The Eel House will next be open on Bank Holiday Sunday 15 May.
Who are the Trustees?
Some have likened the Town Trust to the House of Lords of Alresford - when people were too old and didn't want to be town councillors any more, they were co-opted onto the trust, but not now. Indeed, the Trust is implementing a new structure for the 21st Century, which the Trustees believe will better serve the best interests of the people of Alresford, the future of the town, and also will improve the relationship between the Trust and the Town Council.
The Trust is a very different, more charitable organisation today - compared to the organisation that was created 125 years ago to manage the few legacy assets held previously by the Bailiff and Burgesses of the town since Tudor times. Things have moved on and with the agreement of the Town Council the Trustees have chosen to implement a Membership Scheme, which will be open to adults within Alresford and the local area, who wish to become involved. Five Trustee posts (those previously nominated by the Town Council) will be elected by the Members of the Trust, from the membership, every fourth year. This will broaden the number of people eligible to become Trustees, and ensure that people who are really keen to become further involved will be able to be considered for election.
Members will pay a one off fee of £5 and they will remain members for life, provided they continue to meet the residential qualification.
The Trust's Responsibilities.
THE AVENUE: The Trust is responsible for the upkeep of this area of the town. The area is defined as the land on each side of the road from Pound Hill to Drove Lane. Regular checks and maintenance works are made on the trees, bulb planting is organised, and the grass cut. Annual maintenance of The Avenue costs between £6 - £7000 per year and with the recent cuts in Local Authority support we have recently launched a 'Friends of The Avenue' programme to help cover these costs.
BROAD STREET: The collection of all dues and revenues from Broad Street, including its annual fair, the weekly Thursday and monthly Sunday markets; in addition, there are occassional Continental markets. They are also responsible for the upkeep of the trees along the Street, and permission is given for road closures during the annual Watercress Festival and the October fair which this year is on Thursday 13 October.
THE OLD FIRE STATION: As landlord of the 1881 building, its upkeep is the responsibility of the trustees. It currently houses Andrew Lawes'gallery and picture framing business.
THE EEL HOUSE: As part of the team that worked to save the partially collapsed building which sits astride the River Alre, the Trust agreed to act as the umbrella organisation under which various bodies support the Eel House. The Trust now lease the building and maintain it. The building is now secure but essential work still remains to be done on the sluices, which control the flow of water in the river, and its level upstream. There are each year where the public can see first-hand the restoration of this historic building.
THE MINIBUS: The service was first started about 25 years ago to take the elderly and disabled shopping, to appointments, sometimes on day trips. A new minibus was purchased in October 2008 for £55,000; funded by Trust reserves, grants and donations from local groups. The service itself is paid for by donations. The voluntary drivers, duties, vehicle maintenance and donations are co-ordinated by the Trustees. The Trust would like to encourage other community groups to make use of the minibus, and enquiries should be directed to Pam Stevens (01962 734861) in the first instance.
THE ALRESFORD MUSEUM operates under the umbrella of the Town Trust with the objective to provide a museum for the town as soon as possible. It has some funds and a small income but will need much more to acquire suitable accommodation. Meanwhile the intention is to collect and catalogue documents and artifacts which will illustrate the story of Alresford. In the absence of a group dedicated to this goal valuable material tends to be lost forever. So if you have material which you think might be of interest please let us know and at least enable, us to record it. www.museum.alresford.org
COMMUNITY GRANTS : The current Trustees believe that as a registered Charity we should not only receive grants but make charitable payments to deserving cases and is aiming to give help to those in immediate need in the Community. All cases are dealt with in strict confidence. More information or contact Pam Stevens
The Trust Today
In general, the Trust has a good relationship with the town and other local bodies. Nobody, not even Broad Street residents, seem to mind the occasional road closures, or when the fair moves into town, the fact that the big wheel does its stuff immediately outside bedroom windows! It seems to be regarded as living history and people live with it. With the Trusts involvement with Broad Street it will be involved in many of the issues facing Alresford, including controversial ones such as parking charges in the town.
The work of the Trust lends a subtle layer of civic pride to the town, but many feel that it could and should be doing more and involving a greater mix of people. It could be doing more by acting as an umbrella organisation for charitable work such as the restoration of the Eel House. The Trusts objectives are still valid today, and they welcome suggestions and comments as to where they can perhaps undertake additional charitable activities to the benefit of the town residents.