John Primmer at the Tichborne Arms

The Tichborne Arms is a well-known country pub on the Tichborne Estate, close to Alresford. In 2022 the pub re-opened, after some significant modernisation of the main bar, and extension of the building to include the area between the pub and the outhouses that contain the toilets used by the guests. In addition the garden and car parking facilities have been extended, with new shelters a separate play area, and many more tables.

One of the previous ‘fixtures’ in the bar at the Tichborne Arms was a local man called John Primmer. Anyone visiting the pub would have met John at the bar – indeed it was rumoured that the pub had a special barrel of beer allocated to John, which had to be replaced on a weekly basis.

The locally produced booklet ‘Tichborne 2000; A portrait of a small parish in the year 2000’ gave some of his background. He was born in Tichborne, went to school in Tichborne, Cheriton and then Perins, leaving there in 1952 to start work at Grange Farm, and retired in 2000. He lived at New White Cottage, but apparently spent lunch and evening times at the pub, where he looked after the garden – he was also keen on cricket, and was the Tichborne wicket keeper for 20 years, then an umpire for the Club.

The main image of John that a lot of the previous visitors to the Tichborne Arms  remember was the life-size mural, painted on the wall of the toilet block, showing John apparently working in the pub garden. This is pictured above!

If anyone can add anything to this story, or knows who painted the mural on the toilet wall, please get in touch! 


Pudsey bear comes from Alresford!

An earlier post on this site mentioned in passing that Alresford Crafts made some of the first prototype bears for the BBC, for them to consider using the image for the “Children-in-Need” bear.

Jenny Lawes from Alresford, who worked at Alresford Crafts in Station Mill, remembers them producing these first versions of Pudsey, the BBC’s “Children-in-Need” bear, with the eye patch.

The original prototype Pudsey, from Alresford Crafts: note the bandage is over the left eye!

The Alresford made prototypes, built to a BBC design, had the bandage over the other eye (his left eye!). The bears were sent up to the BBC, and when he finally made an appearance, the patch had moved to the right eye! So Pudsey really was first created here in Alresford, by the workers at Alresford Crafts!

There was other work for the BBC, one presenter on children’s TV had a lamb puppet from Alresford Crafts. The company was featured in a “Made in Britain” film, and in a Pebble Mill report. The town mill also hosted visits from Angela Rippon, and even Kate Adie, but not when the latter was a war correspondent!

Memorial bench for Pam Stevens

A new public bench has been placed under the trees on the Avenue, which is dedicated to the memory of Pam Stevens, for many years a Trustee an Secretary to the NATT (New Alresford Town Trust). In this capacity she was also the untiring organiser of the town Minibus, organising the drivers, passenger lists, and trips. In this role she was a major point of contact for many of the older residents of the town, and kept them in touch with charities and other organisations that could be of use to them.

Pam died in the Autumn of 2020, and the bench, which is situated between Arlebury Park and Pound Hill, is a pleasant place to stop to rest weary legs after climbing Pound Hill, or when waiting for Perins pupils. Steve Brine, the local MP, attended the dedication ceremony, and said “Pam was in so many ways Mrs Alresford, and she put so much into the townto help so many people. She was never bothered who got the credit, she just wanted to get things done! And she certainly did that, time and again. Alresford will certainly miss Pam Stevens, and so will I.”

Mark Stevens, Pam’s elder son, summed up Pam’s devotion when visiting her in Hospital – he found her working on her laptop doing Town Trust work. He thought the Avenue was a fitting place, which his mother loved, for the bench.

The bench was provided and installed with the help of many organisations and people who had worked alongside Pam and who admired and appreciated her efforts for the town: these included local charities such as Rotary and The Pigs, plus contractors Peter Bridges and Paul Daubeney.

Pam’s bench in the Avenue

St John’s Christmas crib 2020

The Alresford Men’s Shed were delighted to help St John’s Church in Alresford bring a little better spirit of Christmas to the town and the Churchyard path last month, with four of them creating and building a full sized crib and stable at the North entrance. Organised by Peter Tudor, the redundant garage from Howard Bagley was reconstructed into the stable by Shed members Keith Brickwood, Bill Bailey and Jim Scott. These guys dealt with the erection, and the disassembly in January, having made the design in a kit like form. The crib was even better when seen at night, with very effective lighting inside: but the photo is a daytime shot.

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A similar task was undertaken in the Shed for East Stratton Church, by Jim Scott, who has also renewed their noticeboards and “No parking” signs. For East Stratton the crib was a smaller design, and assembled inside the Church: it is also easily dismantled for storage, to be used again next year.

How to get into a Yorkshire Penny Bank Money box!

How do you get into one of these things when the key is long gone? Foolishly, some years ago, I put lots of pre-decimal coins in this money box! Maybe I had the key then, but I certainly do not have it any more. So as a lock-down project I decided I needed to get it open. But hopefully without demolishing the money box!

I don’t know how old this is: I think it was my mother’s savings box before me. The number, 42284, I thought was fairly old, until I saw one numbered 2012 on Ebay. Total value in the LSD coins in the money box is about £5: while the old coins might be now worth more than the face value, this project was more a challenge than a treasure hunt!

Every funny looking key available was tried, but none worked. Lock picking was even less successful, made difficult by not knowing how the lock worked. So I needed to see a lock mechanism, to hopefully find a way of defeating it!

This could be an on-going saga, as I have not achieved the objective yet, but progress is good.

The Plan

The plan was to buy a cheap similar money box on Ebay, that had no family memories: there are lots available without keys! Then to cut this up, to see how the locking mechanism worked. Straightforward! Then it should be possible to bypass the lock, or at least see what a key had to do.

With P&P the money box cost £8. It was showing the serial number 203599. First the rivets holding the nameplate were filed down, and bashed out. The nameplate came off, exposing three metal tabs holding a brass coloured metal plate under the silver lid. It was then sawn open, working from the halfcrown slot. The lid is brass, plated with a silver metal. Folding back the halfcrown slot sides gave little further information.

So then brute force was used to try to separate the cover from the base plate, which from previous knowledge supports the coin tubes, which are round, and sort of three quarters of a circle. When opened with a key, these tubes present the coins in several neatly stored columns. The two parts were levered apart, which ended up in the storage tube for the pennies, opposite the halfcrowns, being left in place, with the three tabs from that circular construction, into the base plate, having been pulled out. 

The major discovery there was that the money box locking mechanism uses a brass tongue pushed into a slot in the back of the old penny storage tube. The box is dated on the base as from a patent of 11th June 1921. They were a bit devious at this time, as having realised that the tongue of the lock could be pushed open using a knife through the penny storage slot, they introduced a sort of metal curtain as a barrier to such an intrusion. This curtain interrupts the straight line from the slot to the end of the brass tongue, so frustrating that approach. Unless maybe you had a knife like a grapefruit knife, with a bent blade.

The next task was to remove the brass locking mechanism, still stuck inside the cover, held by the three bent metal ears from the top lid. These three metal tabs on the top of the cover were holding the lock.  The tabs themselves were part of the cover, bent through the brass coloured plate that held the lock. So all three tabs were pushed out from the top, which was necessarily violent, and caused a bit of damage! Then the lock was levered away from the cover, which when suddenly released caused a slight explosion of lots of bits of the lock, as the spring behind the tongue became free to move away from its housing.

Unfortunately this meant that the three main elements of the lock were scattered about, so I cannot absolutely say in which order they were assembled, but it seems reasonable to assume that the two spacers were above the tongue, which fits best in the base of the lock mechanism.

The conclusion for this section is that if you need to break in to the money box, the best cut is made at the top of the “Penny” column, which might give you enough access to release the lock by pressing on the tongue, from slightly below the horizontal plane, to avoid the barrier in there!

Dimensions of the key

It seemed the only way in to the money box was by using a conventional key, so the next step was to work out the dimensions and shape required. Perhaps foolishly I also thought I should check on the internet to see how much the boxes with keys were selling for, since it seemed that one standard key shape would fit all these round box locks.

As ever, the result surprised me, as there was a guy offering to sell newly made money box keys for these round boxes from Yorkshire Penny Bank and Midland Bank…. at an auction starting price of £5 (+£1.50 P&P). He was not giving much away, but the picture of his key showed it to be much the same as what I was planning.

It also proved that there is always another engineer/enthusiast/nutter also thinking along the same lines as yourself, but that he had much more common sense than you, as he saw a business opportunity! Just to prove it, his picture shows the key, with a cleverly placed key ring, that hides the critical part of the key pattern…. see below!

The auction for this particular key ends in 24 hours, so we will see how much it costs me! Needless to say, this will not be published until after the auction ends……

The result so far…

The key sold for £20+ . OK so I need to work out the dimensions…..

Unashamedly I contacted a guy who made these keys occasionally, and he sent me one. It was the same general shape and dimensions that I had worked out, but much stronger than the material I had used, and indeed it needed quite a lot of force. So after fiddling about and a little bit of filing on edges that looked stressed, it worked!

VE Day 75 years on…

VE Day 75 years on celebrations in Alresford were given a boost by a lot of last minute volunteers and some hard work by two of the cafe owners in Alresford.

Initially it was a NATC idea to organise an afternoon tea on the Avenue for the over 75’s in Alresford, but because of the Coronavirus shutdown, they decided to hang onto their cash for an enhanced VE day celebration in July.

Faced with that a couple of the Councillors got together and lead by Cllr Sarah Cavell they decided that something was needed. So they decided on a distribution of cream teas for the 75 year olds plus. Sarah enlisted the help of her friend Becky Smith (who runs the Arlebury Cafe at the ARC) and Sarah Pendlebury, who runs Tiffins tea rooms on West Street. Together, and with the help of their staff/friends, they baked over 500 scones, during the night of 7/8 May, and made up the teas in individual bags. The cost of ingredients were met by a benefactor – who wishes to remain anonymous.  Alresford PIGs volunteered assistance at least in terms of the distribution of the teas around the town, as they were keen to support the efforts of those doing the hard work behind the scenes.


Over 500 individual cream teas were distributed to residents over 75 in the town at lunchtime on Friday, VE Day, hopefully for the residents to join in with their street parties.


The picture above shows Mark and Emma Emmerson, dressed in their vintage best, preparing to distribute the teas, along with another 20 of the Alresford Pigs members.

Life and exercise under Lockdown!

Life continues in Alresford, even though the streets are deserted of cars and parking has never been easier next to Tesco! But most communal activity for retired people in particular has closed down.

Many things have moved over to the internet – including our weekly Pilates classes with Brenda Clarke. So we have not escaped, and now don’t even get the school holidays off! Brenda, like so many other people, has adopted Zoom, and still runs her 60 minute sessions 3 days a week…. but we are still limiting ourselves to one session a week.

Will things ever return to the original classes in village halls? We don’t know, but we have used Zoom for a cocktail party for my wife’s birthday, talking to the kids – in Cornwall and Mexico – and earlier in the day it worked well much closer to home, for a lunchtime drinks get together with the neighbours!

Amazingly, the Zoom works very well, and is free to users, despite everyone adopting it so quickly. As for the Pilates, you need to try it yourself!

More info:

Zoom conferencing –

Pilates with Brenda Clarke – contact via the website

The Hurdle House

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The Hurdle House, sited in Sheeplands Paddock (from the collection)

A Hurdle House is recognised as a specific, but rare type of building, meant for the storage of the hurdles used typically to create pens for the sheep in a Sheep Fair. The annual sheep fair was very important to Alresford…. not only was there a Hurdle House for the hurdles, but there was the Fair Field – known locally as Sheeplands Paddock – basically dedicated to the Sheep Fair. Presumably this helped attract the herders, as they would know it as a good, standard location to sell their flocks every year.

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An Alresford Sheep Fair,  with pens made from hurdles, held in Sheeplands Paddock

The sheep fair from at least 1835 until 1864 was held in the original Fair Field, East of Sun Lane, opposite what is now the houses of Edward Terrace: it also extended south, presumably as far as to include the site of Langtons Farm. But the railway arrived, and to build the railway line through Alresford the Fair Field was bisected by the railway line and the associated cutting through the chalk.

Raymond Elliott tells the story of establishing the new Fair Field, and building the new Hurdle House on the North side of the Bishops Sutton Road, in his story in Alresford Displayed (Volume 6, 1981). The land was owned by Winchester College, but leased to the Bailiff and Burgesses of Alresford.  They asked William Henry Hunt, a local architect, to design and build the Hurdle House in 1864. Hunt showed his love of good brickwork in the “quoins. jambs and string courses together with panels of grey knapped flint-work and again red brick dressings around the door and window openings, circular ventilation openings and including decorative eaves and gable ends”. The building was about 75 feet long by 19 feet wide and 12 feet clear height inside from floor to underside of the roof timbers.

                     The photos show the hurdles inside the Hurdle House, and sheep arriving                                                along the Bishops Sutton road, outside Sheeplands Paddock,                                            where the Long Barn now stands

The Hurdle House was well used, and the sheep fairs thrived, with 20,000 sheep recorded as sold there in 1885. Slowly the numbers declined… there was no fair held in 1971, and in 1980 the Town Trustees returned the Hurdle house and Sheeplands Paddock to the Freeholders (Winchester College) – taking care to apply for listed building status before doing so.  The College quickly sold the property to a private owner. In June 1981 there was a major fire in the building, which destroyed the original roof.

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The 1971 fire at the Hurdle House: picture by Peter Chalk

Raymond Elliott showed the following pictures of the Hurdle House in his Alresford Displayed article later in 1981: this was the result of the fire.

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Over the next few years the house was rebuilt, and the photo below of the conversion into a dwelling was found on the web, attributed to a Mr D Toms:

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The Hurdle House converted to a home: picture by D Toms

21st Century additions

Later, in 2014, the private owners started a project with Adam Knibb architects to design an extension to the Hurdle House to create more living space, whist maintaining respect for the original barn.

They approached the scheme with the aim to set the works into the surrounding nature, provide natural light, harness the fantastic views and provide a social heart to the house and for the family. Working with the Winchester Conservation department, it was agreed that a bay window at the rear of the property could be removed and provide the linking element to the extension. A frameless glass link was envisaged to touch the existing building lightly and connect the old to the new.


The extension comprises a large open plan kitchen, dining area, casual seating with utility/WC and study attached. A major aim of the project was to increase the excitement when entering the property. The new main entrance will bring you directly into the extension, showing off views directly down the garden.

Externally, vertical timber cladding has been used to mimic the surrounding trees and provide a contemporary contrast to the existing building, which Adam Knibb say clearly shows that this work is ‘architecture of this time’. Alresford Interiors was selected as the sub-contractor and supplier of the internal furniture and fittings.

This Hurdle House project won ‘The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovation Award’, and has been a finalist in the ‘AJ Retrofit Awards’, was ‘shortlisted for the ‘RICS Awards’, and also shortlisted for The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Countryside Award. Adam Knibb Architects have produced a video describing the work, which can be found on youtube ( Their photographer, James Morris, presented the photos on their website, one of which is shown below.


Photo (c) James Morris c/o Adam Knibb Architects

The actual Sheep Fair Field used from 1864 to the 1970s, known as Sheeplands Paddock, is now the site occupied by Long Barn Lavender, to the East of the Hurdle House.


Long Barn Lavender sales and garden centre


The Sheep Fair Field, now devoted to lavender growing.

Photos courtesy of Godfrey Andrews of, Audrey Chalk, D Toms, Alresford History and Literary Society, and James Morris for Adam Knibb Architects

That Scotsman was ‘ere

Well, the Flying Scotsman, now 60103, a steam locomotive, came to the Watercress Line between Alresford and Alton for a couple of weekends in February and March 2020.  Basically to celebrate the re-opening of the line to Alton, after the extensive bridge works over the roads near The Butts, at the far end. This took months and months, so the Watercress Line must have been pretty desperate to attract some attention, and money.

So they went the whole hog, closed the Station Car Park to everyone who hadn’t booked a ticket of some form, charged a lot for platform tickets etc, but couldn’t really stop the passers-by on the road bridges and roadsides along the way! These non-devoted enthusiasts were there, getting a peek, because the banners seemed to block the views everywhere else.

We’d love to hear your experiences of the ride: the reports are that the commercialism missed out by not selling refreshments on the train: even coffee would have been good, to warm up the passengers.

As a confessed novice in railway matters, it seemed the good old Flying Scotsman was feeling its age. Rolling past without carriages, it did not seem to travel as effortlessly as might have been expected…. It also seemed to need a second engine to help it with the carriages – there were not that many! Admittedly there is a hill out of Alresford, but not necessarily any bigger than the hills it used to traverse.


Arrival in Alresford, under the Sun Lane bridge. The engine helping the Flying Scotsman, 41312, looks much more interesting, but not as streamlined! Both pulling backwards here.


The Flying Scotsman rolling past on his own, in order to reposition to the front of the carriages


Atmospheric shot, showing the engine now positioned in front of the carriages, enveloped in steam, with the general public mob on the opposite platform


Lloyds Bank in 1959

The Francis Frith company, with their catalogue of old photographs, has many pictures of New Alresford, which you can see on their website. They also publish stories, or memories, from readers, and one, published in 2010, is from Valerie Neal, describing the time she worked in Lloyds Bank in 1959:

“I was working in Lloyds bank in 1959. I remember going across the road to fetch cakes from the bakery every day for the staff. We had six staff, this was before the extension to the bank. The other members were Mr Rainford, Mr Sherwood, and the manager whose name escapes me. The girls were Myrtle Young, another Anne and me. I also remember going to the cinema in Station Road. You could not hear a thing if it was raining because of the tin roof. I travelled to work by train from Winchester, it cost six shillings and fourpence return. Those were the days.”