Archive for the ‘Local people’ Category

The Community Centre and Parking!

The name proposed for the settlement on the South side of the River Arle was originally “Newmarket” – as the Bishops of the time, planned the town as a marketplace, where people would visit to trade and buy goods. That was Bishop De Lucy, I believe. But the people who established the new settlement mainly came from the village on the north bank, now called Old Alresford. They therefore felt that a better name would be “New Alresford”, and adopted that instead. Action by popular demand, even in the C11th! It was almost democracy.

The town has thrived on its large market, in Broad Street, still maintained today by the Town Trust. But the traders and restaurants and shopkeepers of Alresford have perpetuated the approach, and Alresford today is known as a good place to go to, to visit and buy things, where visitors are welcomed, and parking is free.

Indeed the old statutes of the Bailiffs and Burgesses that ran the town until 1890 have been passed down to the NATT, the Town Trust, who own the rights to the parking and activities in the market area, ie Broad Street. So if parking fees were ever introduced, any revenues generated would probably go to the Town Trust.

The modern view

In 2018 the whole idea seems to be turning itself on its head. The traders in the town continue to rely on visitors arriving, these days, in their cars. There are shops to provide services to many sections of society, and with parking available they can ensure a short walk to the destination, short enough to carry possibly heavy shopping back to the car. Many OAPs rely on this for groceries, meat and fish, producing heavy shopping bags. Ladies in high heels can visit the boutiques and dress shops, and then have a coffee nearby. The car parks at the station and at Perins are well used, and no distance.

Surprisingly the car park at the ARC, up Pound Hill, is really not well used, and has many spaces during the week. The town plan, driven by the NATC, is investing millions in a new car park in the Dean, knocking down three factories, but the spaces will probably be mostly used by the residents of the new McCarthy and Stone retirement flats that are probably financing the whole thing. Meanwhile all the traders in the town park their cars in the spaces they would like their potential customers to use, in the town centre. When the Traffic Warden arrives they miraculously shift their cars to the station car park or similar.

Even more recent events

I hesitate to be too biased in commenting about controversial things, but I don’t drive an SUV, and my car easily fits into a standard parking place.

Driving around any town, you see spaces marked out with white lines, identified as disabled spaces. You know that this is near a place where disabled people have to alight safely, and you do not block these spaces, unless you are sitting in the car, able to move it if the space is needed. These are not legally designated disabled bays: but it is requesting your co-operation as a responsible member of society.

So we come to the two spaces marked as disabled outside the Community Centre. These are useful to the town, as they are also outside the banks that remain, and drivers can use them for 5 minutes while visiting the bank, particularly if they leave the car supervised. They are “Drop-off” points.

The Community Centre is one of the jewels of Alresford. It provides a meeting point, and a rest centre, for residents visiting the shops, and the parking spaces provide a pick up point for shopping bags, once the shopping is finished. This can be seen every Friday morning, when the town Minibus brings around 30 OAPs and mobility-challenged people into town for a weekly shop. They visit the Banks, Tesco, the Pet Shop, the butchers and the chemists. Plus the greengrocers, the library and the card shops/gift shops. The more affluent visit Heidi’s and the Age Concern charity shop. It is unlikely many of them visit Fitique – maybe the session times don’t match.

The Chamber of Commerce

It then appears that leading members of the Chamber of Commerce, the successors of course to the Bailiffs and Burgesses that ran the town until the 1890s, but the various Acts of Parliament took away their powers, took exception to the Town Minibus that reserved two disabled spaces on a Friday morning, for at most 4 hours. They felt this was preventing custom for their businesses, and say many businesses agreed. Which ones do not benefit, one wonders, from the 30 OAPs that come in in those four hours to spend their money? Four hours, two spaces, with a parking max time of two hours – that means four cars could have driven into town and spent their money, contrasted with the 30 pensioners who did come.

It is my opinion that the benefit resulting from four SUVs, spending their money in sessions in Fitique or the various boutiques and coffee shops, would not meet the benefit to the town’s shops from the 30 OAPs. But if it takes 30 cars to come into town, to deliver these pensioners, separately, and block the roads while discharging and collecting them, then I am prepared to arrange it.

The NATC and HCC response

It seems that HCC has been quick to respond, and is circulating suggestions that it should start to charge for parking in the town, covering all parking spaces. Worse still for the traders, they would propose a residents parking pass system that would charge peanuts for residents to park in the town, and block the parking spaces that seem so important to the Chamber of Commerce, that they are prepared to go to the extreme of proposing banning the town minibus from the town centre.

Overall, the town is descending into selfish, suicidal madness!

Nick Denbow

  • Any opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author alone.

2002 Golden Jubilee in Alresford

Just over 15 years ago Alresford celebrated the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, 50 years as the reigning monarch, with a procession up West Street and some entertainment in Broad Street. Prominent in this, on the Stage and dressed in Union Jacks, was George Hollingbery and his wife Janette: I’m sure you will recognise George in the photos below, despite – or maybe because of – the unconventional attire.

More important, Maddie Attenborough spent the day taking photos of Alresford people attending the celebrations, and published them later on a CD, copies of which were later sold in aid of the St John’s Centenary Appeal. A copy of this CD was recently passed to the Alresford Museum, and extracts are presented below, to see whether you can spot anyone you know – or even yourself, looking younger and slimmer!

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These collages are much cropped versions of most of the pics on Maddie’s CD, so if you see a pic of yourself and wish to see a full copy of the image let us know! I can see several Alresford Pigs, and a couple of my neighbours, but the award for the best float/display has to go once again to the Alresford Surgery team!

 

 

1980s Taste of Alresford – 3: Fish dishes

……………………..From residents of the time

 

taste of alreThe following are descriptions by Alresford families of their houses/homes, and their lives in the early 1980s, provided to the charity recipe book ‘A Taste of Alresford’, published by Sally March, on behalf of Oxfam. There have already been several extracts from this book published in stories on this website. Most are listed under the “Taste of Alresford” tag, but they include stories about the Hobby Horse, Beresford House, The Cricketer’s Pub and the Golf Course, Fulling Mill, and Anderson’s green-grocers.

The introduction to the book was written by John Arlott, which is also featured in one story, and his life here in the old Sun Inn is described in another AlresfordMemories story.

The authors and their recipes for Fish dishes are as follows – all written in the early 1980s: TO GET THE RECIPES YOU NEED TO BUY THE BOOK!

 

Isabel Sanderson, Country-woman and Historian

…….Also authoress of the “Dwellings in Alresford” booklets.

‘When I was seven, we moved from a farm in Suffolk to Abbotstone Farm, some 2.5 miles from Alresford, and here, with a sister and four brothers, I was brought up. The farmhouse was my home – apart from spells of teaching in Kent and Yorkshire – until 1956. A large rambling farmhouse; a weeping ash tree on the front lawn whose long, trailing branches formed a shadowy green ‘tent’ where many meals were eaten in Summer; a large, walled-in garden where much fruit and vegetables were grown; and a stream that flowed through the farm buildings where we used to paddle and bathe, and where John used to ‘tickle’ trout. Long and tiring days for little legs in the harvest field. All of us at various times used to take the horse and carts to and from the men in the fields, loading sheaves of corn, and unloading at the stack being built in a corner of the field. Masses of food and tea, picnic fashion, where everyone, – men, women, children and often dogs – congregated at the stack for tea. Such was my upbringing.

In 1956, mother and I left the farmhouse and came to live in one of the farm cottages where we made a garden – still a source of much interest and hard work. Later, I started my researches into the history of the surrounding countryside and its dwellings. For the past ten years my researches have been confined to the old market town of New Alresford, and these have been published in a series called ‘Dwellings in Alresford’.

[Editor’s note: and what a fantastic legacy Isabel left in her series of ten volumes, each covering up to 10 dwellings, intricately researched and illustrated, with careful line drawings. I can honestly say Isabel’s collection was one of the things that sparked my interest in photographing the houses of Alresford, which also led to this website]

Recipe: Smoked Haddock – The Abbotstone Way

 

Sandra Hart, Andersons (Fish) shop, 8 West St

Andersons – poultry and game, fishmonger and greengrocer. Some years ago the shop changed hands, but Alresford was so accustomed to ‘Andersons’ that the present tenant, Mr Phillip Gay, reverted to the old name. They stock a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including exotic cumquats and mangoes, lychees and limes. Even better the watercress is fresh from its ‘bed’, the cream from its farm and the trout from Mr Gay’s own ‘stew’. There is local game, hare and rabbit, partridge, pheasant and pigeon, teal and mallard.

The building still belongs to Mrs Rita Blundell of Ropley, the grand-daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Batchelor, who came to Alresford in 1915 and lived over the shop. Their daughter, Mrs Cecil Turner, later managed Crook’s Restaurant, which is now the greengrocery side of the present shop, and her husband ran the other side, called ‘Eureka Fish’ (try saying it to yourself). After the Second World War, rations and regulations made the catering so difficult that the Turners changed the Restaurant into a greengrocers.

Recipes: Herring Pie, and Seasoned Fish Rolls

 

Isabel Liddiard, Copper Coin, 33 Grange Road

Mrs Liddiard has two sons, both of whom are competitive fishermen. They occasionally bring pike home. Pike is a rather dry, and very bony fish, ‘but as pheasant is to chicken, so is pike to cod’. Her two recipes, therefore, are for boned and flaked fish.

[My son Nick (www.catchafish.net) even aged 8 or 9, also used to bring pike home in the 1980s, after fishing trips to the Arle. He told us they were protecting the other fish in the river, and helping the trout fishermen, by removing these big predators. Some were almost as big as he was!]

Recipes: Pike and Prawn au Gratin, and Pike Fish Cakes

 

Mrs Mimi Gedye, c/o Derek Gedye, 5 Broad St

Mr Gedye’s electrical shop is a family business, established over 20 years ago. They sell and repair all domestic appliances, and Mr Gedye’s son, Simon, is an expert on television, video and hi-fi equipment.

Recipe: Salmon Mousse

 

Elizabeth Gore-Langton, Pleasant House, West St

Mrs Gore-Langton’s recipe comes from her home in Orkney. The house was named ‘Skaill’ from the Norse ‘skali’, meaning a hall.

Recipe: Skaill Scallops

 

Joy Brown, 31 Broad Street

Mr Brown is a dental surgeon, President of the Alresford Conservative Association and Chairman of the town’s Twinning Association with Brique Bec in Normandy. He and his wife, Joy, live in one of the lovely Georgian houses in Broad Street, where they cultivate not only a large flower and vegetable garden, but also a vineyard. He writes:

A small walled garden in the centre of a country town in Hampshire proved to bean ideal situation for the planting of fifty vines. The climate is not always the most suitable for wine production in England, and after careful selection, a Huxel Rebe vine grafted to anti Phylloxera was chosen.

After 12 years the vines have become well established and last year’s vendange produced 200lbs of grapes. They require the minimum of care and attention and seem to thrive on chalky soil. Careful pruning in January, a cold and thankless task for which few volunteers ever appear, is generally undertaken in freezing conditions, and a double guyot system of training ensures a neat looking vineyard throughout the year.

An early or late Spring, wet or dry, seems to make little difference, but a hot Summer with plenty of sunshine, extending well into September or October is essential to produce an acceptable and attractive wine. Vines will find their own moisture supply, some roots penetrating to a depth of forty feet, but sun, and plenty of it, makes all the difference.

The grapes must ripen sufficiently to produce a high sugar content and thus a satisfactory level of alcohol. The vendange usually takes place in early November and, contrary to public opinion, treading the grapes is not normally done, although it was a most efficient method of crushing the grapes to break the skin prior to the normal pressing.

The use of a small hand press produces the ‘must’ which is taken to the cellar in demi-johns, and a hock type yeast soon produces a violent fermentation. The wine is racked off and if necessary treated to reduce acidity. ‘Chaptilising’ the wine is optional but is a good excuse for frequent visits to the cellar for the purpose of testing and tasting. A small corking machine simplifies the bottling process, and as a final touch, a well-designed label with the alcohol content, year of growth and name and address of the Vigneron adds a touch of professionalism to the hobby.

Recipe: Salmon Fish Pie

 

John Wootten, The Bodega, Broad Street

The Inyanga mountains are in Zimbabwe on the Mozambique border, and are very like the Scottish Highlands, clear and cool after the hot plains with fast running streams where trout are found. Bright yellow patches of wattle brighten the dark firs and bare hillsides.

However Alresford trout are just as fresh and firm, and this dish would enhance a wedding buffet. Terrines or pates cannot only be prepared 2 or 3 days in advance, but their flavour improves with keeping.

Chef and cookery writer John Wootten and his wife Helen lived for some time in Salisbury Rhodesia (now called Harare in Zimbabwe, hence the name of Inyanga Trout. Another favourite from Mozambique, often served in Zimbabwe, is Piri-Piri, a very hot fish dish which John some rimes cooks for the Bodega restaurant.

This pretty wine bar, in a Queen Anne setting in Broad Street, offers a good cross section of wines, from house wines to vintage clarets and German, French, Italian and Portuguese whites. A favourite is the Chateau Haut Batailley 1976.

Light meals are served in the bar, while conferences, weddings and private functions may be held in the Seville Suite.

Recipe: Terrine of Trout and Salmon

 

Julie Henman, Alresford Young Farmers’ Club

The aims of the YFC are partly to educate and partly to do a certain amount for the community by organising numerous fund-raising events. And, of course, it is largely a social club.

Education in the form of farm visits and talks includes – animal diseases, applying Rentokil on rodents, calf-rearing, First Aid (courtesy of the Red Cross) fly-fishing and the life of a private investigator! The club secretary is Jane Gray.

Recipe: Smoked Trout Cakes and Herb-baked Trout

 

Mrs Elizabeth Davis (nee Stiles), J S Stiles (Ironmongers) Ltd, 11 Broad Street

‘Stiles’ is an old-established County ironmongers, with a wide frontage in an attractive setting in Broad Street. They sell everything for the kitchen and garden – pots and pans, seeds and fertilisers, paint and wallpaper, and all that a handyman needs. Next door there is a china and glass department. They are noted for their wide range of stock, but also for their friendly helpfulness. In rooms above the shop, old exposed beams can still be seen, blackened and burnt in the Great Fire of 1689.

Recipe: Trout with Cream and Chives

 

Jo Gilbertson, 4 Pound Hill

Mr and Mrs Glenn Gilbertson are both dental surgeons. Their surgery at the bottom of Pound Hill was an old cottage and there are still small rooms and narrow staircases leading off narrow corridors. [This would not have been a problem for Jo, not so sure about how Glenn managed – Ed]

Recipe: Celery and Seafood Pancakes

 

The recipes on offer in Part 4 will introduce Meat, Poultry and Game courses

 

1980s Taste of Alresford – 1: Starter dishes

……From residents of the time

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A well used copy of the 1985 Oxfam recipe book

The following are descriptions by Alresford families of their houses/homes, and their lives in the early 1980s, provided to the charity recipe book published by Sally March, on behalf of Oxfam. There have already been several extracts from this book published in stories on this website. Most are listed under the “Taste of Alresford” tag: they include stories about the Hobby Horse, Beresford House, The Cricketer’s Pub and the Golf Course, Fulling Mill, and Anderson’s green-grocers.

The introduction to the book was written by John Arlott, which is also featured in one story, and his life here in the old Sun Inn is described in another AlresfordMemories story.

The authors and their recipe subjects for Starters are as follows – all written in the early 1980s: TO GET THE RECIPES YOU NEED TO BUY THE BOOK!

 

Marjorie Fuller, Villa Kedros, 11 Dover Close

“Mrs Fuller is secretary of the Alresford branch of the Townswomen’s Guild, whose aim is to “Advance the education of women”, and to encourage them to contribute to their own community. Joining TG is a very good way of making friends. There are handicrafts and cookery classes, play-readings and outings, interesting and educational talks.”

Recipe provided: Jellied Hors D’Oeuvres

 

Kitchen Elegance, 34 West Street

Kitchen Elegance specialises in planning, designing and installing fitted kitchens. They are agents for Commodore Kitchens and AEG Kitchen and Laundry Appliances.

Recipe provided: Cheesy Fish Starter

 

Glenys Brundish, 2 Shepherd’s Down

Glenys Brundish’s husband Keith is manager of the Alresford branch of Barclays Bank.

Recipe provided: Mixed Fish Patés

 

Sue Clark, Studley House, Rosebery Road

Mrs Clark is a Research Nursing Sister at Alresford surgery looking into blood pressure. She is married to one of the Group Surgery doctors.

Recipe provided: Fish Paté

 

Ann Wadman, Chestnut House, Dorian Grove

Mrs Wadman is secretary of the Alresford Art Society, which welcomes anyone who is interested to talks on all aspects of the visual arts. Painting, enamelling, book binding and calligraphy are some of the subjects in this present season. Outings to places of interest and theatres are arranged regularly. The society meets on the first Friday of each month.

Recipe provided: Chicken Liver Paté

 

Jo Newbury, The Globe Inn, the Soke

Recipe provided: Stilton Paté

 

Hampshire Watercress Ltd

Mr Raymond Isaac began growing watercress on one acre of land in the 1940s. Today his company, Hampshire Watercress Ltd, with its trade name Vitacress, cultivates more then 50 acres, and is the biggest grower in the UK and possibly the world. They supply most major supermarkets.

Watercress has long been regarded as a natural source of important nutrients, and contains vitamins A and B and Riboflavin, plus mineral salts such as calcium and iron. It is ideal for diets, having only 4 calories per ounce.

If bought as a bunch, wash thoroughly and trim as required, shake off excess water and put in a closed polythene bag, or a container from which air has been excluded. Keep it, and pre-packed cress, in a refrigerator.

             Recipes provided: Tangy Starter, Slimmer’s Special, Stuffed Tomatoes,                 and Egg and Watercress Mousse

 

Jill Shackleton, 24 Arle Gardens

Jill Shackleton is Clerk to New Alresford Parish Council. As its only paid officer she is secretary and archivist, keeping all plans, deeds records, letters, writings etc, and carrying out all functions and duties imposed by statute, regulation or order.

The council’s duties are to provide public open spaces, recreational facilities, street lighting, bus shelters, litter bins, and seats, and to make byelaws. Possibly its most important role, however, is to bring local matters to the notice of the District Council and the Hampshire County Council.

Recipe provided: Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Jane Long, Linnets Cottage, Tichborne Down

Alresford Golf Club (the course is opposite her cottage) was founded in 1890 on downland owned by Sir Joseph Tichborne (of the family of the Greta Tichborne Inheritance case fame), the course was grazed by sheep until 1907.Charles Marks, of Woking Golf Club, was then employed as the first professional greenkeeper, but unfortunately he fell out with Sir Joseph and only stayed for two years.

golf club railway carriage

Thatched and wood clad, this was the Golf course Clubhouse, based round a railway carriage: picture from alresfordheritage.co.uk, and “The History of Alresford Golf Club” by ER Hedges, 1990.

A room at the ‘Cricketer’s’ served as a clubhouse at first (no ladies permitted of course); later, in 1953, a retired railway carriage was placed by the first tee, and used for 16 years. The present Clubhouse on the Cheriton road now serves a membership of over 400 and is a social and sporting centre.

Recipes provided: Mushrooms Provencales, and also Savoury Toasts

 

June Gregory, Grasshoppers, Grange Road

June Gregory has worked hard for Oxfam for many years. Her husband Peter is a partner in a firm of Solicitors whose offices in Broad Street were formerly part of the Old George [Inn]. This In was owned by Winchester College and built for them in about 1420. Twenty years later, in 1439, it was burnt down in one of Alresford’s Great Fires, and not rebuilt until a lease was granted in 1460.

In 424 it was referred to as the ‘St George’. Presumably it was then known colloquially as ‘the Old George’ and that gradually became its proper name.

The Inn was sold by the college to a brewery in 1914. It was then closed on 1st September 1927, after more than 500 years of innkeeping.

Recipe provided: Mushroom Savouries (‘Mock Snails’)

 

Vasanti Rogers, Chalk Hill, New Farm Road

Born of Indian parents in the city of Lucknow, where she spent her childhood, Vasanti studied Manipuri dance at the Vidyodaya School in Madras and was a student at Wellesley Collegeand Columbia University in the USA. She teaches yoga in Alresford and Winchester.

Vasanti is part-owner, with her husband Tom, of the antique shop ‘Rogers of Alresford’. They deal in English pottery, furniture and works of art. They also exhibit at major antiques fairs.

Recipe provided: Indian Spiced Meatballs (Kofra Balls)

Part 2 of 1980s Alresford, covering people who gave recipes for Soups, will follow!

 

 

 

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!

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

A 1914 Description of Alresford

In Pursuit of Spring

Edward Thomas, in 1914, lived in London. That Spring, he decided to journey from his home, down through Guildford, Alresford, Salisbury and on to the Quantocks, on (and with) his bicycle. Whether he cycled all the way is not really clear at all. But his account of this journey was described in his book, “In Pursuit of Spring”. This gives an early account of the towns and villages, “Rich in literary associations and observations”. Robert Frost recognised this book as “A kind of poetry, having the cadences of fine verse”.

What drew me to this book was that Thomas, later a resident of Petersfield, took a camera with him on this journey, and has an interesting picture of the Avenue in Alresford, in 1914, before the older carriage track and path were covered over with grassed areas. Petersfield Museum put on a display of some of these photographs in 2017: the picture of the Alresford Avenue is shown below.

DSCN6006 The Avenue Alresford in 1914

More or less the same view in August 2017, with all the trees in leaf, is shown below. Obviously his original photo is taken from a higher viewpoint, maybe standing on his bicycle!

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Further old pictures, circa 1900, of the Avenue and the various paths and tracks, can be seen in the AlresfordHeritage website collection, in the pages that feature the Avenue. Also the picture below from AlresfordHeritage shows these paths in the early 1900s, near the top of Pound Hill, and what is now the site of the ARC.

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The Edward Thomas account

The book – the copy I have seen – is words only (it has none of his photos), ISBN 0 7045 0423 5, a 1981 reissue by Wildwood House, available from Hampshire Libraries, with an introduction by P J Kavanagh. It describes Farnham, Bentley, Holybourne, Alton and Fourmarks, before arriving in Ropley. The comments about Ropley, and Bishops Sutton, are shown below, before he enters Alresford.

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Then he enters Alresford, ‘sad coloured, but not cold, and very airy’. At least East Street is no longer “sad” in colour! He considered Alresford was “Consisting of one street, plus a side turning, very broad”! The following pages also describe Alresford Pond in the words of George Wither, a poet, who praised the pond for its beauty:

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So, Thomas then goes on to spend pages extolling the virtues of the Norgett family, who lived at Oldhurst. Anyone know where that is, or who they were?

100-101

The next extract sees him leaving Alresford, along the Avenue, where he stops to take a photo, and then he turns right along the Worthies road, but on the pages shown below does not get past Itchen Abbas.

110-111

The pictures

The Edward Thomas photographs, 53 of them, were unearthed by Rob Hudson, a Photographer specialising in landscapes, based in Wales. Rob has published them in his blog, of March 1st 2016, accessible via his website. A couple more are shown below, that might interest local residents.

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Bishop’s Sutton Church, 1914

 

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Getting dark, at Headbourne Worthy, 1914

 

 

Alresford link to the last BA flight into Kuwait in the Gulf War, 1990

Many of you would, like me, probably have listened to the BBC News avidly around the start of the Gulf War, and would have been horrified to hear that normal airline flights had continued arriving in Kuwait as the town was being over-run by Saddam Hussein’s troops. What I did not know at the time was that one of my Alresford neighbours was on that flight!

Clive Earthy is now retired, still living in Alresford, and an active member and organiser of various Clubs and Societies in the town, like the Bowls Club, the Badminton Club, the Petanque Club and the Giles Group. But in 1990 he was a ‘Cabin Services Director’, responsible for the cabin staff on various long-haul BA flights. Arriving in Kuwait that day in August 1990 he was taken hostage by the Iraqi forces, and the crew and the passengers were not returned home until December that year.

Clive has been interviewed for various TV and other documentary reports on this terrifying scenario, and has given talks about his personal experiences at the time to various organisations. In 2012 he gave a talk to the Alresford Historical and Literary Society, which was reported by Robert Fowler, Secretary of the Hist and Lit Society. His summary of the talk by Clive Earthy is presented below:

BA Flight 149 (into Saddam Hussein’s Kuwait)

A personal story by Clive Earthy, ex BA Steward and Cabin Services Officer. As told to the Alresford Historical and Literary Society on June 20th 2012.  Recorded and interpreted by Robert Fowler who has added some comments of his own.

Summary:

This article details the events when Jumbo Jet BA 149 flew into a War Zone in Kuwait and the experiences of the passengers and crew when they were held by the Iraqi Military as ‘Human Shields’.  Clive’s reporting of the events are still covered by the Official Secrets Act, so the reader will have to piece together the missing parts with their own imagination. A 25 year ‘D’ notice was served on all information relating to the incident. What follows here is only a brief record of the events and readers should look elsewhere for greater detail. See ‘Further reading’ at the end of the article.

Background:

After joining British Overseas Airways in 1960 as a catering apprentice, Clive became cabin crew in 1964 working on Boeing 707s and VC10s on long haul flights to North and South America and many other places around the world. After 5 years Clive was promoted to Chief Steward.  When the New Jumbo jets arrived the airline decided that the 400 seat aircraft needed a senior person to manage all the staff working in the passenger cabins. This was Clive’s job, which was given the impressive title of Cabin Services Director. He was responsible for the 18 cabin crew, cabin security; in flight safety; customer relations and Diplomatic services provided at times to the Foreign Office, plus liaison with the Captain on the flight deck.

The Flight

The story starts on the 1st of August 1990 at the time when a border dispute between Iraq and Kuwait came to a head over the ownership of the desert oil fields. All this was public knowledge and was being reported on the main news channels and when Clive arrived at Heathrow to pick up a flight scheduled to travel to Kuala Lumpur, via Kuwait and Madras, the first question he asked was about the latest situation in Kuwait. The airline officials said they would check and report back bearing in mind that some members of the Kuwaiti Royal family and the Defence Minister were listed as passengers.

Half an hour before the official take off time a call came through from BA admin saying some of the Royal Family were not taking the flight. This was not seen as an unusual move because it happens all the time with VIPs and other passengers. Meanwhile the Defence Minister still planned to take the flight and all passengers subsequently boarded. Half an hour before take-off the Foreign Office said that the Iraqi’s were just ‘Sabre Rattling’ and it was OK to fly. With no further negative reports on the situation in Kuwait the Flight Crew boarded BA 149 as normal. The Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo’ (G-AWND) was one of the oldest in BA’s fleet and was due to be replaced with a newer model in the not too distant future. It was no surprise therefore that a technical problem arose with the Auxiliary Power Unit, which is a generator for starting the engines and keeping the air conditioning unit running. This caused a 2 hour delay but the passengers boarded-on for the re-scheduled departure time of 6:15pm.

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This photo of Boeing 747 G-AWND was taken in Toronto by Bob Garrard

Then a message came through on the radio that about 8 late arrival passengers also required to be boarded. These were all young men looking very fit, and were allocated seats at the rear of the aircraft – they were carrying very large cabin bags. Flight Ground Co-ordination said they would Fax the flight documentation for these late arrived passengers whilst the aircraft was in flight, this being normal practice in these circumstances. The only area of difficulty was the ‘Passenger load sheet’ which the ground departure rep said they did not have time to rewrite. (The booking for these men turned out to be a ‘group booking’ placed in Hereford apparently from a military account!)

In response for an update on the situation in Kuwait, BA said that they would report every half hour whilst the plane was in flight. However, the Captain was suspicious and resolved to remain in constant contact with Flight Control. The remainder of the flight towards the Middle East was without incident with the flight crew keeping the passengers occupied with meals and watching videos. Whilst en route, the Air Controllers in other countries were reporting that there not many flights going to Kuwait, they had all been ordered to divert by their Governments: so the Captain contacted Kuwaiti Air Traffic Control 20 minutes before landing to ask for a report. ATC came back and said there was no problem and BA149 was cleared to land. The approach to Kuwait Airport was in darkness – because the Captain was still concerned about the possible situation, he asked to circuit the airport to see if he could see any flashes or explosions, but not observing anything untoward he landed 2 hours late, at 3am local time.

Arrival and incarceration.

Pulling up at one of the large ‘jetties’ the cabin door was opened only to be greeted by a senior uniformed British Army Officer, complete with a cane under his arm, Sandhurst style, and obviously there to meet the VIPs. The 8 young men were first off under the direction of the Army Officer and then the other passengers were all off-loaded into the terminal building, which was uncannily empty. With no Customs or Immigration staff available the crew were away on their mini bus to their Hotel within 20 minutes, having been relieved by the flight and cabin crew due to fly the next leg.  On the way to the Regency Hotel the crew witnessed many large bangs, some frighteningly loud and close. Once in the Hotel the phone rang to advise that BA 149 was still on the ground, the Iraqis had invaded, the runway had been blown up and the control tower knocked out.  The 367 passengers from London were placed in other local hotels packed at 20 people to a room, so the crews got together and organised transport to the Regency Hotel which although full, had better facilities.

In the morning at breakfast 40 tanks could be seen outside the Hotel with numerous soldiers ‘digging in’, it was apparent that the Iraqis were in control. Met by a Iraqi Colonel the crew were informed that “Kuwait now belongs to Iraq”, but don’t worry chaps! There was good cause to worry; there were 200 Iraqi soldiers on the roof!

The next week

However, the borders were still open according to the TV news channels and because the next 7 days of conflict were in stalemate, the crew decided to go out and find buses and other vehicles to transport everyone to the Saudi border some 40 miles away. So they phoned the British Embassy in Kuwait and asked to see the Ambassador. Taken across the city in an Iraqi Land Rover they sought help from the Embassy staff to get the crew and passengers over the border and to be met by the Saudi’s, with food/water/transport assistance. Surprisingly the Ambassador refused to give any help, saying the situation would calm down and the troubles would blow over. As readers will know this didn’t happen and 10 days later all the passengers and crew were ordered out of the Hotel to unknown destinations. Travelling overnight in groups of 12, with friends and groups separated due to a chaotic process based on random personnel selection from a pile of passports, the people from BA 149 were scattered around Kuwait in strategic positions as ‘Human Shields’.

Clive was taken with 5 other men and 6 females to the main Port and ushered into a 2 bed bungalow recently looted and comprehensively defaced by the Iraqi Soldiers. There were no beds and there was no alternative to sleeping on the floor. The 6 females were allocated one bedroom to themselves while the men had the other. Placed under 24 hour guard Clive and his fellow hostages lived for 6 days and nights with only a spoonful of rice each per day.

Some luxuries arrived on the 6th day when mattresses were delivered and the diet supplemented by Pomegranates. This lifestyle continued until after 30 days a Colonel arrived to give permission for all the women and children to be sent home via Baghdad. The men had to endure another 90 days in captivity with some time spent at Iraqi military targets in difficult conditions.

Editor’s note: Separately, Clive mentioned to me their difficulties when having to negotiate, or beg, for food from their Iraqi captors. At one point they were given a large leg of meat, which they eventually identified as from a Giraffe – basically because the leg was 9 feet long. This was a vital source of food for their stews, as they, and the Iraqi troops guarding them, had very little food. When Clive returned to work later, on a flight to Los Angeles, which had originated in Kuwait, he was briefed to introduce himself to one passenger who was a Director of the Kuwait zoo. He recounted this story, and the passenger burst into tears. He had looked after the single giraffe for many years, and his name was George – he had been one of his favourite animals in the zoo. The Iraqis had killed and butchered most of the zoo animals for food. His trip to LA was to try to restock the zoo with some young animals available there.

The men subsequently arrived home on the 10th December 1990 and the Western Coalition started to repel Iraqi forces on the 23rd January after an aerial bombardment which started on 17th January 1991. At some time in this chaos the BA Jumbo was destroyed on the ground at Kuwait.

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On return home it was learnt that the Air Traffic Controller who gave the clearance for BA 149 to land at Kuwait was actually a Royal Air Force Forward Field ATC, who unfortunately lost his life when the Control Tower was stormed.

The Court cases

In the next year (1991) 12 of the BA passengers who were citizens from the USA took a case to court and won compensation, based on US satellite surveillance data showing that at the time when BA149 was 3 hours from Kuwait the Iraqi forces were well over the Kuwaiti border, approaching the city: this information had been forwarded to all the relevant authorities in other countries. The USA authorities confirmed that the UK had received the information as a receipt confirmation was a part of the messaging process when sending the document from the USA. BA claimed that this information had not been passed on from the British authorities.

Subsequently, another group of the passengers went to court in Paris, winning their case using the evidence from the USA. They claimed compensation of £2.5million in total, and this was paid by BA.

In 1996 300 British passengers, buoyed up by the Court successes in the States and France, took their case to court against BA. BA denied liability and were found ‘Not Guilty’ because they apparently were not informed of the situation by the Foreign Office nor MoD.

The question therefore arises as to why British Airways didn’t receive the information? What did the government do after receiving the information from the USA satellite?

The group was denied court action based on the Government’s legal argument, that the Government Departments and Ministries cannot be prosecuted directly unless there had been an Inquiry first, and that could not take place due to Military sensitivity. In 1996 the Prime Minister (then John Major, successor to Margaret Thatcher -the PM in charge in 1990-91) declared that… “…..no serving British military personnel were on flight BA149…”  Note the word ‘Serving’. It has been suggested in some quarters that the Government set up a special group of ex-SAS soldiers after the Iranian siege, to deal with extra-territorial events – and that this group was paid using overseas funds and thus the Government are able to deny any actions taken by them.

In 2007 the BBC made a film about the BA 149 incident that contained new information.  The BBC was told that the film would have to be seen by the Ministry of Defence prior to viewing. A copy was provided, and the film was not returned for 6 months, after which time all the sensitive information had been cut and the film reduced to half of its original length. Researchers for the film contacted four of the original “late-arrival” passengers onto the plane having signed legal affidavits for protection. The subject was raised by Norman Baker in Parliament to the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon in 2007 and the discussion is in the public domain. The Minister sympathised but couldn’t admit any involvement in public, refusing to answer any questions.

What we shall never know is whether the government willingly allowed BA 149 to fly into the war zone. It may have been a miscalculation of the timing of events? Perhaps it was just a cock-up. If it was an error then it doesn’t say much for the ability of the Authorities to plan ahead. If it was deliberate then some consider it a criminal act and the Government should have been prosecuted.

In any case the people and their families that suffered were entitled to an apology, at least!

Footnotes

1:  The ageing Jumbo, which just happened to have been chosen for this flight, was blown up on the ground at Kuwait airport. As the Jumbo was insured against losses in war the beneficiaries were Boeing and British Airways.

2: Not all the young men who boarded BA 149 in London returned from their mission.

3: One passenger, a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family was detained and executed. The other regular passengers were returned home safely after five months.

4: Clive retired in 1994, returning to his home in Alresford after a long career in British Airways, and its predecessor BOAC

5: Norman Baker’s Parliamentary debate with Geoff Hoon on 27th April 2007 can be seen on http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2007-04-27c.1209.5.

6: More information can be found on websites such as Wikipedia, plus a Channel 5 documentary in April 2017.

7: Some of the video reports on the strange events surrounding this flight are available on YouTube, see: http://www.youtube.com

This account is published with thanks to the Alresford Historical and Literary Society, and Bob Fowler. See their website on www.alresfordhistandlit.co.uk. 

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.

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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.

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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.