Old Fire Station opens!

15 September 2018. The Old Fire Station (OFS) building on Broad Street opened for the first time, in nearly 100 years, as a display of the 1893 vintage fire engine of the type that used to serve Alresford and district. It is a Merryweather, steam driven fire engine, powered by two horses, to get it along the road, and with a water tube steam boiler on the back, fired up before the engine set off, to be ready to drive the water pump on arrival at the fire. The appliance sucked water up from a nearby pond or stream, and  supplied the hoses and nozzles with this water at high pressure.

The Merryweather is in the OFS, positioned in what many would describe as backwards, as the horses would have to be attached at the back! But the outside view is better that way round!

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The new Tichborne Park Fire Engine, now on display for various open days thru the year at the Old Fire Station, in Alresford.

Also on display on open days there will be several fireman’s helmets, of various vintages, and in the near future there will also be a display of photos of the Alresford Merryweather engine in action, provided from the local collection on the Alresfordheritage website.

The picture below shows an Evening Standard pic from 1908, showing a Merryweather racing to put out a fire…..

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Most of the displays link to the 1893 purchase of the Merryweather engine, subscribed by public generosity, just like the Fire Station itself. But earlier, in 1858, local subscriptions had raised enough money for a hand operated public fire pump, and a list of all those subscribing to that is also on display:

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There are no pictures of this original 1858 unit, but many similar fire pumps are on display in other Museum facilities around the country. Pictured below is a typical manually operated horse drawn fire pump of this type.

1880 multi-hand pump

ENDS   !

 

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Vintage Fire Engine finds Old Home

Eighty years after the last fire engine left the Old Fire Station in Alresford the building will once again house a fire appliance.  One of the old Merryweather Steamer Pump appliances built in the early 1900s and similar to that operating in Alresford in the early part of the twentieth century, will be moving into the Old Fire Station on Saturday 18th August 2018.

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The arrival on the 18th, on a modern towed trailer!

The fire engine will not have travelled far over the last hundred years as it was originally used on the Tichborne Park Estate and for many years it has been housed at the fire station on Pound Hill.  It will be transferred to the newly refurbished Broad Street Fire Station – which was built in 1881 and housed the town’s fire brigade and their equipment up until 1938 when the new fire station on Pound Hill was completed.

The Old Fire Station is owned by the New Alresford Town Trust which has refurbished the original part of the building that formed the fire station to house the newly created Alresford Museum.

“The original idea was to create exhibition and display space for local historical artefacts in the Old Fire Station, but when the possibility of actually housing a local, vintage fire engine became a reality our plans changed,” said Roy Gentry, Chair of the Alresford and District Museum Trust. “Our focus now will be on preparing suitable displays to complement the fire engine and open the Museum to the public.  We are grateful to the Hampshire Fire Service, Alan House and the Hampshire Police and Fire Heritage Trust for their help in making this project a reality.”

The fire engine came into the possession of the Hankin family business in the 1960s, and was housed in the fire station on Pound Hill during the times when Alex Hankin was the Chief Fire Officer for Alresford. The Hankin family spent many thousands of pounds having the appliance restored in the early 1990s. John Hankin is delighted the fire engine will be staying in Alresford, and housed in the Old Fire Station.

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The Merryweather fire appliance in the original Tichborne Park livery outside the Pound Hill Fire Station (courtesy of AlresfordHeritage.co.uk)

“There will be a handover of the fire engine at the Pound Hill Fire Station at 2.30pm on 18th August and all past and present fire fighters and local residents are welcome to attend and escort it to its new home,” said Roy Gentry.

In order to successfully display the fire engine and associated artefacts, the Museum Trust needs more volunteers to assist with this project. Help is needed to prepare displays, undertake historical research and produce display material as well stewards to man the museum when it is open to the public. Anybody who thinks they would like to be involved should contact Roy Gentry on 01962 773185 or roy.gentry@alresford.org.

Note: The Town Trust took over the responsibility for the original Alresford Museum charity when it ceased to operate in 2010.

 

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.

Men’s Shed at the Watercress Festival

For the Watercress Festival in May 2018, the newly established Alresford Men’s Shed decided to make some games – mainly to entertain the kids! These were to show that the Men in the Shed could do something creative, as well as those useful mending jobs. Alresford Rotary kindly gave their normal plot up, to allow the Shed to book a central space.

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The games that made it from the drawing board into the tent involved getting golf balls and similar into the right hole. Two toys had a ball on a string, flicked like a tiddly-wink into a small cup about a foot away from the springboard. Only around four people managed this achievement throughout the day, but of those, several did it two and three times in a row – the only prize was a toffee!

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DSC06189The major attraction was in the form of an almost vertical version of bar billiards, but here the ball had to be manoeuvred all the way up the board by pulling on two strings attached to a ball-carrier, until finally reaching the hole at the top. This needed care, concentration and patience, but most of the kids got there eventually, and won a toffee.

Mums and Dads, Grans and Grandads also had a go – their real advantage was being higher up, and able to see the top holes more easily. But they found it just as difficult as the kids…. others were content to yell advice at the kids!

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The Men’s Shed version of bar billiards

Also on display were some other products the Men’s Shed have produced, such as the ‘busy board’ built for several of the town playgroups, a nesting box for birds like bluetits, small hurdles for flower plot edging fences in gardens, and an advertising board for use by shops etc, to attract the attention of passing customers.

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A ‘Busy board’, or activity centre, built for a local nursery

Several people were also interested to learn about the Shed, and there might even be some new members amongst those who learned about the Shed for the first time!

For more pics of the kids having fun, please see the blog on Alresfordmensshed !

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Various views, events and jobs in the Shed, showing furniture and wheelchair repairs. We have also built nest boxes, advertising boards, Barn owl boxes, sewing machines and doll’s houses.

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!

 

 

The Alresford Men’s Shed is open!

The Alresford Men’s Shed physically opened its doors at Unit 1, The Dean, to accept Membership registration forms on Tuesday 23 January, 6 weeks ago. Lots of people came to have a look round, and 17 Membership forms were completed on the day! All were impressed by the transformation of the bare factory rooms into a workshop equipped with work benches, large work and rest areas, and storage rooms. The array of tools available in the workshop is impressive, clipped onto wall boards: most are new, purchased by the Shed using their start-up funding, but since the opening there have been several donations of larger items, such as a chop saw, bench vices, a pillar drill, several electric saws, vacuum extractors etc. We now have a BIG sign outside, for the short-sighted, and anyone else that wants to find us, opposite Valdean Caravan Park.

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Two days later, Peter Tudor, a Shed Trustee, completed the first ‘Community’ project in the Shed, by repairing the seat cushions of six chairs from St John’s Church. This was a straightforward task of replacing the hardboard underneath the foam of the seat cushion with a slightly stronger sheet of plywood. Peter says that there are several more chairs that need this sort of attention in the Alresford Church, so more seats will follow! The picture shows Peter with the first six seat cushions, plus also some of the tools positioned behind the workbenches.

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The Alresford Men’s Shed is delighted to accept donations of tools that are surplus to requirements from anyone. Membership is open to all, so please come along to meet the people and see the facilities available. More important, you will be able to visualise what you might be able to do in the Shed, and see some projects on-going. Volunteers are repairing restaurant tables, drawer handles, chair backs, and even making shelves for storage areas. If you have some repair jobs, or something you want building, why not drop in and see what we can do for you? Maybe we could help you to up-cycle some old furniture, for sale to the ‘trendy people’ of Alresford…..

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Opening hours:

Monday and Thursday morning

Tuesday and Thursday afternoon

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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