Completion of Eel House work celebrated
It was a damp, dull day for the unveiling ceremony for the completion of the second restoration of the Alresford Eel House's Donor plaque. at 11.00 on Friday,23 October.
Steve Brine performed the ceremony on 23 October with Robin Atkins (NATT chair), Louise Woods (deputising for Eel House Chair, David, who had been hospitalised), Simon Cain (Managing Director of Bio Cain Engineering, the Contractor), Claudia Arney (Donor and owner of the freehold land occupied by the Eel House) and Kathryn Boler (Partnership Manager of Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust ). Other donors have been invited to separate events on 27th and 29th October.
Before the ceremony Robin made a short introduction reciting the words on the plaque thanking the 17 donors for their financial help and thanking David Woods who had chaired and led the project over the last 14 years. The Eel House built in 1820's has been given a new lease of life with over £65,000 been collected from 110 donors since the beginning of the project with the second restoration costing some £25,000. Now the project is completed it has received much praise from the community, who were very impressed by the Bio Cain work.
Robin made special mention of the late David Goodman, who instigated the whole restoration project some 15 years ago, Anthony Gay of Franklyns Fish Farm who allowed the contractors to use his land as their base during the rebuilding project to facilitate repairs to the brickwork of the culvert arches and the replacement of the wooden bridge and walkway on the upstream side of the building facilitate repairs to the brickwork of the culvert arches and the replacement of the wooden bridge and walkway on the upstream side of the building and Paddy Walshe who manages the Eel House for the Town Trust.
In reply Steve Brine congratulated the donors in facilitating the second restoration and considered that such local projects brought communities together as well as keeping key historical buildings functioning. Over the years the Eel House has attracted over 9000 visitors bringing immense financial benefit to the local economy. Steve also remembered Pam Stevens, a recent Town trustee, who died in late August and would be looking down favourably on the event.
Alresford Museum Reopens
Following delays imposed by the Covid emergency the Alresford Museum was open to visitors for the first time this year on Sunday 27 September after extensive refurbishment that doubled the size of the Museum. The displays now include archaeological items, from what were once fields to the west of Alresford, soft toys and dolls manufactured by Alresford Crafts and a number of Etchmaster ‘pictures’ once made in Alresford as well as the horse drawn steam fire engine from 1893 and other historical fire service items.
The first opening since Covid restrictions saw a steady flow of visitors who gave a "Thumbs up "to the new displays and remarked on the significant improvement since 2019. A rolling display of 250 old pictures, courtesy of www.alresfordheritage.co.uk, attracted a lot of interest.
Roy Gentry, the Town Trustee in charge of the Museum said, "The Museum has come a long way since the Town Trust took over the defunct Alresford and District Museum Trust in 2011 and I was delighted at the response from visitors on Sunday. My thanks go to Rich and Ann Pay, Nick Denbow and Penny Claisse for their assistance in the preparations for the day and Hellards Estate Agents for their financial sponsorship. My only regret is that we cannot open more often but over the next six months we are offering conducted tours to organised groups for a donation to the Museum Funds.”
The Museum will continue to improve the displays with more exhibits reflecting Alresford’s dependence on sheep as well as the watercress and other industries prominent in the town. The Museum is still interested in acquiring old artefacts particular to the town and needs volunteers to help with extending open days. Please contact Roy on 01962 773185 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help or if you wish to arrange a group visit.
The next open day will be at Easter 2021.
Alresford welcomes back the Brocante/Flea market
New Alresford Town Trust welcomed back the Brocante/Flea market into the town on the 27th September with 32 stalls selling a huge array of antiques collectables vintage and retro items which also included local antiques shop Fowler & Smith joining in the fun. There was a steady flow of people and both the traders and members of the public adhered to the current government guidelines and there was a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere. Many of the cafes were open and were busy with people staying for lunch and afternoon tea. This event is now in its 2nd year and optimistically has already been invited back in 2021 for May and September.
Robin Atkins (Chair of the Town Trust) said "The Brocante market was well organised and provided the Alresford residents with an interesting diverse and happy event in bright sunshine during difficult COVID times. Jackie and her team did a great job which helps the whole community especially the shops that were open. We cannot wait for their return in 2021." www.acvrevents.co.uk
Appointment of New Trustee
New Alresford Town Trust are please to announce the co-option of Penny McClelland as a Trustee. Penny will chair the Covid Committee and the October Fair plus taking over some of Pam Steven’s secretarial duties.
Penny was previously a Town Trust clerk in 2006 and has maintained an interest in the Trust, as well as other activities in the town, such as the Alresford Twinning Association. She has also been a driver for Alresford Voluntary Care for several years.
With this co-option, the Town Trust now has six Trustees and are keen to appoint a further three. Anyone interested should contact Robin Atkins or telephone 01962-733778
Pam Stevens --"a remarkable lady and Trustee" who died on the 28 August
Pam and her husband Brian lived in Alresford since the early 1970s where they brought up their 2 sons, Mark and Ian. When Brian unfortunately became seriously ill Pam decided to set up a secretarial agency which was a great success and where she could work from home. In this context I sought her help to provide secretarial assistance for my accountancy practice in 1992 until the present day. When Brian died in 2007 she was able to devote some of her energy to a new venture, and on 11th February 2008 she was co-opted as a Trustee to the New Alresford Town Trust. She remained a valuable Trustee for 12 years until her death on 28th August 2020.
Pam's initial role was on the minibus committee where the key priority was to raise enough money for a new minibus. By June 2008 Pam had raised £12,500 from Winchester City Council as well as £600 from local organisations. She had also agreed terms to sell the current bus for £5800 to Age Concern. With these extra funds the Trustees agreed that Pam should purchase a specially constructed minibus at a price of £55,037, which reflected a negotiated discount of nearly £5000.
Pam ran the minibus operation for the next 12 years and in 2020 she produced a booklet to celebrate 50 years of the minibus operation which was started in 1970 by trustee Geoffrey Searle - unfortunately the celebration was cancelled due to Covid.
The minibus operation involved many hours of work covering arranging drivers’ schedules, weekly trips, summer outings maintenance of buses and most importantly the passengers. Pam learnt quickly and she was determined that the Trust would always have sufficient monies for the purchase of subsequent minibuses. This was achieved by raising annual grants/donations from sponsors and since 2008 the Trust has raised a staggering £82,255 for the minibuses as well as £11,487 towards the minibus garage extension. As a consequence, the Trust was able to purchase a new minibus in 2017 at a cost of £58454 without the need for special fund raising. A remarkable achievement by Pam.
The second major achievement was the separation of the Town Council from the affairs of the Town Trust. Since 1890 when the Trust was formed the Council could appoint 5 of the 9 Trustees so that it might unduly influence decisions: furthermore some of these Council nominated Trustees were disinterested in the Trust. This relationship continued to deteriorate with eventually one of the nominated Trustees refusing to support an annual minibus grant . Pam's reaction was swift as she ordered the Council's logo on the minibus to be removed. Eventually Pam's resolved with the other Trustees to approach the Charity Commission and to become a Members Charity in 2015 with the Council having no involvement with the running of the Trustee. This separation has been beneficial to both organisations.
The third significant achievement was the expansion of the weekly Thursday market together with the specialist markets such as the French, Italian (for a while) and Brocante which has proved very popular attracting people from all over the county. Alresford is now a real market town.
Apart from the above Pam was the hub and voice of the Trust. She chaired the Covid Committee as well as acting as clerk to the Trust.
Her main strengths were her determination to get things done and do them properly and fairly. She always cared about the needs of the individual especially those in most need.
The Trust will canvas ideas of how to celebrate Pam's life and will hold a commemorative gathering when Covid restrictions allow.
What is certain is that we will need a large hall to accommodate her many relations, friends and admirers.
Personally, Pam has been a great friend and colleague to me over the last 28 years and the Trust will never forget her hard work and achievements. The Mayor of Winchester gave her an award for her services to the Community in March 2011. She now deserves much more!!
Maintenance of The Avenue
The Trustee responsible for The Avenue is Ernie Jeffs who together with his committee decided that the Avenue would be maintained to a high standard in 2020 despite the problems arising through Covid-19.
- The grass is being cut through the period April-September resulting in around 10 cuts per year by Peter Bridges.
- Trees are surveyed every 4 year and work undertaken annually.
- Leaves and loose branches collections are organised by The Alresford Society and supplemented by Lawnman.
- Total annual costs are £8000 per annum.
The Town Council have recognised this work and have granted the Trust £1000 received this month which along with other income from advertising boards and from the Friends of the Avenue amount to £3000 thus making a total income of £4000 for the current year 2020 equal to half the costs.
Ernie encourages residents and businesses to become friends of the Avenue for £25 per annum or to to make one off donations to New Alresford Town Trust -Bank details sort code 20-97-01 account 70621544 or by cheque to 54 Broad St,Alresford SO24 9PU."
EEL HOUSE WORK COMPLETE
As previously reported, since the major restoration of the Eel House in 2006/7 over 9,000 visitors have enjoyed the Open Days and learned about this unique building. However, following a survey by the Hampshire Footpaths Officer it was agreed that repairs were now needed to the brick culvert archways on the up-river side of the Eel House and also to the wooden footbridge they support.
The three week repair project was completed successfully on 6th August by Cain-Bio Engineering and Jon Cranfield of Herpetologic monitored the site for white clawed crayfish as required by the Environment Agency (none were found). Excellent access to the site was provided by Anthony Gay from Franklyn’s Fish Farm which greatly facilitated operations.
This specific project has cost New Alresford Town Trust nearly £25,000, which has been raised from local donations and the Eel House Reserve Account.
Hampshire County Council paid for the wooden “bridge” repairs amounting to £4,000.
The Town Trust has now spent around £65,000 on the Eel House renovations since 2006/7, and hope this will be the end of all major costs for the time being.
The only sadness is that, under the present coronavirus restrictions, it is not possible to open to the public, but we very much hope that this will be possible before the end of this year – 27th September 2020 is a possible date.
The footpaths around the Eel House need substantial reinstatement, and we understand HCC will do this in 2021.
Click on image for larger picture
FRENCH MARKET - SATURDAY 1ST AUGUST
New Alresford Town Trust kicked off the first weekend in August with a very successful French Market being held in Broad Street on 1st August. The event was attended by many hundreds of people. It was a very welcome sight to see Broad Street so full of people enjoying the variety of stalls. The fresh bakery stall, cheese and cooked meats stalls were unable to come over this time because of the increased ferry charge to £800, which with the lockdown in France as everywhere else, the cost was too much.
As well as a variety of other stalls there was a French singer who entertained the crowds outside the Wessex Pharmacy.
The event was organised by Trustee Pam Stevens together with Muriel Charles the Manager of France at Home, and without the hard work of Paddy Walshe moving barriers and red waterbutts to accommodate the stalls, the event would not have been possible. A big’Thank You to Paddy’.
All the stallholders had a good and profitable day and “they would love to come back next year as they find the people of Alresford and visitors to the Town very friendly and accommodating”.
The shopkeepers in the Town especially Tesco Express with their early morning deliveries, were all very helpful and welcomed the extra people in the Town.
I would like to thank all members of the public who attended the French Market at this difficult time, and hope you will continue to support the events the Town Trust are organising.
We have provisionally booked the next French Market for 4th April 2021 (Easter Sunday) and lets hope things will have improved by then.
As things stand the next event arranged by the Town Trust will be the Brocante Market to be held on Sunday 27th September, and possibly the restored Eel House will be opened along with the Museum at the bottom of Broad Street.
EEL HOUSE RESTORATION
The Eel House collapsed in 2006 and was the subject of a major restoration project in 2007/8. Following the official opening by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Pines in April 2008 the Eel House opened its doors to visitors on nominated Open Days, and by 31st December 2019 it had received 9,382 visitors.
As a result of inspections by Hampshire County Council, the Trustees decided, following a survey in early 2019 that the Eel House structure needed strengthening. On the upstream side of the building, repairs are needed to brickwork in the culvert arches together with complete renewal of the wooden bridge and walkway.
The Environmental Agency permission was granted subject to a wild life survey and investigation of White Clawed Crayfish , which has been carried out by Mr John Cranfield of Herpetologic.
Mr Antony Gay kindly prepared and allowed the contractor Bio-Cain Engineering to set up site on his land, enabling the project to start on 13th July 2020. The project will last approximately 3 weeks, during which time the footpath around the Eel House will be closed.
The Town Trust will record its thanks to those who helped finance this second project with a plaque with the names of
The monies received since the start of the project in 2007 has risen to £65,000 from over 100 donors and Open Day donations (including those at the Norman Bridge).
Click on image for larger picture
Broad Street Events
The Town Trustees are pleased to announce that the following events will be taking place in Broad Street.
FRENCH MARKET SATURDAY 1ST AUGUST FROM 9.30 am.
BROCANTE MARKET SUNDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER FROM 9.30 am
MICHAELMAS OCTOBER FAIR THURSDAY 15TH OCTOBER FROM 3.00 pm
All Social Distancing and Health & Safety precautions have been put in place for all these events.
As in previous years, the Fair arrives on Wednesday 14th October, and all parking will be suspended from 10.00 a.m. on that day to enable Parking Wardens to cone-off the area. Between 12.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. the Fair lorries can be moved into place for setting up.
As in previous years ALL shops and residents of Broad Street will receive a letter with PERMIT attached to enable them to access Broad Street until 1300 hours on THURSDAY 15TH OCTOBER.
The Town Trust hopes that after such a difficult start to the year, you will ALL make the effort to attend these events, and enjoy the day.
If you have any questions relating to the above, please call email the Trust Clerk.
COVID-19 HARDSHIP CASES
The Town Trust has received two applications for payment under the above Scheme and has awarded a cash payment of £400 to each applicant, in order to allow the applicants to obtain essential services and food.
Pam Stevens who leads the Committee said “We aim to investigate every application within 72 hours, whilst asking for financial details and for information what any payment will be used for. We hope that each of our payments will enable the applicant to redress their financial problems caused by COVID-19 virus”.
All applications and payments remain totally confidential and should be submitted to the Trust Clerk.
COVID-19 HARDSHIP FUND
As at 8th June 2020 the Town Trust has received £5,780 for the COVID-19 Hardship Fund from 66 Donors. We are very grateful for this show of kindness.
Hardship cases are defined as,
"Typically, hardship may result in one or more of the following :
This list is not exhaustive, and applications will be considered on a case by case basis”.
- Being unable to buy sufficient food of good quality to sustain health.
- Being unable to pay rent.
- Being unable to purchase children’s clothes (including school uniform) or essential items to support their health, wellbeing and educational development.
- Being unable to pay for utilities.
The Clerk is the contact for ALL applications for the Fund. The maximum pay out is £500 per case.
The Clerk can be contacted by email or telephone (01962) 734861.
Any applicant needs to live within the Parish Boundary of New Alresford.
Any further donations can be made by Bank Transfer to NEW ALRESFORD TOWN TRUST, SORT CODE 20-97-01 ACCOUNT NO. 70621544, or alternatively by CHEQUE made payable to NATT, c/o 54 BROAD STREET, ALRESFORD, SO24 9AN.
All donations should be marked “COVID”.
150th Anniversary of Avenue, Alresford
See the pictures here
The 150th anniversary of the gift of the Avenue by the Right Reverend Charles Sumner, Bishop of Winchester on 23rd September1869 was celebrated by both The Town Trustees and residents of Alresford.
The Town Trustees had started planning for the event over a year ago with Keith Divall as chair of the Organisation Committee and comprising Andrew Smith and Jan Field.The main criterion was the involvement of the many local voluntary organisations and they succeeding in this object with 25 such organisations setting up stalls to advertise their work and activities. These were well set out and nicely displayed and very much impressed our main guests. These stalls were complimented by the local bell ringers "Charmborough Ringers " and by a selection of vintage cars and a bus which attracted many viewers.
It is estimated that over 500 local people attended the celebrations during the three hour event whose chief guest was the current Bishop of Winchester, The Right Reverend Tim Dakin accompanied by his wife Sally. The Bishop made a strong speech in urging the planting of new trees to help the climate change effect and was keen to plant a new young Lime tree as the centre point of the celebrations.
The planting celebrations were performed in descending order of hierarchy from the Bishop (House of Lords) to Steve Brine MP (House of Commons )to Cllr Rob Humby (HCC Portfolio holder ) to Julie Myles (Rector)to finally Robin Atkins (Chair Town Trust).
Earlier Robin Atkins welcomed all the guests and thanked the Bishop and Steve Brine for their Attendance. Trustee Roy Gentry gave a short speech on the history of the Avenue from 1869 onwards as well as separation by amicable divorce in 2015 of the Town Trust from the Town Council.
Steve Brine made the closing speech thanking the Organising Committee and Contributors for showing Alresford in the best light and looked forward to the future of the Avenue and its unique features.
EEL HOUSE RESTORATION APPEAL
The New Alresford Town Trust signed a 99 year Lease on a peppercorn rent to take over the Eel House in 2007. Since the collapse of the Eel House in 2006, the Town Trust has now raised over £56,000 in donations/grants/open days etc.
In June 2017 HCC Footpath Officer wrote a report setting out the problems of certain culverts nearest the footpath. HCC had agreed to pay for the work needed on the footpath.
Cain Bio-Engineering were the chosen supplier. They carried out a thorough survey costing £2,460 of which Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust had granted £1500. NATT applied for a permit from the Environmental Agency at a cost of £501, and since the Agency subsequently requested an ecological survey particular in regard to White Claw Crayfish.
NATT have agreed a contract with Cain-Bio Engineering and an ecological survey with Herpetologic, an Alresford firm. The total cost of of the project will, therefore, be in the order of £20,000.
NATT has raised a further £5525 from the following :
Old Alresford Parish Council £650
New Alresford Town Council £2000
Local residents(with gift aid) £2875
The local residents include Lord Wakeham, John and Claire Arney, Robert Lloyd George, Lisa Griffiths (sponsored run) and Karl Borges.
The Eel House Restoration Fund now has some £17,000 in its account, so NATT needs to raise a further £3,000 and would ask local organisations, residents and supporters to send donations (however small) to NATT – c/o Old Fire Station, 54 Broad Street, Alresford, SO24 9AN.
NATT believes it is essential to carry out these repairs as soon as the Environment Agency has issued a permit, so there is an urgent need to raise these additional finances.
The Eel House is unique and is the only such building in Hampshire, with only one other in the UK.
This year we had 795 visitors in the 4 Open Days making the total number of visitors since opening of 8948.
The residents, businesses and organisations help to make Alresford a thriving and happy community.
The New Alresford Town Trust has taken the lead in setting out the programme for Heritage and Open Days in 2019. The Trust itself organises Open Days at Eel House, Norman Bridge (with the help and support of Caroline Perry) and the newly created Museum at the Old faire Station (OFS) as well as the French and Brocante markets, Broad Street Fair, and this year the 150th Anniversary of the Avenue on 20th September.
Roy Gentry has been the inspiration for the Museum and he has built it up from nothing in 2010 to the occupation of the front room at OFS to be extended in 2020 to half the building. Roy has been a diligent trustee for over 11 years, and on doctor’s advice will take a back seat in the future with Andrew Smith taking over the Museum Committee where he will be ably supported by Richard and Ann Pay and the remainder of the committee.
The Museum had 405 visitors on 16th June who donated £152 towards Museum Funds. One of the visitors said “It is the smallest Museum I have ever seen but the most interesting”. The Museum displays the 1893 Merryweather
Steam Pump Fire Engine and many fire related accessories, pictures and T.V. slide show with pictures from Godfrey Andrews’ heritage collection. It also displays the dolls and soft toys from Alresford Crafts, a collection of crested ornaments, Alresford clockface from 1700, bottles and jars from Batchelors Brewery as well as five boards specially produced by the Museum Committee showing the development of Alresford from pre-Roman times to the 20th century.
The next opening for the Eel House, Norman Bridge and Museum will be on 13th July, when we will also have a visit to Alresford by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. OPEN DAY VOLUNTEERS URGENTLY NEEDED FOR THIS DATE.
Brocante Flea Market
The first Brocante Flea Market was welcomed in Alresford on Monday 6th May. The sun was shining and the event was attended by hundreds of people, tourists as well as local residents. The traders enjoyed a very busy day, and the few shops that did open were very busy.
In light of this successful day the Brocante Market will return on Sunday 15th September along with the opening of the Norman Bridge and the Eel House.
The Town Trust hopes you will make a note of this date in your diary, and make it another successful event.
ALRESFORD MUSEUM RECEIVES NEW ARTEFACTS
Mr Roger Cox, the grandson of long serving Alresford Fire Officer, Harry Godsell presented his brass helmet, silver long service medals and silver cigarette box on long term loan to the Alresford Museum.
Harry Godsell, an excellent engineer had worked for Hankin’s Garage in Alresford for many years, died on the 6th November 1953. Harry had been a member of the Alresford Fire Service for nearly 40 years, holding several awards for long and faithful service. In his younger days he had served in the Winchester Force, and during the First World War served with Yeomanry and later transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps, attaining the rank of Sergeant.
Roger Cox said “the family are proud to present Harry’s artefacts to the Alresford Museum in memory of my grandfather’s long public service to Alresford Community”.
Robin Atkins, Chair of NATT, welcomed the artefacts to the Museum and hoped that this might encourage other residents to follow suit with other local artefacts being presented to the Museum.
Alresford's first Heritage Open Day
A traditional French market brought more than sunshine to the ancient streets of Alresford on Easter Saturday.
The French market set up around a dozen varied stalls selling traditional French products including cheeses,fresh bread,records etc.
This unique annual event was organised by Trustee, Pam Stevens as part of the Open day programme for 2019.
Winchester and Alresford MP Steve Brine dropped in to meet many of the traders and sample some of the goods on offer.
He then walked down to officially open the new museum located in the old Engine Hiuse at the Old Fire Station.
Steve Brine said "The new museum is small but beautifully presented .It's long overdue and along with the stunning old Tichborne fire engine built in 1893
is really worth a visit.The French market was great and brought something different to the Town"
Robin Atkins,chair of NATT, praised his Trustees, especially Roy Gentry and his Museum Committee for the wonderful events of the day and the many volunteers.
Other events which formed part of the day and visited by Steve and his two children included the chance to view the Norman Bridge (a hidden treasure) off Mill Hill in the garden of Caroline Perry ;the Eel house was also open and attracted 169 visitors.
The Town Trust raised £599 on the day but most importantly was that the many thousand of visitors had a very enjoyable day.
The Life of the Alresford Eel
On 23rd March David Woods gave a talk on behalf of the New Alresford Town Trust in the John Pearson Hall entitled “The Life of the Alresford Eel” to a very enthusiastic audience, not only to tell the fascinating story of the eel but also to recruit volunteers to help man the Eel House on its six Open Days this summer.
It began with the extraordinary life-cycle of the eel which starts in the mysterious Sargasso Sea; mature eels swim the 3,000 miles from Europe to mate and spawn, and then disappear completely in and around the Bermuda Triangle. The larvae are swept on the Gulf Stream to the estuaries of Europe arriving as glass eels, and then, as elvers travel to the canals, streams, ponds and lakes where they mature into brown eels over 12-30 years, waiting for the call back to the Sargasso Sea to begin the cycle again.
We learnt of the 90-95% decline of the eel population over the last 30 years (through pollution, obstruction of waterways and overfishing) and the efforts being made to help this endangered species recover. But there is hope: we saw brief videos of elvers in cress-beds at Itchen Abbas and a mature eel wriggling into its hole in the riverbank just below the Dene in Alresford. The recovery battle throughout Europe is being led by The Sustainable Eel Group.
The history of the 19th century Alresford Eel House followed, with an account of trapping eels there up to 1980, its collapse in 2006, and the terrific work done by the Alresford Society and the New Alresford |Town Trust to restore it. First opened to the public in 2009 it has had 8153 visitors since then. The next battle is to finance repairs to the three culverts that support the footpath on the upstream side – an eel’s life is not an easy one!
Robin Atkins, NATT Chair, commented that David’s talk was very well received by an audience of 60, who generously contributed £201 towards the Eel House Restoration Fund. It was a very enjoyable evening.
The 10th year of Open Days starts with Saturday 20th April followed by 2 Open Days in May, namely 6th and 19th (Watercress Festival). Trustee Dorothy Hamilton is still looking for Open Day volunteers, so if anyone is interested please Email email@example.com or telephone (01962) 734619.
TRUST CELEBRATES RETIREMENT OF MINI BUS DRIVERS
On Friday 22nd February 2019 the Town Trust organised by Trustee Pam Stevens held a very successful social gathering at The Swan Hotel to celebrate the retirement of four volunteer drivers.
The evening started with Pam welcoming all the volunteer drivers and their partners, and also she gave a very warm welcome to Guest of Honour, Stan Upson who is the longest user of the Minibus. Stan remembers using the Minibus when it was driven by Ronald Longley, who was the Head Teacher at Sun Hill Junior School. This must have been in the late 70’s, early 80’s, when the Minibus was a green colour. Also accompanying Stan were Nina Coleman and Irene Truss who are also regular passengers.
Pam then went on to mention the financing of the Minibus operation and made special mention to Winchester City Council who have supported the Minibus since she became a Trustee in 2008 by making an annual Grant of £2,000 towards the running costs, and paying £480 for the MIDAS training for new drivers. We also have regular yearly donations from some Parish Councils, i.e. Old Alresford, Ropley, Bishops Sutton, Bramdean & Hinton Ampner as well as Corporate Sponsors Andrew Smith Auctions, Richard Steele Funeral Directors and Alresford Surgery and individual residents who pay yearly towards the costs. The logos on the Minibus also represents the Trust’s appreciation to these organisations for their yearly payment towards the upkeep and running costs.
Pam continued by making presentations of a framed Certificate together with a M&S voucher
to Barry Cope, Roger Langridge (from Ropley) who retired in 2018, Vic Prior and Alan Rose who will be retiring within the next few months. All four drivers have given up many years, probably 50 between them and will be greatly missed.
Stan Upson then asked everyone to put their hands together to thank Pam for all her hard work and devotion to the Minibus and its passengers. “She is a lovely lady” said Stan.
Tickets for a raffle were sold on arrival, and drawn at the end of the evening. The funds raised for Minibus running costs was £90., and the prizes were donated by Tesco Express in Alresford and others, to whom the Trust are very grateful.
Pam confirmed that it was her current strategy to continue to run the old Minibus, purchased in 2008, until December 2020.
As in previous years the Pigs and Rotary have organised nearly 20 special excursions for elderly residents during 2019, and a new shopping trip to Romsey (morning or afternoon) is being arranged for the coming months, in addition to the regular shopping trips. Anyone who is interested in the Romsey trip please contact Pam.
If anyone has a few hours to spare every month, and would like to join the “happy family of volunteer drivers” the Clerk would be happy to hear from you.
COUNCIL LEADER VISITS ALRESFORD
New Alresford Town Trust (NATT) were fortunate to receive a visit from Cllr Caroline Horrill, leader of WCC, Charles Bradfield, Director of Place and local Councillor and Cabinet member Lisa Griffiths (WCC Party).
The WCC Party visited the Eel House where David Woods informed them of the history of the Eel House, constructed in 1820’s, and which collapsed due to Tree Roots and Ivy being removed in 2006.
The Eel House has raised £50K from grants, donations and events and has been restored since 2006.
It needs a further £20K to enable the Town Trust to carry out essential works to stabilise one of the corners.
The WCC Party then visited the Museum in the Old Fire Station and Trustee Roy Gentry explained how NATT took over the assets and funds from the Alresford & District Museum started by
Roy Robins in 2005 until it became dormant following Roy Robins death in 2007. Whilst at this venue Trustee John Cattle explained the history of the Michaelmas Fair, which is held on the first Thursday after the 11th October each year, originally emanating from Sheep Fairs in Broad Street.
The next stop was The Avenue where Trustee Andrew Smith explained the considerable work costing over £20K being done in 2017 and 2018, following the arboricultural survey in 2016. The plans for the 150th Anniversary on 20th September 2019 were highlighted.
The party then moved on to the last venue in Meryon Road where the 2 Community Minibuses are housed and to Trustee Pam Stevens who explained the Minibus operation as well as the Thursday Market n Broad Street, which she also organises.
Attached are three photographs of the WCC Party and Trustees at the Minibus Garage.
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 1890s 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.
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 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 new 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 originally came into the possession of the Hankin family in the 1960s and was housed in the fire station on Pound Hill when Alex Hankin was Alresford’s Chief Fire Officer. The Hankin family spent many thousands of pounds having the appliance restored in the early 1990s and John Hankin is delighted it will be staying in Alresford, housed in the Old Fire Station.
“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.
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 may be able to help should contact Roy Gentry on 01962 773185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The Town Trust took over the responsibility for the original Museum charity when it ceased to operate in 2010.
For further information please contact Roy Gentry on 01962 773185 or
PHOTO CAPTION: Tichborne Park Fire Engine outside the Pound Hill Fire
Station, Alresford circa 1990. Photograph supplied by Godfrey Andrews - AlresfordHeritage.co.uk,
EEL HOUSE OPEN DAY 1ST APRIL 2018
The first Open Day of the 2018 season proved a remarkable success, despite the wintry conditions. Visitors were able to see the newly erected Donors Board containing 92 names and highlighting the efforts of the late David Goodman.
Dorothy Hamilton organised the roster of 6 volunteers who together with stalwarts David Woods and Paddy Walshe, got the Eel House opened starting with visitors from Southampton at 11.00 a.m. There was a constant flow of visitors locally as well as far afield as Solihull and elsewhere, who were first enchanted by the quaint notice boards, by Ellie the resident eel, and by the Eel House built in the 1820’s and refurbished over the last 10 years.
There were 151 visitors during the day who donated £138 towards further work on the building.
The next Open Day is on 20th May. New volunteers are always welcome as are all visitors – contact Dorothy on (01962) 734619 or eMail email@example.com. Entrance is free but donations are welcome.
FRENCH MARKET – 31st MARCH 2018
New Alresford Town Trust kicked off the Easter weekend with a very successful French Market being held in Broad Street on Easter Saturday. The event was attended by roughly many thousands of people. It was a very welcome sight to see Broad Street so full of people enjoying the variety of stalls. The fresh bakery stall, cheese and cooked meats stalls had constant queuing and the baker struggled to keep up with demand.
As well as a variety of other stalls there was a Vintage Music stand which entertained the crowds.
The event was organised by Trustee Pam Stevens together with Muriel Charles the Manager of France at Home, and Paddy Walshe was extremely helpful in putting the cones and barriers out to accommodate the stalls.
All the stallholders had a good and profitable day and Muriel said “they would love to come back next year as they find the people of Alresford and visitors to the Town very friendly and accommodating”.
The shopkeepers in the Town especially Tesco Express with their early morning deliveries, were all very helpful and welcomed the extra people in the Town.
The weather stayed dry for most of the time, despite how wet it was on Good Friday.
The Easter weekend then continued with the Eel House having its first Open Day on Easter Sunday.
Annual General Meeting
At the AGM of NATT on the 28th February the Chair, Robin Atkins reported that the Statutory Report and Accounts to 31st December 2017 had been independently examined without any qualification and then lodged with the Charity Commission. The Trust had received grants, donations and Gift Aid amounting to £9,638.
Pam Stevens reported that the old Minibus had been repaired following the vandalism in January, and was now back on the road. Donations from Just Giving and direct donations totalled £400 including £100 received from Cllr Kim Gottleib.
Natalie Carpenter, Elizabeth Lawrence and Alison Karren-Smith also donated £50 each, as well as 8 other donors, plus Gift Aid. Marion Morley promised to fund a replacement wheelchair, costing £200. Pam encouraged other donations to make up the shortfall to be sent to c/o The Old Fire Station, 54 Broad Street, Alresford, SO24 9AN.
Roy Gentry reported that the new Museum Room had been completed and that he was targeting 2 openings – the first being the moving of the Old Fire Engine to its original room in The Old Fire Station in late April, and secondly to the Museum opening in late June.
Keith Divall covered the Avenue work in 2017 and the continuation of Tree care in 2018. He thanked his committee of Andrew Smith and Jan Field as well as 19 Friends of The Avenue, Corporate Donors Drew Smith, Charters and Hellards, and a Grant from NATC. He also informed the meeting that the Bishop of Winchester had agreed to lead celebrations in September 2019 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of his predecessors gift of The Avenue in 1869 to the Town.
David Woods confirmed that the 5 Open Days for the Eel House in 2018 were 1st April, 20th May, 15th July, 27th August and 16th September. He also confirmed that work to strengthen the building was in progress.
Pam Stevens welcomed the return of the French Market in Broad Street on 31st March, and hoped that the weather would improve for the Thursday market during 2018.
I am saddened to have to report that one of the Town’s Minibuses has been broken into and items stolen. It has also caused substantial damage to the interior of the Minibus.
I am really surprised that anyone in Alresford would perform this despicable act on a Minibus, specifically purchased as a lifeline to get the elderly and disabled residents out to the shops and leisure outings.
A wheelchair was also stolen but this has now been recovered by a member of the public.
I hope whoever performed this despicable act of vandalism has a conscience.
The damage is going to cost money to put right and this will have to be raised by the Trustee responsible. The items stolen will also need replacing at a cost.
NATT – 2017
BY ROBIN ATKINS, NATT CHAIR
The Trust ended 2017 in a strong position with 7 Trustees and can look forward to an exciting 2018. The activities of the Trust are divided amongst these Trustees. The Trust relies on volunteers and has no paid staff. At 31st December 2017 the Trust had 119 members.
OLD FIRE STATION (OFS)/ MUSEUM
The Trust re-negotiated its Lease with Artworthy Framing whereby the Trust now occupies the room behind the Red Doors, whilst Artworthy Framing continues to trade within the remainder of the building. A good solution.
The Trust is refurbishing its room as a Museum, which will house the original Horse Driven Fire Engine together with the Fire Station artefacts and accessories. The refurbishment including a glass “see through panel” will be installed by end of January. Trustee Andrew Smith has organized and supervised this contract.
Trustee Roy Gentry (i/c of Museum) will celebrate both the re-housing of the Fire Engine and the opening of the Museum. Details of these events will be announced in the New Year.
EEL HOUSE (EH)
The EH attracted a record 1192 visitors during 2017 making an overall running total of £7429 since it was re-opened in 2009. The Open Days were efficiently organized by Paddy Walshe Trustee Dorothy Hamilton will take over this responsibility in 2018, the dates of which are 1st April; 20th May; 15th July; 27th August and 16th September.
In the meantime discussions with both the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have started in relation to strengthening the EH structure – and also with the Heritage Lottery re openings in the Autumn.
A board listing some 92 Donors was unveiled by Cllr Jackie Porter in November 2017, and David Woods who chairs the EH Committee was presented with an engraved Tankard.
Trustee Keith Divall working with CD Trees and WCC Arboriculturist have completed the First Phase of essential tree work by 31st December 2017 costing some £8K. This involved the cutting down for arboricultural reasons of 2 Poplar Trees on the South side and 1 Lime Tree near Arlebury Park. Further work will continue in 2018.
The Friends of the Avenue contributed £632, whilst a NATC Grant was received of £1250 together with £1250 from Sponsorship. The Trust is very grateful for all these contributions.
Trustee John Cattle organised the October Fair with John Searle, a member of the Walls family who have run this special event since early 1900’s. It was a great success and many people enjoyed themselves in attending this ancient tradition.
Trustee Pam Stevens purchased a new Automatic Minibus seating 14 persons in April 2017 as well as having a complete refurbishment of the old Minibus, which has done 104,000 miles.
Steve Brine MP unveiled the new Minibus on 29th April 2017, which was followed by refreshments at The Swan Hotel for all attendees.
Pam intends to run both Minibuses in 2018, and already has 6 bookings, including 2 weddings and other special events. The new Minibus continues to run weekly shopping excursions.
On Friday 8th December Pam arranged a special Christmas shopping trip to Hedge End M&S and Sainsburys, followed by tea and cake at Haskins Garden Centre in West End. Two Minibuses were run for this event and everyone had an enjoyable time.
Grants and donations amounted to nearly £5,000, and this has been of great help with funding some of the increased running costs.
Trustee Pam Stevens organised a French Market, which was so successful that it has been rebooked for 31st March 2018. Please put the date in your diary and come along and sample some delicious French Food.
The Thursday Market continues to prove popular with an average of 12 regular stallholders each week, plus in the last 3 months of 2017 we had some new stallholders, including a person selling local logs (plus Christmas Trees) a representative of Usborne Books and an organic stall.
Please support the Trust by becoming a member for a one-off payment of £5.00, or become a Friend of the Avenue for £25.00 per annum. You can also support the Trust by attending the Thursday Market for your flowers, veg and fruit, bread and olives, purchase any cards you may require, and then end up having a coffee at the Refreshment Bar.
ROBIN ATKINS (Chair)
31st December 2017.
PURCHASE OF NEW COMMUNITY MINIBUS
The Town Trust took over the management and running of a Minibus, a converted Ford Transit van, in August 1970, and now some 46 years later it has placed an order for a new Mercedes Sprinter at a cost of nearly £60,000. The minibus which is purpose built will be delivered to the Town Trust in March 2017.
The Mercedes has 14 passenger seats, but can take up to 2 wheelchairs, has a 7 speed automatic gearbox, a special pen area for shopping, trolleys and folding walkers, as well as top quality air conditioning system.
Pam Stevens (Minibus Trustee) together with a driver’s committee led by Bernard Simmons, an experienced regular driver for the Trust, have seen and tested 5 Minibus alternatives and have concluded that the Mercedes Sprinter is the best compromise. This minibus is a mid floor level model and is most suitable for the rural conditions. The current minibus is driven by an all volunteer force of 30 drivers who give their time freely. The minibus covers over 12,000 miles per year and undertakes 600+ journeys.
If you have a couple of hours spare each week/month perhaps you would like to join the band of volunteer drivers and become part of the Community Minibus.
Alternatively, you may be finding it difficult to get your shopping, we do various shopping trips to Alton Sainsburys, Tesco at Winnall, Winchester Town Centre, every Friday morning into Alresford and on the 2nd and 4th Saturday morning to Petersfield.
The Trust is very grateful to the many donors in particular Winchester City Council, Old Alresford Parish Council, Andrew Smith & Son and Richard Steel (Funeral Directors), as well as the many private donors. The Alresford Pigs and Rotary also organise and run 15 leisure trips during the summer months.
In conclusion, the Alresford Minibus is a very important service for all residents who need transport for their shopping and leisure activities. Pam Stevens and her drivers are an integral part of making the Alresford minibus work for the Community.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer driver, or wish to use the minibus for any of the shopping trips, please email the Clerk.
Alresford Minibus service wins local award
Last month the Alresford Society generously awarded its Silver Salver Award to the Alresford Community Minibus, its organizer and volunteer drivers, in recognition of their services to the Community, and the enhancement the Minibus provides for residents of Alresford and the surrounding area. The Alresford Society Salver was presented initially to Pam Stevens, the organizer and co-ordinator of the Minibus, accompanied by volunteer drivers Alan Rose and Anita Wade, plus Robin Atkins, chairman of New Alresford Town Trustees (NATT), who own and operate the Minibus. Then on Friday 23rd November several of the volunteer drivers were assembled at a party to show off the Silver Salver, and thank them for their efforts over the past year.
At this meeting, Pam Stevens also announced the retirement one of the drivers, Sue Grace from Ropley, and will send her a certificate of thanks to recognize her 10 years of service as a driver - plus a voucher from Marks & Spencer as well.
The original Minibus service was started in the 1960s by Geoffrey Searle and Jean Shaw: in 1970 the responsibility was taken on by the Town Trust, and since that time the distinctive bright yellow minibus has been a regular sight around the town, providing over 600 journeys a year. Pam Stevens has been the main co-ordinator since 2008, and regular shopping trips are scheduled to Sainsbury and Tesco supermarkets and shops in Alton, Petersfield, Winchester and Basingstoke - plus locally around Alresford. In the Summer, Rotary and the Alresford Pigs also organize evening drives to local beauty spots and pubs. Details of all these are available on the Town Trust website and via Pam Stevens (Phone 01962 734861).
Even though the Minibus provides a unique door to door community service, the costs are significant, and not fully covered by the fares paid. Pam Stevens also co-ordinates a continuing appeal for financial support, from local councils, local businesses, charities and Government schemes: some of the logos of these bodies can be seen on the Minibus itself. The NATT is grateful for this support for the day-to-day costs, without which the service could not operate. Inevitably it will also be necessary to replace the current Minibus in around 2018, for which another £25,000 needs to be raised. In 2012 it is hoped these appeals will achieve a total of £8500.
Christmas Street Market in Alresford
Alresford is to have its own Continental Christmas Market, a one day event on Sunday the 16 December, when the stalls will be set out along Broad Street, in a festive setting beside the Christmas tree!
This travelling market brings authentic European food, plus also some hand-made crafts, with many of the stallholders dressed in their traditional costumes. With several traders from France, there will be cheeses, crêpes, bread and patisseries, Brittany biscuits and Parisian handbags, plus some Tartiflette, a potato and cheese dish from the Haut Savoie region of the French Alps. For a light snack while shopping, there will be a German BBQ and a Spanish paella stall: also on offer will be Spanish chorizo, plus Corsican dried meat and pâté. The Italian stalls will be selling olives and other delicacies, dried fruit and nuts, and from Holland there will be Dutch toffee waffles. Just to complete the mix there will be clothes from Peru, plus some of the regular Alresford street traders who have stalls every Thursday morning.
Alresford has welcomed the growing variety of traders who now regularly set up their stalls for the Thursday morning street market in the town, and many residents from the surrounding villages are visiting to support these events. As well as local produce, pickles and preserves, there are always interesting cheeses and olive dishes to sample. For the enthusiastic shopper the fruit and vegetable stall even offers a delivery service!
The street markets are organized by the New Alresford Town Trustees, and are a useful source of revenue for the town, raising around £9000 this year: the money is spent around the town, for example for care and maintenance of the trees, both in Broad Street and The Avenue, and to plant Spring bulbs. So lend your support to the local street markets!
Memories of Alresford sought!
What do you know about Alresford? What does your Mum or Grandmother remember about the town when they were younger? There’s a lot that we might forget, unless you write it down and tell other people – using a new website for publication.
For instance why was your road given its own special name? Where did the names Jesty Road and Covey Way come from – maybe you know about Sun Lane but why Nursery Road? Where was the Primary School when it was in the Dean? Where was the garage in Broad Street, and where is it now? When did it appear in a TV show? Where was the garage in East Street, and what was it called? Why does Pound Hill have Mexican connections? How many buildings that were used as pubs or restaurants can you identify? They might be good quiz questions, but we need everyone to think of these little bits of history and record them.
As part of a project to record some of these simple accounts of what life was like in Alresford within our living memories, the New Alresford Town Trustees (NATT) are trying to encourage and collect contributions of stories from everyone, from any age group, and will publish them on an internet site. There is no name for the website yet: maybe you can suggest a good name that everyone will remember? But you can find it easily by searching for AlresfordMemories as one word on Google. Have a look there and find a few more questions and some recent reports about Alresford history on this AlresfordMemories website. Then send in a few memories of your own, as an email or hand written, and we will publish them on the website, and put your name on the bottom too, as the author, if you want.
Look on the AlresfordMemories website to find where to send your stories, or send them direct to firstname.lastname@example.org: if you are at school and sending in stories from grandparents, or from a long time ago, please tell us how old you are, what school and class you attend, and roughly what date it relates to. We hope there will be sections for stories sent from Sun Hill and Perins, and will organize competitions later, for example to see which is the most-read story on the site.
Come to the Fair, for one night only!
The traditional Michaelmas Fair will make its annual visit to Alresford on 11th October this year, which is Old Michaelmas Day.
In bygone days the feast of St Michael and All Angels, or Michaelmas, was an important event in the annual calendar. In the years before 1752, working with the Julian calendar, this feast was the date for the autumn sheep fair in Alresford, if it fell on a Thursday, and if it didn't, on the Thursday after Michaelmas Day. When the calendar changed to the new Gregorian calendar, the sheep fair followed the same pattern, but because the drovers kept to the old schedule, 11th October became the Fair date, and was then known as Old Michaelmas Day.
At the end of the 19th Century, the townspeople persuaded the sheep fair organisers, because of the noise, smells and lack of hygiene, to move to the Fair field on the Bishop’s Sutton Road, leaving behind the more people friendly Pleasure Fair in the town centre. As the sheep fair eventually ceased, the Pleasure Fair became the main celebration, later known as the Fun Fair. It still followed the same schedule.
On this day Broad Street is closed, and all the space turned over to the machinery, the rides and the stalls of John Wall & Son: the Fair opens for business at 3pm. The music and the lights, the rides and the slides, the candyfloss and the toffee apple stalls are only in place for one day. The fair closes as the clock strikes eleven, marking the end of this once a year spectacle. By the time daylight returns on Friday morning - or at least by 8am, as stipulated by the regulations used in 1895 – hopefully peace will have returned: the street is empty, and it is as though the fair had never been there.
Another myth about the Fair is that if a year passes without the Fair being held, it will never be allowed to return to the centre of town. This may have arisen because stallholders used to earn their right to the best plots by their regular attendance. If they missed a year they had to revert to an inferior spot. Living residents can remember small numbers of stallholders continuing to turn up in the town during the Second World War, even though there were no Fairs scheduled then.
Deriving from the King Edward I grant of ‘Pavage’, made in 1302, is a right for the Bailiffs and Burgesses of towns to collect tolls and rents from traders who ‘pedal their wares’ on the streets, so the Fair pays their dues to the New Alresford Town Trustees, to allow the Fun Fair in the centre of town, and organize closure of the street. The Town Trustees are keen to ensure that this ancient tradition of Fair night continues, and encourage all residents to join the celebrations.
Volunteers requested for tidying the Avenue in Alresford.
It was in 1869 when the Bishop of Winchester gifted the land and trees on either side of Winchester Road in Alresford, to the Bailiff and Burgesses of the town. This road, now frequently referred to as “the Avenue”, was stipulated to be used for the recreation of the local people, and for ‘no other purpose whatever’, with no building or other erection of any kind. Today the management of the avenue is the responsibility of the New Alresford Town Trust, in co-operation with the New Alresford Town Council.
A recent meeting of the Town Trustees confirmed their objective of maintaining the appearance of the Avenue as it was when it was gifted to the town, and as a key attractive feature of the western approach to New Alresford. In this respect the Trust will oppose any residential development adjacent to their land along the Avenue. The responsibility of the Trust does not include the flint and stone wall on the North side, nor the fences and walls on the South side of the Avenue. Nevertheless these are an important part of the environment created, and the Trust will work with the Town Council and the Alresford Society to encourage the seven owners of the various sections of the flint wall in particular, to repair and maintain this wall. Part of this task will involve carefully removing the ivy that is clinging to the sides facing the Avenue, and local residents and/or organizations are encouraged to volunteer any assistance they might be able to provide to help with this task. Other volunteers already help clear litter from the Avenue on several dates in the year, and this is welcomed by the Trust. To volunteer to join working parties and help to keep the Avenue in good condition please contact the Town Trust via www.towntrust.org.uk.
The Town Trust meeting also heard that further work is planned this year on the south side of the Avenue, to clear some of the overgrown trees and bushes, in several stages, in co-operation with the Town Council. Initially this will involve landscaping contractors to undertake the heavier part of the task.
Telephone Robin Atkins (01962 733778) for any further information.
Successful year at the Eel House
In Alresford, the partially renovated Eel House on the River Alre has seen over 800 visitors at the summer Open Days this year. The growth in public interest – from all over the UK – with donations of nearly £700 from the visitors and a grant of £2000 promised by Winchester City Council, means that the £11000 in funds now available to the New Alresford Town Trust will allow the renovation work planned for the winter period to go-ahead. It is hoped to fit new sluices to control the water flow, repair the eel traps themselves, and install a new floor to the building, which will all improve the visitor experience and preserve this Eel House, which dates from 1820 and is almost unique in the UK.
The regular Open Days rely on a team of enthusiastic volunteers. The explanations they have provided to over 4000 visitors in the last four years, describing the life cycle of the eels and the function of the building, give visitors a vivid impression of what happened on selected dark autumn nights on the river, as the eels started their migration journeys. Explaining all this against the sound of the rushing water can be quite difficult, so various audio aids and recordings are being tested, to help with these explanations, as well as bring some relief to the voices of the volunteers! Other visual presentations are planned.
The BBC TV programme “Country File” has highlighted the problem of the declining population of the eels in our rivers, and increased public interest in the problem: all the activities at the Eel House are conducted after discussions and agreement with the Environment Agency, and no eels are currently trapped or obstructed in their travels. There are some programmes aimed at increasing the breeding population of eels in our local streams and rivers. More interesting have been some of the surveys conducted amongst the Eel House visitors, about their views on eating eels. It seems jellied eel has few fans, but smoked eel fillets are appreciated by those who have been able to try them!
EMERGENCY CASH FOR DESERVING CASES
The Town Trust were actively involved in making payments to the poor and needy through benefactors funds until these were exhausted in 1996. The current Trustees believe that as a registered Charity we should not only receive grants but make charitable payments to deserving cases.
It has therefore been agreed that we will set up a 'pilot scheme' to make charitable payments to individuals living in Alresford and the surrounding villages to provide them with monies in emergencies up to a maximum of £250. for short term hardship cases. Robin Atkins, Chair says: “With this Pilot Scheme NATT is aiming to give help to those in immediate need in the Community. Indeed by doing this, NATT is acting as a real Charity”.
All cases will be dealt with on a strictly confidential basis and applications should be sent to:
Pam Stevens, Trustee and Acting NATT Clerk
- Old Fire Station, Broad Street , Alresford , SO24 9AN .
- Telephone - 01962 734861.
- e.mail - email@example.com
All applications will be considered within 48 hours of receipt and a decision made.
For further information contact Robin Atkins on 01962 733778.
EEL HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
The Alresford Eel House, originally built in the 1820s, is open on 8 days in 2012, starting with the 8 & 9 April, from 11.00 until 5.00. The access takes the visitor along the river Alre which is rich in wildlife, and is part of both the Millennium Trail and the longer Alre Valley Trail; a contrast to the bustling Georgian town of Alresford.
Over 2000 people have visited the Eel House since it was restored in 2008, and they have made a welcome contribution to the restoration costs. This followed its collapse in 2006, when the Town Trust and the Alresford Society led the "Eel Appeal" fundraising to rebuild it.
Visitors, of all ages, have been very interested in the project and the curious life of the eel. Once the final stage of fitting the sluices and restoring the eel traps is finished, we expect an increased number of visitors including, we hope, groups from local schools, to increase understanding of this once abundant food source, and the job of the eel catcher.
An application to the Environment Agency for consent to reinstate the sluices is in progress and we expect to be able to undertake this work later in 2012. This work has environmental significance and provision for migratory river species need to be incorporated. There will be a further cost to complete this work and all contributions are welcome. Another £2000 will be necessary.
We are enormously grateful to all who have supported the work and fundraising for this rare and historic part of our local rural history. Donors include Hampshire, Winchester and New Alresford Councils as well as many private donors.
COMMUNITY MINIBUS SPECIAL APPEAL
In September the New Alresford Town Trust's (NATT) Minibus Committee, chaired by Trustee Pam Stevens, appealed for extra monies to meet the ever increasing operating costs of the Community Minibus.
It is NATT's policy to operate at "breakeven" on an annual basis, and in order to achieve this NATT relies to a significant extent on the generosity of local Councils, organisations and individuals.
This special appeal was answered by 17 donors who gave a total of £1855 :-
10 individuals who gave from £25. to £250. namely :
- Roger Pearson, George Hollingbery M.P., Tim Gibbons, Anne Hanson,
- Lady Rivett-Carnac, Martin Halfacre, Molly Paul, Lord Wakeham,
- Mrs Dennay plus anonymous donors. Together with Gift Aid this raised £900.
7 organisations responded as follows :
- Agricultural Society £500, Alresford Surgery £150, Alresford Society £100,
- Bighton P.C. £60, Bishops Sutton P.C. £50, Cheriton P.C. £50, and Itchen Stoke P.C. £45 raising a further £955.
NATT also received an additional £400 from Winchester City Council towards the cost of advance driving course (MIDAS) for its volunteer drivers.
The programme for 2012 will include a new Supermarket run to Sainsbury's, Badger Farm on the last Friday afternoon in the month starting in February. The Minibus also does regular shopping trips to Alresford, Alton, Basingstoke, Winchester and
Alresford Rotary and The Pigs are again organising the usual Summer leisure trips starting in May. Other organisations such as the Wine Club, Alresford Historical Society and The Art Society book the Minibus for their own events.
TRUST STEPS IN TO RESCUE MUSEUM PLANS
The creation of a Museum for Alresford was originally conceived by Roy Robins, who established the Alresford and District Museum Trust in 2006. However with his death a year later, the initial enthusiasm was lost, despite the fact that it had raised over £10,000 in that short space of time. Now New Alresford Town Trust has picked up the baton and pledged to take over the project, with the Museum operating under its umbrella, and the hunt is now on to find suitable premises in the town as soon as possible.
In the meantime the Trust intends to collect and catalogue documents and artefacts which illustrate the story of Alresford and the surrounding villages, so that the displays will be both interesting and educational.
"We have a small collection already and more has been forthcoming since our plans have become known," says Town Trustee Roy Gentry. "In the absence of a group dedicated to this goal valuable material tends to be lost forever and we hope that this won't now happen. So if you have material which you think might be of interest please let us know and at least enable us to record it."
Examples of material that would be of interest include:
- Old deeds or documents which relate to buildings or activities in the town.
- Old accounts, bills, invoices, and ledgers relating to old businesses in the area.
- Artefacts relating to the old crafts in the area, such as sheep rearing, fulling, brewing, building, watercress growing as well as voluntary and community services.
- Artefacts showing how local people lived in the past.
There are many other activities the Trust would like to illustrate, but if in doubt residents should contact either Roy Gentry, Robin Atkins, Natalie Carpenter or Bob Fowler for more information or to donate documents, artefacts or money.
"We would welcome promises of material in the future and would also welcome funds now. Since the Museum is part of the Town Trust which is a registered charity, we can get 25% back from the tax man if you donate using Gift Aid," said Roy.
CHANGES AT NEW ALRESFORD TOWN TRUST
Len Orton who had been a Town Trustee foreightyears and Co-Chair for four announced his retirement last May. At a recent meeting he was thanked by all for his long and dedicated service and The Trustees presented him with an engraved goblet. Len was very involved in the rebuilding of the Trust activities after the resignation of all the co-opted Trustees in October 2005, including stabalising the Trust's financial position and expanding the Thursday Market with six Sunday and three Continental markets each year in addition.
The Trust also had to say farewell to two voluntary Minibus drivers on reaching the age of 75, which is the cut off age from our Insurance Company.
David Rice-Smith had driven the Minibus for 14 years and Brian Gabriel had completed 10 years. Pam Stevens presented them both with a Certificate of Long Service and also they received M&S vouchers. Pam also thanked them for their dedication to the Trust, and said the two drivers had been a very important part of the Minibus in providing this service to the elderly and disabled residents of the Town and surrounding district.
The New Alresford Town Trust has a vacancy for the appointment of a Co-opted Trustee. Anyone interested should set out their details and also provide a resume detailing how they can benefit the Trust. The person appointed should be fully committed to assisting with the Trust's activities.
The Alresford Eel House, originally built in the 1820s, is open 8 days each summer and this is the third year since its restoration, following its collapse in 2006.
The Town Trust and the Alresford Society led the "Eel Appeal" fundraising to rebuild the Eel House and this work was completed in 2008. An application to the Environment Agency for consent to reinstate the sluices is being considered, and hopefully agreement will be forthcoming later this year. This element has environmental sensitivities and factors such as provision for migratory river species need to be carefully incorporated.
1004 visitors came during the 8 open days this summer, making a grand total of 3,212 in the three years since it first opened. Everyone visiting (including many from overseas) has been very interested in the project and the curious life of the eel revealed. Once the final stage of fitting the sluices and restoring the eel traps is finished, we expect an increased number of visitors including, we hope, groups from local schools, to see the completed project.
Funds donated by private donors, local authorities and other monies have exceeded £40,000; £8,500 is on deposit, with a further £2,000 promised by WCC, and a final £4-5,000 will see the whole venture completed. We are enormously grateful to all who have supported the work and fundraising for this rare and historic part of our local rural history.
Further details can be obtained from David Woods, Eel House Committee of The New Alresford Town Trust.
WEDNESDAY CONSERVATION VOLUNTEERS
The Wednesday Conservation Volunteers, founded in 2001, do the sort of work that most people would prefer to ignore. They lop trees, repair country footpaths and reinforce eroding riverbanks throughout Hampshire. David Goodman, who died recently, was a founding member of the organisation and in his memory the volunteers have decided to dedicate one day's work every year to one of his favourite projects - The Eel House at Alresford.
Eight volunteers turned out in appalling wet and muddy conditions on Friday 26 February to honour their former colleague. Len Orton, one of the Town Trustees who have a 99-year lease on The Eel House, commented, 'The ground at the entrance to building needed re-grading and stabilising to provide safe and easy access for visitors and the over-hanging vegetation alongside the public footpath had to be cut back. The volunteers achieved all of this by mid afternoon. I am sure David Goodman will be smiling at the improvement they brought about.'
The WCV are mostly retired gentlemen who are not afraid to tackle hard physical labour and they do it with skill and smiles on their faces. The Town Trust wishes to thank the Wednesday Conservation Volunteers for their generous gift of labour, the £150 donation to the Eel House Restoration Fund and their recent sterling efforts.
Town Trust thanks volunteer Minibus Drivers
The New Alresford Town Trustees reiterated their annual thanks to the volunteer community minibus drivers and their partners at an afternoon buffet at Makins Court on 5 December. The event was a great success with more than forty attendees who included some of the regulars who travel in the minibus.
Food and drinks were organised by Trustee, Pam Stevens, who used the occasion to announce grant receipts of £2,000 towards the operating costs of the vehicle. Donations had recently been received from Alresford Ladies Group, Alresford Surgery, Old Alresford and Ropley Parish Councils, Lord Sainsbury's Trust, St Johns Parish Church and resident Eddie Marsh. Included in the total is a grant of £1,000 from Winchester City Council and it is hoped that New Alresford Town Council would also contribute early in 2010.
Town Trust Treasurer, Peter Middleton, confirmed that the Trust was currently holding just over £30,000 in the bank earmarked to replace the current vehicle in 2015/16. He commented, 'Although this position sounds healthy, the Trust needs to raise £6,000 per annum for the next five or six years in order to meet an estimated new vehicle purchase price of £80,000'.
The number of journeys and miles covered by the community minibus both continue to rise as its usage expands. The Town Trustees are in discussions with the Alresford Greening Group, the Town Partnership and local schools to explore if usage of the vehicle can be extended even further.
Town Looks Forward to a Brighter Spring
Nearly 1,500 traditional daffodil bulbs have been planted in the grass along The Avenue, Alresford's western gateway into the town. The area has been radically enhanced due to the latest maintenance initiative by the New Alresford Town Trust, which manages the Avenue, and which has carried out a major overhaul of the area on the Perins side of the road.
Following the clearance and levelling, a team of volunteers led by Arlebury Park resident Jane Flowerdew, who organised the team of helpers made up of local residents, Town Trustees and Year 7 and 8 children from Perins School, wielded shovels and tackled the planting. A donation from The Rotary Club of Alresford paid for the bulbs themselves.
The land along the Avenue from Pound Hill to Drove Lane was given to the town in 1869 by the Bishop of Winchester to the Bailiff and Burgesses of the town (now the Town Trust), solely for 'the recreation of the inhabitants of the town'. This project is part of a recently reintroduced maintenance programme by the Town Trust to preserve and maintain this area for local residents.
The Eel House at New Alresford
Three years ago there was a distinct possibility then that the Eel House would crumble into the River Alre. All that was holding it up were strands of ivy. Now the exterior the building, that stands five hundred meters to the west of the northern end of The Dean, has been newly restored.
New Alresford Town Trust and the Alresford Art Society have combined forces and pooled their expertise to help publicise the restoration and to raise funds for further renovation work. At the invitation of the Town Trustees, Art Society members have submitted paintings of the Eel House. These will soon be on display at the Artworthy Gallery in The Old Fire Station, 54, Broad Street.
This historic river building is next open to the public throughout Heritage Weekend, 12 and 13 September, when these exhibits will be on display at The Eel House itself. Every visitor during these two days will be given a slip and asked to vote for what they think is the best picture. The Town Trustees will award a prize of £25 to the winning artist.
The 200 year old Eel House has already been open to the public six times in 2009. Eight hundred and ninety six visitors have been logged as they entered and £825 has been collected in donations towards the cost of further renovation.
The restoration objective is, as far as possible, to replicate the internal fixtures that used to be in place in the nineteenth century when eel catching was a profitable business. Plans to install sluice gates in all three of the water channels that run through the building are well advanced, statutory permissions are in hand and the necessary finance has been banked. All that then remains is to complete the restoration of the rest of the interior of the building with funds for this still being raised. Donations received on Heritage Weekend will be used for this purpose.
Market Day Road Closure
New Alresford Town Trust (NATT) has successfully applied for a road closure notice to take effect on the Broad Street service road on Market Thursdays. It will apply to the service road stretching from the top, opposite the Horse & Groom public house, down to the entrance to George Yard and will apply from 0800 to 1400 hours. The closure notices will go up for the first time on 3 September when cones will prevent vehicles accessing the service road. Robin Atkins, NATT Chairman, commented, 'We have done this mainly for safety reasons, but it does also create more space and this will give us an opportunity to attract more stallholders to the Thursday Markets'.
Mayor opens Mini-bus Garage
On 1 July, on one of the hottest days of the year, the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Dominic Hiscock, cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the newly extended garage that houses the New Alresford Town Trust community minibus.
The Trust, a registered charity, is one of the oldest bodies in Alresford, having been constituted in 1890 by Act of Parliament. One of the most important of its activities is to run the town's community minibus service, a task it has been undertaking for the past forty years. The minibus exists to take the elderly, the infirm and the disabled shopping, to club events, to lunches and on day trips out to the countryside. It has become a vital lifeline to many of the less fortunate members of the community. 'If it wasn't for the minibus and its wheelchair access, we wouldn't be able to go anywhere,' commented one of the frequent users of the service.
The bus picks up its passengers from their homes in the town and the surrounding villages of Bighton, Cheriton, Gundleton, Old Alresford and Ropley and takes them shopping in Alton, Basingstoke, Petersfield and Winchester as well as bringing people into Alresford to visit the library and to have coffee. It is used to take the elderly and infirm to the seaside, to the New Forest and to other places of interest in Hampshire.
Age Concern, the Alzheimer's' Society, the Giles Group (who care for those who use wheelchairs), Makins Court and Chiltern Court (who organise the provision of sheltered housing) and Ellingham Court (who provide housing for those who are retired) all make use of the bus. It covers approximately 11,000 miles per year completing nearly 600 journeys and carrying 3,000 passengers.
The minibus drivers are all volunteers who give of their time freely. At present there are thirty of them and they all live locally. They have all had a medical check and receive special training every four years through the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme that is run by the University of Winchester. The Trust has very recently received a grant of £500 from Winchester City Council to cover this training through to 2010. 'Your drivers are all so kind; one of them even carried my shopping into my house and helped me put it away,' commented one regular passenger.
The latest brand new yellow bus, a Ford Transit 430 Wanderer, was purchased in October 2008 for £55,000. This was funded mainly from Town Trust reserves and funds from the sale of the old vehicle. However, without the generosity of other bodies the current new and improved service would not exist. Grants towards the cost were received from Old Alresford Parish Council and Winchester City Council. Groups such as the Alresford Surgery, Isle of Wight and Hampshire Provincial Tom Langton Fund, Mid Hants Railway, New Alresford PIGS, and the St Lawrence Chapter of Freemasons all made donations to the minibus fund and gifts were received from individuals and companies.
The minibus has been garaged off Meryon Road since 1982 when Winchester City Council agreed that the Town Trust could pay for the construction of a secure garage on their land. The garage building has recently had to be extended because the current minibus is bigger than its predecessors. This has involved not only making the garage longer but also digging out the floor to provide more height. We have also taken the opportunity to improve safety and security by installing electricity and both inside and outside lighting. The total cost of this work was £11,000. Grants from Hampshire County Council, New Alresford Town Council, Winchester City Council and from Ropley and Cheriton Parish Councils allowed this to happen.
The New Alresford Town Trustees would like to thank all of these organisations for their financial support. View all the pictures.
Appointment of New Clerk to New Alresford Town Trust
The Trustees of NATT are pleased to announce the appointment Brian Rothwell who took up his position as from March 1st. He succeeds Frances Cowan who recently resigned this position after moving away from the town. The Trustees thanked Ms Cowan for her services over the last two years. Brian, who has lived in Alresford for the last five years, has recently retired from the insurance industry. Robin Atkins, co-chair of NATT, commented 'We will find his insurance expertise extremely useful'.
To contact Brian about any Town Trust matters please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively write to: Clerk, New Alresford Town Trust, The Old Fire Station, Broad Street, New Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9AN.
Alresford shows off its grant funded community projects
The New Alresford Town Trust (NATT) invited Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council this week (Thursday 26 March 2009) to see how £21,500 of City Council grant monies had been spent in the town.
Cllr Beckett spent 2 hours with the trustees reviewing all its activities including the Thursday market, The Avenue tree project, the new Minibus and garage, and the restored historic Eel House.Trustee Pam Stevens said, "The City Council grant of £12,500 was essential in enabling the purchase of our new minibus to go ahead." The modern minibus which is capable of carrying 13 passengers plus a Wheelchair, cost £55,000 in total. The bus carries on average 8 passengers per journey and makes over 300 trips per year using 30 volunteer drivers, Cllr Beckett also reviewed the work in progress of the garage extension for which the City Council had given another £4,000 grant. It is expected that the new home for the minibus will be completed in mid April.
Having seen the extensive tree crowning work on the Avenue organised by Trustee Roy Gentry, Cllr Beckett then visited the Eel House, the only one in Hampshire, on the River Arle. Committee Chair, David Woods related the full story from its collapse in late 2006, to the external re build in 2008, and the future provision of sluices/eel traps in 2009. The City Council provided a £5,000 grant towards this £35,000 project.
At the end of his visit Cllr Beckett said "I commended the Trustees for spending City Council grant monies wisely and look forward to a continuing this successful working relationship to provide further community benefits in Alresford Town.
Robin Atkins Co Chair of the Town Trust was very pleased with the visit and commented "it is very refreshing to see the Winchester City Council Leader taking such a detailed interest in New Alresford Town Trust's affairs and projects."
Historic Eel House open to the public
The highlight of the Arle River Trail is the newly restored Eel House which will be open for eight days in 2009. Following its near collapse the foundations and walls have been rebuilt and new railings installed which allow a better view of the of the building.
Built in the 1820s by the Harris family of Arlebury Park, and now the responsibility of New Alresford Town Trust, the Eel House straddling the Alre was purpose-built to harvest the rich downstream run of mature eels that takes place on dark moonless nights between July and November each year Their journey begins in Old Alresford Pond and its tributaries, travelling down the Alre to the Itchen, thence into the Channel and so 3,000 miles on across the Atlantic to breed in the Sargasso Sea south of Bermuda.
To see a piece of history in action the eel house will be open from 11.00 - 3.00 on:Easter Bank Holiday - 12th & 13th April
May Day Holiday - 4th May
Watercress Festival Sunday 17th May
Sunday 19th July
August Bank Holiday - 31st August
Heritage Weekend - Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th September.
Fundraising is ongoing to complete the restoration of the inside and visitors will be able to see what needs to be done together with a small exhibition on eels and the eel house. Entry is free but donations would be appreciated.
Volunteers are needed to help with the open days. Please contact David Woods 01962 732487 or Robin Atkins 01962 733778 if you can help.
The Minibus - Winter 2008The Town Trustees has now taken delivery of a Ford Transit 460/140 Minibus which has been specifically built to carry 2 wheelchair passengers plus 13 other passengers.
It has extras such as Air Conditioning, electric step and tail lift together with 4/5 folding seats down one side. The drivers believe it is a major step forward, and it will make a real difference to the smoothness and comfort of all the passengers.
This bus is for the benefit of the groups and organizations within the Alresford area, and if your group would like to make use of the bus, the Trust is happy to hire it out with a qualified driver.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Town Trust for this worthy cause, or to make use of the bus can contact Pam on 01962 734861.
The Broad Street Market - Winter 2008
The Trustees made a decision in Spring 2008 to take back the running of the Thursday market from Southern Market Traders (SMT), whilst leaving them to concentrate on running the Alresford Monthly Sunday market. The Trustees have expanded the number of stalls to 16, and have instituted the following price structure.
- Single Bay stall £15.00 per week
- Large Double Bay stall £25.00 per week
The Trustees have introduced a variety of food and other stalls on Thursday to operate in conjunction with the stalls already attending the Thursday market. They have also booked Continental markets for at least Pam Stevens on 01962 734861.All enquiries please contact
The MinibusThe Town Trustees following their meeting on 2nd June has ordered a Ford Transit 460/140 Minibus which has been specifically built to carry 2 wheelchair passengers plus 13 other passengers.
It has extras such as Air Conditioning, electric step and tail lift together with 4/5 folding seats down one side. Graham Cranmer (the co-ordinator) and a couple of drivers have tested many vehicles and have chosen this one. They all bellieve it is a major step forward, and it will make a real difference to the smoothness and comfort of all the passengers.
Graham says, "It is a pity I'm having to retire at 75 years young, and won't be able to drive this new vehicle". Pam Stevens says "Thank you to WCC for £12,500 grant as well as £600. from 5 local organisations. It is a great pity that HCC, NATC and other local organisations do not prioritise their grants more fairly and support this vital service". Consequently the Trust has had to raid their reserves to produce the necessary cash to buy the Minibus, which has now been ordered for delivery in early October.
The Broad Street MarketFollowing discussions with Paul Lewis of SMT, the Trustees have decided to take back the running of the Thursday market from 10th April 2008, whilst leaving Paul to concentrate on running the Alresford Monthly Sunday market. The Trustees intend to expand the number of stalls to 16, and have instituted the following price structure.
- Single Bay stall £15.00 per week
- Large Double Bay stall £25.00 per week
The Trustees propose to introduce a variety of food stalls on Thursday to operate in conjunction with the stalls already attending the Thursday market.
Len Orton will be the Trustee responsible for the market with Pam Stevens as his Deputy.