Issue 130

1st December
1st March 2018

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

Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Here we are in 2016 and thankfully up to the beginning of February no snow and very few frosts. Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year and enjoyed the Christmas lights and events that were on in the town. Thank you to everyone involved in the Christmas Lights Display, they were as always the best in the South. Also the Victorian Extravaganza was a wonderful evening with lots of extra people in our beautiful town.

Chain continues to rely heavily on its volunteers and luckily there are still more people volunteering to help in these difficult times. With the cuts in funding it is becoming more and more difficult to book hospital transport and so the voluntary sector are being asked to provide more and more drivers.

The new ‘Chairman Vehicle’ is extremely good and very reliable so please make more use of it, if you know someone in a wheelchair who needs to get to an appointment be it Surgery, hospital, stroke club then please contact the Chain Office on 683727. Also if family members would like to be trained so you can bring a relative out of a Nursing Home or to Church or anywhere for a trip out then please think about using the Chairman.

We have been TSB Hungerford’s chosen charity this year (2015/16) and we are very grateful for their support and the fundraising of the staff. We have already received over £600 from them and this will help us provide more support to our vulnerable and needy clients.

Chain organize Pub Lunches once a month, Chain Lunches bi-monthly in the Croft Hall, car drivers, the Chairman Vehicle plus driver and the Handybus. We also produce and deliver Chain Mail and help with the Over 80’s Christmas Parcels. If you need any information regarding any bookings for these vehicles or Lunches please contact the Chain Office (9-11am Mon-Fri) 683727 or myself on 683302 or This also applies to any volunteers.

I would very much like to thank one of our Handybus Drivers, Norma Thompson, for all her work with Chain and wish her happy retirement from the Handybus schedules.

Wishing everyone a happy Easter and roll on the Spring.

Janette Kersey


and find out more about


Reading & Wokingham library’s…. NO CUTS?




Must be the long dark nights that we have just gone through that there seem to be so many things to grumble about, trouble is there are a lot of good things that go on in Hungerford but they rarely get the praise! Your town council and councillors slog away and so often appear to be hitting brick walls with WBC, that I truly admire their dedication in trying to keep things up in Hungerford. I see from the Adviser that they are not getting the backing of our so called councillors that represent us and the town at West Berkshire. I too recently have felt this great lack, in so far I sent an e-mail to each, one replied but didn’t answer all the questions, the other one didn’t even bother. The question basically was ’’What are they doing to try and stop the closure of Chestnut Walk care home?’’ The answer, ‘’Well West Berks has to save a lot of money’’ So that’s the end of that then. Perhaps at the next local elections we get Denise & Rob to bat for us. So it’s goodbye to a very local care home isn’t it?……….CHAIN MAIL went to the printers on 14th Feb so things will have moved on.

Do you have a log burning stove, we do and what a delight, except for cold nights when first lighting!!! The cold downdraught caused smoke into the room, so I Googled it and found this wonderful tip on website, and it WORKS
Set your fire as usual, fire lighter, kindling and log. Now lay 2-3 flat sheets of newspaper over the log. The most important word here is ‘flat’. Do not scrunch up in to balls. Open up the air flow lever all the way, light the newspaper in a few places and once its alight then light the fire lighter. Leave the door slightly ajar, pushed to but not closed. As the newspaper burns quickly it puts a rush of hot air up the flue which clears the blockage and your stove then functions correctly as normal. I even do it on windy nights if there is a down draught.

Did you retire at Christmas and now find that you do have a little spare time, you do, good, then ring CHAIN’s office and offer to do a couple of hours a week in driving. Check out our website to learn most things about us and the driving. Go on give something back, so in a few years time when you need a Chain Driver there will be others like you, to take you to the Doctors or a Hospital or even shopping!

Are you one of those that had a Doctors appointment and never turned up? Shame on you, use the phone and tell them that you no longer need that appointment so that others can get to see a Doctor earlier.

Grumpy has retired from writing his column, would you like to write an article for Chain Mail please, then do contact me. I am told that we are widely read and appreciated.

My apologies to any of you who signed up to the disastrous events over Christmas with Pharmacy2U. They are recovering from their absolutely stupid re-location.

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 May for the issue on June1st. 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


Please click for the Town Council website

         The Mayor’s Message                

Please click for the Town Council website


There is no doubt that a Royal celebration changes the mood of this country for the better. It is a peculiar feature of the British that on such occasions we all take some pride in having such a respected institution as the Monarchy that although is our Head of State, plays no part in the politics of the country. Of course there are some that believe that a true democracy does need such a figurehead but even they respect the manner in which HM Queen Elizabeth the Second has fulfilled her role during her reign of 60+ years. I am also confident in stating that this respect is widely held overseas who can see the major contribution that this has been to the reputation that the UK enjoys as being a stable and compassionate country.

I am sure that the forthcoming celebrations in Hungerford being planned – and please let me know of any ideas you may have – will endorse the pride and thanks we have for Her Majesty on her 90th birthday.

On a much more mundane matter of the day, your Council is facing up to the increased level of responsibility and thus their associated costs being devolved from West Berks Council (WBC) who are seeking to balance their books following the drastic cut in central government support. It may not be possible to protect all the services in line for reduction or even closure that we face, but we will be endeavouring to stretch our funds to meet as many as we can. These will include; maintaining the public toilets; the H1 bus route; the Youth centre and CCTV surveillance and now the prospect of WBC withdrawing funding for our library may require some HTC input to maintain this vital amenity.

All of this demonstrates the need to increase the staffing in our office if we are to maintain the high level of service that is currently provided. Consequently the Council has sought an increase in our Budget/Precept that may result in an increase in Council Tax which is set by WBC but is subject to an imposed ceiling of 3.9%.

I hope you will agree that Hungerford Town Council is looking after the needs of Hungerford in taking this action but if not, you will have a chance to raise any concerns at the Annual Public Meeting currently scheduled for Thursday 24th March, though a better way might be to consider joining your fellow volunteer residents as a Councillor?

Cllr Martin Crane OBE



Chain’s Page


As you will be aware, there was concern that the effect of West Berkshire Council financial cuts would jeopardise the continued provision of the Handybus. As a result, CHAIN made a successful bid to the Department for Transport’s Community Minibus Fund for a replacement vehicle. This meant that the future of the Handybus was assured for the foreseeable future. Amongst its various duties, our Handybus provides a ‘not for profit’ door to door service to assist people to be independent and sustain their contact and place in the local community. Most of our many passengers are elderly, have restricted mobility or are wheelchair users and not able to use or have access to local transport, and some live in isolated places. Some would not get access to ‘central’ locations without the provision of our community transport. We ensure that the community provision is restricted to a service that could not be provided by public transport. Destinations include shopping, therapy provision, social gatherings, lunch clubs, and church groups.

By having our own Handybus, rather than one provided by West Berkshire Council, we are very much in control of our destiny but the financial burden moves from West Berkshire to CHAIN. This move represents a saving to West Berkshire of some £13,000 per annum from the beginning of 2017.

The good news is that we now know the supplier of the new vehicle and are currently working with them to agree the specification. CHAIN will want to ensure that the vehicle has all the latest safety features and can continue to deliver the services in the same way as the current Handybus.
Handybus – West Berkshire Bus Passes….However it is not all good news. Very recently West Berkshire announced that further budget cuts were required. As a result, West Berkshire has proposed that bus passes will no longer be valid on Handybus transport with effect from 1 April 2016. Since many of our passengers are older, the use of bus passes is very common. This proposed cut is subject to a consultation period and CHAIN will be making a submission as part of that consultation. Apart from the financial impact, we are concerned that, because of the withdrawal of this benefit, passengers may be reluctant to use the bus and will thus lose touch with the community and services. The more of us who make a submission the better.

The financial pressures on West Berkshire Council are very great and we do understand that it is difficult for them. However, having already provided them with a saving from the beginning of 2017, they seem to want to now achieve a saving through our passengers. When West Berkshire encouraged us to make a bid for a bus from the Department for Transport, we asked about the ways in which the Council would continue to support community transport in Hungerford. At that time they reassured us, amongst other things, that bus passes would continue!

We consider this proposal to be mean spirited and we will tell them so!

Other useful contacts to make comment to are:
The link for comment on the proposals is

District Councillors   

Member of Parliament for Newbury



Dealing With Pensions in a Divorce

Elianne Edgington, a family lawyer at Charles Lucas & Marshall, explains
the choices facing divorcing couples.

A pension is often a significant asset in a marriage. Although a divorcing spouse’s attention is often focussed on the family home, pensions can be extremely valuable and should not be forgotten.

Pensions are valued by obtaining a Cash Equivalent valuation. This is the
figure provided to the other party and to the Court. However, in some
cases a Cash Equivalent value may not be representative of the true value
of the pension and further investigation is necessary.

There are three ways of dealing with pensions on divorce: pension sharing, pension attachment and offsetting.

Offsetting means to offset the value of the pension against other assets, for example the equity in the family home. It is sometimes favoured when it is important for one party to keep the home whereas the other party is more concerned that their pension is left intact.

Care needs to be taken in using this approach, because a pension is a very different asset and its Cash Equivalent value should not necessarily be compared pound for pound with the value of equity in the home or other liquid assets. If good advice is not taken, it is possible for one party or the other to be disadvantaged.

A pension attachment order means that part of a person’s pension income or lump sum is diverted to their spouse on the pension member’s retirement. However this method is now rarely used as it gives the non-pension member spouse less security of income.

Pension sharing is the most common way of dealing with a pension where it is a significant asset. It enables a percentage of the Cash Equivalent value to be transferred to the non- member spouse giving them a completely separate pension under the same scheme or transferred out to a different scheme of their choice.

Whether pension sharing is appropriate and how much of the pension should be shared will be dependent upon several factors including the age of the parties and the length of the marriage.

It can be complicated to work out what percentage of a Cash Equivalent value should be transferred. It may not be simply fifty percent, even after a long marriage. Solicitors may decide to consult an actuary and ask for a calculation of the percentage transfer to achieve a fair outcome.

For further information please contact the Elianne Edgington on 01635 521212 or

Bits 1

Also on this page….British Legion ……Computer Tips………HADCAF…..Vets…&
Arts for Hungerford   

Hungerford Town Band


Following a successful autumn and Christmas period Hungerford Town Band are now turning their attention to 2016.

On Saturday 19th March the band will be competing in the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain This takes place annually at the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre where we will perform a brand new work entitled “The Mermaid of Zennor” by Philip Harper. This complex and descriptive music is an exciting challenge and is proving great fun to prepare.

In addition the band is performing a free concert for the community of Hungerford on Tutti Day, Tuesday 5th April, in Hungerford’s Corn Exchange commencing at 7.30pm. All are welcome to this informal gathering and you can come and go as you please.

The highlight of our forthcoming events will be our Annual Concert. Again held in The Corn Exchange on Saturday 23rd April at 7.30pm. The programme will be completely different from Tutti Day and tickets costing £7.00 will be available shortly from Crown Needlework or by contacting 01488 680674

The band will also be appearing in Victoria Park Bandstand, Newbury on Sunday 22nd May at 3pm.

For further information including if you wish to learn to play or become a Friend of the Band please contact Musical Director Tim Crouter on 01488 680674

      Royal British Legion (Hungerford) Branch       

Poppy Appeal and other British Legion news

Many thanks to everyone for their fantastic support for the 2015/2016 Poppy Appeal. We have so far raised an amazing £26,369.47. We hope to increase this total further by holding a poppy picnic in the summer! We will also be holding a ‘poppy thank you evening’ again in September for all our present collectors and those who would like to become one this autumn.

Armed Forces Day will be held on 2nd July, and will coincide with the Legion Beer Festival. The date was chosen to be as near as possible to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, the first day of which saw 60,000 casualties. Some of those who fell were from the local area.

Looking further ahead our Band Concert will be held on 30th October starting at 7pm, and on 5th November we welcome back The Apollo Big Band to the Legion Club.
More details of all the events will be in the next issue of Chain Mail and other local publications.

If any ex-service personal or their dependants are seeking help from the Legion 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).

Derek Loft


Helpful Henry’s Computer Spot

Want to get rid of those really annoying helpful e-mail addresses from your To drop down list that are not in your Official Contacts?

For Office Outlook 2007, start typing in the To bar, then use arrow down key to highlight the old one to be deleted, PRESS Delete Key!!! So seemple.

Office Outlook 2010 Start typing in the To bar and when the name appears below the To field, point to the name but don’t click. This will select it, and an X will appears to the right of the name or address. Click that X

For Gmail it is a lot more complicated so type in the address below for the complete instruction from PC World

Do any of you out there have any helpful hints and tips, if so please e-mail the Editor.

Hungerford & District Community Arts Festival (HADCAF) 1 – 17 July 2016

Firstly, a huge thank-you to everyone who supported HADCAF 2015 – participants, audiences, helpers behind the scenes, Newbury Building Society, the Town Council and the Town and Manor, Greenham Common Trust and the many local businesses and individuals who sponsored events so generously. Thank you all for making it happen and contributing to another successful Festival.

Incredibly, HADCAF is 25 years old this year, and plans are well under way to celebrate its quarter-centenary with a very special programme, so mark the dates in your diary and keep an eye on the new web site: for news, updates, and in due course the entire schedule of events and the opportunity to buy tickets on line.

The Festival brochure will be out at the beginning of June, and the next issue of CHAIN MAIL will also include a brief list of events. Newbury Building Society will continue to be the box office for over-the-counter ticket sales.

 Please click to visit our websiteYou’ve seen ‘missing pet’ posters. Micro chipping makes sure your pet isn’t the subject of the next one

Animals are naturally both curious and adventurous. Sometimes new smells or sounds can be enough to make your pet run away to explore. Thankfully, microchips have made it much more likely for you to be reunited with your pet if they stray a bit too far from home. If you have a dog that isn’t yet micro chipped, not only will this leave them vulnerable, but will also soon be an illegal offence. After April 6th 2016, if your dog is caught without a chip, you could be prosecuted and face a hefty fine. This is firstly to make all owners accountable, but also to curb the incredible number of stray animals in the UK.

Cats can also be at risk of getting lost as it is usually their nature to explore outside. Micro chipping your feline friend makes sure that no matter how far they roam, they will be much more likely to be returned to you safely.

But what is micro chipping? A microchip is a tiny device, as small as a grain of rice, which is inserted underneath your pet’s skin in between their shoulder blades. This procedure is no more painful than a routine vaccination and lasts a lifetime, as the surrounding tissue prevents the chip from moving.

When scanned with a special scanner, this chip presents a unique code. The code is linked to your contact details and can be found on a national pet database when the code is entered. There’s no need to worry about who can find this information, as only vets and other animal authorities like shelters and dog wardens have access to scanners.

If your pet is not yet micro chipped, or you would like to know more about the procedure and its benefits, feel free to ring a member of our friendly team to book an appointment, on 01488 683999.
Please visit our website and our e-mail address is


Arts For Hungerford …………

is an exciting new not-for-profit (will be a Community Interest Company) providing a year round programme of high quality arts events for Hungerford and the surrounding communities. Our mission is to use both traditional and innovative new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through the arts.
We are proud and delighted to announce that, in association with the independent, award winning Hungerford Bookshop, we will be presenting the Hungerford Literary Festival on 21st and 22nd October 2016, one of Hungerford’s most popular events.

Other events will cover: Visual Arts (film, photography, drawing and painting, ceramics and other media, architecture), Literature and the Performing Arts (classical and contemporary music, theatre, dance and comedy).

Our collaborative approach will see us engaging with other arts organisations to create enhanced experiences, as well as providing a single hub website, which will enable one-stop viewing of all arts events in Hungerford and the purchase of tickets.


For Event Information see

Tue 8 March Poetry in the Bookshop tickets £4 inc. Glass of Wine
Tue 15 March Ruth Kelly – Ghost Writer discusses her book “Amber’s Donkey” tickets £5 inc. Glass of Wine
Sat 9 April Gerard Leclerc’s Master Class for cello students & more…see website
Fri 29 April Jazz – All Stars – in the Croft Hall, Cafe style, tickets £10

Our Police

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

Firstly I’d like to introduce myself, I’m PCSO Gosling. I am the new PCSO that will be covering the Hungerford area. Hungerford is going to be my main patch, so if there is anything you’d like to know or if there’s anything you need from TVP then please find me your first point of contact in a non emergency situation at –
The Hungerford team have been busy over the Christmas period and the New Year. In Hungerford there has been a burglary to the allotments where power tools have been taken. Most of the crime has been rural crime across West-Berkshire so there isn’t much to report about the centre of Hungerford. However there has been a spate of garage breaks in Kintbury and burglary non dwelling to sheds in Inkpen and Wickham. So please be visual and report any intelligence if you come across something unusual or suspicious.

As the summer draws closer and the early darkness slips away I’m sure the community will be out doing a spot of gardening and cutting the lawn. So be aware that the growing interest in gardening power tools is on the increase. Please make sure this summer that you have strong pad locks and security lighting. And to be that little bit more protected, gather all you serial numbers of you machinery and log onto the ‘Immobilise’ website where you can make a log of all your valuable belongings. If in the worst case your property is stolen and we find it, Immobilise can help us track it back to its rightful owner. It’s 100% free and greatly improves your chances of getting your belongings back.

Again with the hotter weather and longer days coming into place, vehicle crime will be on the increase around the Hungerford common area. Most offences of theft from a motor vehicle are opportunists that simply see valuables laying on a car seat and they take their opportunity with a snatch and grab. So please be thoughtful when leaving your car in a public car park. Make sure all valuables are out of site and all shopping bags are put in the boot out of view.

We will be organising some have your say meetings in the next few months. Please keep your eye out for further information.

Contact us
If you want any advice or would like to contact the neighbourhood team you can call us on the police non emergency number 101 but if your call is an emergency then dial 999.
You can also contact us via email:

Hungerford Surgery

News from the Hungerford Surgery

Due to the shortage of GP’s nationally we have not been able to recruit a replacement for Dr Hetherington but the remaining Partners are covering his patients together with three regular Locums. (Dr Sonny Powar, Dr Emma Featherstone and Dr Jess White). This has obviously caused some delay in routine appointment times but there will always be on the day urgent appointments available.

We are sorry to say Aldene Fowkes is leaving at the beginning of March due to training commitments for her Nursing Course and we wish her well with her new career.
We are delighted to have formed a Patient Participation Group and look forward to working with them on any Surgery issues.

As holiday time approaches please make sure you fill in a travel form, available online or at reception so the Nurse can work out what injections you need to have before you depart. Most injections are given 2-4 weeks before you travel but some trips (such as backpacking) need a more complicated regime so please allow 2-3 months for these.

We are pleased to welcome some Year 4 and Year 5 medical students during February and March so if you are attending the Surgery you may be asked if you are happy for them to be part of your consultation.

Janette Kersey Patient Services Co-ordinator

Please call the surgery if you are unable to attend ANY appointment

Virtual Museum


Hungerford Sanitary Laundry                 


It is 50 years since the Hungerford Laundry closed. It stood on the land now used by the Tesco supermarket.

The Hungerford Sanitary Laundry Co. Ltd. was established c.1908, and took over the large Victorian building that had previously been Platt’s “Manor” Brewery.

The latest equipment was installed by Messrs Thomas Bradford & Co of London and Manchester, and the firm enjoyed an excellent reputation for the high quality of its work.

A report on a visit to the laundry states: ‘After inspecting this establishment, I can honestly certify that from the receiving room to the despatch room every detail has been carefully studied, and no expense has been spared to make it a thoroughly up-to-date sanitary laundry, and the motto of the company has been carried out to the letter, viz.: Cleanliness, Efficiency, and Sanitation’. The price list includes ladies bodice (3d.); silk stockings (3d.); doyley (1¼d.); ladies’ knickers (3½d. to 6d.); whilst maids’ knickers were only 2½d!

The laundry closed in December 1966 after several changes of ownership, having been renamed The Rose of Hungerford Laundry in the 1950s.

You can see lots of splendid photographs on the Virtual Museum website. You can also see the laundry brochure. It gives a great insight into a past world!

It was later to become Loheat engineering.

In 1999, the laundry building and all the adjacent buildings were demolished, the site was cleared, and Somerfield supermarket and car-park was built, later becoming Tesco.

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

Hugh Pihlens


Dear David/Editor

This is Grumpy’s valedictory so I happily start by thanking you for your forbearance in publishing, over the past few years, my grumbles and gripes about our town and its occupants, temporary or permanent. Of course I must also thank your readers too for bothering to read my contributions. Lastly, you have been kind enough to protect my identity, even if a few might have guessed it from my trademark truculence. Why am I stopping? Simply, threescore years and ten is the allotted span after which it becomes politer to let people seek you out rather than inflict (unaccountably) ones prejudices, preconceptions and politically incorrect views.

Born and bred in Berkshire, I have lived over half my life in or close to Hungerford. CHAIN has been a feature of all that is best in the county and the township, both in providing its services and in its demonstrable strength in bringing the community together. An older generation of my own family has benefitted directly from CHAIN’s services. I wish it well in what are certainly ever more arduous times and in a township which appears to be seen by those up the A4 as at best an inconvenience if not an irritant [oh dear, here I go again]. Still, either are preferable to being perceived an irrelevance; we must count on our community spirit to ensure this does not happen. When pulling together, Hungerford fights well above its weight.

Meanwhile I look forward to supporting other charities and initiatives; happily this can be interspersed with my other love: foreign travel. One overseas beneficiary of donations [ over £10,000 raised over the past five years] I have previously written about in this publication is a girls school located in The Chalbi Desert, uncomfortably close to the Somali border, which regularly needs funding for basic equipment and text books [yes, English] thanks to its relevance and success which have resulted in a doubling of pupil numbers. I look forward to visiting it again in a month’s time.

In Hungerford, let us hope for a cleaner attitude; the Town and the Commons are littered. The clean-ups arranged by the Town Council and the Town and Manor for the respective parts should (but do not) succeed in raising public awareness and the need for people to be more responsible. Perhaps the answer is a kitty to reward those reporting offenders [as in The New Forest]. Let us also hope that the Town Council’s democratic attitude to the proposed housing allocation will be listened-to by an uninformed and unsympathetic WBC.

Let us also be positive about attracting more commercial investment here, while welcoming the new Italian restaurant and the appearance of pop-up shops over Christmas. 2016 also brings us a new Constable who we are sure will assure continuity of the elegance of the current incumbent at this charity which has donated well over £120,000 to local initiatives [CHAIN included] since the millennium.

That is enough parthian shooting……pip pip.


The Old Codger

Hungerford is such a lovely place to live (on the whole!) but for some things we really do pay for through the nose, what with diesel and petrol always being dearer than Newbury, and why should that be, we are now having to contend with more increases in our food stuffs now that Tesco has reduced it’s product line range.

The store always has been dearer than Newbury but now we get slyly penalised by Yorkshire Hard water area teabags, they only stock the small box so they are always dearer than the larger cartons. The same goes for Lea & Perrins Worcester sauce only stock the small bottle so it’s dearer folks. They used to stock two types of dried milk (which I use in the bread maker) Marvel and their own brand, now there is none so I go over to the Co-oP for it. Philadelphia Cheese, again only keep the FAMILY size GIANT tub, no good for us old uns as it goes mouldy before we get half way through it. If only the smaller normal sizes were kept then the range of ‘’flavours’’ could be increased to satisfy peoples choices!

Have you noticed that things like Raspberries Best Before Date is always dated the day that you are buying them, how can they sell stuff that is technically OUT OF DATE? The dammed things go rotten quick enough as it is with fur growing all over them if not rushed to the fridge in time. Baked apples forget about that lovely old pudding, just like last year when they decided not to stock frozen Broccoli (or Cauliflower I forget which) for months on end.

Maybe just maybe if they removed from their shelves items that are readily available in our towns (mainly independent) shops, light bulbs, stationary, birthday cards, pots and pans etc etc they would have shelf space to please us the customer with variety. I am not the only one and there are even staff that are missing some of their favourite things, and as David tells me, look on Not Stocked (index on the left) with just two emails out of six in total giving what amounted to management speak brush off! But you never know they might, just might start to take some notice……………STOP PRESS …….THE BRAMLEYS ARE BACK!

I hear ALDI are going to build masses of more stores, I wonder if we could canvass them to come to Hungerford or maybe a Lydl?

Did you get annoyed with that gas gun in the field, just before and during Christmas, I did, and I looked up the NFU recommendations and they suggest four bangs an hour is the MAX (there were 12 and occasionally 13) and 3 or 4 days duration, as the pigeons get used to the gun and it becomes ineffective, well I recall it went on for just over a week. Get hold of West Berks Environmental Health and complain.

So just as CHAIN has had to buy the Handybus WBC are not going to allow the bus passes, and whats more you won’t be able to use it to get to Swindon Hospital!!!!

Best regards

Bell ringing

Learning the ropes! As I visit the hostelries of Hungerford and am overheard singing the praises of Bell Ringing, many people tell me that they’ve always wanted to have a go but, when I invite them to try, the answer is always, “Oh that’s something for when I retire” or “I don’t have time to commit to it now”. It’s such a shame because how many new hobbies are free, fun, sociable and can actually earn a you a modest income?

We practice every Wednesday night, but there’s no need to attend every one. When you are competent enough to ring for Sunday Service, it’s wonderful if you can attend every week but if you can’t, that’s fine too. We have 8 bells and only 8 regular local ringers and it can be difficult to find enough ringers for Services and Weddings etc. so it’s important for us to sustain this quintessentially British skill and always encourage new ringers both young and old.

What can you expect if you make the short spiral climb up St Laurence’s Tower to join us for practice? Well, first of all you might be surprised by how cozy and welcoming our ringing chamber is and you’ll be invited to just sit, watch and listen while we all try to refine our skills to sound less like scaffold poles being thrown down the stairs and more like a triumphant tintinnabulation.
Then, if you’d like to have a go, our Tower Captain will arrange for you to have as many ‘one to one’ sessions as you need to give you the confidence to ring with the rest of the band. Every stage of the learning process is thrilling, from the first time you ring the bell to the first time you ring with the band, all the way through to the first time you ring a 45 minute Quarter Peal (I’m still looking forward to that one) and it’s such an honour to ring for special occasions such as the Queen’s record reign, Remembrance Sunday and Christmas Day.

If you’ve always fancied having a go then seize the day and join us in St Laurence’s tower any Wednesday night from 7.30 – 9.00pm.

We’re also planning to hold an Open Day during HADCAF in June/July so keep your eyes peeled for details.



The Reverend Mike Saunders

Following the retirement of The Reverend Andrew Sawyer, the Parish Church of St Lawrence is getting ready to welcome its new Vicar,
The Reverend Mike Saunders and his wife Alison Saunders who is a
Licensed Lay Minister.

Mike and Ali have chosen to come and minister in Hungerford after being in their previous parish for the past 15 years.

His Induction Service, led by the Bishop of Reading, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Proud, will take place at St Lawrence’s Church on Monday 14 th March 2016 at 7.30 pm and afterwards light refreshments will be served in the Town Hall.

It has been a quarter of a century since the last Induction Service took place here and will be a very special occasion not only for Mike and Ali but for the congregation of St Lawrence’s and the Town of Hungerford. Everyone at St Lawrence’s is very much looking forward to welcoming them both not just to the church but into our whole community.

Nature Notes by Hawkeye

Some people say Minsmere is the flagship reserve of the RSPB; some say it is the best reserve in the UK. I say it is magical and worth a visit any day of the year, although it is on the coast in Suffolk.

It is a good place to take the family to introduce them to English wildlife. There is a cafe but no one bothers if you take your own food. There is also accommodation that can be booked for a family. Obviously RSPB members are entitled to free entrance.

All the birds you should see in your garden are there in abundance. It is amazing to see so many birds so close. Even eating lunch in the cafe one can study goldfinches in detail from the windows.

Avocets are almost certainly guaranteed here. In the spring and summer there are usually high numbers and one was over wintering when my wife and I visited on February 2nd.

This image of an Avocet is shown on my computer and was used by the RSPB. The bird is actually black and white and is now known as the pied avocet. The picture shows the bird wading. It is in fact a true wader and lagoons are its preferred habitat. They eat aquatic insects and crustaceans, etcetera.

My favourite memory of an avocet is one flying close by me with its up curved beak and trailing legs.
This bird was extinct in the UK! But conservationists have successfully ensured its return. Large numbers, about 7000, now winter on the Exe estuary in Devon.
In my twitching days we called them “exocet avocet” because they are quarrelsome and drive all other birds away. In various books it was described as a summer visitor but now it is a resident but, sadly, on the amber list.

Stone Curlews breed on Minsmere! However the RSPB do not like to broadcast this because the eggs are highly prized by egg collectors and the numbers are relatively small.

Marsh Harriers are guaranteed on this 10 square kilometre site.

Sand Matins are also guaranteed because special sandbanks have been built.

I suspect every bird in the UK has been spotted on Minsmere. The investment here has been phenomenal; volunteers work tirelessly and the RSPB have spent large sums of money on the site. Recently they built a beautiful sluice gate for the eels to use.

Everybody knows eels spawn in the Saragosa sea but “not a lot of people know” they use Minsmere. And eels must feature in another article.

Hungerford Library / HUB

Hungerford Library News

At the time writing there are rumours about library closures. These are due to be made public on 15 February when the consultation period starts and will last for 3 weeks. When this magazine goes out, the consultation period will have about one week left to run. Please find out how the proposed cuts will affect you and make your opinions known. The consultation documents are available on line; visit your library for assistance with this or to obtain a paper copy.

Library Fest events will be taking place across West Berkshire, drop in and pick up a brochure. Hungerford will be holding the following events (please note children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult):

Friday 18 March: Heritage Walk, 10-12:00, Ages: All. FREE (with ticket)
Monday 4 April: Watermill production of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ , Age: 2-6; Tickets: £3
Thursday 7 April: 3D Printing, 10-2:30 in 30 time slots. Age:8+, Tickets: £3
Tuesday 12 April: Creative Walk with Sketching. 10-12:00 Age: All. Ticket: £5
Saturday 16 April: Q&A time with Adam Brown. 10-11:00. Age: All FREE with ticket.

Have you ever wondered what dyslexia is? Or dyspraxia? How about dyscalculia? If so, Jacqui Flisher, our local dyslexia specialist, will be able to enlighten you. Jacqui is coming to Hungerford Library to talk about these conditions. This complements her monthly advisory sessions which take place at the library every second Saturday 10-12:00. Come along to hear this interesting speaker talk about the work she does. Wednesday 9 March 7:30. Tickets £2 from the library.

We offer several FREE courses and events at the library:

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

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

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

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

If you are interested in any of these activities please contact Hungerford Library on 01488 682660,

Lisa Richardson

Steam by Tony Bartlett

Steam railways update

The 2015 season of mainline excursions wound down to year-end with LNER B1 Class Mayflower still very active in the area and making three visits to Hungerford in 4 days at the end of November, including a spectacular slow speed pass through the station on 29th, running at caution due to a fault with the barriers at the level crossing (see picture). The Salisbury line hosted specials for carols at the cathedral and the Christmas market, with an LMS Black 5 being brought in from Lancashire to cover for the unavailability of the planned steam loco. See the CHAIN Hungerford Info web-site for my full pictorial review of 2015 mainline steam in the area.

Before going on to look at highlights of the programme in 2016 you need to be aware that the ongoing safety issues with West Coast Railway Co (WCRC) are yet to be resolved. A criminal prosecution is still pending over the SPAD incident in March last year. It is unclear what impact the outcome of this case will have on steam tour operators, but they may find it difficult to deliver their programmes should the steam operations of WCRC be affected.

The 2016 season kicked off here with UK Railtours’ Red Rose excursion to Bath on 14th Feb. Steam Dreams expect to be running their St. David’s Day trip to S Wales as usual on 1st March crossing the Vale of White Horse. Their Cathedrals Express continues to be the largest operation in our area but we may also hope to see something of Vintage Trains this year – their green ex-GWR locos, and chocolate and cream coaching stock were missed from here in 2015. Returning regulars include the Belmond British Pullman and Railway Touring Co.’s Great Britain, now in its 9th year of operation, as well as multiple dates for their Dorset Coast Express and West Somerset Steam Express.

Of particular interest is the planned return of no. 60103, the world-famous locomotive Flying Scotsman, after a 10 year £4 million refit. Its first outings have provoked much public interest on TV and in the national press. It is due to tour the country operating main line steam trains. Steam Dreams have engaged it for three Cathedrals Expresses in our area at the end of May, also for their 4-day Cambrian Coast Express. We can hope to catch a view of it in Hungerford at some stage when routings have been finalised!

The locomotive (seen at Wycombe in 1985) was one of Nigel Gresley’s early designs for the LNER in the 1920s. It was the first steam engine officially to achieve 100mph in this country. (Sir) Nigel later went on to design the stream-lined A4 Class, of which Mallard has the world steam record of 126mph. Flying Scotsman was an ambassador for British engineering when it toured overseas, and it became a preservation pioneer as one of the first locos to breach the BR ban after ‘the end of steam’. Should be worth looking out for such a celebrity!!

Tony Bartlett

HAHA by Belinda

An Allotment in Hungerford.………..

Marsh Lane plotholders have been through the mill a bit recently. You may have been following our sorry tale in the Newbury Weekly News or heard about it on Radio Berkshire or seen it on Facebook or Twitter or perhaps read a blogpost or two about it. Maybe you read some Council minutes or attended a Council meeting where it was discussed. Suffice to say, we haven’t kept quiet about the sadness we felt when we heard the news in November that our lease was to end in April. Aargh! A replay of the situation we faced in 2009 and again in 2013.

Thank goodness a further year’s extension has since been granted, but the future of the Marsh Lane site rests on a development plan which is entirely out of our hands. The feelings would be slightly less raw if there was a plan to build at Marsh Lane, which would be bad enough, but being used as a bargaining chip for an entirely separate piece of land really grates.

So, this year we will be trying to enjoy our growing space while not making too many plans for the future of our current plots – in case we find them scuppered at this time next year. HAHA committee members, Hungerford Town Council and others will be spending more time seeking an alternative site and looking into the laws and politics of allotments and land lease. It’s sad. We’d much rather spend our spare time growing our own and learning horticulture.

The Marsh Lane site has turned into a beautiful growing area over the last 7 years and is still a work in progress, so it would be an huge shame to abandon it at this stage and a real loss to the community. The popularity of having an allotment is continuing to increase in the UK, partly due to smaller gardens and more people living in flats. People are keener to grow their own veg and like to know what goes into their food, as well as wanting their children to understand where their food comes from.

Starting a new allotment site is daunting, with all the planning, work, expense and administration that the process involves – and that only happens if we can actually find a site, which other parties don’t already have plans for. Well, if that’s what we need to do, that’s what we’ll do – for ourselves and the future population of growers in Hungerford.

Sorry this may read a bit bleak! We’ll endeavour to stay positive and will have another year of enjoying community events to celebrate and promote home-grown veggies and show our own efforts off at this year’s Horticultural Show!

If you have any questions or comments please contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274

Our Marsh Lane allotment life is recorded online through my blogs:


Hungerford Football by Ron Tarry

Hungerford Football Club.

Although it has been a very mild winter, there have been many problems for non-league clubs, water-logged pitches leading to the postponement of many games, followed by a cold snap which saw further problems with frozen pitches.

Our postponements have largely been due to a great run in the F.A.Trophy the top cup competition for non-league clubs, in which we progressed through four rounds before being knocked out by Chester, the last Southern League club to remain in the competition. Chester are a club in the top tier of non-league football, but we easily held them for over an hour before we were reduced to ten men and they scored 3 late goals to go through to the next round. This cup run meant that we did not play a home league game between November 23 and January 30, which has jeopardized our league position and we have slipped back to 7th. in the league table. However, the league table is vey tight and anyone in the top half is still in with a chance of promotion, although we now have a very congested fixture list ahead of us.

The Swifts and the Swifts Reserves have also been hit by postponements but are still doing well in their respective leagues and there is plenty of exciting football to watch at Bulpit Lane before the season ends.

Everyone at H.T.F.C. has been delighted to watch the progress of Charlie Austin, a Hungerford lad who started his career here and at Kintbury, before his family moved to the South coast where he played for Poole, before moving on to Swindon, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers, scoring goals at every level.

He switched on Hungerford’s Christmas lights and was introduced to the large crowd by the signature tune of Match of the Day and was given a warm welcome, Since then he has been transferred to Southampton for whom he scored on his debut, a great header against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Well done Charlie. We are proud of you.

Ron Tarry. President,,. H.T.F.C.

Your Editor starts this off with

…It started as the year began, but this problem of Tesco not listening and acting on our complaints has been ongoing for a long long while now. The problems really manifested itself when Tesco decided to reduce lines in our local store, not only were there reductions of ‘’product’’ but in quite a few cases we were left with small boxes or bottles of things, which we all know work out dearer

Email Sent: 04/01/2016 15:07 To Tesco
After countless talks to various personnel at Hungerford Tesco about the sudden disappearance of Cooking Apples in the store about 2 months ago, and the various reasons being given from they’ve been taken off our delivery, yes I will find out why this has happened etc. I now ask YOU to account for this action being taken.

We are a community living 10 miles each way from another Tesco’s store. The only other place we can get them is the butcher (when he is open). It is ridiculous in this time of glut of apples that we cannot have cookers in our store. We have every other kind of eating apple in abundance none of which are of any use for cooking. To have to travel 10 miles in inclement weather (a lot of our elderly cannot travel out of the town) to get a staple commodity is ridiculous. I am not the only one to complain or so I have been told by your staff and from other town people.

This must be rectified NOW not in a few months, your repeat ordering system is abysmal and needs looking into urgently. I might also point out that when you had them they ran out a lot faster than the eating apples and were of an equivalent price so that cannot be the reason they have been withdrawn.
So Tesco get your finger out and sort this out quickly.
from FM (initials changed to protect identity!)

Email From Tesco 06 January 2016 16:59
Thank you for your email and I’m really sorry that you weren’t able to get Bramley cooking apples in your local store in Hungerford. I appreciate how frustrating this must have been for you as the next nearest store is over 10 miles away.

To try and help, I’ve contacted our Business Support Team to check the stock information we have regarding loose and bagged cooking apples. The bagged version was only brought into the store as a short term promotional product, and regrettably they did not prove to be popular so were withdrawn. We’ve recently begun a review of our product ranges in an attempt to make the shopping experience in our stores easier and to make sure that we have the right levels of availability for the products our customers love.

Unfortunately, due to the loose apples not selling the decision was made to discontinue them as part of the stores range. I appreciate this may be disappointing news so I have recorded your interest in the products and forwarded it off to the relevant departments.

Tesco does appreciate all customer feedback on our stock as a means to continually update our products. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that we will stock these items, but I can assure you that we will take your request into consideration.

Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention. Your feedback will always be appreciated, so please do not hesitate to contact me again if you feel I can help in any way.
Kind regards, Tesco

Ed knows…There were four more e-mails all along the same vein with Tesco giving ‘’management speak’’ replies but not really getting any where!

However as we go to press the Bramley’s have started to be stocked again, the proper loose ones, not the plum sizes bagged ones.

So keep up the pressure good people, and then remember to thank a Supervisor when your product is re-stocked………..Best regards Ed

Health by Liz

Natures Corner
‘3 Cheers’ for Chia Ancient civilizations considered chia seeds as a staple crop and these tiny seeds were so prized by the Aztecs that they were offered to gods during religious ceremonies and used as currency. These days we consume chia seeds for their numerous health benefits. Liz Chandler from Natures Corner takes a closer look at the seed known to many as a true ‘super food’.

At the time of the Spanish conquest in South America, where the chia seed has been grown since 3500BC, the seeds were one of the four most important nutrient rich crops, alongside maize, beans and amaranth. They were eaten as a grain, mixed with water and drank as a beverage, ground into flour, included in medicines and pressed for oil.

Today we mix them with cereals, use them in bread mixes and porridge and hydrate them to form a mucilaginous gel. The health benefits are numerous and diverse.
Chia for cardiovascular disease Research has shown that chia seeds reduce serum triglycerides (blood fats) and increase levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, as well as reducing cardiac and hepatic inflammation; thus offering protective effects for the heart and liver.

Chia for blood sugar and weight control The swelling properties of chia when mixed with water, means this soluble fibre creates a physical barrier that slows down the action of digestive enzymes on carbohydrates, when eaten. This reduces the rate at which carbohydrates are converted to sugar, meaning there is no rapid rise in blood sugar but instead a steady trickle of glucose into the blood stream that provides prolonged energy. This means that chia seeds stave off hunger for longer making them a great food for those trying to lose weight and they are perfect for carbohydrate loading for endurance athletes.

Chia for hydration and digestion Chia seeds can hold up to 12 times their own volume in water and the gel that is formed helps to lubricate and hydrate the intestines making bowel movements easier to pass. They have an extremely low allergic potential and provide a lubricating barrier that prevents irritation by problem foods. This is ideal for those with digestive sensitivities. Chia seeds are a good source of protein, are rich in the anti-inflammatory essential fats, omega 3 and omega 6 and provide good amounts of calcium, potassium, biotin, chromium and antioxidants.
Children, pregnant and breast feeding women, athletes and those recuperating from illness may all benefit from the regenerating effects of chia.

Whether we fit into one of these categories or not, Chia really deserves 3 cheers for its nutritious support for us all.

Hungerford PPG

Hungerford Surgery Patient Participation Group

As a member of the recently formed Hungerford PPG, I am pleased to report that we are now getting into our stride, and with your help, we are identifying areas where we feel we can make a difference. PPG members were in attendance at the Flu Vaccination Clinics, where we asked for your feedback, about what you felt were areas for improvement.

To summarise your feedback:
Appointment Availability. Some of you have said you can’t always get an appointment as promptly as you would like. As most of you know, the surgery is currently a GP short, following the retirement of Dr. Hetherington. However, the surgery is offering extended hours for pre-booked appointments (see the last issue of Chain Magazine, or the Hungerford Surgery website for all surgery opening times). Also, I know you will all be appalled to hear just how many people fail to turn up to pre-booked appointments. This means an appointment slot has been lost. In December, 84 patients failed to arrive for their appointment (unbelievable – but true!). I would urge everyone to contact the surgery, as soon as you know you will not be attending – please be considerate, and let someone else have that appointment. The PPG would be interested to hear your suggestions as to how we can tackle this problem – and no, we can’t fine people, as has been suggested! Maybe, before moving to Hungerford, you were a patient elsewhere, and your surgery was able to tackle this problem successfully? If so, please share that information with us.

Support Groups.
The PPG is keen to encourage support groups to offer their help, from the surgery. This will hopefully include groups to support those diagnosed with cancer, dementia, and diabetes. We feel this would be particularly useful, and a great support, for those people living alone, newly-diagnosed or acting as their partner’s carer. This service is currently being finalised, so more details will appear in the next issue of Chain Magazine – and also on the noticeboard in the surgery.

Some of you feel the surgery could communicate better with patients – but to do so, they need your current contact details! Please inform the surgery if you have a new mobile telephone number, email address etc. We could then ensure everyone gets a reminder of their appointment time, details of the flu vaccination clinic dates etc.

Prescription Service.
Some patients have been unhappy with the prescription service, offered by Boots in Hungerford. The PPG have therefore had several meetings with both the Retail Manager from Hungerford, and also the Boots Regional Manager. The Retail Manager in Hungerford, Judith Mears, is newly-appointed, and keen to make Boots Hungerford, your number 1 destination for prescriptions. Judith has asked that in the first instance, you ask to speak to her, if you are unhappy with any aspects of the service offered in her store – please allow her the opportunity to put things right, before taking your complaint elsewhere.

Boots Hungerford are currently recruiting a permanent pharmacist for the store – they acknowledge that we all like to see a familiar face in the pharmacy, (rather than frequently changing locums), and that a permanent pharmacist would offer consistency and continuity.
Judith also makes the following suggestions, to improve the efficiency of dispensing prescriptions at the Hungerford store:

Sign up for Boots Electronic Prescription Services. This free service means your GP can send your prescription electronically to Boots. You simply sign-up in store with a member of the Boots Pharmacy Team. You then do not need to drop off repeat prescription slips at the surgery. Boots can text you or send you a message on your landline, when your prescription is ready for collection. With this service, you agree a regular collection date with Boots. It should also mean there are less errors. (Should you prefer, you can arrange for this service at another pharmacy of your choice). You do not need a computer to access this service.

The best time to visit the pharmacy is usually mid-afternoon, when the store is quieter. Try and avoid first thing in the morning, and after school has finished.

Please collect your prescription!
Every week
, the pharmacy has a box full of prescriptions, which people have not bothered to collect! Valuable time has been spent preparing these prescriptions. After 6 weeks, your GP is informed of the non-collection (so their valuable time is wasted too), and the Boots team have to peel the labels off all the uncollected items, return them to stock etc. So, yet more time is wasted – which could have been spent dispensing prescriptions to those who intend to collect them.

Boots Hungerford offer a ‘New Medicine Service’ – if you have not had a particular medication before, they will explain its use to you. This might for example, involve showing you how to use a new asthma inhaler. They will then make a follow-up telephone call to you, to ensure all is okay.

To contact Hungerford Patient Participation Group,
either email: or
leave a message at the surgery.
Hungerford Surgery –


Two more (male) people are needed to join the
Surgery PPG committee,
please e-mail
The ladies outnumber us!

We would also like to hear from the younger generation 18 to 40 please as we would just love some input from this age group. So drop an e-mail to

We are only meeting max six times a year for about 90minutes!!!

Hungerford Primary School

I have been proud to be the Headteacher of Hungerford Primary School for a little over two years and thoroughly enjoy working with such an excellent team of staff and so many wonderful families.

The school was graded ‘Requires Improvement’ in our last Ofsted, which came during my second week in post. Since then the leaders, staff and governors have shown real dedication in bringing about the changes necessary to ensure we are meeting the ever-changing Ofsted criteria. Our next inspection is due at any time and we very much hope that all of our hard work will pay off with a judgement of ‘Good’.

We have so much to celebrate as a school from the constant positivity and Teacher Association.

Recent examples of this are the PTA Jumble Sale held at the end of January and which raised much needed funding for an interactive spelling programme for the school which children can also access at home; inspiring reading with our youngest children with their topic on ‘Favourite Books’; an amazing space museum created by our infants; strange and wonderful concoctions for ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ in Years 3 and 4 for their ‘Dive into Dahl’ topic; and an exploration of all things Victorian in partnership with Hungerford Arcade in Years 5 and 6.

Year 5 have also been undertaking Bikeability training in partnership with West Berkshire Council; you may have seen them on the Eastern side of the town in their high-visibility vests. Year 6 had an amazing day singing in the Young Voices Concert at the O2 in London and the school choir is currently rehearsing for the Berkshire Junior Music Festival at the Anvil.

Along with bowling, archery, netball and tag rugby competitions, our school football teams have been busy and achieving well. We are particularly excited that our girls’ football team reached the final of the Berkshire County Championship and won 4-1 against a school from Slough. As County Champions, they will now play against teams from the South of England – well done girls!

We are also very pleased to receive a brand new team kit from Hungerford Football Club and some lovely new team tracksuits; a huge thank you to Steve Skipworth, Darren Pettifer and Eddie Gerdes-Hansen for their great generosity!

We currently have a vacancy on our Board of Governors and would be very happy to hear from anyone who may be interested in this valuable and much-needed role.

Please contact the school for further details and an informal chat: 01488 682230 or

Please contact the PTA on

Motoring Memories

Motoring Memories

My previous article for Chain Mail was entitled ‘Careless Driving’ and this piece continues the motoring theme. During a recent visit to the Hampshire Record in Winchester I unearthed a number of documents relating to the Automobile Association (AA) and one in particular caught my eye. It contained a number of anecdotes written by Mr D C Cox who had worked for the AA for much of his life and had risen through the ranks from patrolman to head of the sales force.

Today people are very aware of the fact that petrol and other commodities were rationed during the Second World War. However, what is not so well know is that rationing continued long after the war had ended, and for a short period during 1947 the government withdrew the basic petrol ration completely! AA patrolmen always carried a spare can of petrol in the sidecar of their motorcycle combinations (known as a Road Service Outfits – RSO) to assist members who had run out of petrol. Unfortunately the association faced the same difficulties finding petrol as everybody else and the four patrols based at the Savernake AA Box came up with a novel way of solving the problem.

They obtained a large oil drum and on the pretence of improving the general appearance of their telephone box created a garden around it. The drum was then partly buried the in the garden and covered with rocks. Many of the lorry drivers that regularly travelled along the A4 were well known to the patrolmen and an arrangement was reached whereby petrol was syphoned from some of the lorries into the hidden drum. Unfortunately there was one small problem, as commercial fuel was dyed bright red, but this was overcome by the simple expedient of straining the petrol through a loaf of bread. Apparently everyone made a small profit, except of course the lorry’s owners!

The drum remained in the ground near the box long after its useful life had ended and it gradually began to fill with water and rust away. One day an unfortunate motorist who had stopped to use the telephone accidentally stepped on the rusty drum and fell into the void.
I have to confess that I’ve found this story quite amazing and am astonished that all those involved managed to get away with it – apparently the Superintendent in charge of the AA patrols was kept blissfully unaware of the goings on. If any reader can shed further light on this subject or provide additional stories about local AA patrolmen and their lives on the road I would be delighted to hear from them.
To share your memories please contact Roger Day on 01488 682377 or



Blasts from the Past

From the Parish Magazine dated September 1872.
“The Magistrates for the Newbury division have decided that in country parishes, licensed public houses shall after October 27 be closed at nine o’clock on Sunday evenings and at ten on week days. In the Towns of Newbury and Hungerford the hours of closing will be nine on Sundays, and eleven on weekdays,”

From the Parish Magazine dated October 1890.

“The Cavalry Manoeuvres at Churn have excited great interesting in this neighbourhood, and a great number of people from Hungerford attended the Review, which took place on September 16th in the presence of the Commander on Chief, the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Wolsey, and a brilliant staff of other Officers, among whom were the French and American Military attachis. There was no Royal Salute at the commencement, the troops starting off at a walk headed bt the massed bands. The four horse batteries with twenty-two guns were led past by Col. Rorke, R.H.A. The first Brigade of Cavalry followed: the Life and Horse Guards 456 strong, and the Royal Dragoons and the 8th and 11th Hussars following on. A hearty cheer was raised for the three troops of Wiltshire Yoemanry, and one still louder for the scarlet coated troopers of the Berks. Regiment, who led by Major Ricardo, bore favourable comparison with the Regulars. The column was closed by the Mounted Infantry, under Col. Hutton, who have done so well in these manoeuvres. The whole column marched past a second time at a trot. Then they formed once more into two lines, each half a mile in length, opposite the saluting point.

The batteries and mounted infantry, taking up positions on either flank, opened fire, and then the first Cavalry Brigade advanced at a trot, gallop, and then charge, until they came within a few lengths of the spectators. Then the line halted, squadrons wheeled outwards, clearing the front at a gallop for the 2nd Brigade, which advanced in similar formation, and with this brilliantly effective display the review ended. The whole number on parade was 3382 men, 3315 horses, and 25 guns. At a luncheon given on the ground, the Duke of Cambridge acknowledged the obligation of the Army to the Berkshire landowners and farmers for so readily assisting the State in the way they had done.

More from the past next month. Fred Bailey.

Fond & Distant Memories

Weather and its ability to cause disruption is always a safe bet to cause interest, certainly our January cold snap brought back many memories. I have not checked weather records in detail, only relying on memories drawn from a now failing memory.

Memories of the terrible winter of 1940 linger from my teenage years, snow and freezing rain saw many tree branches crashing to the ground. The canal was frozen adequately for dozens of people to skate upon the surface, this seemed to set a trend for the war time years as the canal seemed to freeze each winter. Back to 1940, my Dad was a church organist at Chilton Foliat Methodist Church and he and I set out to walk from Hungerford for a 3pm service. We both fell over twice before we reached the Swindon turning (in my young days we always called this Kimbers Corner) . I was sent home but Dad reached Chilton Chapel on time and I expect as you anticipated, no one turned up!!!

1946 was incredible. It only became a problem from mid January, I was in the Royal Navy and on a training course in Lancashire. I was there for six weeks and snow covered everything, and it was only when the train was travelling towards Portsmouth at the end of the course that normal ground colours were seen.

Those two memories were etched into my memory, but I am sure other readers will have different memories. Let me remind you again of how often the canal was frozen. An incident with my great friend the late Peter Norman when the ice broke on the canal in 1940 behind the Parish Church. Nothing daunted we hastened to the station up platform waiting room, and there was a good fire to dry his trousers, it’s difficult to remember what a fine station it was, all splendidly brick built with offices, toilets, waiting room and a goods yard with two signal boxes. We both went to school in Newbury on the 8.10am train and there were always milk churns to load. Lady Rootes always insisted that Stype milk should be delivered to Wood Green Hospital. Of course those big churns were really heavy.

I am sure older readers will have similar memories, but one great snowy memory of the ‘40s was Ben Pratt’s toboggan. It was an American model and on a snow covered Common, the ride from the road to the railway line, and with its steering making a right turn down the slope, to the cattle bridge leading to the lower Common.

Those memories of war time winters remain clear. One other is of a good friend the late Don March, who used the light snow covering on the frozen canal next to the road over the canal linking the High Street. He drew the shapes of the most attractive female forms which caused crowds on the bridge. Of course in those days there was very little road traffic.
The winter of 1963 was very difficult. We were due to drive to Aldbourne to share Christmas with my sister Shelia. Well there was two feet of snow in Parsonage Lane so no chance, in fact snow lingered on the lawn until Easter.

Those snowy winters so well remembered bring random memories of sleigh rides over the Donkey meadow ( a field next to the then Stronggrove allotments). As the thaw set in it was a well flooded Marsh. Oh how I loved to walk on the Marsh, (but alas arthritic joints now make this impossible), then to the Brick Kiln and adjacent Sand Pit. What joy on the Marsh especially in the early war years when the evacuees used the school after lunch and we had free afternoons.

I guess as I reach my late 80’s so many memories crowd in, especially a Town at War. Hungerford was almost a garrison town, so many troops on the surrounding estates, and this before the American allies arrived in 1942.

If I can remember, I will relate all this in the next article. I must rely on Editor David Piper to remind me!