How to stay safe at home….

You always feel safe at home. Maybe you get your gas boiler serviced regularly, maybe you have smoke detectors, with new batteries fitted regularly? Above all you get competent professionals to install your new cooker, and also the new gas hob in the kitchen.

When was that done, when was your gas supply system checked? If you were in rented accommodation, the landlord is legally obliged to have it checked every year. But if you own your own home, there’s no obligation to have anything checked on a regular basis. Even if you have lived there 30 years. But things can go wrong.

Take your own precautions

Yes I did that. I installed a carbon monoxide alarm system, alongside the smoke detector, to check whether the gas boiler flue had been blocked, and CO was building up in the boiler area. I installed a flammable gas alarm to monitor the kitchen, in case a gas ring was inadvertently not switched off, or had a fault. Not expensive, maybe £30 each.

For many years the flammable gas alarm worked fine – in other words it just sat there, and never said a word. Then it started going off, whenever there was any wine added to the stew on the hob, whenever there was any bread dough rising in a low oven, and whenever the windows were sprayed with a solvent cleaner. Eventually the alarm started going off so often – for example when the kettle boiled and steam was seen rising past the detector, that this was the final straw. It must be worn out, or faulty, it is just giving too many false alarms. So the gas detector was discarded.

Smart metering

OK I’m a real geek, I like the idea of monitoring the gas and electricity consumption, so readily joined in the offer for Scottish Power to install new “Smart” meters free of charge. Its part of a Government scheme, but means the meter readers don’t trample all over your home. That is the real benefit.

Meters installed aok, but just the final safety test – oh dear, there seems to be a slow gas leak somewhere in your system, its not major, but it falls outside permitted levels. Now I have to call out a ‘Gas Safe’ engineer to check the system, and have to pay for that (!) .

You know the problem, for the first two appointments no-one turns up. For the third, he is called away for urgent safety checks on a tower block, otherwise the tenants will all need to be evacuated. Finally, Saturday afternoon, I get an engineer to visit: this is Simon from JPS Plumbing and Heating in Winchester.

A hob problem

Simon very quickly locates the area of the problem, it’s in the supply to the ten year old gas hob. If the leak is in the hob itself, it would not be economical to repair. There are only two joints underneath to check, so Simon lies upside down in the oven space to feel the state of each one. Now the leak checks show the leak rate is smaller, and within the allowable tolerance – only a sixth of what can be permitted.

He is actually surprised to have made such a difference, compared to the initial leak test, so re-checks the joints. Now the supply pipework where it joins to the hob falls away completely. The steel 90 degree bend feeding the hob has sheared off between the thread holding the pipework and the bend. Although this newly created ‘nut’ unscrews, it immediately falls apart in two halves, in what could be described as a brittle fracture.

DSCN6161

This is supposed to be a 90 angle steel union. The thread holds the fitting on the copper pipe down onto the blue looking seal. The whole thread has cracked off, maybe its a very short length of thread, but it was not strong enough to take the stud fitting on the hob.

DSCN6166

Side view of the fitting, where the hob would be above. The cracks and failures are obvious.

The photos above show the union, with its broken thread, and the crack around the pipe, which had obviously been growing, and leaking, over the years. The false alarms the gas detector had given were just saying “Whatever else you are doing, its made the gas that’s leaking exceed the thresh-hold to trip my alarm”. Even the steam from the kettle was just making the gas rise faster on a route past the detector.

It would seem the elbow had been twisted too tight onto the hob, necessary to get the entry angle for the supply pipe to fit in the right direction. Maybe it was pulled too far on installation?  Or the sealing washer (the blue bit) was not flexible/compressible enough?

Lessons learned….

That union could have failed catastrophically, at any time, but maybe in the middle of the night, and filled up the kitchen with gas. When the boiler ignited at 7am, it would have had a willing flame ready to set off a really big bang.

Listen to your alarm sensors, and don’t ignore persistent false alarms! Buy a new sensor if the old one seems to be getting unreliable.

Get your gas supply around the house checked regularly – how do you know that even a properly installed hob – like we believed ours was – has not developed a fault, over 10 years?

Call a reputable plumber, a Gas Safe engineer who knows what he’s doing, like Simon from JPS Plumbing! Don’t just use a guy down the road who’s installed a few gas fires….

Postscript – the Hob itself

It is very likely that the 90 degree bend in steel that failed was supplied as an integral part of the hob itself, and not as a component by the original gas installation engineer. The hob was a PROline PGH460GL-U black glass top hob, with four burners, purchased via Currys. ProLine is reported by UKwhitegoods.co.uk as a trading name/brand owned by the retailer Comet, who sourced Eastern European or Chinese domestic appliances at the lower end of the market, and sold these via many other retail outlets. Particularly after the break-up of Kingfisher Group and transfer of the Comet business to Kesa, the quality of their product supply was not good.  The products were also still sold through the Darty chain of shops in France. This was apparently from 2006 onwards: the manual that came with this hob is dated 2007 and was originated by Kesa in Hull. PROline products are no longer sold, the business has closed.

$_86

A ProLine gas hob of the PGH460GL-U type described here

Photos of local villages

Old Alresford

A collection of photos of Old Alresford is available in the FlickR album on webpage www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/albums/72157678155397343. This includes pics from the Old Alresford Village Fair in June 2017, as well as a few from 1988. The 2017 pics are summarised below.

Old Alresford Village Fair 2017

Itchen Abbas

I wanted to take some pics of the Edward Grey cottage site in Itchen Abbas, so went for a walk round the area, including the Church and the village school, which I had never found before, while my wife enjoyed some Zumba in the Village Hall. These pics are in the album on www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/albums/72157685001511695 These photos were taken April 7 this year.

34469178523_fda5cd5d46_k

Winchester

There’s another little place near Alresford, called Winchester. Many trips there produced various pics, some better than others! The architectural photos, taken in January 2017, were inspired by the “Look Up!” book about the history of all the buildings, which was a Christmas present. I must add some older ones from the previous few years next.

The web album reference is www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/albums/72157682047854913/with/34766840213/

34766840213_38c696f030_k

Pigs Duck Race photos

The 2017 Alresford Pigs Duck Race was held last Sunday thanks to the generosity of George and Janette Hollingbery and family, at the Weir House in Old Alresford. It was a scorching day, so as ever the Pigs worked hard to gather lots of Gazebos to provide as much shelter as possible on the lawn by the river.

The whole event was basically a great big party, with entertainment from the Alresford Ukulele Band, the Duck Racing, Tombola and Scalextrics car racing stands, plus a Bouncy Castle for the kids. And a bar for the Dads, because it was Father’s Day after all.

It was a lot of work, but a good way to thank the Community for their support to the Pigs Charity over the last two years. You can see the Pigs at work in the photos below, but this was of course before the bar opened……

DSCN6057small

DSCN6059small

Being Father’s Day, the kids were still working….

DSCN6062small

But the lawn looked pretty full up with Gazebos for shelter

DSCN6058small

and chairs everywhere.

DSCN6068small

The Ukulele Band started up, with help….

DSCN6073small

Although the Dads were going strong

DSCN6074small

And the audience liked it

DSCN6077small

Some people did the 10k run, and then had a beer, , which was maybe a bit too much on a hot day…..

DSCN6078small

The rest enjoyed themselves, and the band, and the ice cream.

DSCN6087small

Placing a bet for the first time is a big thing, so you need help from an older sister, or friend.

DSCN6088small

But you have to make your own decision.

DSCN6089small

That decision is a bit more difficult the older you get….

DSCN6105small

But it doesn’t look like the bookies know much about it all

DSCN6103small

Well, the Ducks have set off, in a crowd.

DSCN6113small

Most seem to be wanting to go backwards…

DSCN6110small

But one has been seen going forwards, backwards.

DSCN6109small

There they go.

DSCN6093small

Even if you don’t care about the races, it is still a good day…..

If you know someone who might qualify for help from the local community funds donated to the Alresford Pigs, please contact us and tell us about them. We support those in the Community who need help, that the community would wish to support. We have been operating for over 40 years, and raise over £10,000 a year, which is all used to help the community.

 

History of Tiffin Tea Rooms

A story reported on the Francis Frith (vintage postcard suppliers) website came from a Rodney James, who was born on West Street in Alresford.

In 2007 he wrote to Frith about one of their postcards of Alresford, talking about the building at number 50 West Street (the original Tiffin Tea rooms building), which is where he was born. In those days it was a bakers and confectioners known as the ‘Black and White Bakery’, actually owned by a Mr White. Rodney’s father, presumably Mr James, was the baker there, and they lived with his wife and family (Rodney) ‘on the premises’ in the flat above the shop.  The bake-house was through the broad alleyway entrance to the right (labelled as Bakehouse Yard in the photo below): the ovens were wood (oak) fired and there was a large well in the yard which supplied the water – this well, or spring is still (2017) visible in the courtyard behind Tiffin Tea Rooms.

DSCN5824x.jpg

Tiffin Tea Rooms, as seen in 2017

Rodney comments that the shop next door, down towards The Dean, was a general grocer when he was a youngster: this was number 52, later occupied by Design Realities, which relatively recently moved further up West Street, and Tiffin Tea Rooms expanded from the small shop where Rodney had lived, adding the premises at number 52. This became the Tea Rooms, and the original building, where Rodney had lived, became the chocolates and ice cream sales section of Tiffin, no longer using the upstairs rooms for serving the tea.

8373651519_37436a8623_o    8374722454_c29522dff7_o

 

The photos above show the Tiffin Tea Rooms as they were in 1986, and some of the girls looking out of the tea room window upstairs, during the Carnival procession in 1988.

Rodney also remembers the Café on the corner, owned by the Chalke family (he remembers their daughter Susan well). Opposite, across the road from the bakery was the garage owned by Mr C Hankin.

 

Bluebell trail at Hinton Ampner

The Bluebell trail through the woods in the National Trust Hinton Ampner Estate, south of Hinton Ampner House, offer a delightful walk in Springtime. The Trust shop can provide maps of the walk, some 4 miles long, and certainly this year the bluebells have been showing themselves off very well.

Pictures below are from 22nd April 2017.DSCN5682

DSCN5668

DSCN5677

DSCN5680

DSCN5683

And here is a copy of the map:

1432488406388-mapduttonestatewalkathintonampner.jpg.jpg

You might also see:

DSCN5696xx.jpg

Even if you are only driving to Winchester shopping, or on the 64 bus, just look to the left just after joining the A31 dual carriageway: at the top of the first rise the woods on the left of the road are carpeted with bluebells too!

Etchmasters of Alresford

Who can tell us about working at Etchmasters of Alresford, in Prospect Road? If you have some memories of working there, let us know! Their pictures were mentioned in an earlier post, on Alresford exporters.

Many of the Etchmaster pictures are regrettably to be found regularly in the shop at the tip, not far from where they were created of course. The Alresford Museum does not want to buy these, particularly at tip prices, as one or two are enough!

Museum Donations

However, imagine my face when my aging sister-in-law proudly brought back two Etchmaster pictures from the USA, in her luggage, for me to keep, or put in the Museum! One is an imitation of the Haywain, by John Constable, where moisture has penetrated the varnish particularly in the clouds. It is actually very well drawn, and signed by J.R.Hurley. You never know this might be Liz’s Dad. There’s a number 92 on the back, but this could surely not be a date, as I thought they were produced in the 60s and 70s.

DSCN5606

The second one is a pub scene, which seems to represent a coach stopping at “The Marquis of Granby” public house and coach stop. This version of the Pubs of that name was part of a “Nalder & Collyers” chain – anyone know where this one was? The N&C brewery started in 1586 in the High Street in Croydon. There were pubs named like this, said to have been started by soldiers returning from the Seven Years War after serving under the Marquis (in 1762 approx) in Esher, Epsom, Sompting (Sussex), Weymouth, Wellingore (Lincs), Lincoln, Sleaford (Lincs), and Sunniside (Gateshead) to mention a few of those still active. The drawing seems to have been created by Sue Sturgess, and might even have a date shown – 1974. The coach in the picture is labelled Epsom – Box-Hill, so maybe this pub was indeed in Epsom?

DSCN5605

Stainless Steel Etching

Much more interesting was the last picture to emerge from her suitcases, and this was possibly a picture we bought as a present for her in the 1980s, after arriving in Alresford. The picture is of Broad Street, Alresford and labelled as such. There is no makers mark, but the artist signature is that of Bob Morris.

DSCN5604

With identifiable names shown of Hunters Wine Bar and Pennywise (re-cycled clothes), the picture is probably from the late 1980s. Does anyone know who produced these, and were they made in Alresford too? The picture, with no cars, is very much imaginative, since it was only on Christmas morning that there were likely to be no cars at all parked in Broad Street. Maybe that explains the apparently imaginative cobbled appearance of Broad Street and the parking areas. But it does show the scrawny trees of that time, without metal grilles.

Is Bob Morris known to anyone? The ones on Google do not look right!

New display features town celebrities and businesses

The Alresford Museum display in the Broad Street library has been updated, to add two new items relating to Alresford businesses, two relating to major Alresford celebrities and two versions of an 18th Century Alresford Policeman’s truncheon!

The very ornate saddle, for a horse, was made by Alresford Saddlers of 16 West Street: it is an example of the local trade in skins and leather that developed around the tannery on Mill Hill. Alresford Saddlers was in 16 West Street, now Suzy Watson Designs, and was next door to Lex Leathers, who were still to be found at 18 West Street in the 1965. See the story about Lawrence Wright and his Alresford drawings.

Next is a rather plain box, which is a laundry box, used by the Weir Laundry to deliver cleaned and pressed washing back to the owners. Presumably this would have been a daily service. The Weir Laundry was believed to be housed in the Weir Mill building, later called the Arle Mill, situated alongside the lane linking Mill Hill to the Weir House, in 1900-1920. A photo can be seen of the staff at the Weir House laundry in 1904, on AlresfordHeritage.co.uk, and other photos on that site show the laundry buildings.

The display in the library cabinet also still features some dolls and soft toys from the Alresford Crafts collection featured in the Museum.

Alresford Celebrity – Lord  Rodney

DSCN3888A major Alresford Celebrity was George Brydges Rodney, who was born in 1718 and brought up by his Godfather George Brydges of Avington Park. As the Royal Naval Captain of the 60 gun “Eagle” at the Battle of Finisterre, he captured many Spanish ships, and won £8000 in prize money. With this he bought land next to Old Alresford Church, and built Old Alresford House.

Later as an Admiral, in the West Indies in 1780 he was very successful against the French, using the tactic of splitting the enemy’s line of ships – a tactic later copied and used by Nelson at Trafalgar.

He retired to Old Alresford House, and died there in 1791. But throughout the latter C18th he was the naval hero that everyone in Britain knew. There are still 7 pubs all across England named “The Lord Rodney”.

DSCN5602These Alresford Museum items date from that period, and are a mock Chinese bowl, inscribed “Rodney For Ever” – in tribute to Rodney – and a Beeswax portrait of him, which was the fashionable method of presenting portraits as 3D images at that time – and the technique is still used in Mme Tussauds!

C20th Celebrity – J Ridley Shield

The silver salver on display was made by Heming & Co, in London, and was presented to J. Ridley Shield in recognition of his many years of service (1906 – 1953) as Clerk of the Court at Alresford Petty Sessions.

 

J Ridley Shield, a Solicitor, was a prominent local figure, the first Chairman of the Town Trust in 1890, and first President of the Alresford Bowls Club. It is hoped to add a photo of Mr Shield to the display at some future date.

Two Truncheons

DSCN5603The Alresford Museum has two Batons, or Truncheons, items which were used by the Police Constables in the town in the 1800s. Both carry the Alresford town crest, which denotes that the Policeman was authorised by the town elders.

One is authentic, ie Victorian, the other is a modern reproduction, made in 1987 by AHW – his exact name is unknown. If you can let us know who it was, please do so! Weighing 300/400 grammes, they are fairly effective weapons…..

Maybe not as big as the town Bailiff and Burgesses Maces, also shown in the cabinet!