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.
If anyone knows or hears anything, please contact the Police on 101 or telephone Pam Stevens on (01962) 734861 with the information.
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 telephone Pam Stevens on (01962) 734861 or E.Mail
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 email@example.com: 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) or Roy Gentry (01962 733893, firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Please contact PAM STEVENS on 01962 734861 for any further information.
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 for eight years 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.
If anyone has some spare time to do some driving of the Minibus, please contact Pam Stevens on 01962 734861.
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
Len Orton will be the Trustee responsible for the market with Pam Stevens as his Deputy. All enquiries please contact Pam Stevens on 01962 734861.
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.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Town Trust for this worthy cause, can contact Pam on 01962 734861.
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.
All enquiries please ring Pam Stevens on 01962 734861 or e-mail