Archive for the ‘Community Projects’ Category

From 1896 Methodist Chapel to 2017 Event Space!

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In Autumn 2017, the old Methodist Chapel, in the Dean in Alresford, was re-opened as “White Space Alresford”, an event space for hire in the middle of Alresford. The building has been totally renovated, and now features a single storey 850 square feet of space, with a 6.6m high vaulted ceiling. The space is truly described as a white space, with white walls and arched ceiling, and white light from windows in the roof, as well as the original long thin windows in the East wall facing the street. ‘White space’ is offered for hire as an ideal venue for ceremonies, pop-ups, photoshoots, workshops (for training or product launches) and wellness days. For a conference the room be fitted out with chairs, and tables if needed, to accommodate 26 delegates.

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During the 2016 renovation work at the building, the workmen found a time capsule placed there in 1996, when the last renovation took place. This time capsule incorporated the contents of another, earlier time capsule, installed when the building was originally constructed, which by coincidence was dated March 1896, almost exactly 100 years previously. Holly Budge of White Space Alresford has generously decided that the documents in the capsule should be passed to the Alresford Museum, so that they can be preserved and recorded as an important part of the town’s history.

The Methodist Chapel, 1896

The ‘Primitive Methodist Chapel’, in the Dean, Alresford, was built in 1896. Many current Alresford residents, passing by the front of the building, which is directly against the pavement, will have seen the original 10 foundation stones at the base of the front wall. These were laid by the local notables and officials on Wednesday 11 March in 1896. The Mayor of Winchester, A.R. Dyer, laid the first stone. Other local people who paid for bricks, have their initials engraved in the side of a brick here too, as can be seen on the photographs.

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The builder given the work of erecting the Chapel was H. Mundy, builder and contractor, house decorator and undertaker, of Essex Road, Basingstoke. On some of his headed paper, dated 12 March 1896, four of his builders signed their names and added this to the time capsule they created. Their signatures were interpreted as Fred Mundy, John Willis and Bill Gunner in 1996: a fourth name was not deciphered, but could be “Harvey Bundon”: Victorian writing is hard to read at times, as you can see. The total cost of the original building was £200.

Builders signatures 1896

The newspapers originally interred in a cavity in the wall next to one of the doorways in the Chapel were the Hampshire Chronicle, the Hampshire Observer, published by Warren and Sons, and the “Primitive Methodist World and Sunday School Worker”: all these newspapers cost one (old) penny each. Regrettably the Hampshire Chronicle had been severely attacked by insects.

The copy of the Hampshire Observer tells us that following Mr Dyer, S. Tanner Esq of Avington also laid a stone, followed by other ladies and gentlemen. One was laid by Miss I. Smith on behalf of the orphanage children, in Old Alresford. After these ceremonies there was a public tea in the Town Hall at 5pm (tickets were one shilling each)

The build-up to 1996

By 1964 the building was no longer suitable for worship, and it was sold for £3000 to enable the purchase of further premises in Pound Hill. However, some people attending the 1996 ceremony remembered worshipping there. Alice Alsford, long connected with the NCH in Old Alresford, remembered attending services there, with children from the home. Bobbie Sanderson and her late husband John were actually married in the Chapel.

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The Chapel before the AYA renovation, in 1989

The building was possibly not used immediately, and by 1993 was in a derelict state. It was recognised as a possible site for creating a permanent place for the activities of the Alresford Youth Association, which had been established as a registered charity and legal framework to run the activities of “Tonix”, a meeting room and non-alcoholic bar for teenagers aged 14-18. Tonix had started in East Street in October 1992, in a room rented short term, on the first floor of ‘The Peaceful Home’ pub. This was a successful activity, but when the management committee decided to fund-raise from the public to seek permanent premises, it was necessary to establish the AYA as a registered charity. The AYA was formed with support from the County Youth Service, and many other local organisations including the local Churches, the Chamber of Trade, the Parish Council, Rotary and the Police.

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Renovation, November 95

Tonix was homeless, after vacating rented premises, and after the plan to park a vintage bus acquired for the club on Arlebury Park had been scuppered by the town council – when a planning permission request for electricity and water connections was rejected. So when the Chapel was offered for sale in 1994, further local fund raising efforts in the community, as well as grants from official bodies, enabled the purchase of the building in October 1995, and work to commence on the renovation of the building. Fixed assets reported by the AYA (valued at cost) at the end of 1995 were totalled at £42,300, of which the major part would have been the purchase price of the Methodist Chapel in October 1995.

The 1996 ceremony and their capsule

In 1996 the Alresford Youth Association invited Pat Norris, the Mayor of Winchester, to unveil a new Foundation stone to be built into the wall of the old Methodist Chapel in the Dean, to go alongside the other stones placed there 100 years before.  The photo shows the Mayor accompanied by Sir Peter Ramsbotham (the AYA President), laying the stone.

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Diana Woolridge, chairman of the AYA, later explained the history of the building to the visitors and guests, assembled on the first floor of the Chapel building. The audience included parish and city councillors, members of the local churches, chamber of trade, Rotary and Alresford Pigs, all of whom joined with the community in raising the funds needed to finance the renovations. Grants also came from the County Council. This large space, she explained, would be a large meeting room and event space, while downstairs a lounge, kitchen and office was planned. Tim Churchill explained that the two levels would work separately, with one group downstairs and another upstairs. The original concept of the Tonix coffee bar meeting room would be re-opened downstairs later in the Spring.

The building façade had been preserved and the windows with the original Cathedral tinted glass have been retained – looking much as they did 100 years before. The total purchase and restoration was budgeted to cost a total of £90,000: the building work still in progress at that time was being undertaken by Chamberlain Construction, of Laurel House in Alresford, working to a £45,000 budget. Part of their work was planned to involve the re-interment of the old time capsule, with added information from 1996, including several current local newspapers reporting on the stone laying ceremony, and some National newspapers. Additionally included were the AYA Annual reports to the Charity Commissioners for 1994 and 1995, plus a statement from Chamberlain Construction listing the unit costs of the materials and consumables used in the restoration.

[The above information was distilled down from the documents in the time capsule, such as reports in the Hampshire Chronicle of 15 March 1996, and also the Alton Herald of 22 March 1996, and the annual reports of the AYA charity for 1994 and 1995.

A subsequent story will quote some of the events reported in the 1996 local papers found in the time capsule]

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Alresford Men’s Shed launches!

Heard about Men’s Sheds? It’s the idea that started in Australia*, where ‘Guys’ get together to share skills and launch into doing the things they’ve always wanted to, like repairing broken furniture, making a corner cabinet, re-wiring a lamp – alongside other people who have done it before, and can give a helping hand.

It also gives a social interface away from the home, where you can talk as much as you want, or walk away if it’s a hassle. The idea may be to give your wife some free time, and get out of the house. Beware, there may be some wives getting away from their husbands too, to get those nagging jobs done themselves, with some different advice.

Part of the SHED objective is to provide a Community service, in return for a donation, where little elderly ladies (of Alresford), and others, can get their walkers repaired, and their lamps rewired, or chairs glued.

OK, Commercial over, what about the Alresford Shed?

Alresford Men’s Shed is about to start up! Come and hear the launch plans, the facilities available, not now, maybe not next week, but certainly the ALRESFORD SHED will be OPEN after Christmas! Come and find a use for all the Christmas presents that you might get, particularly if someone else knows what they do.

The Alresford Shed launch meeting is on Thursday 14 December at the ARC, 11am. DO COME ALONG TO HEAR SOME GREAT NEWS and take the opportunity to chat to your fellow potential “Shedders”. Be at the start of it all. Stay till 2ish.

If you do intend coming please let us know as we are planning to provide a simple Ploughman’s Lunch with drinks. Just reply by commenting on this post on the website, see the box below: it will not appear publicly, but the message will get noted, and you added to the list for future info, if you wish.

Find out how to be a part of it

The Alresford Men’s Shed Membership application form will be available for completion on the spot, on 14 December. Or take one away, and visit us at the “SHED” next year.

There are as yet few rules, but there will be more, for basic health and safety.

All are welcome, there are many “Men’s Sheds” that have both male and female members. Bring your own projects, or come and help with others.

There will be an annual membership fee, and maybe an attendance fee to cover tea and coffee and electricity for the microwave and fridge. We don’t believe anyone can work properly without sustenance!

What has happened so far?

Alresford Men’s Shed has applied for Registered Charity status, and start-up funding has been donated by Hampshire County Council and Alresford Pigs Association. Already neighbouring SHEDs are offering us free spare tools and benches and whatever.

Come and listen to what could be created!

*Background: Australia is a country where guys are guys, and that means they need to have a comfortable place to go where they can do their own thing, and do things, and maybe talk a bit. Search for “Mens sheds” on Google (no apostrophe), or go to menssheds.org.uk: this site is English – beware, there are a lot of Irish Shed websites!

Helping the local community

FareShare food distribution

The charity ‘FareShare’ is working with the Tesco store in Alresford to ensure that food that is no longer suitable for sale is distributed around the local community. Basically the food has reached its ‘sell by date’, and is surplus to their requirements. FareShare and Tesco wish to see that this food is not wasted, but distributed to anyone who can make use of it.

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Some of the food recently made available by Tesco

 

Various local community groups have undertaken to distribute the food, according to the FareShare principles: two of the first organisations to sign up in Alresford were the Giles Group and the ADCA, the Alresford & District Community Association. The Giles Group is arranging to distribute the surplus Tesco food that is available on Tuesday mornings, from their ‘Drop-in’ coffee morning held every week in the Community Centre. This operates from 1030 till 12 noon. Any food remaining is then delivered to the Makins Court Common Room, at around 1230. On Fridays, the food available from Tesco is distributed to those who attend the ADCA coffee morning, also held in the Community Centre. Again, any left over at the end of the morning is delivered to makins Court for the residents there.

The Giles Group

The Giles Group was established in Alresford some 23 years ago. The original objective was to provide people in Alresford who had a disability, or a family member with a disability of any form, with a place to go, to discuss problems and find advice from people who had faced similar problems, and could understand their difficulties. The Group acted as a source of information about disability aids, suppliers of equipment, and services, grants and funding available. Nowadays this sort of information is more easily accessible via the internet, but the Group still provides such services, and also acts as a meeting place for the members.

The Giles members also include carers for disabled people, other elderly people who have trouble walking, and also those who are just isolated and need some friendly companionship. We meet together once a month* for an afternoon, in the Community Centre, to exchange ideas and listen to visiting speakers – who often represent organisations that are relevant to those with mobility problems, or the disabled in the town. There is also the weekly coffee morning, in the Community Centre, where the Tesco food is distributed.

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Another week’s food distribution from Tesco, with the Alresford Society salver awarded to the Giles Group for 2018

Problems experienced by the members are collected, and referred to the local Council when relevant: such things as better road crossings, repairs to broken pavements and installation of dropped kerbs have been positive results.  The Group also provides a source for locating mobility aids, fluorescent jackets and items for help around the house. In co-operation with the Alresford Pigs and others, mobility aids like Zimmer frames, wheelchairs, ‘Rollator’ walkers and even mobility scooters are regularly re-cycled amongst the Giles membership.

The Alresford Society award

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Clive and Tessa receiving the Salver Award for 2018 at the Alresford Society AGM

After 23 years working in the town for the disabled, the Giles Group is delighted to have been awarded the Alresford Society’s Silver Salver Award for 2018, in recognition of the assistance provided to the Community over this time. Founder member Tessa Purkiss attended the recent AGM of the Alresford Society to receive the award from their Chairman, Jan Field. Tessa was accompanied by Clive Earthy, a long term member of the Giles Committee, and the current Treasurer. Clive and Tessa stressed that Giles membership is open to anyone who feels they could benefit, and is only run for the benefit of the members – currently 35 in total. New members are always welcome – membership in 2017 was only £15 a year, as the Group receives occasional external support – recently from the NATC and from personal donations.

  • For more information about the Giles Group, please see www.gilesgroup.org.uk . Monthly meetings are held on the second monday in the month, from 2pm to 4pm in the Community Centre.

Community Volunteers – can you help?

For those recently retired, or anyone wishing to volunteer to help the less able-bodied in Alresford, the Giles Group of Alresford is seeking help for one or two days a month, assisting people at their meetings or on their Minibus outings. The group (www.gilesgroup.org.uk) organises a monthly talk in the Community Centre, and a monthly outing in the town Minibus, for old, infirm or otherwise disabled/lonely people in the town.

The current organisers are also getting old, and need some help in shepherding the visitors onto the Minibus, handing out teas, organising tables and chairs, fastening seat belts etc. The meetings are held on the second Monday in the month, in the afternoon, and the Minibus trips, to a garden centre, or a market, or a café on the coast (in the good weather) are on the third Monday in the month, again in the afternoon.

The Giles Group has around 35 members, with maybe 30 attending the meetings regularly, and 13 is the minibus capacity for the outings. Volunteer drivers are already available driving the bus, both to collect people for the meeting in the Community Centre, and on the outings.

If you would be able to help, please come along and see what we do, what help is needed, and how such events can be so useful for the Community. Or call Nick on 734824, with any questions!  Thankyou

Old Alresford Revived – the 1977 Jubilee Exhibition

The Alresford Museum is delighted to have received the collection of documents and photos that were used in the 1977 Silver Jubilee exhibition held in Old Alresford. These items were assembled and displayed by Mrs Pru Randall, in The Forge, in Old Alresford, and Mrs Randall has now donated them to the Alresford Museum for safe keeping.

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The Old Forge in 2017

The display presented at the Forge was entitled “Old Alresford Revived”, and was an exhibition showing records and objects from Village Life through the Years. It ran from 6th to 11th June, all week, and then re-opened for one day on Saturday 18th June, 1977.

Winchester City Council and Verena Pegg supplied and described some of the ancient exhibits, like Saxon and Roman Pottery, Neolithic flints, and lethal looking animal traps. Colin Priestley produced the prints of the various photographs on display, and John Howard penned the labels and notices explaining each item. Others of the Old Alresford community rallied round to help, and put on a good display.

Other notable items included Mr Broad’s collection of Hampshire Chronicle cuttings about Old Alresford. There were Farm and Smithy tools, a collection of old bottles, and various clay pipes and other bits dug up in various back gardens. The documents that hopefully will be added to this website shortly include an account of events on Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887, and a history of the Church and Old Alresford Place.

The Old Forge

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The Old Forge is the long low building on the road, next to Forge Cottage

The Exhibition was held at the Old Forge building, which was apparently in the course of renovation: it is now converted into a home. Presumably it was owned at the time by Mrs Randall. The sheet describing the event had a history of the Forge on the back page, as follows (written 1977):

“The building consists of a single storey approx. 43 feet from front to back by 16 feet wide, constructed of brick with a tiled roof and two large wooden doors at the front. It measures approx. 8 feet 6 to the eaves and 16 feet to the single ridge. Boarding over the rafters creates a second floor over the front section, which can be reached via a removable step-ladder.

DSCN5413The two forges still existed there, the one nearest the front having a set of leather, hand-operated bellows in working order, connected to the tuyere (the pipe through which air is forced into the furnace). The other is at the rear. Air was supplied to this forge by a fan with an extended shaft, to which was fitted a belt-driven pulley. The bottom halves of plummer block bearings still remain on the roof trusses, along the southern side of the building. These indicate that a line of shafting existed.

There is an old engine buried in the garden, and it might be reasonably surmised that this engine drove shafting that was connected by belts to drive the pulleys upon machinery, such as drilling and grinding machines on the bench below.

A place for the fitting of wrought iron tyres to wooden wheels exists in the grounds of the south side of the building. This consists of a wrought circular plate 5 feet 8 inches in diameter, 1” thick.

Mr Rampton was blacksmith at Old Alresford in the late 19th century. He was assisted by Jack Cousins, who lived at Prospect Cottages nearby, and George Trebick, who became the Smith at the Forge in Herriard.”

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Prospect Cottage, on the corner of Kiln Lane, occupied by Jack Cousins at the time

More stories

More stories will follow, from this Exhibition, but a really comprehensive review of Old Alresford history was published by Arthur Stowell, in his booklet “Tales of Old Alresford”, published 2004 by the Alresford Hist and Lit Society.

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Muck For Sale!

Once again Alresford Young Farmers are delivering well rotted muck from a local beef farm, high in potassium and phosphates, that are crucial for growing healthy plants.

Muck will be delivered in a large tractor on Sunday 19 February, between 0900 and 1400.

Price is £3/bag, £5/barrow load, all delivered to your door in and around Alresford. Larger quantities can be made available….

Half the proceeds go to the Alresford YFC, the other half to the YFC chosen charity for 2017: the Murray Parish Trust.

Order in advance please by phone to 0753 119 3468, or email to alres.hantsyfc@gmail.com

The story of Hambone Junior

Iris Crowfoot is another local collector of memories and stories about Alresford and the surrounding district. Her interest started as a project to learn more about Hambone Junior, the dog that was adopted by the US Forces based in Alresford in WW2. In doing this Iris has collected many wartime memories from local people, and other people too: these are published for all to read, on her website, www.HamboneJunior.com. There are a lot of interesting accounts on there, well worth reading!

In the February issue of the Alresford Forum, Iris presented a summary of the history pieced together so far about Hambone Junior, which is based on highlights from all her different stories. If the Forum story presented here interests you, you will find the longer accounts on her HamboneJunior.com website really fascinating!

From the Alresford Forum of February 2017:

“I often walk by Hambone Junior’s grave. Situated on a peaceful bank beside a sparkling trout stream in Alresford, sometimes it’s decorated with wildflowers by children on their way home from the park, and other times by a rubber ball dropped by a dog-walker. Poppies are placed there on Remembrance Sunday, to honour the memory of Hambone and his friends in the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Division, US Army. It makes me wonder what the American soldiers actually did whilst they were in Alresford in May 1944 and how poor Hambone met his end.

By interviewing local people and researching the archives, I’ve discovered that Hambone was a ‘brown and white scruffy little terrier’ who lived in a World War II army camp in The Dene, Alresford, where Valdean Park is sited today. The 9th Division were the US Army’s experts in amphibious warfare: they had already invaded the beaches of Morocco and Sicily before they reached Alresford in November 1943. They certainly made the most of the town’s watery landscape as they prepared for the biggest amphibious operation ever attempted – the allied invasion of Normandy. The railway station clattered with steam trains delivering tanks and amphibious vehicles with aquatic names like the Water Buffalo (a tracked landing vehicle) and the Duck (a 6×6 wheeled armoured truck). The shop windows rattled in West Street as the GIs drove them down to the camp. And Hambone would have added to the racket by barking as he ran around the busy men servicing and waterproofing the vehicles.

Not all the soldiers were expert mechanics. Sergeant Eddie Knasel’s son told me, ‘It was almost unbelievable, to think of Dad in the Ordnance Corps – he just wasn’t a practical person. He couldn’t even change the oil in the car when we were growing up!’ Nevertheless, Kentucky-born Eddie supervised a team of GIs who maintained Sherman tanks in The Dene. He was 24 at the time, a bit older than most, and had completed more of his education before being called up – perhaps that was why he was given more responsibility.

The soldiers dammed the River Arle where it crosses Drove Lane, to create a pool. Then they drove the Water Buffalo and Ducks up the medieval sheep track to test their waterproofing by splashing through the pool. A landing stage was built and whole platoons practiced getting out of a landing craft and wading through the river to the other side (I hope Hambone liked swimming). Godfrey Andrews remembers that the banks of the river were lined with sandbags when he swam near here as a child, just after the war.

The Americans made friends with local people, and their kindness is still remembered a lifetime later. Les Harness, of Grange Park, Northington, was a regular visitor to the camp, collecting their kitchen leftovers to feed his hogs. A mess meal for a GI looked like almost a week’s worth of rations to the British and I’ve read that people were horrified when they saw the Americans stub out their cigarettes on leftover food on their plates. But Hambone Junior’s comrades were generous, even helping Les with his petrol ration when they spent three weeks away from Alresford training under canvas, so that he could carry on collecting the waste food for his pigs.

Disaster struck as the soldiers mobilised for the invasion. Hambone was accidentally run over by a ‘Deuce-and-a-half’ (two and a half ton) truck. The men were very upset by this, but it gave Les the opportunity to repay their generosity by giving them a puppy which had recently been born at The Grange. They named the pup ‘Spider’ and took him with them when they marched down to Southampton in June 1944. The 47th Infantry Regiment landed on Utah Beach on ‘D-Day + 4’ and fought their way home through northern France, Belgium and Germany.

Hambone’s grave was originally marked by a wooden cross. By 1962, it had rotted away and the Alresford community replaced it with a memorial stone, which was unveiled by the American Vice Consul in Southampton. In 1994, some of the original GIs returned to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in an event held in Broad Street, Alresford. They did not forget their faithful friend. Tucked away in a manila folder in the Hampshire Record Office, I found an archive photo of two old comrades placing a wreath on Hambone’s grave. A bunch of flowers was also left with the note, ‘I still remember you, Bill.’

I have not managed to find anyone who still remembers Bill … yet. If you once knew Hambone and Bill, or would like to share other memories of Hampshire during this special time, I’d love to hear from you.”

If you can add to Iris’s collection of memories about Hambone Junior, then please contact Iris either through her website, or by email.