Cat plague: Good or bad?

There is a cat plague in Alresford, around Carisbrooke Close and Orchard Close in particular, and to my knowledge. This is not just a problem of cats leaving their mess in any cultivated vegetable patches, it has grown to involve regular, even daily, bird kills, mainly pigeons, but also young blackbirds.

I am delighted that the pigeons now appear to have moved away, as a result, so that is a major benefit!

But as a carp pond owner, it is true that the occasional cat is seen to lick their lips alongside the water, but there are further pond level defences that stop them getting at the fish. They are amateurs compared to the herons around here, from which we need to defend ourselves rigorously.

The beneficiaries of this phase of cat trespassing have been suppliers such as Homebase and even the Winchester Pound shop, one of whom (guess who?) sell wire netting at very reasonable prices – yes, you’ve guessed it, £1. I recommend their metal mesh fencing, for use on top of a six foot wooden fence. Maybe the cats cannot see it when they shoot up the fence, but I really hope they then get the message with the next 6 inches to a foot of wire net, with spikes on the top.

The wire netting has now grown up above fences and gates to stop these feline climbers getting into back gardens along their regular routes. They may climb up, but they will not get over! If they get into our back garden, I’m not sure they will ever get out…..

I look forward to responses from all the irresponsible cat owners who send their cats out every morning, they will undoubtedly send some sort of justification to defend the misery they inflict on all their innocent neighbours.

Census reveals poor state of River Itchen

For the first time our once pristine, gin-clear English chalkstreams and rivers have been put under the microscope in a national survey to compare and investigate whether they are as healthy as they should be. And the results are truly shocking.

The 2015 Riverfly Census, undertaken by Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) has identified that there were only 14 pristine, unimpacted sites out of a total of 120 sites sampled in the survey on rivers across England.

According to fisheries charity, Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, the threat to our rivers has moved from industrial pollution to a range of subtler but equally damaging impacts from sources such as agricultural and road run-off, poorly treated sewage, septic tanks and discharges from watercress and fish farms.

Although these forms of stress are less dramatic than fish-killing chemical spills, the long-term effects on flylife such as blue-winged olives are equally profound.

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of S&TC UK explains, “Most of the rivers we analysed were impacted to some extent, although the chalk rivers were the worst.  England’s 200 or so chalkstreams form about 85% of the world’s total stock of this richly diverse and complex habitat.  Almost all of them are in a dismal state of decline. Plants, insects, fish, mammals and bird-life are suffering as a result of the loss of flylife, which plays a crucial role in the aquatic food chain. Basically lose your flylife and you will lose many other important species too.”

Even figures from the Environment Agency, show that 83% of our rivers are failing to meet the standard of ‘Good Ecological Condition’ classification, measured by the European Water Framework Directive.

Riverflies and other invertebrates are excellent indicators of the underlying ecological condition of our rivers because different species of invertebrates demonstrate different tolerances to the various forms of stress from pollution.  Traditional and less exacting methods of analysing water quality frequently struggle to capture the often combined impacts of nutrients, sediment and subtle organic enrichment on invertebrate life in our rivers.

The study was carried out by ecological consultants Aquascience Consultancy Ltd, on 120 sites in seven rain-fed rivers and five chalkstreams across the country. For the first time, the investigation used ground-breaking research and chemical analysis to accurately identify the problem.

Dr Nick Everall from Aquascience Consultancy says, “The national river survey showed a mixture of improving, stable and all too many sadly declining reaches in terms of overall ecological condition, environmental stresses and riverfly life in particular. Several rivers showed loss of condition with measures like mayfly species richness and freshwater shrimp population status over time. Breaking some of these river findings down with controlled laboratory tests has recently shown that raised levels of phosphate and sediment, akin to many of our stressed river conditions, has a detrimental impact upon the survival of early life stages of the base of the aquatic food chain for species such as the blue-winged olive.”

The Census identified that, although Hampshire’s River Avon – a chalkstream, came out best in the study, the next 6 places went to freestone rivers, mainly in the north and south west.  Three of our most highly protected SAC chalkstreams; the Itchen, the Lambourn and the Wensum, rank poorly in the Census.  These contained low riverfly richness and abundance in many reaches of these rivers. Indeed on the Itchen, populations of the blue-winged olive have collapsed, despite being relatively abundant in the early 1990s.

In addition, the River Test, which is an SSSI (one of our highest conservation classifications) showed that flylife is below that expected of a pristine river with many significant species impoverished and rarer species absent.

Freshwater shrimp (Gammerus pulex) an important element in the food chain for trout and salmon, recorded very low numbers and measured against historic Environment Agency records, are showing a long and marked decline.

Paul Knight says, “So far The Water Framework Directive’s measure of water quality struggles to capture the often combined impacts that pollution is having on the invertebrate life in our rivers.  The biometric fingerprinting we used in the Census was like examining these systems with a microscope rather than a magnifying glass and, significantly, the results showed that water quality is often insufficient to sustain the life that our target rivers historically supported.”

In his forward to the Census, keen fisherman and journalist Jeremy Paxman laments the loss of our pristine rivers and says, “Something has gone very wrong.  Yet experience tells us that almost everything in nature is connected.  A decline in flylife on rivers will have consequences.  The only way we can enlist popular support – and the possibility that someone might care enough to realise the risk we face – is to gather evidence.  That is why the Riverfly Census matters.”

Nick Measham, author of the report and S&TC UK environmental consultant, concludes, “The aim of our Census was to provide, for the first time, an accurate picture of water quality in our rivers, to gauge the problems we are facing and to identify workable solutions to restore degraded watercourses to their pristine condition.  The evidence from our Census is irrefutable. Increased human pressure is having a disastrous impact on our rivers.

“We will now challenge the Government to tackle these damaging sources of pollution before we reach the point of no return.  We have a five-point plan of action involving working with the Environment Agency, but also challenging them where necessary, especially over the urgent need to identify and regulate polluters.  However, we believe the best chance of reversing the degradation in our rivers is to work directly with those who, mostly inadvertently, are the sources of the stress on river water quality, and to show them that they can also benefit from adopting measures that protect watercourses. ”

Read the full Report here.

Comment:

The comment below is from Nick Denbow, who learned to fly-fish on the Itchen and Arle in the 80s, then studied Aquaculture at Sparsholt, before setting up the Western Caribbean Fly Fishing School in Mahahual, in the Yucatan, Mexico:

“Absolutely. This is exactly and completely what I wrote my Sparsholt thesis on in 1998. They should have listened then!
Hopefully now you are out of Europe you can have rules specific to each river individually.
A great start would be that water abstractions should only be allowed and licensed if the water is properly scrubbed to its original or better than its original quality parameters. This as far as I know still only happens in Holland.
The decline in species richness of Mayflies is almost completely due to habitat destruction. Poor river maintenance in the 90s during low water levels led to over widening and deepening of many sections of river so that they remained viable businesses as fisheries. Mayfly species distribution relies on a variety of habitats and only one of 47 in Hampshire is a burrower in silt, E. danica. Due to spending 4 years as a nymph this insect is more common on the lower stretches of any river system. The others are stone clingers, moss creepers, agile darters and laboured swimmers. Take away these habitats and replace it with silt and the bugs will move on at the rate of invertebrate drift. If this starts at the top of a river system (as that’s where most cress beds are) then you gradually remove all the favoured invertebrates from the river, gradually all the way down stream.
By creating favourable habitats on side streams or periodically in areas of micro habitat in poor quality areas it’s easy to ‘re-establish’ populations as adult (winged) may flies all migrate upstream to breed. So what I’m saying is its recoverable if the river acts together.
The lack of G. pulex, the freshwater shrimp, is not due to habitat but rather directly from chemicals used in water cress production, specifically zinc. It’s been proven for many years that the products used to spread on cress and its roots prevents crustaceans being able to build their shells. Spatial avoidance of G. pulex from areas of cress has been seen for years. Due to the Trout’s dependence on shrimps in the winter months due to lower fly hatches, it’s beleived to represent 80% of the Trout’s annual diet. Take that away and your Trout simply won’t survive the winter, which is their spawning time.”

Nick Denbow
BSc (Hons) Aquaculture and Fishery Management
STANIC Qualified instructor
The Western Caribbean Fly Fishing School, Mexico

http://www.catchafish.net, twcffs@gmail.com
00 52 1 983 7323 144

Air Commodore Christopher Paul, of Old Alresford

The Obituary below was published in the Telegraph on 27 March 2003, after the passing of Air Commodore Paul, who lived in Old Alresford. I was privileged to meet him only once, when I delivered post around Old Alresford, and I showed him some of my old aviation photos. He was what you imagined a Spitfire pilot had to be: slight of build, long piano player type fingers, a delicate touch. At that time he was 92 years old. But the following account does not mention Spitfires – maybe I saw him in his Turbulent, touring Britain – I at that time was supplying various photos of interesting aircraft to Air Pictorial.

It showed me, at that time, that you never realise the history behind the people you see or meet or serve in the local shops, cafes, pubs or wine bars, and Air Cdr Paul certainly visited the Bodega Wine bar many times back in the 1980s. Think of that when greeting the next 90 year old contact you make!

Nick Denbow

 

The Telegraph said:

“Air Commodore Christopher Paul, who has died aged 95, was a wartime bomber pilot who became involved in promoting gliding and other aspects of the boom in private flying after the Second World War.

Paul was given his first operational command in 1940 with No 150 Squadron, which was re-equipping with Vickers Wellingtons following the costly losses of Fairey Battles in France.

After a frustrating period when navigational aids were insufficient to conduct satisfactory night-bomber operations, he was posted to “Bomber” Harris’s headquarters as a watch keeper. He then moved to Flying Training Command, converting trainers into makeshift bombers.

When Paul joined the directing staff of the Army Staff College at Camberley he was at first disconcerted to discover that his RAF students included some highly decorated officers who had seen far more action than he had; but he took the opportunity to milk them of their experience for his eventual return to operations.

In early 1944 he was posted to No 13 Operational Training Unit to learn to fly Mitchell light bombers, where he attracted the attention of Air Vice-Marshal Basil Embry, the holder of a DSO and three Bars, who was preparing the 2nd Tactical Air Force to support the forthcoming Normandy invasion.

On taking over No 98 Squadron at Dunsfold, Bedfordshire, Paul was delighted by the presence of so many Canadians. Their food parcels and camp fire parties were especially appreciated, though they had a disconcerting habit of shooting at empty beer cans for revolver practice during their late night revels. Nevertheless, he noted with pleasure that the nightingales of Dunsfold Woods seemed to be inspired in their singing by the hum of the squadron’s two-engine Mitchells.

When the invasion was launched, Paul was awarded a DFC for the way in which he led the squadron in day and night attacks on tactical targets. His citation stated: “He has at all times maintained a high standard of determination, keenness and accuracy and has developed a fine fighting team which strikes the enemy with great precision and concentration.”

Gerald John Christopher Paul was born on October 31 1907, and educated at Cheltenham and St John’s, Cambridge, where he learned to fly with the University Air Squadron.

He was commissioned in 1929 and joined No 13, an Army Co-operation Squadron, equipped with Armstrong Whitworth Atlas biplanes. The following year, when RAF pilots were serving in aircraft carriers, he joined No 446 Flight in Courageous. When the Navy recovered its air arm, Paul came ashore in 1938 to No 90 Squadron, flying two-engine Blenheim aircraft.

After the war, Paul became commanding officer of No 13 OTU at Middleton St George, Yorkshire. He was delighted to discover a neglected Tiger Moth on the station, after which he enjoyed flights before breakfast – until the morning he hit a low coaxial cable linking two masts and crashed. He reported that he was showing off and entirely to blame. Years afterwards, when he lost the sight in his left eye, doctors attributed it to the accident.

In late 1946 Paul joined the headquarters of the diminished remnants of 2nd Tactical Air Force at Bad Eilsen in Germany. The base’s previous Luftwaffe occupants had accumulated looted Cognac, Champagne and other wines, so Paul and his fellow officers charged themselves a token penny a tot.

Paul also took advantage of the splendid gliding facilities which had formed the basis of Luftwaffe training since the end of the First World War, and which had been developed to allow the Germans to circumvent the rearmament restrictions of the Versailles Treaty.

His next move was to the United States, where he served with the Joint Services Mission in Washington and at the USAF War College at Maxwell Field, Alabama.

In 1949 Paul returned to the Air Ministry for Intelligence duties which centred on countering the developing Soviet bomber force. He regarded tête à tête background briefings for Aneurin Bevan as light relief.

Paul was discussing the joys of gliding with RAF colleagues in a London cab when he hit on the idea of launching a gliding and soaring club in the Service. A year at the Imperial Defence College followed from 1953. Paul then went on to become commandant of the Central Flying School at Little Rissington, Gloucestershire, and at the same time qualified as a Meteor jet pilot.

At the beginning of 1956 Paul arrived in Aden as Senior Air Staff Officer. A year later he returned to the Air Ministry for his final appointment as director of operational training. In October 1958 he took advantage of a “golden bowler” retirement, with the proceeds of which he paid off his children’s school fees and bought a small Druine Turbulent aeroplane.

Paul was appointed secretary general of the Air League of the British Empire, which required him to travel throughout Britain both by car and his own aircraft. He made a major contribution to the post-war increase in private flying, not least by converting an Air League journal into the aviation magazine Air Pictorial.

In time he was welcomed to the Royal Aero Club, the Gliding Association and the Tiger Club committees, becoming president in 1968 of the Popular Flying Association, which encouraged group ownership of private aircraft.

In the late 1960s Paul fell out with council members at the Air League, and was dismissed in 1971. He busied himself with village affairs at Old Alresford in Hampshire and with the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association, while writing for Air Pictorial, by this time an independent publication.

He also carried out extensive research on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and produced a history of No 90 Squadron. In 1989 he became president of the Central Flying School Association.

Paul, who died on January 11, was appointed CB in 1956. He also held the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Czech Military Cross, and was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In 1937 he married Rosemary Lane, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. She died in 1975; he married, secondly, in 1985, Mollie Samuels, who survives him.”

 

Naval telescopes linked to Alresford

Whatever you collect, it is always of particular interest to find an item that has a particular relationship with the village or area where you live. For me this was slightly more difficult than usual, I thought, as I collect terrestrial telescopes, ie the sort of hand-held telescopes that were used on ships. So living inland, in Alresford, there would be quite a limited number of naval telescopes linked to here.

My one real hope was Lord Rodney, George Brydges Rodney, who was brought up by his godfather, George Brydges of Avington Park. After winning some prize money at the battle of Finisterre in 1747, when in command of the 60 gun “Eagle”, Rodney purchased land near Alresford Church, and built Alresford House. His life is described in the 1991 Alresford Displayed story by John Adams, see www.alresford.org/displayed/displayed_17_01.php. Lord Rodney died in 1791, at Alresford House.

Admiral Lord Rodney

1744-beare-poss-capt-g-b-rodneyRegrettably Rodney was at sea only up to the 1780s, which is right at the start of the boom in telescope production, which started following the Dollond patent of 1760, a development that made them far more efficient. So any telescope he might have used would these days be very expensive, where they have survived, and they would probably out of my price range! Incidentally, none of the later portraits of Lord Rodney show him with a telescope, which is unusual, for paintings of Admirals in those days. But surprisingly, I’ve found a portrait of him as a young man, with a telescope that looks like a 1730/40 model – very expensive now!

However, I did find a bit of Lord Rodney’s past, on a visit to see my daughter in Cornwall. If you walk down the main streets of Helston, near Porthleven (the nearest decent harbour) you will find the The Rodney Inn, with apparently a picture of Lord Rodney hanging outside! The picture does look like the many portraits of him, painted in around 1791.

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The Rodney Inn sign, with a copy of a standard portrait of Lord Rodney, with seagull adornment. Below are some views of  the exterior of the pub.

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Hinton Ampner House

Mary Ricketts

Mary Ricketts

This week I visited the National Trust at Hinton Ampner, and read about the ghost stories that relate to the original house on that site. In 1765, Captain William Henry Ricketts and his wife Mary rented the original Tudor house on that site. Captain Ricketts had estates in Jamaica, and was presumably in the Navy: his time in the West Indies was coincident with that of Admiral Rodney, and his wife Mary was the sister of Admiral John Jervis, who was also in the Royal Navy, and active in the West Indies at that time. So presumably there were frequent visits between Hinton Ampner and Alresford House.

Indeed in 1770, John Jervis came to stay at the house in Hinton Ampner, with a friend, Captain Luttrell, when Captain Ricketts was away in Jamaica. The two of them tried to keep guard over the house one night, to find an explanation for the ghostly noises and appearances that were regularly disturbing the household. Unable to explain the happenings, and thoroughly frightened, John Jervis advised his sister to move out.

The John Jervis Tucker telescope

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The link to a telescope results, although it does turn out to be tenuous: a year or so ago I acquired a telescope signed Captain J. Jervis Tucker, believing it to be linked to Admiral Jervis (later known as Earl St Vincent, and commanding officer in charge of one Commander Nelson at the battle of Cape St Vincent: Nelson was as a result of this battle appointed an Admiral). But for John Jervis to be the rank of Captain, the telescope would be dated around 1760, and this telescope was younger than that, it looked early 1800s.

Admiral Jervis had a personal secretary (or ADC, or Batman, or whatever a PA is known as) called Benjamin Tucker, who went on to be Second Secretary to the Admiralty. He christened his son, born 1802, John Jervis Tucker: JJT joined the Navy in 1815, and became Captain of HMS Royal William in 1838: and that is about the right date for this telescope, which is unique in that it is over 4 feet long!

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So John Jervis Tucker probably never brought this telescope to Hinton Ampner, nor Alresford. Never mind, the search goes on!

See more information about the Captain J Jervis Tucker telescope on http://tinyurl.com/JJTucker, which is one of the stories on the website http://www.telescopecollector.co.uk.

Late news of Lord Rodney!

DSCN3884DSCN3888The Alresford Museum has recently acquired a moulded bust (in profile) of Lord Rodney, made out of wax or something similar, and protected by a deep gold-plated frame. Apparently such things were fashionable in those days. This bust is pictured here: it is quite small, the glass window is maybe 6″x5″. In my view it shows Rodney much younger than 90, maybe more like 60, so it might date from the 1760s. This is unlikely to be put on external display by the Museum, it does not like too much heat, even from artificial lights!

And another thing

An aviation correspondent of mine has e-mailed to say that there is another pub, this time called the Admiral Rodney, not far from him, near Martley, in Worcestershire. Probably you could not get that much further from the sea, anywhere!

Other Lord Rodney pubs!

There are several!

  • The Admiral Rodney, 592 Loxley Road, Loxley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S6 6RU; The Admiral Rodney was built during the 1950’s, next to the site of another pub called The Rodney, which was demolished at the time. The pub is named after an old local hero, George Brydges Rodney who as an admiral defeated a Spanish fleet in 1780 and a French fleet at the Battle of the Saints in 1782.
  • Admiral Rodney Hotel, Eatery & Coffee House – Horncastle, LN9 5DX 01507 523131.
  • Admiral Rodney, Wollaton Road, Wollaton, Nottingham, NG82AF: Historically, Admiral Rodney was one of Nelson’s right hand men and a good friend of the owners of Wollaton Hall which is just down the road. Hence the naval name so far from the sea! Inside is open plan with stone floors, wood panelling and a really nice fireplace which is lit during the winter. This genuine pub has avoided loud music, sports and the like, opting to encourage a relaxed, comfortable environment where visitors can enjoy a quality drink or have a tasty meal with friends. We have Cask Marque status which means this is ‘the’ place to come for that choice real ale. The clientele are a good mix of ages with students, professionals and retired people all coming here. Why not see for yourself what a great place this is.
  • The Admiral Rodney Hotel, King Street, Southwell, Nottinghamshire NG25 0EH
  • The Admiral Rodney, Main Street, Calverton, Notts NG14 6FB:  The Inn dates back to the mid 1700’s and is an unmodernised country pub. Named after Admiral Rodney who harvested local oak from this area for his ships and who was subsequently honoured by a pillar which was built on the adjacent hill. Indeed the pub is used as a base for walkers exploring this area to see the pillar and the Breidden Hills.
  • Admiral Rodney, Criggion, Shrewsbury, Wales: The Inn dates back to the mid 1700’s and is an unmodernised country pub. Named after Admiral Rodney who harvested local oak from this area for his ships and who was subsequently honoured by a pillar which was built on the adjacent hill. Indeed the pub is used as a base for walkers exploring this area to see the pillar and the breidden hills.
  • Ye Old Admiral Rodney, New Road, Prestbury, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 4HP.

Trips on the Alison MacGregor

It was the longest day of the year, 20 June, when the Alresford Giles Group monthly outing went out on the Alison MacGregor launch, from Hythe, for a trip around the Solent, which in this case meant around the docks in Southampton and up the River Itchen for a look round there. Despite the rain all morning, which made two with faint hearts drop out, the weather was marvellous, and no-one got wet, even from the spray. The Giles Group (www.GilesGroup.org.uk) is just one of several organisations in Alresford who take advantage of this charity run boat trip, and the Thursday Lunch Club and Ellingham residents have also organised similar trips, using the Town Minibus, which is just the right size, as the Alison MacGregor can only take 12 passengers.

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The Alresford Town Minibus set off early to meet the boat by 2pm, and after a little messing about in the Marina we managed to find a toilet with disabled access, in the Marina Restaurant: many thanks to them for opening up for us specially! Then we set off out of the lock gates, although since the tide was in there was not much change in water level. This made the trip all the better, as we could see more on the docksides – which mainly was taken up with thousands of cars, Minis and Range Rovers, being exported in big car transporters.

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Some of the car transporters being loaded

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Cars awaiting export on Southampton Docks, and a new Hovercraft, which was later that week announced as the latest vessel to be purchased for the Portsmouth to IOW run.

You have to wonder how leaving the EU will affect the traffic in and out of the port – but there were a lot of JCB excavators as well, and JCB were one of the companies supporting the ‘Out’ campaign. Other notable items being prepared for export shipping were several large wind turbine blades, which the skipper described as ‘the last ones made on the Isle of Wight’, as production had been transferred to Norway – or maybe it was Sweden.

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View of the port from Hythe

The commentary from the skipper describing the passing sights was really useful in understanding what we could see: whether it was related to the history of the port, or the old ships now being restored and used for pleasure trips, or the new docks for the large cruise liners – filled that day with yet another car transporter. Apparently these big ships with their multiple decks of cars get unloaded and loaded up again within 24 hours! The new cruise ship embarkation building has the old Calshot Spit light vessel on the rear of the dock: other old restored vessels were also moored around the harbour, and still offer pleasure trips – one example is the Shieldhall sludge boat from Glasgow, now cleaned – and fumigated!

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Everyone enjoyed the trip, and, as a result of all that fresh air, all fell asleep on the Minibus on the way back, except for the driver: we arrived back home in time for tea, well refreshed by an afternoon on the water!

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The Hythe Marina, where the Alison MacGregor is berthed.

Postscript:

This story about the Giles Group trip on the Alison MacGregor around Southampton Docks and Hythe had an interesting follow up! Just as we were returning to Hythe Marina, a very smart “Superyacht” was seen moving up Southampton Water into the Port area, between two tugs.

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The picture I took of this Superyacht, called the “Lady A”, was spotted on FlickR by Charl van Rooy, Editor of the SuperYacht Times: he has now supplied links to two stories that his magazine has published, explaining that this yacht, which is owned by Lord Sugar, had probably just emerged from a 9-month refit and repaint at Burgess Marine, a shipyard in Portchester.

The links are

Obviously when the Lady A passed our launch, it was on a delivery journey after this refit, so that Lord Sugar could collect it, in its new colour scheme. The 55 metre yacht was originally built in 1986.

 

 

 

Alresford Bowling Club

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The latest presentation in the display cabinets in Alresford Library in Broad Street shows some photos and artefacts from the Alresford Bowling Club. The sport of bowling has been active in Alresford since around 1650, around 350 years ago, and it is possibly the second oldest recorded bowling club in the country. The current bowling green on Sun Lane is known to have been in use from 1823. Records suggest that in earlier times the bowling green was on the East of Sun Lane, the opposite side of the road – it was probably relocated to the current site when Langstone House was built in the nineteenth Century.

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The current club was re-formed/established in 1937, through the efforts of Sidney Lane: he had moved to Alresford during the First World War, with the firm of solicitors run by George Ridley Shield. After WW1 he returned to London, but moved back to Alresford on his retirement in 1937. The first members of the re-established club included such people as Canon A J Robertson, Lord Templemore, Sir Anthony Tichborne, Sir Francis Lindley, Doctors Leishman and Meryon, and George Ridley Shield. Cameron Black, the Publican at the Sun Inn, agreed to rent the green to the new bowling club for £10 per annum.

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The 1938 members of the bowling club were shown in the photo below, courtesy of www.alresfordheritage.co.uk, which numbered from the right include: 1. Edgar Blake of the World’s Stores, 2. Canon Robertson, 3. Sidney (Lofty) Lane, 4. George Wigmore (Barber), 5. Claude Hunt (Tobacconist), 7. H C Godwin of Langton’s Farm, 10. Bert Davy, and 14. Mr Bascombe (Postmaster).

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Currently the Alresford Bowling Club has over 70 members, plus 10 non-playing ‘Social’ members. For information and membership details, please contact Barry Morgan, Secretary, Phone 733477 or visit the website, www.alresfordbowlingclub.org.uk.

The display of Alresford Bowling Club items can be viewed in the library during opening hours. These include Saturday morning and all day Friday, as well as half days on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

French graves in Alresford cemetery

At the time of the Napoleonic Wars with France, the naval battles, many in the West Indies, resulted in many French prisoner of war being brought back to England. Most of the lower ranking sailors and soldiers were incarcerated in the ships known as Prison Hulks, moored in Portsmouth harbour. Some of the sailors volunteered to serve on board British ships, rather than being left to rot in these prisons, according to many of the novels of the time.

But the higher ranking officers were allocated to one of the eleven parole towns around Hampshire, one of which was Alresford. The Hampshire History website tells us that they were billeted around the town at what was considered suitable housing. They were allowed certain freedoms but their movements were restricted. They could not venture more than a mile from the centre of town, nor could they go out after dark. Local residents were rewarded for informing upon the prisoners should they break their restrictive conditions. It was in the interests of the prisoners not to break their parole as the alternative was to be incarcerated on the prison hulks that lay in Portsmouth Harbour.

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There are five marked graves in Alresford, opposite the West door of St John’s Church, under the cherry tree and against the wall of the Swan Hotel extension, where some of these soldiers who died in Alresford are buried: all the gravestones have black outlining at the edge, and have black print. In fact one grave is of the wife of a Captain in the Imperial Artillery Corps, who accompanied him on his assignment. The French army did not discourage women from accompanying their lovers and husbands into war. Some found their way onto the battlefield itself and were found wearing uniform jackets and trousers. The grave in Alresford is that of Marie Louise V Fournier, who died 11th April 1812, aged 44 years. She was the wife of Francois Bertet.

 

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The other four prisoners whose graves can be seen are as follows:

  • Joseph Hypolite Riouffe, died 12th December 1810, aged 28 years. Serving as Marine in the Imperial and Royale.

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  • Pierre Garnier, died 31st July 1810. Serving as a Lieutenant in the French Infantry 66th Regiment.

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  • C Lavau, died 23rd December 1811, aged 29 years. An officer of commerce.

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  • Jean de Thiulle, died 6th April 1812, aged 51 years. A Lieutenant in the Artillery.

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The parish registers record further unmarked burials of other prisoners, not all of them Napoleonic soldiers:

  • 1794: St Aubin, a French prisoner on parole.
  • 1796:  July 11th,  Baptiste Guillaume Jousemme, aged 21 years, born in Castillones, a prisoner on parole.
  • 1803:  June 27th, Thomas Monclerc, 42 years, a French servant.
  • 1809:  December 12th, Jean Charbonier, a French prisoner.

A plaque positioned in front of the marked graves above explains the history of the prisoners.

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It also points out the crucifix engraved in the wall above the West entrance to the Church, which is dated at around 1050.

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