News Archive

Help needed checking Hartslock sheep

Hartslock nature reserve, situated about a mile from the village along the bridlepath to Goring, has a flock of Shetland sheep helping to manage the habitat by grazing on the chalk hillside. There is a rota of local volunteers who take it in turns to visit the sheep daily to check that all is well.  Currently there is a need for some extra help at weekends. 

Read more about it here.  No previous experience is needed.

Date/Time : Friday, 18th August 2017 13:41

Bench damaged on village green

The wooden bench at the top end of the village green has been vandalised.  Keith Brooks, parish council chairman, discovered the damage on Tuesday this week when he and a plumber went there to install a new tap for the football club. 

 Keith said: ‘”We found beer bottles strewn everywhere and damage to the bench which the village had paid for.  This could not have been an accident as substantial force was needed.  Also the broken off pieces had been thrown around.  I recently painted all the benches and they were in good order.  I wish whoever is doing this would cease.  The incident has been reported to the police and we will be keeping a close eye on the village green, which was also the target for vandalism last week when a pavilion window was broken”.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 16th August 2017 11:21

Superfast broadband in Whitchurch

Claire Hutchins-Lee of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme has written to the parish council to report on progress with superfast coverage.  The report includes details and a map of the services provided so far in Whitchurch.

She says: As we move into the closing phases of the programme, it is important to let us know if the information provided is incorrect in any way and if there are any areas in your parish, which to your knowledge, remain without superfast broadband coverage already installed or planned for installation. 

The general view is, that with some 73,000 premises enabled by the programme so far, we are on track to achieve above 96% of premises having access to superfast broadband by the end of next year and are now dealing with truly small conurbations of less than ten premises. 

However, we still have the means of addressing gaps either on a fully funded or partly funded basis, so feedback from you or directly from parishioners would be very welcome.”

She can be contacted by email here.

Date/Time : Monday, 14th August 2017 11:04

Parish council chairman drives community bus

Yesterday the chairman of Whitchurch parish council, Keith Brooks, climbed into the driver’s seat of the 142 community bus and made four round trips from Goring to Reading and back, via Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill.  Some months ago he had put his name forward following a request for residents to volunteer their services as occasional reserve drivers.  On Tuesday he received a phone call from the manager of Going Forward Buses to say the regular driver was unwell and asking if he would be available. 

Keith says: “it was quite an experience.  I started at 7 in the morning and finished at about 5 in the afternoon.  I met various passengers, some of them going to work, some going shopping in Caversham, others shopping in Reading.  One group were taking the bus to Beale Park.  I would like everyone in the village to support the service.  Why not take a trip into Reading and back from time to time?  There are plenty of spare seats.  Let’s all try to use our community bus!”

Date/Time : Thursday, 10th August 2017 20:14

Sportsman seeks to help Nigerian children

Peter Ferguson of Swanston Field is a former rugby player with a new mission.  Some years ago, when he was working for an oil company in Nigeria, he started up a scheme to bring rugby to deprived youngsters in Lagos.  British coaches visited and helped train locals.  Peter used to obtain second-hand rugby kit from schools and take it to Nigeria, much to the delight of the children.  After a while Nigerian junior rugby teams visited the UK. The coaching model, which was later introduced by Peter in Sierra Leone and then by Peter’s son William in Kenya, has been successfully developed and broadened over a number of years.  Many children have benefited.  In Nigeria, Peter says, “some gained international honours in rugby, some gained university places and others joined the police force which has a very creditable rugby side.” 

Recently Peter was contacted by his trusted friend and former colleague Emeka Ukome (above, with Peter) who asked for his help in setting up a similar venture in a different part of the country. He is now involved in helping to establish the Niger Delta Rugby Foundation, which will run a life skills programme that encourages sporting and academic achievement regardless of religious belief among deprived children in the troubled Niger Delta region.  A rugby tournament is being held in October and it is hoped that international players will support the venture. 

Peter is looking for sponsorship for the Foundation from companies with links to Nigeria, from rugby clubs and from schools.  There are also expected to be opportunities for individuals to become Friends of Niger Delta Rugby in due course. 

If you know anyone who might be able to help find sponsorship for this venture, then Peter would love to hear from you.  He can be contacted on 07557 383 634 or by email here.

Here is a photo of some of the younger children in their donated shirts.

Date/Time : Monday, 7th August 2017 10:53

Amphibious cars slip into Thames unnoticed

On Thursday this week at around 10 am a procession of amphibious vehicles rolled down the High Street.  When they reached the bridge they were guided by three marshals wearing fluorescent jackets towards the ramp next to the toll keeper’s cottage and into the water.  The leading car churned a path through the lilies on the mill pool and the flotilla then motored down the river towards Mapledurham lock. 

The unusual event was witnessed by few Whitchurch residents but was clearly planned well in advance by the European Amphibious Car Group.  The group meets in a different country each year and their 2017 gathering has brought them to this country. The owners of over 60 amphibious vehicles from around the world have enjoyed a week in the Thames Valley, sightseeing in and out of the water. 

For a flavour, watch the brief BBC video here.

Date/Time : Saturday, 5th August 2017 14:39

Eastfield House attracts wrong age group (UPDATE: new incident)

The boarded-up Eastfield House is attracting the attention of teenagers, according to a resident of the village who became aware of a break-in yesterday evening. 

At 8.30 pm yesterday a dog walker heard a window being smashed and saw three teenage boys wearing hoodies in the grounds of the empty care home.  He called out and the three disappeared, possibly through private gardens towards Swanston Field.  About fifteen minutes later, three boys of a similar description were seen on small BMX bikes on the High Street.  A second witness, who had called the police, said he attempted to speak to them but they were keen to make off towards Pangbourne.  They were white, two with shortish blond hair and similar appearance, who might be brothers, and a darker haired youth.  He estimated their ages as 15, 14 and 11ish. 

It seems the youths knew the area and its shortcuts well.  It is suggested that people with properties backing on to Eastfield House be vigilant. 

When the Police arrived the youths had gone. If anyone has information that could help with enquiries they should phone 101.

Update, Saturday 29th July:   Further visitors.  Last night at about 9 pm Eastfield Lane residents were alerted by noises coming from Eastfield House and reported seeing a group of people apparently trying to break in at the back.  The visitors then made off at speed towards Pangbourne.  The vehicles were a white van and a silver Honda Civic (reg R151 MMO).  A neighbour had seen the car and van occupants acting suspiciously in the vicinity and called the police.  Within minutes the community police arrived but did not see the individuals.  Local residents wondered whether the two incidents could be related.  The care home owner Majesticare has been informed and asked to make the building more secure.

Date/Time : Thursday, 27th July 2017 18:21

Friends’ first concert announced

On Saturday 23rd September from 7.30 pm the Roy Bailey Big Band will be playing the music of Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others. The concert will be held in St John’s Church, Whitchurch Hill, with a drinks bar in Goring Heath Parish Hall across the road.

This is the first fund-raising concert of The Friends of St Mary’s and St John’s, the charity set up last year to support the maintenance and preservation of the two churches.

Tickets at £10 each are available from: Kit Marriott 07813 948448, Lizzi Steward 07751 789107 or Tim Suiter 07930 490808.  Early booking is advisable as seating is limited and tickets are already selling.

The Roy Bailey Big Band will be familiar to many from their brilliant performance on the village green last summer – here is a refresher video.

Like to become a Friend? – find out more here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 26th July 2017 20:28

Relics & Monuments in Whitchurch

Peter Hawley’s book on Whitchurch history Relics & Monuments has been re-issued, with extra chapters, and at the same price, eight years after its first appearance.

Vicky Jordan tells us more:

The new edition retains the many articles which throw light especially on the people of the past. Here is Sir John Soane, architect of the Bank of England; Allen Gardiner, naval captain and missionary; John Simeon, MP; the many distinguished Whistlers; Robert Grey, Governor of the London Foundling Hospital. There are two extra chapters on the tenants of Whitchurch House, and an intriguing Whitchurch mystery. Moreover, it is a good read, told in erudite but conversational style, as facts are tracked down and myths exposed. In the Introduction the author speaks of acting as Watson to Robert Noble’s Holmes as he helped with the articles published in the Bulletin in the 1980s and 1990s. Now he is Holmes.

Relics & Monuments, new edition 2017, by Peter Hawley is available at £7.95 from the Whitchurch & Goring Heath History Society or tel 0118 984 3260.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 19th July 2017 14:31

Care home not being cared for

The Eastfield House care home is boarded up and becoming overgrown with vegetation.  Attempts to find out what plans the owners have for its rebuilding or re-opening have not resulted in any clear picture, according to this article in the Henley Standard this week.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 18th July 2017 18:03

Historic wall knocked down (Updated)

Sometime on Sunday evening or night (16th July) a vehicle collided with one of the massive brick pillars at the entrance to Manor Road from the High Street, bringing it crashing to the ground together with a substantial length of the curved wall beside it, between Lower Lodge and the red telephone kiosk. Shards of mustard-yellow paintwork on the ground near the point of impact with the pillar suggest that the vehicle may have been that colour. The vehicle appears to have been travelling into Manor Road from the High Street.

The curving brick wall forms part of the grand bellmouth entrance to the original Coombe Park estate.

Nearby resident Peter Hawley says he recalls at least one similar incident about twenty years ago and he thinks the district council undertook the repairs then.  But since that time he understands that the parish council has taken over responsibility for the verges of Manor Road.  Whether the wall now belongs to the parish council, the district council or the owner of Lower Lodge, whose doorway is now obstructed by the rubble, is not clear.

Update, Wednesday 19th July:  PCSO Mark Bell confirmed today that the incident had been reported to the police and that the identity of the driver was known.  

Date/Time : Tuesday, 18th July 2017 11:16

Progress on pavilion plans

Consultation in recent weeks on proposals for a new sports pavilion on the village green has resulted in some changes to the design and location that were put forward in the planning application in late May.  Carrie Leadbetter-Hart, project manager on behalf of the parish council, summarises the current situation: 

“The outline planning application has been withdrawn, as SODC felt we had enough detail in our proposal to go directly for Full Plans - this will save us the fees of £385 and also time.  The full plans will cost £770, but SODC have agreed to move to offset the fees already paid. 

Secondly - following the feedback I have received from SODC, Sport England, The Forestry Commission and villagers - two issues became apparent:

1. The new Pavilion will need to be sited 9m away from mature trees.

2. The lack of showering facilities were seen as a concern. 

The showering facilities were a sticking point, as there wasn't enough space within the existing floorplan without significantly reducing either the changing rooms or the main social area.  However, a very wonderful patron has stepped forward in the form of Leslie Prater.  Leslie is passionate about supporting sports within the village, particularly in encouraging youngsters and has committed to fund the additional space required!  Therefore removing this barrier - Thank you so much Leslie!  

I have spoken to SODC and Sport England about increasing the floor space by 15% - they do not have an issue in principle - however I will need to put a case together discussing how this additional space will be used to encourage diversity in sport.” 

Carrie says that a satisfactory new location has now been found for the new building that complies with the rule on distance from trees.  This is in front of the existing mound of earth in the south-east corner of the village green.

The formal responses to the application from the Forestry Officer, from Leisure South and others can be seen on the SODC planning page here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 13th July 2017 18:11

New village sign on the way

Arrivals crossing the bridge from Pangbourne will soon be welcomed by a new village sign.  It will be displayed together with a new Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sign. The two can be seen here. 

The new sign is the result of several months of consultation by the parish council, including a design competition at the primary school resulting in six finalists, followed by feedback from residents who voted on the designs in a survey in The Bulletin and feedback from parish councillors. 

Parish councillor Jim Donahue, manager of the project, explains: 

“The final version was developed by Caroline Widdop, a professional graphic artist and mother of a child at Whitchurch primary school.  She was also responsible for the final coat of arms design for the primary school.  Caroline is volunteering her time for this project and is now working with sign makers on the final stages.  We hope the new sign will be in place by the end of the summer. 

There will initially be just one new sign, located at the village entrance by the bridge, to keep the costs down.  It is expected to cost approximately £1000.  Signs at the village entrances from Whitchurch Hill and from Hardwick Road were not considered to be in such need of refurbishment and the entrance by the bridge is considered by most people to be the grand entrance to the village as well as the edge of the Chiltern Hills. 

The current sign is damaged and slightly crooked and the old Chilterns AONB sign was removed a number of years ago as it was faded and vandalised.  We think this new sign will be a much more suitable entrance to our lovely village and show visitors how proud we are to live here.”

Date/Time : Friday, 30th June 2017 14:30

Remembering Anna Scanlon

Anna Scanlon, who moved into her Hardwick Road house in 1962, died aged 92 on 6th June 2017.  A memorial service will be held on Tuesday 4th July in St Mary’s Church, Whitchurch, at 3.15 pm. 

Her four children have provided this note on her life and an invitation to the memorial service: 

Anna Scanlon, a familiar Whitchurch resident for the past 55 years, passed away peacefully aged 92 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on Tuesday the 6th June having been taken ill the previous day. 

Anna was born in Hawick in the Scottish borders in 1925 where she met and married Martin during the war whilst he was posted there with the Royal Ulster Rifles to train for the D-Day landings. 

They moved to Birmingham after the War before moving with the family to Whitchurch in the early 1960s and purchasing one of the newly developed properties in Hardwick Road. 

Having added a fourth child to the coop in the mid 60s, she returned to work as a PA for organisations in Henley and Pangbourne, including a stint for Michael Heseltine MP during the 1970s. 

Both Martin and Anna were active members and familiar faces in the community, particularly if you happened to venture into one of the local hostelries. 

Anna was a past member of the local WI and especially well known in the village for her “Paddy’s Market” stall at numerous village fetes, ever popular cricket teas complete with home-made scones, legendary open-door New Year’s Eve parties with trademark “Turkey Curry”, and willingness to welcome and chat to all comers at the Greyhound, Ferry Boat and/or Working Men’s Club. 

Even very recently she could still be found from time to time in her usual spot at the bar partaking of a wee dram of Scotch whiskey or a half of Guinness and regaling those around her with tales of yore. 

A committal at West Berkshire Crematorium will be followed by a memorial service to celebrate her life at St Mary’s Church on Tuesday the 4th July at 3.15pm. Everyone that knew her is welcome to attend, especially if you bring your singing voices, and it would be helpful if anyone planning to attend could let us know via email so we can gauge numbers. 

Funeral arrangements are being handled by A B Walker (Reading) and donations in lieu of flowers can be made to The British Red Cross via  

We look forward to seeing you on the 4th July. 

Patsy, Fiona, Mike and Paul 

The photograph shows Anna at The Greyhound in 2012.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd June 2017 15:00

Fact-finding on High Street parking

Residents of the High Street will soon receive an important questionnaire.

In the last year there have been seen some angry confrontations between northbound and southbound drivers in rush hours.  The main reason appears to be increased numbers of parked cars, which turn a two-way road into stretches of one-way without rules of priority.  Families with small children are finding the road riskier to cross because parked cars make it difficult for them to be seen by drivers, some of whom are hurrying to get through gaps.  Many residents believe that some of the parked cars belong to people seeking to avoid Pangbourne parking charges and the bridge toll. 

What are the facts?  The Traffic and Parking Action Group (TAPAG), consisting of two parish councillors and four other residents, wants to obtain firm information and then investigate solutions. This week they are distributing a letter and questionnaire to every property on the High Street in an attempt to find out the parking needs of each property and to enable them to distinguish cars of residents from those of others. 

Parish councillor Rachel Hatcher said that she very much hopes that all High Street residents will cooperate on this project by completing and returning the questionnaire by Sunday 9th July.  She also invites those not living on the High Street to submit a response if they wish, by emailing her here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd June 2017 12:59

Second Worldwide Whitchurch Weekend held

The second Worldwide Whitchurch Weekend took place in Whitchurch, Shropshire, a week ago.  The Sunday Times published a detailed description of the event and its origins in this article in yesterday's issue (11th June).  Except for Hampshire, which held the first event two years ago, participation by the other 12 Whitchurches seems to have been disappointing.

But perhaps someone from our Whitchurch did attend?  If so, do let us know by sending a message to the Message Board.

In any case, it was our mill pool that made it on to the front cover of the supplement!

Date/Time : Monday, 12th June 2017 20:06

Voting for Henley MP - (Updated with full results)

The polling station in Whitchurch Village Hall, Manor Road, will be open from 7 am to 10 pm on Thursday 8th June. 

Names and parties of the six candidates for Henley constituency’s Member of Parliament are given here.

The SODC website says: “Don’t worry if you’ve mislaid your poll card or you are registered but didn't receive your poll card – you don’t need it with you to vote, but it will speed things up at the polling station if you do take it with you.”

Updated, 11thJune: Click here for detailed Henley results.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 7th June 2017 15:08

Plans for new sports pavilion published

Whitchurch Parish Council has submitted plans to South Oxfordshire District Council for a new sports pavilion to replace the two existing buildings on the village green.  The consultation period started on 1st June and full details of the application, showing the proposed shape and size of the building, can be seen here.  Comments must be received by 22nd June. 

Parish councillor Carrie Leadbetter-Hart, a chartered engineer, has prepared the plans and supporting documents for the outline planning application under the name of her company Chase Project Engineering Ltd.  Parish chairman Keith Brooks says that the community is much indebted to her for her extensive work on the project, and that she has provided her services to the community without charge.  She recently returned to the parish council after maternity leave.  Her son Henry now has a sister, Harriet, aged four months. 

Carrie explains that the design is a traditional wooden-framed, multipurpose one that should encourage use by a wide range of local teams, clubs, the school, etc.  The building has a pitched roof with space for a clock.  There is a veranda at the front.  Inside there is a central area of about 5m x 6m, a food preparation area, and two changing rooms with toilets.  Disabled access is provided. The floor level is raised above any likely flood level. 

Keith says there has been lengthy consultation with interested parties in the community about the facilities to be provided and a very rough estimate of the cost of the building proposed is £100,000. At least half of this is expected to be met by a local authority grant, for which an application is being prepared, and the balance will require some fund-raising. 

The proposed floor layout of the building can be seen here.

Date/Time : Monday, 5th June 2017 14:40

Whitchurch author publishes book on Darwin

Peter Worsley, who lives in Hardwick Road, has been Emeritus Professor of Geology at Reading University since 2000 and has written over 150 technical papers.  Now he has tried his hand at writing a book, having developed an interest in the history of the family of Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species.  This was sparked on returning from a visit to the York National Railway Museum in 2013 when he visited a farm in Lincolnshire once owned by the family, which happened to be situated near to where Peter was born and grew up.  One thing led to another, an archive of letters and other documents - referred to as the ‘Higgins Deposit’ - emerged, and before long he had before him a wealth of unpublished information about Darwin family history in Lincolnshire. 

The book’s title is The Darwin Farms and it covers a period from the Elizabethan era to the mid-twentieth century.  The text is enlivened on almost every page by photographs, portraits, family trees, accounts or maps.  Peter says he takes great pride in the fact that the book is self-published and he therefore felt unencumbered by a publisher in producing exactly what he felt the subject needed.  The result appears to be a significant addition to the substantial literature on the Darwin family.  It is also a work of history with an unusually rich feel for the geology and landscape of Lincolnshire, and benefits from more and clearer maps than is usual in a history book. 

In the acknowledgements the author thanks his wife Hilary for her enthusiastic participation in the field work, archive searches, indexing and proof reading. 

The 148-page book is available for £8.00 a copy direct from the author Peter Worsley, Svartisen House, Hardwick Road, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Reading, RG8 7HW.  Postage, if applicable, at cost.  Email him here or phone 0118 984 1600.

Date/Time : Saturday, 3rd June 2017 10:25

Whitchurch artwork selected by Royal Academy (Updated)

Chris Martin, who lives in Whitchurch Hill and is a familiar presence in the bridge toll booth, has been making art collages for two years.  This year she entered one, ‘Whitchurch Lock’, for the 2017 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy under her maiden name Chris Scoby-Smith.  After getting through the first two rounds of the selection process, she was thrilled to hear today that her work has been accepted and will be displayed at the exhibition starting in London on 13th June. 

She explains how this came about: 

“Last year my twin sister, who lives in Vancouver, was diagnosed with a neurological condition.  She has always been active in the art world and I remember that when we visited the Summer Exhibition in 2008 we talked about entering.  I decided to do so this year because I know that even though she is now quite severely handicapped she takes a keen interest in the Summer Exhibition. 

‘Whitchurch Lock’ is a slightly abstract collage that I made in 2015. I have always been interested in art and photography and have done foundation courses in both fine art and in textiles.  As a result I had a collection of books of samples and work, which I have been able to use in the pictures. The materials include handmade paper, handmade felt, printed paper, machine knitting, machine embroidery and dyed textiles. I have also been a keen patch worker, winning a cup for a quilt in a national competition and contributing to quilting exhibitions in Henley.” 

Since the opening of the Saturday morning Art Café people have been buying prints and postcards of Chris’s collages which have been displayed there.  The subjects incude Whitchurch Bridge, Whitchurch Lock, The Ferryboat, The Greyhound, St Mary’s Church, the Maria Cornelia, Hardwick House, The Swan at Streatley and Goring Lock. 

Chris has recently started to run workshops on collage work.  She can be contacted here.

Update, 6th June: The picture above shows the collage, now in place at the Summer Exhibition.

Update, 9th June: Chris's collage has sold, before the exhibition opens to the public, for £500. 

Date/Time : Saturday, 27th May 2017 21:46

Annual Parish Assembly on Thursday – all welcome

Once a year Whitchurch has a get-together at which representatives of all the groups in the village have a chance to say what they have been doing and tell others what their plans are.  This year’s Parish Assembly is on Thursday 25th May at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall, Manor Road.  All residents are welcome.  

An account of last year’s Assembly can be read here.

The picture (left) shows a well-known scene painted in 2015 by the late Stephen Trinder. 


Here is the agenda for this year's Assembly: 

1. Parish Council Chairman – report on the Parish Council Year and Financial Report 

2. County Councillor Report 

3. District Councillor Report  

4. Neighbourhood Plan Report, Residents' Issues Update

5. Roads and Traffic Report 

6. Transport Report 

7. Planning Report 

8. Allotment Report 

9. Village Organisations' Reports & Activities (5 minutes each approx):

  • Allotment Society
  • Bulletin
  • Parochial Church Council
  • Town Twinning Association  
  • Whitchurch Bridge Company
  • Whitchurch and Goring Heath History Society 
  • Whitchurch on Thames Habitat Study Group
  • Whitchurch United Charities

Date/Time : Saturday, 20th May 2017 17:58

War memorial work to begin soon

The project to restore and refurbish the war memorial near the top of the hill before the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018 is nearly ready to start, reports Peter Dragonetti, chairman of Goring Heath parish council. 

 A contract has been awarded by Goring Heath to Reading stone masons A F Jones for the work shown in this drawing prepared by Pangbourne architects Owens Galliver.  The memorial will be restored to its original height, topped by a Celtic cross to the original design, as reported with photos in our news item of 12th December 2016 (scrolling down will reach it).  The landscaping work around the memorial comprises areas of granite setting and a kerb at the roadside.  Currently the project is waiting for official approval from Oxfordshire Highways for the kerb. 

Peter reports that fund raising has been successfully completed, financial support from the War Memorial Trust having been boosted by gift-aided donations from individuals living in both the communities represented by the memorial, Whitchurch-on-Thames and Whitchurch Hill/Goring Heath, without a financial contribution from either parish council.

Whitchurch parish chairman Keith Brooks said he was delighted that the project was going ahead and he congratulated Goring Heath on their successful efforts, starting with Martin Wise's proposal in 2014, to promote the restoration and to raise funds.

Date/Time : Thursday, 18th May 2017 10:46

Open Day for Neighbourhood Plan

At least 25 residents called in at the village hall on Saturday morning to find out about the initial stage of a Neighbourhood Plan for Whitchurch and to discuss their wishes and concerns for the future of the village.  They were able to talk to members of the steering committee and examine display boards specially prepared for the occasion.  There was a questionnaire to fill in, which can also be accessed here

The members of the steering committee are: Jim Donahue (chairman), Keith Brooks, Dave Bowen, John Bradon, Charles Cotgreave, Peter Ferguson, Jean-Marc Grosfort, Sarah Hanfrey and Emily Williamson. 

Jim Donahue said: "This initial stage of the village consultation is important to understand what type of development village residents want and what their vision is for the future. The Neighbourhood Plan is the main vehicle for us to have a say in what development looks like over the next 15 years. We are lucky to have so many people from the village come forward to support development of a plan so far, but there is a lot of work required and we are looking for more villagers to get involved."

Those who missed this event are invited to come to a second Open Day on Saturday 3rd June in the Old Stables. 

One resident said he felt that Whitchurch had few development opportunities and that there was sufficient protection already in the normal planning process, especially within the conservation area. 

Parish chairman Keith Brooks said that the parish council had agreed to go ahead with the first stages of the process of creating a Neighbourhood Plan and that a decision would be taken later on whether to pursue it through to the referendum stage.  He said that many villages are currently at this exploratory stage. 

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to comment on the SODC’s overall Draft Local Plan has a few more days to do so.  The consultation ends on 17th May.

Date/Time : Sunday, 14th May 2017 16:17

‘Wotjam’ performs at The Old Stables

Leslie Meynerd and Jan Buhagiar started two years ago to assemble a group of jazz musicians who live within reach of Whitchurch.  Every Friday morning the members of Wotjam now come together from Reading, Lower Basildon, Wallingford, Basingstoke and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell to play at The Old Stables in the High Street.  Last Saturday night (29th April) they put on an evening of jazz for an audience of about 20 guests. 

The photo above shows Wotjam.  A larger one can be seen here.  Leslie is at the far right.  Jan, with tenor saxophone, is in the centre.

Leslie says:  “Last Saturday we played some well known jazz standards together with some less well known numbers such as “Funk in Deep Freeze”,” Voodoo Rex” and “Fungii Mama”.  They all seemed to be enjoyed by the audience.  Refreshments were served throughout the evening and a donation of £60 was made to St Mary’s Church.  Watch out for the next event, which will be listed in What’s On.”

Date/Time : Saturday, 6th May 2017 18:02

Kevin Bulmer re-elected as county councillor

The results of yesterday’s county council election for the Goring division were announced at 2 pm today:

Kevin Bulmer, Conservative:        1,918 votes

Laura Coyle, Liberal Democrats:     601 votes

Dave Bowen, Labour:                     393 votes

Jim Dowling, Green:                       389 votes 

The turnout was 28%.  More details from OCC here.

Date/Time : Friday, 5th May 2017 15:39

Hundreds flock to see decorated bridge

The art installation on Whitchurch toll bridge was opened today by the organisers, Gill Williamson and Alison Livesey, who expressed delight at the number and variety of the artworks and the skill of the many people, almost 100, whose work is on display. 

Among the admiring visitors were a number from the French towns of La Bouille and Houdan, twinned with Whitchurch and Pangbourne respectively.  Three Chelsea Pensioners added extra colour. 

The photo gallery on this website shows some of the knitted, woven, embroidered, collaged and painted panels and a few of the crocheted characters.  Familiar riverside creatures such as Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad are joined by more elusive ones such as the owls of Hardwick Road.  References to boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, allotments, the Reading Festival and the Thames Barrier are there. Nature is well represented by squirrels, Canada geese, kingfishers, ducks, a heron, dragonflies and others. 

There are contributions from Whitchurch Primary School, both Twinning Associations, Pangbourne Heritage Group, Pangbourne Primary School, Pangbourne Heritage Group, Oratory School, Purley Quilting Group, Girl Guiding and others, including Action for Pangbourne Toilets. 

The Thames Path Together Community Art Project will be in place for two weeks, closing on 14th May. The Art Café is open from 10 am to 4 pm all this weekend and the next two. To donate to the project’s charitable causes: Text YARN17 to 70070 or drop some change in the boxes at the toll booth or at the Art Café.  Or visit the JustGiving page.

Date/Time : Saturday, 29th April 2017 17:51

‘Yarn bombing’ of bridge begins

Today those who have been working away in Knit & Stitch sessions in recent months were beginning to install their creations on the bridge. The picture shows Alison Livesey, crochet expert and assistant organiser of the event, admiring a Toad of Toad Hall created by a fellow enthusiast. 

Tomorrow Saturday 29th April there will be a short opening ceremony.  Participants will gather in the car park of The Boathouse Surgery from 12 noon and at 12.30 pm will walk across the bridge, led by event organiser Gill Williamson, to mark the beginning of a fortnight in which the toll bridge will be transformed by the presence of colourful art installations.  All are invited to join in the opening ceremony. 

Gill has arranged for the Art Café to be open from 10 am to 4 pm on all three days of this bank holiday weekend, at the Old Stables in the High Street. 

More information about the event and its charitable aims is given in the project brochure.  For the international background to the activity see this article

A Henley Standard article last week described the preparations for Whitchurch's unique event. 

There are more photos in the gallery.

Date/Time : Friday, 28th April 2017 15:29

Sports for young people on the village green

Designs have been obtained for two sports facilities for children and young people that might be installed near the present cricket nets on the village green.  Such facilities have been requested by a number of parents in the village and by young people themselves.  One benefit to families would be that an outdoor attraction would counteract the appeal of indoor electronic games.  But parish councillor Dave Bowen, who has been investigating the possibilities, has encountered a mixed reception to the idea so far.  He is now seeking the views of as many village residents as possible, via the village website, before deciding whether the proposal should be put to the parish council as a whole.

The proposed facilities are: 

  1. A tarmac ballcourt offering a football goalmouth with side panels at one end and a basketball hoop with backboard at each end.  The court would be marked out for football and basketball.  Bikes and scooters could also be ridden on the area. 

  2. A concrete mini skatepark, incorporating a quarter-pipe, kerbs and ramps, with wrap-around handrails at each end. 

Attached are two diagrams prepared by Sutcliffe Play Southwest Ltd.  The first one gives an idea of the appearance of the facilities, with options for the shape of the skatepark. The second (scroll down for it) shows the locations proposed, on opposite sides of the existing cricket nets.

The estimated cost is not clear but substantial grants are understood to be available for such work.

If you have views on the desirability of proceeding with (1) or (2), or both, or neither, you are invited to email your thoughts to Dave Bowen.  Or to express your opinion on our message board.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 26th April 2017 17:53

Memorial garden begins to take shape (Updated)

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks, who took the photo (left) of fellow volunteers, reports on the current state of the patch of land at the north end of Manor Road on which the derelict Polish chapel stood until its demolition in 2014: 

On Saturday morning volunteers massed with chainsaws and other gardening implements and under the direction of Jon Steward and Sally Woolhouse started to clear the waste ground that is to be the Polish Memorial Garden. Trees have been felled, scrub cleared and we are starting to see what a fantastic and valuable resource the parish council has taken on.  The possibilities might include a picnic area, wild flower meadow and nature walk, as well as a memorial to the Polish community who built the chapel there in the 1940s. Well done everyone who turned out and I am sure that this is just the start of a successful project which will attract even more support from the village in the future.

A lot of thought is being put into the project.  Here is a recent site visit report written by Sally Woolhouse, which includes a diagram of the site.

Update, Friday 28th April: 

Manor Road resident Jon Steward has pointed out that the idea for a memorial garden was his.  He said that Jack Lovegrove, Jowan Marsden and Jamie Friend had helped him with the initial job of felling trees, and Sally Woolhouse and Gill Goodwin of WoTHabs and Leslie Meynard of MOWS have been providing guidance.  He said he would like the garden to be called the Kaiser Miles memorial garden in memory of two residents of Manor Road who had connections with the chapel and its site. There will be a hazelnut copse in one area, he said, together with seats and perhaps a table, and also a memorial to the Polish community, while from the garden there is a lovely view over Coombe Park, particularly at sunset.

Date/Time : Monday, 24th April 2017 10:04

New bus service starts on 15th May

The Goring based company Going Forward Buses has announced that its new minibus route from Goring to Reading via Whitchurch, which they are calling the 142, will start earlier than expected, on 15th May. The local authority’s existing 143 bus service will continue to run until July. 

Full details of the 142 service, including the timetable, are given on this page of the company’s website. 

Parish councillor Dave Bowen said today: 

“I am pleased to announce that the new 142 Bus Service through the village will be launching on 15th May. This will provide a service to Reading via Crays Pond and Caversham that will take around 30 minutes as well as a service to Goring, Beale Park and Basildon Park. For those just looking to do a quick shop the bus will stop at Waitrose in Caversham, the Tesco Superstore at Kings Meadow or close to Marks and Spencer in the town centre. If you don't want to wait 2 hours for the return bus, the new service waits at Tesco for 30 minutes then picks up in the Town Centre giving a 40 minute shop and then Caversham where you have almost 1 hour. For those with Elderly or Disabled bus passes these are valid on the bus and Going Forward are actively encouraging those with passes to make use of the bus. The current 143 service will continue until July so there will be 2 services into Reading for a few months. Having been on the trial bus into Reading a week or so ago, I found the new route very pleasant compared to the Oxford Road route and it did not take any longer going that way.” 

Those who would like to help by occasionally driving the 142 minibus are invited to contact the company, which is recruiting standby drivers. Details are on the company’s website.

The 142 timetable will be displayed and kept up to date on our Links page (Buses, Trains and Taxis) which shows the current bus timetable.

Date/Time : Thursday, 20th April 2017 14:32

Vote for a county councillor on 4th May (Updated)

Theresa May has announced a general election for 8th June but well before that time we have the Oxfordshire County Council elections on Thursday 4th May, with voting in Whitchurch Village Hall between 7 am and 10 pm. 

The Goring Division elects one county councillor and there are four candidates standing for election: Dave Bowen (Labour), Kevin Bulmer (Conservative), Laura Coyle (Liberal Democrat) and Jim Dowling (Green). 

Two of the candidates are Whitchurch residents: Dave Bowen of Heron’s Reach, Eastfield Lane, and Jim Dowling of Flat 3, The Mount, Hardwick Road.  The other candidates are from Goring and Streatley.  Kevin Bulmer, the current county councillor, is also district councillor for the Goring ward and chairman of Goring parish council. 

The names of each candidate’s proposers, seconders and assentors are listed on page 7 of 13 of the Statement of Persons Nominated

Candidates’ manifesto leaflets are likely to be delivered to village residents in coming days.

Update, Saturday 22nd April:

Kevin Bulmer’s wife Mary, distributing leaflets for her husband in Whitchurch this morning, said she could not help feeling a degree of divided loyalty as the Green party candidate Jim Dowling, managing director of Oxford Renewables in Path Hill, is her son. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 19th April 2017 17:53

Bridge parapet to bloom with artworks

The footpath across the toll bridge will be transformed into a riot of colour later this month, a spectacle likely to attract many visitors.  The Thames Path Together community art project, dreamed up by Art Café organiser Gill Williamson, will be opened on the morning of Saturday 29th April and will be on display for two weeks. 

Full details of what is involved are given in the project brochure. (Note: there are two pages.)  Panels displaying knitted designs, weaving, needlework, painting and collage will be attached to the parapet.  Visitors will be invited to make donations for distribution to the community charities involved in the Art Café up to now – no fewer than 22 of them. They will also be able to submit bids for the artworks. 

Gill, the event organiser, explains: 

The community has been working together since last October to create artworks based on the Thames Path. The starting point was yarn bombing – a form of street art where public spaces are covered in knitting and crochet. By expanding the definition of yarn to mean any spun thread, artists, needle workers and weavers, as well as individuals, art and craft clubs and community groups have joined us to offer an imaginative display of artworks. 

Pangbourne and Whitchurch on Thames are divided by a river and united by a bridge. The Thames Path Together community art project is a celebration of Whitchurch Bridge and the Thames Path that has brought us together to make and exhibit art and to raise money for charitable and community causes. 

The picture above shows two participants enjoying a Knit & Stitch workshop session in the Old Stables.  There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery. 

Whitchurch Bridge director Geoff Weir said the company was delighted to support the project.  With many more people expected to be using the footpath than usual, safety issues have had to be carefully considered and special signs will be in place to warn drivers, he said.

Date/Time : Monday, 17th April 2017 14:35

Planning for potential new bus route continues

On Friday, Dave Bowen, the parish councillor coordinating Whitchurch’s input into the planning of the new bus service, went with Mike Ward from Going Forward buses on a test run of the potential new bus route through Whitchurch. Dave says that a lot of thought is going into the route and timetable and provided this update to Facebook users at the weekend:

“…The route starts in Goring and connects with the 134 to Wallingford. This would provide an easy bus route from Whitchurch to Wallingford. From Goring the bus goes over the bridge and then past Basildon Park and Beale Park. At Pangbourne it stops at the station and then across Whitchurch Bridge. It then follows the 143 route up the hill and through Whitchurch Hill past the Sun and back onto the main Road. At Crays pond it turns right to pick up the A4074. It turns off the A4074, just before Caversham and then stops at Caversham Library, opposite Waitrose. From here it goes across Reading Bridge and stops at Blagrave Street near to Marks and Spencer. From here the bus goes to the Tesco Superstore at Kings Meadow.

This is where a lot of thought has gone into the timetable. The bus stays at Tesco for 30 mins so you have time to get your shopping and get back on the bus home. The added benefit is the bus stops right outside so you can wheel your trolley right up to the bus. It then goes back to Blagrave Street giving you 40 minutes to do a Marks and Spencer or town centre shop and still get the same bus back. From here it's back to Caversham and for those who prefer Waitrose get almost an hour to get your shopping with time left for a coffee and cake and can still get the same bus back. I thought this was particularly good and allowed people to get their shopping without having to wait 2 hours for the return bus. There is of course buses throughout the day for longer stays. Journey times were comparable to the current 143 times to Reading. The journey through the back roads to Reading was very pleasant compared to the Oxford Road. Another great feature is the bus is likely to be "hail and ride" so the driver will stop almost anywhere on the route for people. The only exception is on the A4074 where it would have to be the bus stops.”

An update on the bus service in Whitchurch is on the agenda at the Parish Council meeting on Wednesday, this week.

Date/Time : Monday, 10th April 2017 12:12

Whitchurch Web improved and re-launched

Viewers may not have spotted much that is different, but early this morning the Whitchurch Web was re-launched with significant changes.  The website is now ‘device-responsive’ so that the layout of the columns varies with the size of the screen on which it is viewed.  This is needed as many people are now browsing the web on mobile phones and tablets instead of laptops and desktops.  So now, for example, we have delights such as ‘liquid text’ that flows to occupy the changing width of a window on the screen and a ‘hamburger menu’, the three line icon that keeps the menu accessible when there is not enough room to show it in full.  Various other improvements have been introduced, including greater width for material on the back pages. 

Phil Weir, our London-based IT advisor and website host, deserves the thanks of the Whitchurch community for a lot of work over several months in achieving the new design.  Phil, son of Geoff and Meryl Weir, spent his early life in Whitchurch and created our first village website from the family home 17 years ago.  Since moving to London and becoming an IT professional he has continued to maintain it in good shape and continuously improve it, all without requesting any payment from the village for his professional services, beyond a very small annual fee to cover the cost of website registration.  Thank you, Phil.

Date/Time : Saturday, 1st April 2017 15:06

Beale Park chairman dies (UPDATED with memorial details)

Richard Howard, who lived at Walliscote House, Whitchurch, died on 18th March at the age of 80.  A private funeral was held on 29th March.  He is survived by his wife Sally, his daughter Suzie, his sons William, Andrew, James and Duncan, his step-children Amba and Selby, 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. 

His daughter Suzie says that from the age of 17 her father worked with his great uncle Gilbert Beale, who started the Child Beale Trust in Pangbourne in 1956, dedicating 350 acres of Thames-side parkland for wildlife conservation.  In 1966 Richard moved with his first wife Sheila and their five children into Coombe Park, Whitchurch, the residence of his great aunt Lillian Howard, née Burgess, who had been married to Charles Howard.  Earlier on, Charles had received the Coombe Park estate as a wedding present from Lillian’s parents. 

Gilbert Beale died in 1967 at the age of 99, having assembled a collection of over 300 Indian Peafowl.  Beale Park is now a charitable trust run by a board of trustees, specialising in the captive breeding of rare birds and mammals.  As chairman of the trustees, Richard Howard held his final board meeting in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, three days before he died. 

There will be a memorial celebration of his life at Beale Park, where his legacy lives on, at a date to be arranged in May.

Update, 16th April:

A memorial to celebrate the life of Richard Percival Howard will take place on Thursday 18th May 2017 between 3.30 and 6 pm at Beale Park, Lower Basildon, Pangbourne RG8 9NW.  Any donations will be shared amongst the Ostler Chest Ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital and The Beale Park.

Date/Time : Friday, 31st March 2017 17:42

Overweight lorries and how to report them

Two days ago the driver of this articulated lorry found himself at the toll booth.  He was warned that he would not be able to fit under the railway bridge in Pangbourne but allowed to continue across the toll bridge to turn around at Thames Avenue, an easier feat than trying to back up to Eastfield Lane. 

The driver should not have been passing through the village (see Weight Limits in Whitchurch) and has been reported to OCC Trading Standards who will decide what action to take.  If the driver denies being there, evidence is available from the bridge’s CCTV camera. 

Bridge Company director Geoff Weir has kindly offered to help Whitchurch residents make more effective reports on overweight lorries.  If you see an overweight lorry in the village, you can let Geoff know by email and he will produce a date-stamped CCTV photograph of the offending lorry, if it reached the toll booth.  He needs to know the time accurately so that he can locate the image.  He will then report the event to officers with whom he is familiar at OCC Trading Standards.

Date/Time : Thursday, 30th March 2017 14:25

Tony Voysey has died (updated again)

Tony Voysey, well known Whitchurch resident, died yesterday (Sunday 19th March). He was 84. He was taken ill suddenly in the morning and died later in the Royal Berkshire Hospital.  The arrangements for a funeral will be announced in due course. 

Tony, who lived in the High Street, was an active member of the Whitchurch community, involved in various roles in the Church, Riparians, History Society, Theatre Club, Whitchurch Society, Bowls Club and Bridge Club.  He was also a volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI for 50 years.  Last Friday he was playing in a charity bridge drive in Goring and on Saturday he was at the Art Café. 

Tony’s wife Joyce died in 1999.  He is survived by his son John and his daughter Linda.  

(Photo by Nick Brazil)

Update, 31st March, an announcement by the family:

The funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Whitchurch, on Tuesday 11th April at 1.30 pm.  The service will be followed by tea and cake in the Old Stables (next to the church) while we as the immediate family attend a private committal at the crematorium.

Family flowers only, please. In the light of Tony’s 50 years' service as a volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI, we ask that any donations in lieu of flowers  are sent to the funeral directors: Coop Funeral Care at 75-81 Southampton Street Reading RG1 2QU, or direct to the RNLI, mentioning Tony’s name.

We very much hope that the service will be a celebration of Tony’s long and full life. Please feel free to wear whatever you are comfortable in; black is not obligatory.

All are welcome - however, to give us an idea of the numbers to cater for please let Linda know that you plan to attend, via email by 6th April. Thank you.

We look forward to seeing you on 11th April. Any queries, please email Linda as above.

Linda, John, Carol, Paul, Ian and Erin

Date/Time : Monday, 20th March 2017 19:14

Would you like to get to know some alpacas?

Mary-Jo Smith of Bozedown Alpacas is planning to offer members of the public the opportunity to take a walk with the animals.  Each visitor would be invited to lead an alpaca.  For this plan to work she wants to recruit some members of the local community to act as guides to small groups of visitors. Here is what she says: 

Do you have a few hours to spare at least once a week? Would you like to get to know alpacas better? Would you like to guide small groups of visitors leading alpacas around our farm?

If so, come and see what’s involved, learn the basics and have a go on Tuesday 21st March at 2 pm. If you are interested and can't make the 21st, please still get in touch.

Call or email me  -  Mary-Jo, 0118 984 3827, or 07718 750 303.

Date/Time : Thursday, 16th March 2017 12:21

High Street given a new seat

Behind the new flower beds at the entrance to Church Drive an elegant wooden seat has recently been installed, carrying the inscription ‘In Loving Memory of Pockets Remington, 1923-2016’. 

Some people may be wondering who Pockets was and how she got her name. She is shown in the picture. The seat has been kindly donated to the village by her husband Stan Remington, 90, who lives in The Walled Garden House nearby.  Here he tells us something about his late wife: 

Pockets was born Isabella Morrice, to a farming family in a croft in Aberdeenshire.  Breaking the family tradition, she was determined to be a nurse.  However her height was under five feet, which prevented her from being accepted by the Royal Hospital in Aberdeen, and she joined a children’s hospital instead.  Here a rather large sister, on meeting her, said her size was such that she would fit in her pocket and she became known as Pockets, a name which she adopted.  She became a state registered nurse in 1948, the first year of the National Health Service. 

I met her in the Prince of Wales hospital in Tottenham where she was caring for my brother who had suffered a rugby injury. We were married in 1954.  Happily the marriage stood the test of time and we celebrated our diamond anniversary in 2014. 

We moved to Whitchurch in 1980, by which time our daughters Shirley, a doctor, and Sylvia, in pharmaceuticals, were already grown up.  I worked in book publishing in London.  Pockets was a much loved mother and grandmother to our daughters and our three granddaughters, two of whom have also become doctors.  (Photo when they were young.) In Whitchurch she was an active member of the Women’s Institute and found time for her great interests of needlework, embroidery and gardening. 

She died peacefully with me beside her in the Royal Berkshire Hospital on 14th March 2016, aged 92. 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 14th March 2017 16:58

Local girl aims for the Olympics

Emily Brown, 15, from Hill Bottom in Whitchurch Hill, has always wanted to be an ice skating champion.  Last year she and her partner James won a silver medal in the British championships.  Her sights are now set on selection for the 2018 championships in Bulgaria, with a later ambition towards the Olympic squad.  Her story is told in this article in the Henley Standard. 

Emily recently received a grant from the Whitchurch United Charities, to be used towards her tuition and choreography fees.  Sally Woolhouse, treasurer, said that Emily’s parents are making considerable sacrifices to enable their daughter to achieve her goal and the trustees agreed to support her efforts.  Generally the charity supports educational needs but at the end of the recent half-year year there was money unallocated, enabling trustees to take a broader view. 

Whitchurch United Charities traces its history back to a legacy of £1 made by Augustine Knapp in 1602.  More about it here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 8th March 2017 17:48

New bus route chosen

The Going Forward Bus company has decided on a route for the minibus that it hopes will be replacing the 143 bus service after July.  The minibus will provide a service into Reading for a number of communities in both Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The route is shown in blue on this map. The minibus will start from Goring, go past Basildon Park and Beale Park, then through Pangbourne, Whitchurch, Crays Pond, Goring Heath, Kidmore End, Caversham and into Reading. The service will return along the same route.

Dave Bowen, the parish councillor coordinating Whitchurch’s input into the planning of the new service, says that Mike Ward of Going Forward Buses is now thinking about the timetable and particularly about the first and last services. He would appreciate comments from likely users as to whether there is any demand for an early bus into Reading for the start of the working day and also for a later bus for coming home from work. Comments should be sent to Dave Bowen.

Date/Time : Monday, 6th March 2017 18:23

New landlord at The Greyhound

Andy Prior, who has been chef at The Greyhound for the last five months, said yesterday on the pub’s Facebook page:  “It is with great pleasure that I announce that I am the new landlord at The Greyhound, Whitchurch on Thames.  Please bear with me during the transition while I sort out card machines etc.  No food this week, but feel free to drop in for a bite to eat from this Saturday.  I look forward to seeing you soon!”

The new landlord joined the pub last October, recruited by his predecessor Ray Cameron, who had re-opened the pub two months earlier.  Before that Andy spent five years working at The Rowbarge at Woolhampton.  Ray left the village earlier this week.

Andy will be assisted by part-time barman Robin and has announced a special event for the evening of Saturday 18th March, a 70s-80s Disco with free admission. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 2nd March 2017 16:15

MOWS adds colour to the High Street

Signs of planting by the volunteers of Make Our Whitchurch Special (MOWS) are now evident. The photo shows Leslie Meynerd with some of the shrubs sponsored by the parish council. 

Leslie said she wanted to thank that those who helped in the recent work: her husband David, Andy Heaps, Geoff Weir and Sally Woolhouse.  She would love to see some volunteers, perhaps even some new faces, turning up to assist her in laying a membrane for further planting at 10.30 next Saturday morning, 4th March. 

Parish chairman Keith Brooks said today: “When the display at the entrance to the church is finished it will be a credit to the village and a demonstration of how residents give up their spare time to keep Whitchurch a wonderful place to live in.  The Parish Council on behalf of the village would like to thank those who put themselves out to do this good work.”

Date/Time : Tuesday, 28th February 2017 16:15

Call for volunteer bus drivers

Have you always wanted to drive a bus?  An opportunity is coming soon when the 143 bus service is replaced from July this year by a new minibus service run by Going Forward Buses, a community interest company based in Goring.  The company is run by Mike Ward, who has recently started running replacements for Goring’s 133 and 134 services.  He now needs to buy a second minibus and recruit more drivers to replace our 143 service.  Whitchurch and Goring Heath parish councils are jointly working with Mr Ward to get this up and running. 

Whitchurch parish councillors recently agreed to pay £4,125 to West Berkshire Council as part of the village’s share of the 143 bus subsidy, which continues until July when it is hoped that the new local service can start.  Councillor Dave Bowen explained that “as Going Forward Buses is a not-for-profit based company its expenses are somewhat less than Thames Travel’s, so it should be more viable.” 

Full details of the requirements for volunteer bus drivers to help in running the new service can be found on the Going Forward Buses website under Could you help by driving occasionally? .

Date/Time : Thursday, 23rd February 2017 12:35

Whitchurch to help Pangbourne keep loos open

On 13th February Antoinette Solera and Mike Fellows, representing the Action for Pangbourne Toilets Community Trust (APTCT), told Whitchurch parish council about their progress towards re-opening the public toilets in the Pangbourne village hall car park.  They said they had received pledges of £4,000 from local residents and a grant from Pangbourne parish council of £3,000 towards their £10,000 target.  Whitchurch councillors voted unanimously to donate a sum of £750. 

The APTTC trustees issued this statement yesterday:

There is lots of good news to report as we move steadily towards our goal to re-open Station Road Toilets.

Our application to the Charity Commission was successful, so APTCT is now a fully registered charity. Our official charitable status means we can now work on agreeing the 99 year lease agreement with West Berkshire Council and setting up our bank account - in the coming weeks we will be in touch with donors who have generously pledged financial support. 

Meanwhile both Pangbourne and Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Councils have kindly agreed to grant a donation to our re-opening fund. This means we are now much closer to our initial target of £10,000 to partially re-open the building (the single cubicle and the disabled toilet) and to pay for cleaning and maintenance for 12 months. 

Recently residents may have seen contractors carrying out works at the toilet block. West Berkshire Council has carried out some essential health & safety work, redecoration and basic repairs which will help us to ensure that the toilets, once re-opened will provide a clean and safe environment for visitors. 

We look forward to announcing the re-opening of the toilets as soon as we can - and if you would like to pledge a financial donation or offer practical help, please contact us at . 


Dog fouling in Whitchurch

On a (loosely) related subject, the parish council also discussed the problem of dog mess on footpaths and green spaces in our village.  A video of a dog-fouling incident had recently been given to PCSO Mark Bell, who would be speaking to the dog owner concerned.  Councillors agreed to purchase ten dog-fouling signs for display around the village, to remind owners of the importance of clearing up after their pet.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 21st February 2017 16:44

Litter cleanup on Saturday 4th March

Whitchurch will be taking part in the Great British Spring Clean on the first weekend in March. The parish council has decided to back the nationwide campaign led by Keep Britain Tidy and has registered the village. 

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks is looking for volunteers to spend a couple of hours picking up litter around the village, starting at 10 am on Saturday 4th March. Litter pickers, sacks, gloves and high visibility jackets will be available. Volunteers are invited to contact him for further details. 

Keith says: “I look forward to hearing from you. Let’s make this a success in Whitchurch!”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 15th February 2017 10:26

Primary School wins sports award

Whitchurch Primary School has been awarded the accolade of SPORTING PRIMARY SCHOOL OF THE YEAR in the 11th annual Oxfordshire Sports Awards.  The event was organised by Oxfordshire Sport & Physical Activity (OxSPA). 

Whitchurch beat runners-up Larkhill Primary and Wantage Church of England Primary.  More information here

OxSPA, a partnership run by Oxfordshire County Council, states that its vision is to make Oxfordshire the most physically active county in England by 2017.

Date/Time : Saturday, 28th January 2017 16:29

An alternative to the 143 Bus is in sight

The parish council has been discussing the replacement of Thames Travel’s 143 bus service with a minibus service to be run by a recently formed Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Goring. The company is Going Forward Buses, which is currently preparing to take over the running of another service, the 134 from Goring to Wallingford. 

Parish councillor Dave Bowen provided this update to Facebook users yesterday:

“Yesterday evening, Keith Brooks, myself and Peter Dragonetti from Goring Heath PC met with Mike Ward from Going Forward Bus's CIC which Mike has set up as a Community based Bus Company with a view to Going Forward running a community based bus in place of their current 143. As a Not for profit community based company Going Forward are able to recoup 100% of the average fare of OAP and Disabled concessionary pass holders from the County Council where as a commercial company, such as Thames Travel are only able to recoup 30% of the fare. Coupled with the not for profit concept this makes running the bus much more viable and would almost certainly reduce any subsidy the Parish Councils would need to pay.

From last night’s discussion there are various routes that Mike would be keen to look at. Essentially the Bus would start at Goring, run through Basildon past Beale Park to Pangbourne. From there it would cross the bridge and up to Goring Heath, past the Sun and White Lion at Crays Pond. From there it would go through Tokers Green, Kidmore End and into Reading. This would provide the quickest route to Reading however other routes may provide more usage by passing through other villages. Timings on this route are comparable to the current 143.

An alternative route could take in Woodcote and Stoke Row, and another alternative could see Henley rather than Reading as the final destination. Mike is very keen to provide a service in other areas that have been left without a bus. The Henley suggestion would allow for connections to Oxford and Reading using the X40 from Woodcote so Reading is still a destination.

We have discussed hours of running and it seems that the peak morning and evening services of around 8 am and 6pm are not particularly financially viable so we are looking for feedback whether this is something people do use.

In terms of route we would very much like to hear your feedback on routes to assist Mike in which route may be viable. Would people be keen to change buses for a service to Oxford and Reading so we gain a Henley Service or perhaps a fast direct route to Reading would be preferable?”  

There is an explanation of CICs, limited companies which operate to provide a benefit to the community, on the Going Forward Buses website.


Update 24th January:  The Henley Standard today published an article on the subject. 

Date/Time : Friday, 20th January 2017 14:21

Village hall to be refurbished, not sold

The parish council has decided to invest in improvements to the present village hall in Manor Road.  The scheme put forward early last year (news archive, 25.3.16) to sell it off, build affordable housing on the site and invest the proceeds in a new combined village hall and sports pavilion on the village green, is not being pursued. 

The reason is a legal condition in the agreement under which the village hall was sold by SODC to the parish council for a nominal sum many years ago.  The agreement gives SODC the option to buy it back for a mere £4,000 in the event of a sale.  The estimated £550,000 sale proceeds would not be available for the construction of a new combined building on the village green. 

The parish council decided at a meeting earlier this month (draft minutes on the Parish Council page) to have the condition of the village hall professionally assessed in order to plan a programme of improvements. 

As a separate project, the design of a new sports pavilion on the village green will be considered again by the village green working group, which includes representatives of the cricket club and other interested parties. The parish council will be investigating the availability of grants. 

The parish council is asking to hear from anyone who is interested in helping with the management of the village hall, which is registered as a charity.  Please email parish clerk Felipa House to express interest or to hear more.

Date/Time : Friday, 20th January 2017 14:12

Two M4 motorway bridges need repair

Highways England has announced that two bridges supporting the motorway near Bradfield, between Junctions 12 and 13 of the M4, are suffering from chloride-induced concrete corrosion.  Repair work will start in mid-February, taking around seven months and involving weekday overnight closures and three full weekend closures of the motorway.  Dark Lane and Ashampstead Road, which pass under the motorway, will be closed for about two months. 

There is more information here

The picture above shows a similar bridge elsewhere.

Date/Time : Monday, 16th January 2017 19:21

Skateboarding area for children requested

A 13-year-old girl wrote to the chairman of the parish council last month asking for a place to be provided for skateboarding.  Yesterday her mother Maureen O’Brien, who lives in Old Gardens, persuaded the parish council that the idea should be seriously considered.  She said that it was vital for young people to have outdoor opportunities as an alternative to screen time and suggested a location on the village green between the cricket nets and Muddy Lane where she felt it should be possible to install a skating ramp and perhaps also a basketball net. 

There was support from councillors for the idea in principle, but recognition that it might not be universally popular. Jim Donahue, deputy chairman, pointed out that a village survey had shown 23% support for a skateboard facility and 55% for a basketball net.  

Maureen offered to put together a detailed proposal with costs and it was agreed that this would be considered at the next council meeting. 

Maureen said she would like anyone who wished to make suggestions, or to support the idea, to contact her by email

Date/Time : Tuesday, 10th January 2017 16:18

Activities for young families

  1. The Whitchurch Web today has a new feature designed to help parents of young children to find play groups in the Whitchurch area.  Laura Lucas, who has a young child and lives in Swanston Field, has compiled two lists, one of free drop-in sessions and the other of payable ones.  Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are all catered for.

Laura’s lists can be seen by visiting the Schools and Young People page (menu on the left), third paragraph down, where two links will be found. 

As an introduction to the lists, Laura focuses below on two local playgroups, one well-established and one brand new: 

  • Tots on the Hill (pictured) is a long-running playgroup within the village of Whitchurch Hill.  “We warmly welcomes parents, carers and their pre-schoolers to join us for our weekly stay-and-play sessions, which take place at the Goring Heath Parish Hall (there is plenty of parking in the adjacent car park).  Sessions run on Wednesdays during term times, between 10-11:30am, and include free play with our wide range of toys suitable for babies and pre-schoolers, a healthy snack, and a song time.  And, of course, tea, biscuits and good company for carers as standard!  Each session is priced at £2 per adult & child, with an additional 50p per extra child, and newcomers are made very welcome.  For further details, please contact Emily Dalton at” 

  • Next week sees the start of a new, local playgroup for pre-school aged children.  The Little Ducklings toddler group will be run by 2Wild ( on Fridays 10-11.30am at Path Hill Farm, Goring Heath.  Although 2Wild have been providing outdoor activities for adults and children for some years, this is their first group aimed at preschoolers.  Children will explore nature, sing songs and play in the great outdoors. Facilities include yurts for inclement weather!  The group is already proving popular, so please pre-book on 984 2500 to avoid disappointment!  Tea and coffee for adults and a snack for little ones included.  £5 per child and sibling discounts available.

Date/Time : Friday, 6th January 2017 12:50