Archive for the ‘Suitable for a local school history project’ 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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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?

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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.

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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

 

 

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

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And here is a copy of the map:

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You might also see:

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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.

Lawrence Wright, Horsas and Hansas

A story published earlier on this website describes the retirement years of Lawrence Wright, when he lived in Alresford and made extensive drawings of the buildings in the town, plus mentions some books published on architectural accessories, like stoves, fireplaces, beds and toilets!

A correspondent then highlighted his earlier publication, dealing with his knowledge of, and activities in, the Second World War, in relation to the war gliders – ie glider-borne troops delivered across the Channel into Europe, in Horsa and the Airspeed Hansa aircraft.

This is the review information found on this earlier book…..

“THE WOODEN SWORD” by Lawrence Wright, published 1967.

In 1939, at the outbreak of war, gliding ‘was not taken so seriously at the Air Ministry as to deserve even to be stopped’, in the words of Lawrence Wright, one of the dedicated band of amateur glider pilots who spent weekends before the war soaring at Dunstable Downs. Yet, by 1943, official scepticism over the strategic usefulness of gliders had largely disappeared and before the end of the fighting thousands of Allied troops and tons of equipment had been delivered to battle areas in Horsas or Hamilcars, and such historic battles as Arnhem and the Rhine crossings had been fought by glider-borne forces.

Lawrence Wright tells the inside story of the war gliders — how it all began, the men who planned and those who died, and how it ended — for the first time. lt is, he writes, ‘a very personal account of what one non-combatant Air Force officer saw of the Allied airborne forces in general and of British glider-borne forces in particular’. Written with wry humour and no false heroics this is a fascinating story – a war book with a difference.

The above Review presents a pdf copy of one of the printed versions of Lawrence Wright’s book, this one published by Elek in 1967. Copies of the book itself are available from Abe Books, and other resellers.

Old Alresford School in the 1960s

Mike Whitley, 50 years ago, was a student teacher at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. As a part of this course, in Autumn 1963, he spent one day a week at Old Alresford Primary School: then in 1965 he did a full-time teaching practice there, for half a term. Recently he was asked to do a presentation at Winchester University about student life at the College back then, so he dug out old photos and memories, and has been kind enough to share those relevant with us. Some of these photos can also be seen, perhaps in greater detail, on the photo memory website, www.alresfordheritage.co.uk.

The two colour slides below show the old school building, taken from across the road, and some of the children in the school yard, at the lunch break playtime. The cars are those of the teachers.

Old Alresford CE Primary School, Hampshire

Old Alresford CE Primary School, Hampshire

Teaching practice

The photo below was on a December afternoon in 1963, and shows the afternoon PE football game, refereed by the class teacher, Mr Adams, in the field below the Southdowns National Children’s Home, which was almost next door. At this time, 45 of the pupils at the school were from Southdowns, a large proportion of the school total of 103 children. The others came from Old Alresford, and on the school bus from Wield. Mike was attached to Mr Adams’ class in 1963 (Class 3, the lower juniors, aged 7 and 8): while the boys played football, the girls had needlework indoors!

Old Alresford CE Primary School, Hampshire

In the spring term of 1965, Mike did a 4-week teaching practice period, working in the head-teacher Mr Lavis’s Class 4, which contained 24 upper juniors aged 9-11 – so this included some of his previous students. The Class 4 weekly timetables in 1965 are shown below, which Mike comments are rather formal compared to current practice!

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The school and its procedures

The old school building dated from 1846, but three further classrooms were added in stages after WW2, the most recent completed in 1963. The permanent teaching staff numbered 4, with the rector coming in to take the RE class. A peripatetic teacher, which in 1963 was Mrs Lavis, came in on Thursdays, so that he could concentrate on his administrative duties that day: she also acted as the school music teacher. Classes 3 and 4 were described above, Classes 1 and 2 were the infant classes, which also included a few of the younger 7 year olds.

The school AV equipment comprised a radio, a record player, and a film projector. As can be seen from the timetables, the BBC played a major part in the daily schedule for Class 4 at least! The students were divided into three “Houses”, or teams, named Raleigh, Drake and Nelson – interesting they had a naval flavour! Pupils won or lost house points for good or poor work or conduct. Each week a trophy went to the highest scoring house, and there was also a sports trophy. The school had no communal hall or dining hall, the children ate their school meals in a couple of the classrooms: also some of them went home for lunch. The meals were delivered from a central kitchen serving all the smaller schools, brought out in insulated metal containers.

In those days, free school milk was distributed every morning, in 1/3 pint bottles: Mike can remember the procedures with milk monitors collecting the crates and distributing the bottles, even with straws. He says this ended in 1971, so soon very few will remember the practice. One of the older classrooms in Old Alresford had a blackboard and easel, but most of the classrooms were equipped with roller blackboards – a modern, more efficient invention for presenting info to the kids.

Mike Whitley particularly commented on the effect of the large percentage of the children being from Southdowns, in that the school was very successful in gaining the confidence of all the children, and maintained a very happy and family atmosphere. The panoramic photo below, created by Mike from pictures taken on 5 December 1965, shows Southdowns on the left looking down on the school, just above the end of the pile of sticks: it is taken from the top of the field to the West of the road.

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Transport from Winchester

The group of around 5 student teachers sent to New Alresford travelled by a special coach from King Alfred’s College, and were dropped off near the Bell Hotel, before going on to schools towards Alton. From here Mike and a colleague walked down Mill Hill, and across the watercress beds to Old Alresford, and the others went to the Dean school, and maybe also to Perin’s. If they were kept late at Old Alresford school, they would miss the coach pick-up and have to take the train back to Winchester, though occasionally they saved the fares by hitching a lift (Mike comments that even as students they were dressed respectably, invariably wearing college scarves and carrying a rolled umbrella and briefcase, so the car drivers seemed happy to stop!). In February 1965 Mike took this photo of those cress beds from the footpath, made into a panorama.

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Other Old Alresford views

Two other pictures were supplied by Mike from the 1960s, one of the cottages at the north end of Old Alresford, from the top of the field again, and one of a dilapidated thatched barn – which he cannot locate, but it may have been along the road through Old Alresford, or along the path up to Mill Hill. Can anyone identify it?

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(C) All the photos used above are the copyright of Mike Whitley. The photo below has been supplied by www.alresfordheritage.co.uk, showing the school and the Basingstoke Road at around the same time.Old Alresford 046.jpg