and inheritance tax benefits.

The company will issue each eligible investor with the appropriate form (EIS3) to enable them to claim tax relief. It is the responsibility of each investor to make their own enquiries and to satisfy themselves as to their eligibility for such tax relief.

Thank you for your support!
Best wishes, Paula Woof (on behalf of), The Tally Ho Community Pub Ltd

Hungerford Surgery

Free NHS Health Check

Hungerford Surgery is taking part in an exciting new disease prevention programme and we are inviting patients aged between 40 and 74 years of age, who have not been diagnosed with any long term health conditions, to take advantage of a free NHS Health Check. If you are outside the age range and concerned about your health, you should contact your GP.

Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes or kidney disease. The good news is that these conditions can often be prevented – even if you have a history of them in your family and a health check will help you be better prepared for the future and be able to take steps to maintain or improve your health.

The check will take about 20 – 30 minutes and will be carried out by a Health Care Assistant. You’ll be asked some simple questions. For example, about your family history and any medication you are currently taking. We record your height, weight, age, sex and ethnicity, take your blood pressure and check your cholesterol level. You’ll be told results and told what they mean. You’ll be given personalised advice on how to lower your risk and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even if you’re feeling well, it’s worth having your NHS Health Check now. After all, we readily accept the importance of a regular MOT test for our vehicles!

Please ring the surgery on 01488 682507 to make an appointment at your convenience.


NEW’ NHS 111 Service

This new service is set to ‘go live’ in West Berkshire in May / June 2013. If you need medical help fast but it’s not a life threatening situation, you will soon be able to call the new NHS 111 number.

For example if you:
• think you need to go to hospital
• don’t know who to call for medical help
• don’t have a GP to call
• need medical advice or reassurance
about what to do next

For health needs that are not urgent,
you should call your GP.

IN response to demand from our patients, the surgery will be offering routine (non-urgent) appointments with a GP every Saturday morning from 1st July 2013.

For more details call us on 01488 682507 or visit our website: –

Virtual Museum

One of the most interesting items of “street furniture” in Hungerford is the “tumble stile” (or “clapper stile”) on the path leading from The Croft to the churchyard of the Parish Church of St Lawrence.

This is a very rare example of an old form of stile which could be made using the simplest of materials. The four cross bars are hinged by single bolts (possibly wooden pegs in earlier years), and weighted with simple wooden blocks. To cross the stile, the user has to press down the cross bars, and step over. On releasing the bars, the weights return them to the horizontal, making a pleasing triple clattering sound.

The Hungerford stile is thought to be unique, because it is the only one with four bars. There are five known other clapper stiles in the country, all of which have just three bars:
One is near the recreation ground at Linton near Cambridge, where there is a three-bar 19th century clapper stile which is Grade II listed.
The second is at Charlecote Park (NT) in Warwickshire.
The third is at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent (on the path leading to the woodland garden).
The fourth is at the north-west corner of the churchyard at Chedzoy, Somerset.
A modern reproduction clapper stile was crafted by students at Cornwall College in 2003-04.

During the mid-20th century, the wooden weights on the Hungerford stile were installed upside down – resulting in water pooling in the heart of the weights. The restoration of c1980 corrected this error!
The tumble stile was last restored (by Geoff Eatwell and Colin Honeybone) in Jan 2012.

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

Hugh Pihlens

The Old Codger

The Old Codger’s Column…….

Some people say that the traditional brown and cream colours of the old Great Western Railway didn’t make the bridge stand out, was that such a bad thing?

Overheard the suggestion the other day to solve a problem with the Bridge Street pedestrian crossing that is so sorely needed for safety reasons. Move the War Memorial to the Croft. Now that sounded a bit blunt, but I am sure that it would be a fitting tribute to those that gave their lives to still be enabling lives to be saved by allowing the pedestrian crossing there in Bridge Street. It could have a number of benefits such as allowing more people to congregate all around the memorial, and quite a financial saving in Policing costs.

Think about it!

It took 70 years in the making of a safe Canal Bridge crossing and a pedestrian crossing in Bridge Street should not be ruled out, especially if more houses are built to the north east. It makes me cringe with fear for the safety of mums with push chairs and the not so agile people (me included) walking across the old narrow bridge pavement, because we can’t cross the road in safety in Bridge Street.

Is it just me that thinks the NWN ‘Hungerford’ pages are almost anything but about

I thought the word Co-operative meant :- helpful, supportive, obliging, accommodating, joint, two-way, mutual, shared, collaborative, but this certainly doesn’t apply when it is a shop like ours in the High Street , the bins stay out and the building next to them continues (like the one in Bridge Street) to be an unkempt eyesore. That building could be such an attractive feature too. So I suggest that a suitable antonym is UNCOOPERATIVE !
I wonder what all the words are that surround BOYCOTT ?

Water companies profits average over £200 million, increases in costs to us in 10 years, over 60%. Another load of fat cat management salaries!

If you have paid your due taxes all your working life, why should you have to give up bus passes, winter heating allowance and free TV Licence over 75? Government stealth tax by any means!

Please contact me, through my e-mail
Don’t forget the dots after the and old

or to CHAIN Office…..address on inside back page, and title your words/thoughts as …….Old Codger column please ……. Bye Bye & keep safe.

Gardening by Stacy


As any gardener knows, May in the gardener’s calendar means one thing- Chelsea Flower Show. This year the show is celebrating its centenary. Often called “The Greatest Flower Show on Earth”, it has gone from strength to strength since its beginnings in 1913. Then it has a total of 244 exhibitors, while now it boasts over 500, including nursery stands and its world famous and impressive show gardens.

The Queen, a keen gardener, and regular Chelsea visitor admires a rose.

The show has always been at the forefront of both design and technological innovation. For example The Times show garden for 1959, titled Garden of Tomorrow, featured a robotic lawn mower- quite amusing to look at now as it’s the size of a small tank! A look back at photographs of previous shows is a snapshot of the fashions of the time. Bonsai trees were all the rage in 1913, while in the 1930 we all wanted to create rock gardens and alpine troughs, cottage gardens returned in the 1980s after the demise in popularity, and as a reaction against, the 70s conifer garden. Recent years have seen gardens which owe as much to engineering as to gardening, with for example hydraulic lifts.

Show gardens have reflected too the ups and downs of the economy. After World War One, due to the appalling loss of life, garden help was in short supply so the gardens did away with tender hot-house plants in favour of lower maintenance varieties. Then in the 1930s the country was in the grip of a depression and growing vegetables became a priority. Interestingly veg growing is once again very popular with sales of vegetable seeds overtaking those of flower seeds. Post war the exhibits showed what could be done with bombed out sites.

So what does the 2013 show have to offer? 15 show gardens, 11 Fresh Gardens (“outlandish, outrageous, colourful and controversial”), 8 small Artisan Gardens and Generation gardens which demonstrate the changes to gardens and gardening over the past 100 years, not to mention the Grand Pavilion with plants galore.
As the RHS have said “We are only 100 once so let’s celebrate in style”!

Stacy Tuttle

West Berkshire Foodbank


In it’s first month of operation, West Berkshire Foodbank has provided an emergency supply of food for 70 people, through its distribution centres in Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford. The Foodbank is very grateful to people across West Berkshire for their generous support, which makes this possible.

The Foodbank is part of a national network established by the Trussell Trust. In 2012-13, 346,992 people received a minimum of three days emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks, compared to 128,697 in 2011-12 and 26,000 in 2008-09. Last year, 4% of people turned to foodbanks due to homelessness; 30% were referred due to benefit delay; 18% low income and 15% benefit changes. Other reasons included domestic violence, sickness, debt and unemployment. The majority of people turning to foodbanks were working age families.

Executive Chairman of the Trussell Trust, Chris Mould, says “We’re seeing people from all kinds of backgrounds turning to foodbanks: working people coming in on their lunch-breaks, mums who are going hungry to feed their children, people whose benefits have been delayed and people who are struggling to find enough work. … Whilst it’s deeply concerning that so many people are facing hunger in the UK, the evident willingness of the public to help their neighbours through foodbanks has prevented thousands of crises escalating into disaster. We regularly hear people say that ‘the foodbank saved my life’ and it’s local communities that make that possible.”

Donations of food may be left at St Lawrence’s Church, the United Reformed Church and Hungerford Methodist Church. We would be very pleased to hear from people able to host other collection points around the Town. Donations of long–life tinned or dried foods are always welcome, such as soup, breakfast cereal, pasta, fruit juice etc.

For more information about the West Berkshire Foodbank in Hungerford please visit, or contact the Methodist Church or

Hungerford Library

We will have another Sow & Grow gardening course starting on July 3. It is a 6-week course run by Thrive and meets on Wednesdays 2:30 – 4:30. There are limited spaces available so if you are over 50 and you are interested please contact the library on:-
01488682660 e-mail

Our excellent Craft and Chat session on Fridays mornings have really taken off. If you fancy working on your knitting, crocheting, needlepoint or any craft with this friendly group, or even learning a new craft, come along on Friday mornings between 10-12.
Rhymetimes on Wednesday mornings are great fun. Run by one of our brilliant volunteers it is an hour of songs and craft activities for under 4’s.

Our FREE IT lessons are proving to be very popular. These are run as a 6 week course of one-hour weekly sessions. Come in and see us for more information or to put your name on the waiting list. If you have an IT issue you would like to resolve fairly quickly we can offer a single one-hour session with one of our volunteers to see if they can help.

Dates for your diary
To celebrate Crime Writing Month we have invited author Peter Tickler to speak at the library on Wednesday 19 June at 7:30. Tickets are FREE from the library.

Peter Tickler talks about how he sets about writing crime novels. He covers the problems and issues that the author has to address, and also invites the audience to get involved in developing characters and plots in a highly interactive session which will end with a Q & A. Peter is a member of the Crime Writers Association and author of the Blood in Oxford series of whodunits.

As part of HADCAF our very own Stacy Tuttle will be giving a talk entitled PLOT: AN INTRODUCTION TO GARDEN DESIGN. Lost the plot with your garden? Local garden designer Stacy Tuttle presents an illustrated and entertaining talk demystifying the theory and helping you create a garden with the wow factor. Wednesday 3 July at 7:30.

Tickets FREE from the library.

Steam by Tony Bartlett

Steam railways update

The March 2013 plan for steam-hauled specials through Hungerford was largely delivered intact. In fact there were 6 workings overall, with an extra British Pullman luxury train and a loaded test run for Tornado, routed back to Southall via the Berks & Hants route. Although the March weather was mostly deplorable, the chocolate and cream Pullman train hauled by Clan Line made a fine sight crossing the Common on a rare sunny morning, and was equally impressive returning at speed through the station in the twilight. In contrast, there were no steams trains during April, the engineering work at Reading rendering both our line and the Swindon route ‘out of bounds’, with the only local action on the Basingstoke to Salisbury section. See the web-site Gallery for my pictorial review.

At the time of writing, this situation seems to apply for the foreseeable future with no steam trains currently showing as routed through Hungerford, nor on the Reading-Didcot line.

In my third article for Chain Mail I feel that I can report greater awareness of, and interest in, the steam trains which we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. I get to meet many local people while I’m lineside taking photographs for the Steam Gallery, and in many cases they are taking their own record of the event – so I thought it was worth sharing with you some tips on how to improve your technique:
• know what sort of pictures you want to take – study other photographers’ published work and decide what it is that they do which appeals to you
• get to know which locations in the area are good for train shots – use my local Gallery slideshows to see which locations work best for you, and explore on foot
• plan for the particular event – know what trains will be where and when
• consider the direction of light at that time of day (for best illumination) and the likely direction of the wind (to avoid drifting steam obscuring the view)
• get there early and take test shots of service trains before ‘the one’ arrives
• be prepared to improve your result by using editing tools – most experts do!

And generally, practise a lot on ordinary trains, get to know how to use your camera and what it can do (and importantly what it is unrealistic to expect it, or you, to be able to do), so that you are able to take a satisfactory shot of that special train in the one chance that you get as it rushes past.

The type of camera you use is not that important – since starting digital photography I’ve progressed from a compact camera, to a ‘bridge’ camera, to an SLR, only trading up when I felt the camera was holding me back. As for any type of action photography you will find that a clear view-finder and minimal shutter delay are necessary to get accurately framed exposures, and a fast shutter speed will reduce the chances of blurring your subject.

Finally, a customary warning about not letting your desire to capture a good shot get the better of you. Make sure that you restrict yourself to public areas for viewing steam trains, and ensure your own safety at all times, as well as being considerate of other people’s enjoyment of the occasion.

Tony Bartlett

Roger Day

Exercise Spartan – March 1943

Just over 70 years ago, on 4th March 1943, the largest military exercise ever to take place in the UK began. It was codenamed Spartan and at 10:25 hours on 10th March 1943 sixteen Spitfire Mk Vs from 19 Squadron RAF flew into Membury from Middle Wallop. Three hours later lorries carrying the squadron’s kit arrived and the men quickly started unloading the vehicles and pitching tents – they lived under canvas throughout the exercise and as Membury was supposed to represent a temporary forward airfield, were banned from using its facilities.

For the purpose of the exercise the UK (representing part of the Continent of Europe adjacent to the British Isles) was divided into three states – Eastland (East Anglia and the north-east) Southland (Southern England) and Westland (Wales and the north-west). Eastland was occupied by the German Sixth Army, represented by British forces, with its capital and industrial centre at Huntingdon. The British First Army had supposedly landed in Southland during January with the aim of freeing Eastland from German control. The second stage of the plan was an invasion of Eastland by the British Second Army (in reality the First Canadian Army), commanded by General Andrew McNaughton, whose aim was to seize the Eastland capital of Huntingdon as rapidly as possible. Westland was to remain neutral throughout.

At 01:00 hours on 4th March the ground operations began when ‘German’ forces crossed the border into Southland. By 9th March the Allies had made some progress, but ‘German’ forces were delaying General McNaughton’s advance. However, the ‘enemy’ was struggling to re-group and a pincer movement was speedily put into effect.

No.19 squadron at Membury was quickly in action providing aerial cover for friendly troops in the Aylesbury/Buckingham area and a number of mock dogfights took place with four ‘enemy’ aircraft claimed as destroyed. (The enemy air force was represented by the RAF and each participating aircraft had a horizontal white stripe applied to the nose with the underside of the port wing painted black). On 11th March the squadron, led by its commanding officer Squadron Leader V H Ekins, set off at 08:30 hours in two flights to attack airfields at Newmarket and Bottisham. Shortly after their departure Membury was attacked by a squadron of ‘enemy’ Spitfires, which caused considerable disruption and were judged by the exercise umpires to have killed 40 personnel and destroyed several aircraft. However, two aircraft from 19 Squadron were on a defensive patrol over the airfield and managed to ‘destroy’ two of the attackers.

Exercise Spartan ended at 11:00 hours on 12th March with victory for the British and Canadian forces and the next day 19 Squadron packed up and returned to Middle Wallop. Throughout the exercise the men had lived on bully beef and biscuits and were delighted on their return to have ‘proper’ food again!

The above is an extract from Roger Day’s book ‘Membury at War’

Telephone 01488 682377 or email

HAHA by Belinda

Have spade will dig……………..

Having no garden and no previous experience of gardening my partner and I decided that an allotment could be a good way to get fit after my kidney transplant in 2008.

We went along to the communal stone-picking session at the newly opened Marsh Lane site on 25th April 2009. We were lucky to have been high enough on the waiting list to draw a plot on that day and we became tenants of a 2.5 pole patch of earth. On that day we had no idea how the allotment would enhance our lives.

The digging was hard, very hard! We found marbles, coins, bits of pipe, golf balls and a bike(!) but mostly stones; so many stones and couch grass – how had we never heard of couch grass before?!

Within a month we had potatoes planted, seeds sown and plans for the future. Then we got the terrible news that we would have to give up the site at the end of the year. We were so disappointed. Quite a few plotholders gave up their plots but we decided to carry on as we were enjoying allotment life so much already.

By June we started harvesting and that was when we understood that the hard work really was worth it! Fresh beetroot, broad beans, courgettes, salad and potatoes became staples of our vegetarian diet and they really do taste different from shop-bought.

Well, that was four years ago. We’re still on Marsh Lane and our allotment has extended to more than 5 poles. Over the last four years we’ve spent nearly every spare hour on the site; either on our plots or helping the Hungerford Allotment Holders Association. It’s such a lovely place to spend time with our fellow plotholders and the local wildlife (albeit not always welcome!).

We’re unfortunately at the end of the site’s current 4-year lease so the fear of losing the allotment next May is again causing dismay but we live in hope and continue to work our plots.

After managing to grow food during 2012’s ‘Year of the Slug’ we’re now fighting the weather as Spring has been slow to arrive this year. But, it’s nearly the end of April as I write this and at last we have our potatoes in the ground and some seeds germinating. Our onions and shallots are sprouting and first signs of flowers have appeared on our over-Wintered broad beans.

Things are looking good for another lovely year on the plot!

If you fancy the idea of growing your own contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274
You can follow our allotment life online through the blog:

Health by Liz

Natures Corner Coconut –

Good Health in a Husk

For many years the health benefits of the coconut have been overlooked by many people. Liz Chandler from Natures Corner now reveals the truth about this seed from the tropical palm, the coco.

Coconuts are currently playing a starring role in both foods and skincare, and are at last showing their true versatility. So let us look at how the coconut can help us with heart health, energy levels and weight management.

Heart Health Unlike saturated fats (e.g. butter) coconut oil
doesn’t raise cholesterol. In fact, Polynesians who use coconut oil daily are known to have low cholesterol levels. Using coconut oil for baking, stir-frying, and roasting is a safer and healthier option than other vegetable oils, because the oil is heat stable and does not create toxic trans-fats when heated. And unlike margarine, coconut oil contains no easily-rancified polyunsaturated oils and so is great for spreading on bread, toast and crackers. It is available deodorized (without the taste and aroma of coconut) or virgin (full coconut flavour and aroma).

Energy Levels & Weight Management Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily digestible, as they do not need bile to break them down. MCTs are an excellent source of energy and can even be used as part of a weight management programme. Athletes prefer coconut oil for this reason. In a similar way, coconut oil may even help by boosting the brain’s energy supply, thus helping with health issues such as Alzheimer’s.

Coconut oil can be used instead of cooking oils, butter or margarine – so for a healthier option, try it in biscuits, cakes muffins, pie crusts and pancake batter. Recipes are available for snack bars, soups, stir fries and many other types of foods.

For more inspiration on over 60 different uses for coconut oil, please call into
Natures Corner, Newbury’s only independent natural health store.

Our Community


This will be my last update for Hungerford, I have taken the Inspector up on his offer to move to Newbury as Crime in Hungerford is low I felt I needed a challenge. I have spent 6 years in Hungerford and loved every minute of being in such a wonderful community. When I look back on my time spent here the first 2 years were very busy, most of my time taken up with Anti Social Behaviour, I am pleased to say a lot has changed since then. I will really miss working the Extravaganza evening, what a wonderful evening it is, the town packed with thousands of people enjoying a Victorian evening and the community getting involved to make it an experience you won’t forget. I would like to thank the people of Hungerford for making me feel welcome here and for all the help you have given me. I hope you will do the same for my replacement.

Have Your Say Come and meet a member of the Hungerford team to discuss any issues you have, from drug dealing to Anti Social Behaviour.
Saturday 08th June 11:00 till 12:00 outside Tesco’s
Wednesday 26th June 15:00 till 16:00 outside Tesco’s
8th August we are doing a public consultation in Tesco car park. I believe it will be an all day event running until early evening, full details will be announced later.

On the 16th April we had our first distraction at a cash machine, this has been happening in other areas where the elderly have been targeted. An eastern European male waited for someone to use the machine at Martin’s the newsagents, as they popped their bank card in and put their PIN number in he was distracted by him saying the machine was not working. When he tried to get his card out of the machine he believed it was stuck so went into the shop to let them know, during that time the card had been taken, possibly by another person while he was distracted. The victim then went to his local branch in the High Street, 2 minutes later they had taken a very large sum of money from his account. That’s how quickly these criminals work. My advice to you is if you are on your own whilst taking money from a cash machine and someone distracts you; do not leave the machine, ask a member of the public to go into the shop or bank you are using for a member of staff to assist you. If you are with someone get them to stay there whilst you go in. The distraction does not have to be exactly how this happened, other people have been distracted by someone saying they have dropped a £10 note and when they look their card has gone. On this occasion it was an eastern European male, but it could have been anyone!

On the 02nd April there was a day time burglary in Priory Road between the hours of 10.30 and 17.45. It is possible they would have been parked up around the rugby club area. If anyone believes they saw anything suspicious or a vehicle parked up for some time give me a call in confidence on 07970145703 or call the Non emergency number 101.

A4 Hire (next to the shell petrol station) had a theft of fuel from 2 of their vehicles on the 17th April this was overnight again. If you thought you saw something that evening give me a call. PCSO C9945 Deborah Randall

My main topic for this month is about Crime Prevention as the summer is fast approaching us and it is the time of year we like to keep our windows and doors open.

A simple action plan to follow will help keep valuables safe.
• Ensure that windows and doors are closed and locked when you are out. Don’t leave small windows open believing them to be safe.
• If you want to leave windows open while you sleep, fit window restrictors so they cannot be fully opened, or make sure they are not large enough to allow access to a burglar.
• When out in your garden ensure that windows and doors to the front of the house are secure. It only takes a second for someone to get into your home and take things without you noticing.
• Do not leave valuables on display in front of windows or in reach of open windows or doors.
• Ensure that all barbecue and garden equipment and tools are securely locked up in a shed and out of sight. Tools can be used by the potential offender to break in to your home.
• Consider fitting outside security lighting or a visible alarm to help deter burglars. Even using pea shingle or gravel on a driveway and spiky plants in garden beds can help.
• Don’t leave any keys near entry points where they can be ‘fished’ or ‘hooked’ out through the window, letter box or cat flap.
Ensure any internal handle operated locks on UPVC doors are fully secured with a key.


Jack Williams

110 High Street

David Piper’s appeal for local articles is very timely. I feel a great need to introduce new readers and a reminder to older readers of the many changes to our High Street scene.

I can only cover the period of my time 1928- onwards, but my earliest recollections concern 110 High Street ( now Marc Allen and Peppermint Cream), but to me the home of the Clifford family, and I mean Uncle Will and Auntie Flo, the latter being my mother’s sister. As a small boy this house was a fairy tale home, a beautiful substantial Georgian building with large rooms, attics, cellars, stables, cow sheds, a summer house, a perfect use of a High Street premises as the land stretched right up to Fairview Road.

My research shows that the Cliffords were listed as boot makers as far back as 1688 when William of Orange marched down the High Street to negotiate with James (the 2nd) Commissioners’ to take over the throne of England. This event variously described as the Glorious Revolution, and the beginning of Parliamentary democracy, was well celebrated in Hungerford in 1988 (300th Anniversary), and I well remember the re-enactment of the event in the Parish Church, which for a few days portrayed a fair resemblance to The Bear Hotel!

In the 1930’s I spent happy times with Uncle Will. We used to go shooting on the common very early, a walk to the eastern edge alongside the railway line, a couple of brace of rabbits, return to the High Street and have two slices of Jessets bread with meat paste, well, was there anything better!!

Uncle Will sat in his workshop at the rear of the premises, a huge south facing window and there he mended people’s shoes. Picture the scene, shoe nails in his mouth, a well rolled cigarette between his lips, shoes on the steel foot between his knees, and he sang.

I remember the hymns very well but one song stays with me to this day “In eleven more months and ten more days I will be out of the calaboose, in eleven more months and ten more days they are going to turn me loose!!!. Small town past lore indicates that very often the shoemaker whose literacy was proverbial, was well to the fore in any community, maybe that applied to Will Clifford.

I am sure older readers will remember the wide hall on the entrance to the shop, with glass cases containing stuffed fish and birds, the date they were caught or shot itemised. Of course many would come from the area known as Clifford’s Meadow that is Town and Manor land next to the Trout Farm. The house of course had the valuable attachment of a common right, well exercised by Will Clifford.

The grand staircase leading from the hall was quite splendid. One of the bedrooms was let on a regular basis to a Marlborough dentist, but for a small boy there seemed to be so many bedrooms all lending an air of mystery.

In season there were always fruit and flowers from the garden to add to the comprehensive range of shoes available, and for those who were interested, a jam jar with Uncle Will’s gallstones to view with some terror!
Auntie Flo was a member of that prolific Liddiard family from Chilton Foliat. There were eleven brothers and sisters and as I lived with my grandmother, there were occasions when everyone attended and then we quite filled the small Methodist Church in the village.

That lovely wise river and allotment man Vic Walter married into the family to my cousin Vera. He still loves to talk and chuckle of his time at 110 High Street, now in his 94th year but still full of very good advice! That most delightful lady who many will remember from Newbury Building Society, Val Troke, was their adopted daughter and she can still light up any conversation with her smile.

I have visited both present shops, Marc Allen and Peppermint Cream and I was treated with great courtesy and was overjoyed to find that the proprietor of Peppermint Cream is none other than Bill Leach’s daughter and as I grew up alongside Bill in the 30’s and 40’s I was so pleased.

The transformation of the once lovely romantic Georgian House into five houses, two shops and offices and the three flats is quite incredible.



Inglewood House

Inglewood House to open 6th June 2013

Inglewood House, the centrepiece of the Audley Retirement Village near Kintbury in Berkshire, will be opening on Thursday 6th June 2013 at a ceremony for invited guests. The magnificent manor house has been carefully rebuilt and restored to its former glory and will form the centrepiece of the luxury retirement village and house the Audley Club. The village itself is home to a number of beautifully appointed apartments designed for the over 55 community.

Inglewood House has a long and fascinating history from a private home, to a Catholic seminary and a luxury spa. Having previously been enjoyed by a range of groups, Inglewood House will soon welcome a new generation of inhabitants. The Audley Club will be situated in the manor house and will offer a sumptuous Restaurant, Bar/Bistro, swimming pool and Health & Well Being Centre.

Nick Sanderson, CEO Audley Retirement, said: “Many years of hard work have gone in to the faithful re-building of Inglewood House. Audley Retirement is looking forward to welcoming new residents and guests to this beautiful recreation of the original historic building when Inglewood House opens this spring. The magnificent grounds and the Audley Club provide the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a happy and healthy later life.”

Audley Retirement Villages enables those who reside there to live an independent and healthy later life in their own homes and in a like-minded community. They enjoy full access to the Audley Club and its range of facilities with flexible care and support available should it become necessary. Individuals buy their home or apartment from Audley and own it on a 125 year lease.

Members of the public are invited to make an appointment for an exclusive tour of
Audley Inglewood by calling 01488 682100 or visit


John O’Gaunt wins prestigious
Sinnott Fellowship

On Tuesday 7th May, John O’Gaunt Community Technology College hosted a Climbing Wall on their school field. This not only gave many students and their parents the opportunity to try an exciting and challenging sport, but is also part of a larger proactive strategy the school has recently undertaken to raise boys’ achievement and aspirations.

Head of History, Ewan McCallum recently won the prestigious Sinnott Fellowship that has funded this initiative. Out of the two hundred applications only fifteen Fellowships were awarded. The Sinnott Fellowship is a Pearson Teaching Award, which was created in memory of the late Steve Sinnott, the President of the National Union of Teachers, and the significant contribution he made to the field of education.

Boy’s achievement is currently a significant focus of Ofsted and the Department of Education. At John O’Gaunt, we are fully aware of the great potential our boys have; and they should have lofty goals – they are more than capable of achieving them! Mr. McCallum said,

“One of the most important aims of bringing the Climbing Wall to John O’Gaunt was to removed the boys from their comfort zone and engage in an activity that has the perception of risk and danger! We want our students to be resilient and adaptable problem-solvers, able and willing to try, fail, think, reflecting and try again, and really take initiative to create strategies that will help them reach their goals. By applying this mentality to other aspects of life, our boys are capable of anything they set their minds to.”

Groups of students had the opportunity to undertake a range of activities and team-building games over the course of the day. In the evening parents, students from Hungerford Primary School and other members of the local community came to attempt the wall. “It was wonderful to see students and parents attempt something new together. Our students that had developed their skills over the course of the day did an excellent job of coaching their parents and younger siblings.”

This is only one part of the project the school is currently focusing on. Recently a group of students and their parents visited Thruxton Circuit and are soon to visit London’s Science Museum. Here, we hope to break down barriers some parents face in discussing learning with their children as students and their parents will undertake collaborative research and write a joint report on what they have learned together. We also look forward to a Raft Building Challenge and a Family Learning Day in the summer.

Sarah Brinkley
Headteacher, John O’Gaunt School

Blasts from the Past

From the Parish magazine dated December 1884.

“It appears that the length of the eleven o’clock Sunday Service at the Parish Church is inconvenient to many of the congregation; and it has been suggested by some influential Parishioners that this might be obviated by having the Litany and the Communion Service on alternate Sundays, as in some neighbouring Parishes. The Vicar will be willing to adopt this suggestion, with the assent of the Churchwardens, if it can be ascertained that the alteration would be generally acceptable to the Parishioners.”

Also from the Parish Magazine dated December 1884.

“There has been a considerable increase in vagrancy throughout the County in the last quarter compared with the corresponding quarter of last year. The increase of vagrants in the County has been 50 percent. In Hungerford Union the increase has not been so great, 289 night’s lodging having been supplied at our Workhouse between Midsummer and Michaelmas against 252 last year.”

From the Parish magazine dated December 1891.

“The great event of the past month was the arrival of the Steam Fire Engine, and the display given by the Fire Brigade of Wednesday, November 18. The engine has been purchased of Messrs. Merryweather, at a cost of £500. It is of the celebrated Greenwich pattern, which took the gold medal at the National Inventions Exhibition, and it is supplied with all the latest improvements, and with a thousand feet of canvas hose.

The Volunteer Brigade consists of the following members:- Captain, Nr G Cottrell; Lieutenant Mr G. E. Platt; Sergeant , Mt J Beard, Fireman, Messrs.J. Adnams, W.Alexander, A.A.Cundell, Hoskins, F. Jessett, and A Killick. Messrs. Dear and Sperring, Engineers; and Mr Astley, Honorary Secretary.The Brigade is fully equipped with a smart and serviceable uniform and helmet, and with all necessary implements and appliances. I spite of the liberal response made by the town and neighbourhood to the appeal for subscriptions, there is still about £50 more required; and it is announces that an American Fair and Jumble Sale will be held in the Corn Exchange on Friday evening, the 4th inst. in aid of funds. Admission free.

From the Parish magazine dated December 1893.

“The G.W.R.are about to double their line between Hungerford and Devizes with a view to the Weymouth and Channel Island Traffic and ultimately that of Devon and Cornwall. This will involve the rebuilding of the railway bridge over the High Street, as well as other alterations, and it would be well to take this opportunity of impressing upon the Company the importance of providing a tolerable approach to their station.”

More from the Archives next issue. Fred Bailey.

Legal Spot

Disputed wills

I have dealt with a few of these cases over the years and happen to have two of them at the time of writing. In my experience there are few legal areas that are more difficult and destructive in terms of the emotions they generate and the damage they do to personal relationships – almost always within families, and often reflective of divisions and jealousies that have existed for a long time. They usually concern a will made by an elderly person towards the end of his/her life, and the legal and personal complexities involved are such that the lawyer’s job in dealing with them is far from easy.

Most cases I have dealt with relate to alleged incapacity of the testator at the time the disputed will was executed, due to old age and/or a serious or terminal illness. The starting point is doubt as to whether he/she knew what he/she was doing – leading to detailed enquiries being made as to how the contact with the solicitor who drew up the will was established, who actually gave the instructions, whether any previous wills were considered and whether anyone was being effectively disinherited who might have a claim against the estate. This can then lead to the deceased’s medical notes and records being obtained and to psychiatrists with specialist knowledge and experience being instructed to produce written reports. Barristers are also invariably instructed on both sides, so the legal and other professional costs incurred start to escalate massively.

The personal context is often that the deceased had been cared for and looked after during the last few years or months of his life by one relative, neighbour or close friend in particular. The carer is then rewarded in the will, to the detriment of others who were provided for in previous wills and who now find themselves disinherited, with feelings of suspicion and resentment then arising. Has the carer deliberately exploited the situation, how far advanced was any terminal illness at the time the will was made, how did it affect the testator in terms of awareness and understanding and was any medical advice sought at the time at the request of the solicitor who drew up the will? This was an important factor in one case I dealt with recently, in which there was evidence of overdosing on medication that might well have led to disorientation and an inability to think clearly.

The only message I would pass on to readers is to be as careful as you can, don’t leave it too late, and think very seriously before you make a new will as regards whether anything you want to include in it might act as a red rag to a bull to someone else. Also if there is such a person, make sure that you give a full explanation to the solicitor who is being asked to draw up the new will, so that he/she can then put an explanatory note on the file.


Church Bells


.In April, we helped former St Lawrence bell ringers, Harry and Mary Fradgley, celebrate their Diamond Wedding anniversary by ringing a quarter of “April Day”. Tower Captain, Mark Robins, also presented them with a certificate and recording of the ringing, to commemorate this milestone.

We like to celebrate special occasions and, in time honoured tradition, can be commissioned to ring a quarter peal dedicated to your significant event (for which we request a donation to tower funds)

We are sometimes quite shorthanded on Sunday mornings and are therefore pleased to welcome visitors to ring with us. Quite often, especially during the summer months, holiday makers staying locally, or cruising on the canal, join us to ring. We also have regular, occasional visitors. One of these is Stephen Hall, who grew up in Hungerford but now lives and works in London.

Stephen is a novice bell ringer and member of a new band learning to ring on the Jubilee Bells. These were rung on the barge leading the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee flotilla on the Thames last year. They were newly cast at Whitechapel foundry in London. After the Jubilee, the bells were hung in the church of St James, Garlickhythe.

It is not easy to learn to ring in a band where everyone is a novice, but they have become proficient enough to take part in ringing for the Queen’s birthday and also for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

The bells are named after members of the royal family. “Elizabeth II R” (pictured here at the foundry) is the tenor. The treble is “Henry”. Stephen tells us he usually rings “Philip”. We can’t offer you such a prestigiously named bell at Hungerford, but you will be welcomed to the tower, whether as an experienced ringer or a potential learner.