Issue 128

1st September
1st December

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

Front Cover by Micky Thompson

Wow! Rattie’s back. It has been several years since I have seen a water vole on Freemans Marsh, which used to be considered an outpost stronghold for this our endangered largest of the British voles. This year I have seen five to date on different parts of the river Dun, none as yet on the canal.

The main cause of their decline is probably the American mink, introduced for fur farming and then escaping or released by animal rights campaigners. Mink are tenacious predators and can wipe out whole colonies of water voles. In defence, water voles can live for up to two years and have three to seven litters per year, so in a good year they can make a comeback. Let us hope that once again sightings will become a regular occurrence along the canal and river banks of Freemans marsh.

Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Well here we are with the summer nearly over, hope you’ve all enjoyed some of the nice weather and hopefully we will have more sunshine to come.

Chain is going from strength to strength and thanks to some very generous donations we have ordered our new Chairman vehicle which should be delivered shortly. David Thorpe has worked very hard on this project and it is great to see it coming to fruition.

I would like to thank TSB in Hungerford for picking Chain as their charity this year, we really appreciate their support.

Ted Angell is doing a fantastic job at getting on with the job of finding the grant for a new Handybus and we are working through the process of securing a new Handybus for Chain when WBC withdraw their funding.

We are still looking for new drivers and if you are interested in giving a few hours a week or month then please get in touch with the Chain Office on 683727 or myself on 683302 ( We are always looking for drivers with their own cars or drivers for the Handybus or Chairman Vehicle so please get in touch.

If you or a member of your family could make use of the Chairman Vehicle please contact the Office and we can either provide a driver or train a family member to drive the vehicle.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Chain and what it does as a charity.

Janette Kersey

Ed’s comment
To explain: our ‘’Chairman’’ vehicle is not one for Janette, but a specially adapted vehicle by Gowrings of Newbury that will carry a wheelchair and 2 or 3 other people.



I am so glad we changed to PlusNet for our phone and broadband, although on September the 2nd they are putting up their charges as they are part of BT !!!, but cheaper.

So the way it seems to be, is that if you have broadband and just a weekend call package (was £2.50 per month) and you don’t make many weekday or evening calls, it would be far cheaper to get a little mobile phone from Giff-Gaff (part of O2 network) for £12.99 and then pay as you go at 10p a minute (same as BT) , but if your friends are also on Giff-Gaff then the calls are free between each other, the same goes for PlusNet phone calls. So to get so called free phone calls for the year, it still costs you an extra £60 with PlusNet (BT charges for the year £87.50) £87.50 = 875 minutes, food for thought, what? If you do change over don’t get put off by BT saying you might lose your number, that is just not true.

Some very sad news, last issue there appeared an advert for LOCKSMARK, if you made a note of the contact details for the future would you please delete them as I have just learnt that sadly Mark passed away after a short illness.

So will the new Patients group at our Surgery help in the problems that face most of us for getting our prescriptions from Boots, I do hope so. Boots of Hungerford have submitted an article and are both to be found,by clicking Surgery on the left.

Have you seen in the post, and joined the on line Pharmacy2u internet company that will deliver to your door (within 2/3 days) your prescriptions, and the delivery is FREE ?
If you have, can you let me know your experience by November 1st so that I can print up comments. I must admit I am getting almost to the point of joining myself.

I would like to add my thanks to all the wonderful people who donated towards our new Mobility wheelchair vehicle and also Greenham Common Trust who in a lot of cases ‘’matched’’ the donation and where applicable, allowed the ‘’Gift Aid’’ addition of tax relief. CHAIN is luckily quite well off but it does take an awful lot of money to run our services, so Thank You again.

Ted will be updating us in the December issue about the new HandyBus that will no longer be provided by West Berks! From what I understand CHAIN will be entirely financially responsible for its upkeep, but Ted will bring us all up to date as I have said.

Another group to thank, and they were thanked at the AGM, is all of you lovely people that four times a year, year in, year out, deliver this magazine, Kathy , Tyrell and I, say “Thank you so much”.

Thanks & Best Wishes David Piper 01488 683152

Letters, articles and adverts should be sent to me by the 7th of the month preceding
publication, i.e.7th November for the issue on December 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

HUNGERFORD 2015                          

Our present Town Plan based on your response to the major Survey of all residents, runs until 2026; this was to synchronise with the WBC Strategic Plan. This took WBC 6 years to cobble together and we still await the next stage in their housing plan due now scheduled for announcement in September. Given this example of the extraordinary length of time it takes our Local Authority to take action, many of us believe that we should be taking our plan forward to at least 2035. Just how do you see Hungerford looking then? I would love to hear from you with your ideas but .no change is not an option.

Personally I see the regeneration of the station area as a key to a major change to our town centre. By removing the buses and other traffic from the Town Hall and providing a transport hub at the station, we could develop a great public area there as demonstrated with the party atmosphere that was generated in the Food Fair last year. We could expand the ‘central district to incorporate the ‘brownfield sites’ of the St John building, Oakes site and the empty space in front of Triteq. A well designed comprehensive approach to these areas might offer both affordable residential and commercial premises such as a hotel to make a much needed welcoming entrance to Hungerford.

By 2035 we should be connected to the full electrification of the train network providing a fast and regular service to London, Heathrow and the South West. Such connectivity would certainly attract more investment in businesses and thus employment opportunities.
Naturally there would be added pressure for more housing requiring more services such as schools, medical facilities and the necessary infrastructure; roads, water and drainage etc. By 2035 even our District Councillors may have come round to the need to use Charnham Park as a Relief Road, then to be designated as the A4 with the current parking removed to a car park on the land north of that road built compatible with the nature of that area. Do we add more industry there as well?

But where are those newly required houses to be built? Our present Town Plan sees another 100 houses being accommodated by 2026 without a major change of the shape of the town. Beyond that figure we really have to devise a plan that allows expansion without damaging the essential character of a town and that respects our position as the Heart of the North Wessex Downs. I am afraid I do not have the answer to this conundrum but perhaps you have? Development in Hungerford Newtown? What is certain though is that we should be thinking about this now.

Cllr Martin Crane OBE
Mayor of Hungerford

Grumpy’s Page

Grumpiness prevails on so many fronts, it is hard to know where to start:

Farewells are never easy, particularly when in the context of favourite watering holes. Haley and James Weir will be sadly missed at Hungerford’s Plume of Feathers by those who have enjoyed the congenial atmosphere they created there over the past decade. We wish them well.

My last contribution mentioned the need for some attention to the Education facilities available in Hungerford. Since then the exciting new plans for the Primary School’s significant and welcome expansion have become available. At the other end of the scale, the John of Gaunt College saga meanders on with unconstructive comments by West Berkshire Council where no one seems to care too much beyond bean-counting. Let us face it; during the past five years, the selective withdrawal of that Council from first the provision of Youth Services in Hungerford and now the future of Secondary education in our town seems a trend that one hopes will be bucked in the next five years before even more serious damage is done.

We have just seen the 2015 Hungerford-in-Bloom initiative which Margaret Wilson has steered so capably over the last few years. I am sure thought is regularly given and there are compelling reasons for the maintaining the status quo, but perhaps consideration could be given to bringing the date forward by, say, a month to a date when the Hungerford gardens are more colourful. I have just been in a Suffolk village with less than a 1000 people where just 10 gardens are opened to the public on one specific day [in June!]; several thousand pounds are raised for charity from a well-publicised exercise attracting hundreds of visitors. Would not some Hungerford High Street residents support such an initiative here by opening their gardens on a pre-arranged date? If so, I am sure someone will have the ability and enthusiasm to contribute the necessary effort towards realisation of such an initiative.

The Common has undoubtedly become a prettier place now that the electricity cables and pylons have been removed. Of course, the idea of adorning the cattle with collars and/or tabards would be a move in the opposite direction.

The other two E’s I mentioned last time still remain unresolved: Electrification both of the Hungerford-Newbury track and of some other railway lines seems to have lost priority in the new Budget. Edification is another unresolved area; the Hungerford Station redevelopment is hampered [or at least overshadowed] by mutterings reflecting narrow-minded attitudes at West Berkshire; surely if a sensible proposal is made, flexibility of response is both necessary and welcome to facilitate the predominant requirement for a regeneration that can only contribute to the community’s economic enhancement.



Royal British Legion and Poppy Appeal News

For many years the welfare side of the Royal British Legion was carried out at local level, with people requiring assistance contacting the Branch. Whilst this can still happen the main contact is now made by phone using 0808 802 8080, (free from UK landlines and main mobile networks). Access can also be made via email ( go to   and follow the links). Please do not let the new way stop you from seeking any help or advice, the people on the ground are still available.

All members should have received a letter regarding renewal of their membership. Unfortunately the main point is that you will not be able to renew your membership by visiting the RBL Club as in the past. All the options are explained in the letter, but should you require further assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Poppy Appeal total to date is £21,299.33. Thank you. Plans are now being made for this year’s Remembrance time collections. A Collectors thank you evening with nibbles and live music will be held on September 18th at 7.30pm at the RBL Club. All collectors (old and new) and their families are welcome.

The Apollo Big Band will be entertaining us in November. The date has yet to be confirmed but tickets will be priced at £10 which will include a ploughmans supper.

Our traditional Band Concert with Hungerford Town Band will take place on November 14th in the Corn Exchange. Tickets will be £6 and the concert will start at 7.30pm.

Arrangements for Remembrance Sunday have started. The High Street below the junction with Church Street and Bridge Street will be closed from 10.30am until 11.45am. After last year’s memorable occasion it would good to see the High Street full again. With that in mind we would welcome a few more stewards, so if you have a couple of hours to spare on November 8th please come and join us.

For all the events please look at the local press and the notice boards around the Town, and for those more modern than myself, at our facebook page nearer the time.

The phone number for contact for any of the information in this article is 01488 683913, most of the time it will be an answer machine, please do not do the same as marketing companies do and hang up, LEAVE a message with a contact number. Someone will get back to you.

Derek Loft


Bits 1

Also on this page……Rangers……..Food Fest ……Arthritus……Foodbank


Providing canal holidays for disabled, disadvantaged, and elderly people.

Since 1989 over 17,500 disabled, disadvantaged and elderly people, together with their carers, have enjoyed holidays cruising on the Kennet & Avon Canal on our four specially-designed, purpose-built, wide-beam canal boats.

We need more Voluntary Helpers between March and October to join us for a couple of hours on occasional Friday or Saturday mornings at Great Bedwyn, near Marlborough, or Saturday mornings at Lower Foxhanger, near Devizes, to help prepare the boats. The roles include cleaning, maintenance and engineering for each boat.

We also need Voluntary Helpers to skipper and crew the boats for day trips and to assist us with our fundraising efforts.

It’s fun, anyone can do it and there’s always a cuppa and a piece of cake available, so why not come and join our friendly team?

Contact: Rebecca Bruce
The Bruce Trust, PO Box 21, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 9YY
Tel: 01264 356451
Registered Charity Number: 800402


The Wessex Ranger Brigade is a uniformed youth group, formed in 1976, that offers a range of military training ranging from fieldcraft, drill, military knowledge and much more for children aged 6 – 18.

The Hungerford Unit train every Wednesday from 18:00 – 20:00
at the Croft Field.

Contact Lt Michelle Tallack 07515 058 355




Sunday 4 October 2015

With over 50 stalls, sizzling street food and the buzz of live cooking demonstrations, this year’s Hungerford Food Festival 11am – 3.30pm Sunday 4 October promises to be another inspiring celebration of local and seasonal fayre.

This year’s demonstrator chefs will include best-selling What’s for Dinner? cookbook author and head of the Honesty Food Group, Romilla Arber; Head Chef of Blandys at Inglewood
Gert Pienaar and leftovers queen Ilja Harvey for Love Food, Hate Waste.

As usual there will be plenty for local foodies to do. Come and test your ingredient knowledge (as well as your flexibility…) on the Young Farmer’s Food Challenge version of Twister. Get your pinny on and enter the Hungerford Cook-Off or take up Barney’s Pumpkin Challenge.
Continued from previous page…….

Last year local head gardener Barney Barnes displayed the largest pumpkin of his crop which weighed in at a whopping 95.5 kilos. Can you beat Barney this year? More details on how to enter our competitions can be found on

Local and award-winning food and drink producers will offer a tempting array of fresh produce, local meat & game, pies, beer, cider and wine, rapeseed oil, apple juice, honey, mushrooms, cakes, artisan bread and preserves with many offering free tasters and samples. And there will be plenty to feast on from Secret Pizza Society’s popular wood-fired pizza, Andi’s Finest German sausage and T.H.Burrough’s burgers to Mrs B’s saucy salads, Hog Crackle hog roast and Asian street food.

Hungerford Food Festival is proud to be part of British Food Fortnight and is kindly sponsored by Doves Farm, Audley Inglewood and Cobbs Farmshop.

Entry only £1 for adults (U16s free).

For more information please visit
or contact 01488 648534


Arthritis Care Community

Could you spare a few hours on an ongoing basis?
Could you be an Arthritis Care Community Champion Volunteer?

This is a really exciting opportunity for people who have experience of arthritis whether personal or via family and friends – OR for those willing to learn – to provide peer support to others living with arthritis.

For a few hours each week – or less regularly if required – you will be helping us to run drop-ins in the West Berkshire area.
Full training and ongoing support is provided and your role would usually cover:
• providing support at drop ins: sharing information and signposting to local services
• providing self-management tips
• there are further opportunities to provide telephone support and attend workshops – all with full training and support – should you wish to be involved in these

Travel expenses are also reimbursed.

We’re looking for people who ideally have experience with arthritis whether personal or via family and friends – OR for those willing to learn – who would like to meet and provide information for people living with the condition.
If you’re friendly, helpful and approachable then you are just what we need.
If you enjoy getting out and about in your local community we would love to hear from you.
You will be supported by Arthritis Care staff at every drop in and we will make sure you are confident and comfortable before you start in your role.

If you feel the above role could be right for you please contact me for an informal chat:
Debbie Holden, Projects Coordinator Arthritis Care (West Berkshire), 07834 418450 or

Thank you.



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    or


Hungerford Literary Festival

October 16th, 17th,18th and 19th.

A good mix of talks (on fiction, history, local history, poetry) quiz, children’s writing competition, workshops, in fact something for most age groups.     enquiries:

The Ringing Competition

Just like all sports, Church Bell Ringing is competitive. And it is a sport! It requires physical exertion, split second timing, mental agility and dedication. So when the annual Newbury Branch Six Bell Striking Competition was announced, to be held at St Mathew’s, Midgham, we pulled together a team of ringers to proudly compete on behalf of St Lawrence’s, Hungerford. The purpose of Striking Competitions is to promote ringing within the branch, to encourage bands to improve and to regard good striking, rather than complexity of composition, to be the primary aim.

The term ‘Striking’ refers to the quality of the ringing in terms of even spacing between each bell (clashes between bells are extremely bad form) and the tempo of the ringing. The competition consists of at least one minute of rounds (all bells ringing in size order) followed by 240 changes of any method (where the order of the bells changes in a set sequence memorised by the ringers).

Our band rang Grandsire Doubles. It typically takes 2 seconds for six bells to ring a single round, that’s only a third of a second gap between the ring of each bell, so you can start to imagine how challenging it is to maintain even spacing, especially with the added pressure of a competition and ringing on unfamiliar bells. And so it was that on the evening of the competition, our intrepid band grabbed their ropes, took deep breaths and pulled each of their bells over the balance in turn, while two judges listened intently to identify any faults.

Once all the bands had rung, the judges conferred and the ringers anxiously awaited the results. Judgement was announced, and with only 30 faults, our band had come a fabulous second place, beaten only by Thatcham with 24 faults. An excellent achievement! Bell ringing is a thrilling, challenging and extremely social sport for all ages to enjoy so if you and/or your children would like to have a go, please contact Mark Robins at


Hungerford Surgery

The Surgery has been extremely busy during the summer and we have had to cope with Doctors and Nurses taking their holidays. During this difficult time we have continued to see patients with an urgent need on the day but routine appointments have been 14-21 days.

We welcomed Dr Emma Alcock in July following Dr Dace leaving the partnership, and Emma has settled in very well. We are sorry now to announce that our Senior Partner Dr Peter Hetherington is retiring from the Practice at the end of October after 29 years. We know you will all wish him well in his retirement and if you would like to contribute to a retirement gift please call into the Newbury Building Society from the beginning of September.

We are also sorry to say that Mike Hall our Practice Manager will be leaving us around that time after 8 years at the Practice and we wish him well for the future.

From September our admin team will be as follows:

Sian Robinson – Office Manager
Janette Kersey – Patient Services Manager
Theresa Baggott – Read Coder/Admin
Joanne Ulry – Receptionist/ Admin
Sharon Stone – Receptionist/Admin
Loren Franklin – Receptionist/Admin/Medical Secretary
Liz O’Donnell – Medical Secretary/Receptionist
Kay Walker – Receptionist/Admin
Debbie Savin – Enhanced Services/Receptionist
Michelle Whiting – Receptionist/Admin
Donna Rothwell – Receptionist/Admin

As you know I have been trying to set up a Patient Participation Group and I am very grateful to the patients who have come forward. We are holding a meeting in the Waiting Room at the Surgery on Tuesday 15th September at 7.00pm and hope to have enough people willing to run the group.

During June, the Surgery was visited by a CQC Team of Inspectors and we have been given a rating of ‘Good’ which we are very pleased with, the report will be available on our website

The 2015/16 Influenza Programme will take place on the 3rd/10th/17th and 24th October at Hungerford Surgery and if you are over 65 or in one of the ‘at risk’ groups then come along between 9.00 – 11.30am on any of these Saturdays.

Janette Kersey Patient Services Co-ordinator


The pharmacy team at Boots UK in Hungerford currently dispense a high number of prescriptions per month and as part of this, we are passionate about providing a great service to all of our patients and customers who chose Boots UK as their pharmacy of choice.

One of the most commonly accessed pharmacy services available in our store is dispensing regular, repeat medication. For this, we offer a Free Repeat Prescription Service (FRPS), which is available in store and can help patients to manage their prescriptions and potentially save them time on trips to and from the GP surgery*.

This service means that we can have a patient’s dispensed prescription ready and waiting for them to collect on a pre-arranged date**, and, we will also offer to send a message to the patient (to either a house or mobile phone) on the day to confirm that the prescription is ready, to create even better convenience and accessibility of our patients and customers and to help avoid any unnecessary waiting time in store. If you are interested in hearing more details about this service or would like to know how to sign up, please speak to our pharmacist in store.

Any patients, who order their prescriptions through their GP surgery for collection from Boots UK, are recommended to always allow 72 hours before collection.
We pride ourselves on providing a great pharmacy service in Hungerford and putting the care of our patients at the heart of everything we do. If you have any suggestions on how we can better improve our service, please do speak to our pharmacist or store manager.

*Participating surgeries only
**Subject to stock availability. During normal store opening hours

Virtual Museum

MANOR HOUSE                                               

It is exactly 50 years since one of the most important buildings in the High Street was demolished – to make way for a petrol station! The property has a very varied history!
Manor House stood near the entrance to what is now the Tesco car park (Everlands Road). The corner shop Pralibel now occupies part of the site.
The history goes back to 1332 (nearly 700 years), when it was a “hospice”. By 1470 it was known as “The Swan”, which continued until around 1700. Interestingly, as The Swan disappeared from records, the nearby Three Swans became an inn.
The property became the Manor House (also called “Mansion House”) of the Hungerford Engleford estate (originally the Domesday manor of Inglefol) – owned in the early 1700 by the Hungerford family and comprising by this time about 20 houses in Hungerford. This manor was split up in the late 18th and 19th centuries, its various properties coming into separate ownership.
Manor House and the extensive land behind was bought by a maltster c1841, and soon it was all in the hands of John Platt – whose brewing family were to own it until c1900 when it was taken over by South Berks Brewery.

Brewing ended on the site c1911, and the large brewery premises became the Hungerford Sanitary Laundry Company, and Manor House itself became the doctors’ surgery (Dr Blake James, then Dr Starkey-Smith, and Dr Stuart Boyd).

After the Second World War, James Mill occupied the old brewery building, and Dr Robert Kennedy lived in Manor House.

It was in 1965 that the extraordinary decision was made to demolish Manor House and use the site for a petrol station (run by Bill Norman). It didn’t last long, and a new supermarket (International, then Gateway then Somerfield) was built in 1975.

The major redevelopment of the whole site was in 1999 with the huge new Somerfield store being built, taken over by Tesco in 2009.

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

Gardening by Stacy


I have often heard the lament- “I’m not very good with plants. I put them in and they just die”. Of course it might seem that I am stating the obvious to say that new plants need regular watering until established- don’t forget that the roots need time to reach down and draw moisture from the soil.

But that may not be the only solution. A bit of careful research prior to plant purchase may save you disappointment as well as money in the long run. A simple soil test and examination will determine soil pH and type. You can then determine the type of plants which will thrive in your soil.

In Hungerford there are 2 types of soil-chalk and clay. A chalk soil is alkaline and may have a poor layer of soil which is very free draining and loses nutrients easily. Clay soil is heavy, can become waterlogged in winter and like concrete in a dry summer. It tends to be more alkaline than acid although it can vary. On the plus side it holds nutrients very well. The soil in my garden in Priory Rd is a heavy clay, although years of adding organic matter have helped to create more of a crumbly loam. In contrast the gardens of Chilton Way for example that are cut into the hillside have chalk just below the surface of the soil. Don’t take it for granted that the attractive shrub that your friend in Hungerford grows will grow well in your own garden.
I won’t bore you with the science why some plants will do better in acid or alkaline and chalk or clay but it is handy to know that there are groups of plants which will cope with the challenges which either type throws at them.

For shallow chalk soils there are all sorts from large ornamental trees (try Acer platanoides Drummondii with its cream and green variegated leaves) to shrubs (Ceanothus, Cistus, Hibiscus, Deutzia and Philadelphus for sun, Vinca, Euonymus, Cotoneaster and Fuschia for shade) and for perennials in sun choose Dianthus, Achilea, Campanula and Erigeron and those in shade there’s Anemone, Aquilegia, Digitalis and Tiarella. Soft fruit such as Raspberries do very well here too.

Clay lovers are just as diverse with trees such as the decorative weeping pear (Pyrus salicifolia pendula), Hydrangea paniculata, Escallonia, Magnolia stellata and Roses for shrubs and perennials such as Camassia, Trollius chinensis, Primula denticulata and Rodgersia pinnata Chocolate wing.

For a more comprehensive list of plants for all areas of your garden and for your soil type check online e.g. or

Stacy Tuttle

Hungerford Library

The Summer Reading Challenge was a great success once again this year, which included a mini-challenge for children under 4 years old, and a Grown-ups2 challenge for adults and children over 12 years old. The challenge finishes at the end of September so remember to get to the library by then to claim your goodies or be entered for the prize draw.

The Hungerford Literary Festival takes place on the 18/19 October. Hungerford Library is running the Children’s Writing Competition. With age group categories 7-11 and 12-15, the task is to write a 500 word story or a 5 verse poem with the title ‘A Race Against Time’. Application forms are available from the library. The closing date is 29 September.

Hungerford Library is a collection point for the Food Bank. You can collect a ‘shopping list’ and drop off your donations.

We are looking for another IT volunteer to help tutor our IT lessons (see below). If you have a good knowledge of IT, are friendly and patient and would like to offer a little bit of your time and skills we would like to hear from you.

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,

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

Check out our on-line services for access to audiobooks, ebooks and emagazines, as well as ordering and renewing books.

Lisa Richardson


Hungerford Womens Institute

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!



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 ‘doom and gloom’ surrounding the main line steam situation reported in the previous issue has lifted considerably. Yes, many of the planned excursions had to be cancelled or changed to diesel-haulage while train operator West Coast Railways was getting back up to speed under the watchful eyes of the safety authorities, and even our old friend ‘steam banned due to fire risk’ came into play during the period of hot dry weather. Even so we have had three steam-hauled excursions through Hungerford in the period, as well as reports of an unscheduled appearance of Tangmere with empty stock.

Bulleid pacific no. 35028 Clan Line duly made its ‘last run’ with the British Pullman on the 13th May (Sighting: 13/05/2015) and appeared to be performing effortlessly going into major overhaul. Star from earlier in the year, Mayflower, was back on our line with a Cathedrals Express on 4th June (Sighting: 04/06/2015). I went up the valley beyond Bedwyn for this one to get some enhanced visual effects resulting from the fireman’s extra efforts while it was on the climb to Savernake. However temperatures were lower by the time no. 70000 Britannia came through here on 25th July with the first of the season of West Somerset Steam (WSS) Expresses so it presented a smoky/steamy picture to the many people who were waiting at the station to see it (Sighting: 25/07/2015).

Of particular note was a run by LMS pacific no. 46233 Duchess of Sutherland on the Oxfordshire Express, coming down from the Midlands for a visit to Didcot (Sighting: 23/05/2015). This class was arguably the largest and most powerful passenger steam locomotive designed to run on British Railways. Never a routine visitor to this area in steam days we are due to see it coming through here on 3rd Sept, which is likely to attract much interest.

For the rest of the year, the programme continues to look ambitious, mainly thanks to the efforts of Steam Dreams (Cathedrals Expresses) and the Railway Touring Company (WSS Expresses, etc.) to find interesting and attractive offerings for the leisure travel market. It will be interesting to see if the demand is there for the six trains to the WSR – there should have been four during August and a final one on 19th September, although early signs are that two of these will be cancelled. The Cathex brand seems to work by tapping into different markets almost every time by offering a wide variety of start and end points, although the ‘cathedrals’ element sometimes goes out the window e.g. Banbury – Kingswear on 29th Sept.

Other operators are Belmond Hotels who will be running their luxury British Pullman on the London – Bristol route with their new flagship loco no. 60163 Tornado, hopefully routed through here as usual, and Vintage Trains whose GWR-themed trains will include a Cotswolds Explorer circular crossing the Vale of White Horse hauled by Castle Class no. 5043. As well as the Duchess, other unfamiliar locos which may put in an appearance subject to availability include:

GWR no. 6023 King Edward II, most recently seen in blue livery
(this was no. 6024 at Crofton nearly 10 years ago

and LMS pacific no. 46201 Princess Elizabeth.

Tony Bartlett

Roger Day

Prompted in part by the recent discovery of this picture of Stradlings’ Charnham Street petrol filling station and garage (now Dick Lovett BMW) I would like to ask readers for their help in putting together an archive of material relating to the pre and immediate post war motoring history of the Kennet Valley in the Hungerford, Newbury and Marlborough areas.

I make this appeal on behalf of myself and fellow trustee, Tim Green, of the Kennet Valley at War Trust – this research is a side shoot of our core interest. We are particularly interested in any photographs, documents and ephemera relating to the AA, RAC, old petrol filling stations, garages, dealerships, transport cafes and cars once owned by family members.

Original photographs and documents can be copied and returned and if enough good material comes to light the results may end up in a book on the subject, although initially the request is for personal interest and not for financial gain.

If you have anything that you think might be of interest please contact either Roger Day on 01488 682377 email: or
Tim Green on 01635 254516 email:

Roger Day


HAHA by Belinda

An Allotment in Hungerford…………

As I write this we’re preparing for the Allotments Open Afternoon. Hopefully it will be well attended, the sun will shine and even more people can understand the appeal of the Marsh Lane allotment site!

Harvesting continues at each visit to the plot – potatoes, beetroot, asparagus peas and courgettes at the moment. It’s been a good year for growing, with plenty of sunshine and water; mostly courtesy of the borehole which HAHA received a grant for in 2010, but recently from the clouds too.

We are pleased that the site now has a more regular supply of manure. Plotholders love to add manure to their plots for several reasons: to use as mulch, assisting water retention, to add structure to the soil, to replenish lost nutrients like potassium and nitrogen and for encouraging worms and other good guys to work through the soil aerating it as they go.

We also make our own compost. Perhaps it sounds a bit weird, but creating fresh compost from waste matter is extremely satisfying! We have the dalek-style bins. They aren’t necessarily the best type because they’re awkward to work with a fork and the little door at the bottom is pointless, but they heat up nicely to encourage the micro-organisms to do their bit in the process.

The main thing to remember with home composting is that you need a mix of ‘green’ (nitrogen) and ‘brown’ (carbon) materials. I’ve read that compost should be made up of 25 parts brown to 1 part green and other sources say 50/50. Neither of these are the case in our compost but we seem to be doing something right as the worms love it and that surely is a good sign. We have much more green matter such as: kitchen and vegetable waste (not potato haulms), coffee grounds, teabags, deadheaded flowers, cuttings/thinnings (nothing diseased), weeds (not perennials), grass cuttings (not too many). Brown waste, for us, is mostly cardboard boxes (ripped into small pieces), screwed up newspaper, occasional eggshells, twiggy cuttings and weeds which we’ve allowed to dry out completely (even couch grass).

The compost must be mixed up regularly. This encourages decomposition through the layers and stops it becoming a home for mice or other undesirables – although they may still move in to enjoy the warmth over winter. It’s fascinating to open the lid on the world within. Our bins have so many woodlice, beetles and millipedes which scramble away when the light gets in. Worms and slugs (the good kind) join in with the decomposition process and a few months later, voila! lovely compost to put back into the ground under our strawberries. Recycling at its best! Contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274



Health by Liz

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. From heart health to skin problems, raw organic virgin coconut oil can really make a positive difference.

Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily digested, as there is no need for bile to break them down. MCTs are an excellent source of energy and can even be used as part of a weight management programme. In addition, virgin coconut oil contains antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties as well as omega 6 and omega 9 essential fatty acids.

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. Two out of three people in the U.K. suffer from high cholesterol and find themselves taking medication to help prevent the risk of heart disease. 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).
So for a healthier option, try it in biscuits, cakes muffins, pie crusts and pancake batter, snack bars, soups, stir fries and many other types of foods.

Skin Problems
Coconut oil has been shown to help significantly as a skin conditioner, being rich in antioxidants and fatty acids that penetrate into the underlying tissues. It absorbs very readily into the skin, helping to reduce chronic skin dryness, such as stress induced rashes and cracked and bleeding skin. It also aids the removal of the outer layer of dead skin cells, making skin softer and smoother.

These are just a few ways in which coconut oil can help. There are in fact over 90 uses for this versatile oil, so for more ideas, call into Natures Corner and talk to the team.

For more information on these nutrients and suggested daily doses and dietary changes, call into Natures Corner or email

Our Community

Update from PCSO Joanna King

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

We have said a temporary goodbye to PC Claire Drewitt who will be working with Newbury CID for the next three months.

Crime across the area has seen a slight increase this month compared to the quiet month we experienced last month. We have had a couple of reports of criminal damage to vehicles, one in Robins Hill Inkpen, and one in St Michaels Close Lambourn.

On the 4th July PCSO King, PCSO Gibson and PC Hughes attended the Hungerford Primary School Summer Fete. The sun was shining and we had a really enjoyable time carrying out bike marking and talking to the parents and children.

Overnight 4th/6th July a trailer was stolen from a farm in Lambourn.

On the 8th July PCSO King, PC Hughes and PC Parfitt spent the evening with Kintbury Scouts discussing the dangers surrounding alcohol and drugs.

On the 10th July PCSO King and PC Hughes were involved in a rural operation working alongside local landowners, gamekeepers and farmers. The operations are regularly carried out to assist in combating rural crime.

A JCB 4x 4 vehicle was stolen from a farm in Hampstead Marshall at 4am on 23rd July. This vehicle was later recovered in a field on the outskirts of Enborne.

Jack Williams

Since I last wrote for Chain I have received queries concerning the history and ultimate fate of the old Hungerford Workhouse. I am very much aware that the Hungerford Virtual Museum has a detailed story, thanks to Hugh Pihlens and his researchers ,but for more general readers let me add a few personal recollections of, what was known before its closure, as Hungerford Hospital. The Park Street building which stood proudly on the North facing bank was originally built in 1846 at a cost of £8,500.The Hospital Chapel which could seat 300 people remains as a private house and is now a pleasant home adjacent to Park St.

The original building best remembered ,was the third of our Workhouses, the first being on the site of the John O’Gaunt Inn. This was occupied from 1764-1778.The second was the tall building in Charnham Street, and that was used from 1783 to 1836.The third, after a ten year delay, was the building on the Park Street site. This continued in its role as a Workhouse until 1947 when it was re -designated as a Hospital .During its hundred plus years as a Workhouse it was part of a Union serving the surrounding villages, until in 1896 it was renamed The Hungerford and Ramsbury Workhouse This Union attachment caused the Town Council to use the names of Ramsbury and Aldbourne in the street naming process when the housing development was completed .

To return to 1947, when the building and its function was declared a Hospital and later a psycho-geriatric unit. This continued until it’s closure in 1989.It is very interesting to note that the last Hospital matron, Mrs Jennings, continues to live in the town .Christine was a long serving member of the Town Council and served for a time as our Mayor. In 1992, Croatian refugees were housed in the Hospital, largely due to the initiative of Jeff Hawkins, headmaster of John O’Gaunt School, who brought them to Hungerford. I have personal recollections of the Hospital, attending chimney fires, as patients in the old common room were prone to overload the stove and set fire to the chimney .As we always dealt with such fires from inside the building, you could guarantee an appreciative audience!

There was an exceptional happening in 1980 when we first twinned with Ligeuil.As there was a similar but much smaller unit in our twin town, I took the Mayor of Ligeuil to visit our Hospital and incredibly as we were about to depart one of the patients commenced a conversation with him in French. Apparently he was a 1914-18 veteran who stayed on in France when the war ended and only recently had returned to the UK. Quite a surprise for everyone attending! My final recollection of such buildings was in the early 1950s when Hungerford fire brigade was called into Reading for a particularly nasty fire involving one of their old workhouses .Youthful enthusiasm took me on to the roof which was mostly destroyed and I looked down at the main dormitory with rows of fire damaged beds. I was astonished to see that stretching across the room was a long rope. Apparently if all the beds were occupied you were offered the option of sleeping draped across the rope, hence the once familiar saying ” I would sleep on a clothes line”!


Hungerford Primary School

Hungerford Primary School SUMMER FETE

Hungerford Primary School had our most successful Summer Fete ever on Saturday 4th July. After the thunder and lightning overnight, the sun shone down on us all day for over 2000 people to enjoy all there was to offer. The Fete was opened by Susan and Stewart Hofgartner after Julian Tubb, our Town Cryer, had announced it during the morning outside the Town Hall.

There were over 35 stalls and attractions, from games run by each Class/Year Group led by their Class Buddy and Teachers, to many community groups promoting their own Clubs whilst raising money for the Fete. We had Birds of Prey and Frozen Characters & Eddie Catz for photo opportunities with the Children and a full arena programme showcasing many local talents, including the School’s Cheerleading Club (Streetcheer Fit) led by Tracey Richings.

After working up a thirst there was a BBQ, tea-tent and ice-creams as well as the ever popular beer tent and 10 commercial stalls provided some retail therapy!
The finale of a re-enactment of Horses in WWI and the skilled horseman(woman)ship of the riders from Skinner’s Horses, stole the show with four large horses in a paddock throughout the Fete then galloping down the field during a display of outstanding accuracy with WWI weapons!

Thank you to everyone from the School and Community for helping us to raise a fantastic £5,500 on the day after most expenses. We will be adding to that with Matched funding and donations from local businesses.

The money raised will go towards a Class set of laptops so a whole Class can study the new IT curriculum at once, as currently the computers are dotted around the school since the IT room became another classroom.

We have received many positive thoughts from people, both associated with the school and also many from the local community, which has raised the profile of the school at a time when Education is at the forefront of the minds of the community. Many photos and comments are on our Facebook page “Hungerford Primary School PTA”.

Thank you again and we look forward to welcoming you again next ti


As I enjoy my annual summer holiday in France with my family

I am continually reminded of a decision I made when I was only 16 years old which I have regretted on far too many occasions since. I decided back then to study Business Studies rather than French for A Level. The appeal of perhaps running my own business was a far more realistic option at that time than the need to speak French, especially as a ‘working class’ lad from Northern Ireland who had never been on holiday outside of Ireland. Well, the world is now a much smaller place than it was back then, and I now spend a lot of time in France, struggling to speak with the locals in a conversation that involves anything more than asking directions or ordering food in a restaurant. I do know however, that my efforts are appreciated and even my pigeon French can get me through some tricky situations. I believe that if we are going to holiday in foreign countries, then we should at least attempt to speak the local language; it’s just good manners.

There’s a lot to be said for learning a second language, especially in today’s world. It can truly ‘open doors’ and provide opportunities for employment beyond what we might consider the normal route. More and more British businesses rely on effective trading relations with countries from all around the world, so if students continue to learn another language like French, Spanish, German or even Chinese, they are simply making themselves more employable than those who do not.

Whilst I appreciate that learning another language is not for everyone, I do know that if I had my time again, I would certainly have continued my French studies and perhaps now be able to understand more than every 5th or 6th word.

Bonnes vacances,
Alan Henderson Headmaste

Blasts from the Past

From The Parish Magazine dated December 1878.

The following account of the establishment of a British Workman Public House in a country town in this Diocese may be interesting to our readers, and may perhaps suggest the question whether it would be possible and desirable to set up something of the kind in Hungerford.
“One of the first undertakings of our Church Temperance Society was the establishment in one of the worst parts of the town of a British Workman Public House The difficulties in our way consisted of the want of a good house, a good publican, and money to start with. The house we were fortunate enough to obtain soon, being a shop which was just vacated, but we had to guarantee a rent of £35 a year. The money seemed at first likely to be a great difficulty, as those who were able to give looked upon the whole thing with suspicion; though what they suspected I will not undertake to say. But a few friends at a distance gave us about £30, and upwards of £10 was raised in the town, almost entirely through the energy and zeal of our trades-people; and so with about £80 for furniture etc we started. We advertised copiously, chiefly by hand-bills distributed by our shop-keepers on Saturdays and market days.

On our opening day there was a rush of customers, and of course at first much was found wanting. But now that we have had eighteen month’s experience we can give a very satisfactory account of ourselves. Every night the Public Room is filled with working men, many of them from the lower ranks. Every morning about 5.45 some score of men call for coffee to take to their work. Mid-day is a busy time for dinner, and in the evening we are full from six to eleven, when we close. The Lower Room is quite free to all comers and at all times. It is fitted up as much like a Public as possible with little tables and a settle, spittoons etc. Two daily papers and the local papers are supplied. Two rooms upstairs, one a reading room, one for games, bagatelle etc. are open at a trifling payment. Smoking is allowed.

The only rules are:- 1. All bad language strictly prohibited; 2. No gambling allowed; 3. No intoxicating drinks allowed on the premises. The Publican is a Shoemaker by trade, and has an active, bustling, obliging wife, who serves customers in the day time, the man being there at night. They live rent-free, and have coals and gas free, with use of all liquors sold there, and ten per cent on the gross profits. The takings are on average £4 per week. The gross profit £1. 10s. 0d per week. The net profit 8.1/2 per cent.

I think our Public, though not very profitable, may fairly be said to be successful. At all events there has been no loss, and I am sure that one started in a more central position would realise a good profit. The success of our present undertaking has shown how those who do not see their way to total abstinence have been able to co-operate with total abstainers in a most practical and efficient manner in establishing in our little town, that which I pray God every Parish in England may one day have in the midst of it, and which I venture to say would do more to check and prevent intemperance than any amount of legislation.”

More from the past next month. Fred Bailey

Legal Spot

Beware the Curse of the Unwanted Executor

Banks and will – writing firms are often accused of excessive charges for looking after Estates of a deceased. Enticing offers of discount or even free will – writing services may sound harmless enough but many families who take this route risk paying dearly when it comes to sorting out the eventual estate.

Some banks and will – writers can offer their services to prepare your Will as a loss leader; they can though recoup their money tenfold by ensuring they are included in the Will as executors, then levying bumper fees to administer the estate and obtain the grant of probate when the testator passes away. After death, it is difficult to remove executors from a Will. As a result, estates can be hit with charges of as much as 5 per cent, or £25,000 on a £500,000 estate. A fee of 5 per cent seems very high when compared with that of even the most experienced solicitors who do the same work at a much lower fee than what some banks are charging.

The law states that if anyone is named an executor in a Will, they have the absolute right to act and can be removed only by the beneficiaries making an application to the High Court, which would incur fees well beyond most people. In contrast, the executor is able to renounce their own appointment yet there is no legal obligation on them to do so. If they can get away with overcharging for their services, it’s easy to see that why many executors simply refuse to step down.

It is very important to pay close attention to the executor clause in the Will and to ensure the person or institution named is your choice. Anyone with an existing Will is urged to check who is named as executor and find out their charges. If necessary, the executor should be removed by making a new Will or codicil. It is for you to decide who administers your estate and failure to use this right could be unnecessarily costly to your loved ones after death.

For those with a relatively simple estate, family members and close friends are often appointed as the executors. Solicitors can then be appointed by the executors to deal with the administration of probate or used and paid for separately if any complications arise.

Oak Suite, 10 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire RG17 0DN
01488 468100