News Archive

Community singing date announced

The first get-together of the new Whitchurch singing group WotSing will be in St John’s Church, Whitchurch Hill, on Thursday 31st May from 7.30 to 8.30 pm. 

Clare Donahue and Geraldine Witcher are hoping for a big turnout and say that those attending can expect to enjoy singing some well known numbers from musical shows: “We hope that WotSing will be a truly community-run choir, drawing on the diverse skills of our amazingly talented residents.  We really look forward to meeting you on 31st and to sharing our mutual passion for music and singing.” 

All are welcome.  The poster can be seen here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 17th May 2018 18:59

Whitchurch friends take on Jurassic coast challenge

The team of six walkers is Trudi Benzie, Beth Baxter, Fiona Ackworth and Angela Sidhu, all from Whitchurch, together with Anna Cao from Whitchurch Hill and Gill Sefton from Reading.  They are in training already, preparing to take on the challenge of a 62 mile walk on 21st-22nd July.  The charity they are supporting is Diabetes UK. 

Trudi comments: 

"The team is taking on the adventure of the Jurassic Coast Challenge, a stroll along the wonderful Jurassic coast of a mere 100km from Poole to Bridport straight through, stopping only for water, food and perhaps a couple of loo stops! Starting our epic challenge at 7am on 21st July, we’re aiming to come over the finish line, possibly in time for breakfast on the 22nd, but definitely in time for the pub opening!

The team has been training hard, with at least 1 walk a week, movement workshops with Running Reborn and, to date, 2 long training walks of 50 and 57km. Endless kit discussions have taken place, many a blister had and plenty of nice breakfasts and coffee consumed.

This epic challenge is being taken on in aid of Diabetes UK - please read Beth’s story on the JustGiving page. We'd welcome your support and Diabetes UK would love the cash should you wish to sponsor us. Oh and just for the record, normally at around 45km some of us actually run out of conversation!!"

Date/Time : Tuesday, 15th May 2018 12:31

New Parish Council chairman

At the Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Jim Donahue was elected  chairman. The outgoing chairman, Councillor Keith Brooks said:

I have enjoyed my role as chairman for the last three years; it has been an honour and a privilege to serve the village and I intend to continue my work as a councillor; I wish Jim success in his new position. “

Chairman Jim Donahue made this statement this morning:

“It is an honour for me to be selected as chairman of the Parish Council in our wonderful village. I will do my very best to ensure our Parish Council is working effectively to support the needs of Whitchurch on Thames.

I'd like to thank Keith Brooks, our outgoing chairman, for his past 3 years in the role.  He has worked tirelessly as chairman, most recently tackling the new village grass cutting and maintenance contract in addition to the Village Hall refurbishment improvements. When there are things that need to be done in the village, Keith is always the first one to roll up his sleeves with a couple of volunteers and get things done, whether it is repairing the broken windows in the Village Hall, a broken gate on Muddy Lane or installing a new fence in the Polish Garden (which I understand he is doing today).

We have dedicated and passionate parish councillors here in Whitchurch on Thames and I am sure that we will continue work well together, and grow stronger as a team, to achieve our ambitious agenda for the coming year; this includes improvements to the Village Hall, starting work on the new Village Green pavilion, and supporting the development of our updated Village Plan.

I am looking forward to working with Rachel Hatcher, our new vice-chairman with whom I had the pleasure of collaborating on the Village Plan. Rachel is also leading a team of residents to find solutions for the long standing traffic and parking issues along the High Street.

Councillors  Dave Bowen, Denise Huxtable and Sarah Hanfrey and our now well-established clerk Felipa House are, I am sure, no strangers to you.  I am confident that our Parish Council will be one that can deliver for our community. 

Finally, I'd encourage each resident to have a look at the document recently developed by the Village Plan team that lists all the improvements we have made to the village over the past eight years as a result of the 2009 Village Plan. I am very proud of all of the things we have accomplished as a village but I am also aware that there is still much to do."

Date/Time : Thursday, 10th May 2018 13:37

Jazz Night at the Old Stables this Friday (Who

Local group Wotjam started up three years ago and they rehearse every Friday morning at The Old Stables.  All are welcome at their Jazz Night, 7.30 to 10 pm, Friday 11th May at The Old Stables, opposite The Ferryboat.  The £5 entry includes a drink and nibbles. All welcome - no need to book.

Leslie Meynerd says the group will be showcasing a selection of numbers worked on this year, in an informal jazz club atmosphere.

Update, 15th May:

Those playing on the 11th were:

Drums - Andrew Last
Bass - Tim Walker
Guitar - Martin Dix 
Tenor saxes - Jan Buhagier and Clive Downs
Alto saxes - Colin Heaven and Leslie Maynerd 
Violin - Anna delnevo
 

Date/Time : Saturday, 05th May 2018 15:16

Football club parents and children get to work

Whitchurch Football Club made a successful effort last weekend to improve the condition of the football pitch on the village green.

Alistair Aitchison reports: 

On Saturday afternoon we had around 20 parents from the football club come with their children for the annual spring work party.

We re-turfed the goals, re-set and painted the goals, re-hung the nets, seeded the worn turf areas, cut the grass around the goals and nets, marked out the pitch and put a manhole cover over the new tap.

It was a great event and the pitch is looking much better as a result.  Thank you to the parish council for their excellent support. 

There are photos in the Gallery.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 02nd May 2018 09:35

Dr Oppenheimer retires

After more than 32 years as a GP at the Pangbourne Medical Practice, Dr Matilda Oppenheimer retired yesterday. 

An ‘Open House’ farewell was held at the Boathouse Surgery for all her patients and friends and a large number called in to say goodbye and thank you. 

Joanna Knott, Chair of the Patient Participation Group, says: 

For many of us it was a very sad day as she has been the most wonderfully kind, caring and capable doctor and her cheerful smiling face will be much missed by her patients. Not only has she been an excellent GP but she has also led the Practice extremely well, making the Boathouse Surgery one of the best in the country. 

To recognise all that she has done for patients in Pangbourne and the surrounding villages, the Patient Participation Group commissioned a watercolour painting of the Boathouse Surgery viewed from her home village of Whitchurch, which was presented to her at the farewell event. 

In expressing her thanks, Dr Oppenheimer said it had been a real privilege to be let into people’s lives and she would miss working with her many patients.

Date/Time : Sunday, 29th April 2018 15:10

Youths leave trail of painted graffiti (six CCTV images added)

On Sunday morning (22nd April), scribbles were found painted on various walls and other surfaces in Pangbourne and Whitchurch, including the toll bridge. 

Around 9 pm on the previous evening a group of about six youths, some with rucksacks, were seen near the bridge, before a car (possibly a grey Chrysler Grand Voyager) picked them up at the toll booth. 

Anyone who can offer information on the graffiti damage is asked to phone 101 and report it to PCSO Mark Bell. 

The photo shows the bridge being pressure-washed only eight days ago. Bridge director Geoff Weir said the contractor would be returning next Wednesday to try to remove all the marks.

Update, 26th May: Six CCTV images were made available by the Bridge Company today showing pedestrians crossing the bridge shortly after 9 pm, who might be able to help police with their enquiries. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 25th April 2018 16:34

Volunteers wanted for churchyard tidy-up

The Friends of St Mary's & St John's are holding a churchyard work session at St Mary’s on Saturday 21st April from 10 am until about midday.  Tim Suiter says that volunteers will be most welcome – just turn up and bring tools suitable for trimming shrubs or trees.  Afterwards you will be rewarded with a free tea or coffee and a delicious slice of cake at the Art Café. 

Date/Time : Monday, 09th April 2018 16:32

Majesticare to make Eastfield House more secure

Steve Oakes, Director of Majesticare, has today written an open letter to the residents of Whitchurch and asked us to publish it: 

Eastfield House Care Home 

Following the public consultation held at Whitchurch Village Hall in March, we have taken the opportunity to review the feedback received from the many attendees on the day.  We are grateful to everyone who attended and those who completed a comment form.  We received a wide range of feedback and are reviewing its content in detail to assess how and where elements can be incorporated into the proposals.  We were encouraged by some of the very positive and supportive responses received on the evening, though we respect the fact that others were opposed to the plans as they currently stand. 

A very clear message that came out of the consultation was concern about anti-social behaviour associated with the site.  Whilst we have previously invested in secure fencing to secure Eastfield House we recognise that this has not been as effective as we would have wished.  Therefore, we are taking further steps to secure Eastfield House.  These include: 

  • Securing and boarding up remaining accessible windows
  • Installing CCTV with remote monitoring to deter intruders 

Whilst this work is being done we have also instructed the contractors to undertake a tidy-up of the site to address concerns raised about the current visual impact.  We will make sure to continue to keep the community updated on progress. 

Once again, we would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the consultation and share their views on the proposals.  We remain committed to working with the community to deliver a scheme that will be a real asset to the village. 

Yours faithfully

Steve Oakes

Director

Date/Time : Friday, 06th April 2018 16:09

Work on beech hedge to benefit wildlife

Further efforts are being made towards recovery of the beech hedge near the school that featured in our item of 7th January (“The beech hedge that got away”).  Here are photos taken before and after the tree-cutting, and of recent work. 

Gill Goodwin of WoTHabs reports: 

A Corridor for Wildlife:  A small working party has now strengthened the line of the hedge by using some of the cut brushwood across the gaps.  It is hoped this will both allow the healthy growth of new shoots to fill those gaps and in due course encourage wildlife.  We have left several openings for going in and out, and are optimistic that the children will understand the value of helping us regenerate areas of habitat for wildlife.  At home time the schoolchildren who stopped by to help us showed great interest in what we were doing and why.

Date/Time : Thursday, 05th April 2018 11:04

School to hold Open Forum on 18th April

Whitchurch Primary School is currently facing a financial challenge, caused by a reduction in funding at a time when costs are rising.  Chair of Governors Eleanor Sugrue and Head Teacher Dawn Chesters say that there are several options on how to proceed and have written to parents and members of the local community inviting them to discuss the choice.  An Open Forum will be held at the school at 7 pm on Wednesday 18th April for this purpose. 

The letter says: “Understanding your preferences, concerns and how we can harness the collective support of the community will enable us to make the best budget decisions for the school.” 

Read the full letter here.

Date/Time : Friday, 30th March 2018 17:39

Volunteers clean up the village

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks reports:
 
On Saturday morning volunteers gathered outside the Greyhound to clean our streets as part of the Great British Spring Clean. This was originally scheduled for early March but cancelled due to the snow. It was a great success. Keith Brooks and Tim Hardwick cleaned the upper High Street up past the war memorial to the Whitchurch Hill sign, Leslie Maynerd looked after the lower High Street, John Bradon took care of East Hardwick Road and Manor Road, Leslie Prater tidied up Eastfield Lane and Sally and Peter Woolhouse spruced up West Hardwick Road. We collected a lot of debris including bottles and cans and a couple of tyres: this will all be collected next week by BIFFA. This is an important event which helps to keep on top of litter in Whitchurch and it should continue annually to ensure that the village continues to look smart and rubbish-free.
 
The photo shows five of the seven volunteers, from left: Tim, John, Leslie M, Leslie P and Keith.
 

Date/Time : Sunday, 25th March 2018 16:22

Village Tea Party on 19th May

To celebrate the Royal Wedding on Saturday 19th May all Whitchurch residents are invited to a tea party on the village green.  The well known Roy Bailey Big Band, expected to be 19 strong, will be playing between 3.30 and 5.30 pm.  Come along with all the family and enjoy the music together with tea, biscuits and cakes. 

Having a village party to celebrate Harry and Meghan’s wedding was the idea of Lissie Steward (Reed) and Leslie Maynerd.  It will follow the successful format of the parties for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the Queen’s 90th Birthday in 2016. 

All those attending will be expected to bring either a cake or a plate of biscuits to be shared with others.  The tea will be provided without charge but a small donation towards the Pre-school will be happily accepted. 

Volunteers will be needed for various tasks, including:

  • Setting up the marquee and chairs for the band
  • Setting up gazebos and tables to protect the cakes from the sun.
  • Decorating the marquee and gazebos with bunting and flags (even an American flag or two?)
  • Serving the tea (in shifts of half an hour) 

If you can lend a gazebo for the day that will be much appreciated. 

Volunteers are asked to contact the coordinator Lissie Steward on 07751 789 107.  She looks forward to hearing from you. 

The photo above shows some village residents enjoying the Diamond Jubilee tea party in 2012.  There are more pictures in the photo archive under the dates 25.6.12 and 12.6.16.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd March 2018 10:57

Unusual auction sale of a field and two bungalows (UPDATE: field is sold for £153,000)

Three Whitchurch properties have been simultaneously placed on sale by Savills National Auctions, London W1.  They are a field of nearly two acres with a long River Thames frontage and two bungalows, all of them reached from the private road at the east end of Eastfield Lane. 

The auction takes place in less than two weeks time, on Monday 26th March, in London. 

The location of the 1.89 acre riverside field, to the south of the primary school, can be seen in the picture above.  The guide price is £75,000. Details 

Also situated to the south of the primary school are the two bungalows: a 3-bedroom bungalow in a 0.3 acre plot and a 2-bedroom bungalow with 2.8 acres of land.

All three properties are understood to have been bequeathed to the National Trust by Whitchurch resident Joan Hope, who died in 2015 at the age of 95.  She was born in Whitchurch and lived in the village all her life, inheriting several properties. She had no heirs. (See our news archive item of 16th February 2015 for more about Joan Hope.)  It appears that the National Trust has now decided to capitalise on the gift.

Update, 27th March 2018: At Savill’s auction yesterday the riverside field sold for £153,000, more than double the guide price.  The identity of the new owner is not known.  The bungalows also exceeded their guide prices, selling at £570,000 and £675,000.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 14th March 2018 15:11

Abandoned car still obstructing traffic (UPDATED)

The crashed car hindering the flow of traffic and abandoned with one wheel partly on the pavement near the entrance to Church Drive was reported to the Police by a High Street resident on 8th March.  The Police said they had been in touch with the owner who told them it is not drivable and the insurance company will come to collect it. 

Today, six days later, the grey Ford Fiesta Zetec, GP52 MXH, is still in the same location and continues to cause an obstruction to traffic, particularly in the rush hour.  At yesterday’s parish council meeting PCSO Mark Bell was asked if he could possibly do something to have it removed. 

Further up the High Street there is another car, partly on the pavement, which may also be abandoned and has been reported to police.  It is another greyish Ford Fiesta Zetec and appears driveable. 

Parish Chairman Keith Brooks said “It’s bad enough having so many cars parked along the High Street nowadays.  We certainly don’t want any abandoned ones adding to the traffic difficulties.”

Update, 15th March:  Caroline Leadbetter-Hart clarified today that the crash happened on 28th February at 11.15 pm and she spoke to the driver and passenger who were not injured.  It appears that the Police PCSO who visited on 8th March decided that the car was not causing an obstruction, which is a surprising decision, and in that case it may be up to OCC to remove it. 

Update 20th March: The car has been removed, nearly three weeks after the crash.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 14th March 2018 13:19

Coombe Park plagued by unwanted visitors

It seems that the recently reported painting of graffiti on the Coombe Park gates in Manor Road is not the only problem on the estate this year. 

Richard Krupinski lives in a house in Coombe Park and is a brother-in-law of Martyn Deaner, the maritime services entrepreneur who used to own the 125 acre estate, which was bought by a London property company in 2015.  Mr Krupinski said last week that there had been an influx of intruders earlier this year after word went round about the empty mansion.  This happened several months after Coombe Park had gone on sale for £10 million last October and after a Henley Standard article in December. 

Last year there had been occasional instances of people trespassing on the estate, he said, but in January he was surprised on one occasion to find 20 or 30 young people in the mansion's conservatory.  They turned out to be members of a loosely organised group who share information about breaking into derelict buildings, taking photographs inside and publishing them on websites.  The group is called 28 Days Later, or 28DL, after a 2007 post-apocalyptic film in which survivors wander abandoned streets pursued by zombies. 

He said he had spoken to one young woman who said she had visited many interesting sites and had recently flown to Majorca to photograph the interior of a disused hospital. Destruction of property does not seem to be the aim of these people, he said, though a skylight window had been broken in an attempt to gain access to the boarded-up building. He thought most of the intruders were teenagers. 

Mr Krupinski said that initially the Police had responded but later they had asked the property company to provide its own security.  In recent weeks the entrance gates in Manor Road have been padlocked and security personnel have been living on the estate, which is still advertised for sale, providing 24 hour cover. 

With its variety of rooms, Coombe Park seems to be highly rated by young 'explorers'.  Mr Krupinski thought the graffiti on the gates might have been painted by 28DL enthusiasts, alerted by information on their website, hoping to visit the property but frustrated by the padlock. Though the painted graffiti featured swastikas and ‘NF’ marks, he understood that police did not think there was any political significance.

Update, Monday 12th March:

There have been two more intrusions despite the presence of security personnel and electronic devices.  Last Thursday, smoke rising from a chimney led to the discovery of young people drinking brandy and burning one of the fitted cushions in the fireplace of one of the grand rooms.  On Saturday two middle-aged men and a younger person were exploring the property with the aid of a drone and a cine camera.  In both cases the intruders were escorted off the premises and the police informed. 

Date/Time : Monday, 12th March 2018 09:26

Plans for Eastfield House presented

There was a big turnout in the village hall on Thursday to see Majesticare’s latest plans for their Eastfield House care home.  Eastfield Lane residents, parish councillors and many others came to find out what the owners were planning to do about the empty and decaying Victorian building, which has been subjected to intruders and vandalism.  Representing Majesticare were: Roger Pratap and Steve Oakes, directors and sole owners; Pasquale Nicosia, head of development; and Emma Fielder, manager of the company’s care homes in Henley and Wargrave. 

There is now a long trail of planning history.  In 2010 Majesticare submitted plans for a large extension at the rear of the existing building, increasing the number of bedrooms from 27 to 45.  This was refused by SODC but the company successfully appealed in 2013. 

In 2015 Majesticare submitted two new sets of plans, involving an increase to 50 bedrooms.  The first involved the complete demolition of the existing building and the construction of a replacement for it, together with the new rear extension. The second was similar but with the existing historic facade preserved in its position while the rest of the building was demolished and rebuilt behind it.  Both these applications were refused by SODC. 

On Thursday Majesticare presented another set of plans and answered questions.  There is the same rear extension as before and a complete demolition of the existing building. The proposed rebuild (architect’s image above) is intended to copy the existing architectural shape and materials of walls, roof and chimneys, and would aim to re-use the stone surrounds of windows and entrance door, and the stained glass window.  The western end of the existing building would incorporate a larger, modern entrance.  The ground floor would be slightly lower than at present to reduce the steps up from ground level.  A larger basement would be excavated than in earlier plans, enabling three more en suite bedrooms to be added at higher level and pushing the bedroom count up to 48.  The basement would accommodate the kitchen, laundry, staff changing room, hair salon, therapy room and cinema. 

Reactions from those attending varied from acceptance to outright rejection.  Some asked whether a distinguished Victorian building located in a Conservation Area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty should be allowed to be demolished and rebuilt.  Majesticare now have an opportunity to consider the comments written on their questionnaires before they apply for planning permission.  They say that if permission is granted they would envisage re-opening the home in 2020. 

There will be the usual opportunity for formal comments to be submitted to SODC once an application has been submitted and the consultation period has started.

Meanwhile, there has been active discussion of the issue on Facebook.

Updated 19th March: a PDF of Majesticare's exhibition boards can be seen here.

There is a Henley Standard article dated 19th March here

Date/Time : Saturday, 10th March 2018 10:45

Coombe Park gates defaced with blue paint

Sometime on Monday night vandals attacked the locked gates leading from Manor Road into Coombe Park, spraying blue paint on the brick pillars and on the iron gateposts.  Police have visited and examined the site. 

Anyone with information that might help the Police with their enquiries is asked to phone 101 and report it. 

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks said today that PCSO Mark Bell is planning to attend the parish council meeting next Tuesday evening when vandalism, and what to do about it, can be discussed.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 07th March 2018 18:01

Whitchurch Primary School’s high standard recognised

Headteacher Mrs Dawn Chesters has received a letter from Rt Hon Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, congratulating her, the staff and pupils of Whitchurch Primary School on their very high standard of achievement in reading and mathematics in last year’s SATS assessments.

The letter states: “Your school’s results, as published on 14 December, show that 100% of your pupils reached or exceeded the expected standard in reading and mathematics at the end of key stage 2. This means that your school is in the top 1% of primary schools in England for attainment in reading and mathematics.”

Date/Time : Friday, 02nd March 2018 18:34

Jerry, Denise and the Academy Award return from Hollywood

Jerry Huxtable is now back at work after a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  His wife Denise says “We had a great time and the awards ceremony went very well.  It was held at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, which is the 'Pretty Woman' hotel in Beverly Hills, and hosted by Patrick Stewart. We had time for sightseeing after the ceremony and especially appreciated the summery weather.” 

Here are photos showing the Huxtables and actor Sir Patrick Stewart in the grand ballroom of the hotel for the 86th annual Academy of Motion Pictures Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards earlier this month. 

As mentioned in our news item of 13th January, Jerry was one of five people jointly cited for their contributions to the design and development of the Nuke compositing system, which has become the most popular visual effects toolkit in the film industry. 

Following that news item, the Henley Standard contacted Jerry and wrote a comprehensive article, which can be read here.

Date/Time : Monday, 26th February 2018 09:22

Owners have new plans to demolish care home (UPDATED)

Many people have expressed concern at the deterioration of the empty Eastfield House care home, sometimes used as an adventure playground last year before the owners Majesticare fenced it off and the police put up signs. 

Earlier this month Majesticare attended a meeting at SODC offices in Didcot together with parish council chairman Keith Brooks and district councillor Rob Simister. 

Keith Brooks was keen to emphasise how concerned many Whitchurch residents are about the deterioration of the building, one of the finest old houses in the conservation area of the village, and about the apparent lack of any action. 

Majesticare said that they would shortly be presenting new plans.  These would again involve demolition of the existing building and the construction of a new one.  They would like to show the new plans to the village before making their next application.  The company believes it can persuade residents that this is the best solution.  No date has yet been set for a presentation. (See Update below)

In January 2015 (our news item of 10.1.15 gives the letter in full) SODC refused outline planning permission for demolition and rebuilding of the care home, giving three reasons:

1.  The building is of historic and architectural importance.

2.  The new north elevation overlooks neighbouring properties.

3.  Insufficient information was presented on groundwater and sewage flooding risks. 

It has been suggested that VAT regulations may be a factor that the company has to take into account as the tax is generally payable on a conversion but not on a complete rebuild.  However, HMRC apparently allows one façade to be kept where required by planning permission, without incurring VAT.

Update,1st March: A public exhibition will be held by Majesticare on Thursday 8th March in the Village Hall, from 4 pm to 8 pm, to show their plans for the care home and to answer questions.

Date/Time : Saturday, 24th February 2018 16:58

Resignation from Parish Council creates vacancy

Carrie Leadbeater-Hart has resigned from the Parish Council, citing work and family commitments.  She said “The council are doing a fantastic job and I’d encourage anyone who is passionate about our community to get involved.” 

Parish Council chairman Keith Brooks commented: “I am sorry that Carrie is leaving the Parish Council.  We will miss her very much as she has been involved in many of our projects, particularly with getting the new pavilion project off the ground.  We all wish her and her family the best for the future.” 

Information on the vacancy and details of how to apply to become a Whitchurch parish councillor can be found here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd February 2018 10:50

‘Mill of a thousand secrets’

Some of our local historians will be aware that in the 1960s the Whitchurch Mill housed a secret product development unit run by wartime inventor John Dolphin, after whom the Adventure Dolphin Centre in Pangbourne is named. 

Roger Wright worked with John Dolphin in the development team for three years and is now retired and lives near Greenwich.  He has sent us a fascinating old magazine article, which he recently discovered, describing some of the work they were doing.  

It begins: “On one of the loveliest reaches of the Thames – far removed from the noisy clatter and grime of tube mills – stands the Mill at Whitchurch, Oxon, headquarters of Tube Investments’ hush-hush Product Development Unit. …The sleepy, dreamlike atmosphere of the Mill as seen from the nearby toll bridge can be misleading. … Come inside and you will find a compact, highly skilled team at work translating often revolutionary ideas into practical products.” 

The three page article Mill of a thousand secrets appeared in the Tube Investments company magazine of May-June 1967 with a cover photo of the building (above). 

The article reveals that in the 1960s Whitchurch was at the cutting edge of electric car development.  The Mark II version of the Tube Investments car had a range of 50 miles and a speed of 25 mph.  Roger’s job included road and track testing of the prototype but the little electric car never went into production. 

The article brings new insights to the history of The Mill, now a private house, and adds to the story on our About the Village page.

Date/Time : Sunday, 18th February 2018 18:05

Visit Normandy by luxury coach this May

La Bouille survived the recent River Seine floodwaters unscathed.  Now Vicky Jordan, chairman of the Whitchurch and Goring Heath Twinning Association, has announced the details of this year’s visit: 

“Our visit to La Bouille is fixed for 4th to 7th May, and our hosts are encouraging us to come with as many people as possible. We will have a luxury coach leaving Whitchurch at around 9am on the Friday, and we return about 10pm on Monday 7th. 

It’s our 40th year of twinning, so apart from staying in a delightful town on the banks of the Seine, we will be entertained at the Town Hall and have a special dinner together in the village hall. Our Sunday visit will also be a special one. We will go to Giverny, to see Monet’s garden, his house, and of course the water lilies – if they aren’t flowering, the wisteria on the Japanese bridge will be. 

The more people we have the cheaper it will be, but it won’t be more that £200, and children travel free. 

So, come and celebrate with us. 

We will be holding a “Tea Café” at The Old Rectory Stables in Whitchurch from 3pm to 5pm on Sunday 25th March where we will offer free tea and cake, a chance to meet some twinners, as well as information on the trip. In the meantime, you can express interest on vickyjordan5@hotmail.com or ring 0118 984 3260.”

There is more on the flyer.

Date/Time : Monday, 12th February 2018 18:17

Join in the nation-wide Spring Clean

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks says: 

“It's just three weeks until the Great British Spring Clean, set for the weekend of 2nd, 3rd and 4th March.  Now is the time to add your tidy-up to the map and show the world you're part of something big! 

Be part of this fantastic event and meet outside the Greyhound at 10 am on Saturday 3rd March to clean Whitchurch on Thames.  Gloves, pickers and refuse sacks will be provided.” 

The Great British Spring Clean is a campaign organised by the registered charity Keep Britain Tidy.  Its aim is 'to bring people across the country together to clear up the litter that blights our towns, villages, countryside and beaches'. 

Date/Time : Friday, 09th February 2018 17:33

Village Plan meeting next Wednesday 7th

Village Plan chairman Jim Donahue is encouraging residents to take an active role in planning Whitchurch's future.  He says...

We are having our next Village Plan team meeting this Wednesday 7th February, 8 to 9:30pm at the Old Stables. We will be discussing progress by the four working groups that were recently established.  New participants and anyone curious about what we are doing are welcome to attend.

Topics we will be discussing include:

  • Traffic and parking issues
  • Plans for village facilities
  • Plans of open spaces and pavements
  • How community activities could be improved
  • Progress on the last Village Plan Action Plan

We still need volunteers to help us with things like developing a survey to get feedback from the village, organising consultation sessions, and with skills in writing the final document including graphic design and publishing.”

The recently installed new village sign (pictured above) came in for criticism from those who thought it looked a bit odd to have the support poles protruding at the top. Jim Donahue asked OCC to correct their installation but little seemed to be happening. So he asked County Councillor Kevin Bulmer to encourage them and last week an OCC contractor came to shorten the poles.  The sign now looks like this.

Date/Time : Saturday, 03rd February 2018 14:50

Twin town La Bouille is braced for River Seine flood

Paris has been experiencing unusually high flood levels in the River Seine, as seen on the news recently.  Our twinned community of La Bouille is situated on the Seine downstream of Paris, where the river cuts through chalk hills near Rouen in Normandy.  Earlier this month its inhabitants were hit by high water levels, coinciding with high tides.  And now they are preparing for the arrival of the peak of the flood that has recently affected Paris.  

Vicky Jordan, chairman of the Whitchurch & Goring Heath Twinning Association, has sent a note of sympathy to Martine Cousin, Presidente of the La Bouille Twinning Committee.  

To see a video of the recent Seine flood in La Bouille, with a backdrop of huge ships gliding past the town, click here.  Scroll past the story about a body discovered in the river to the video entitled “Près de Rouen: La Bouille sous les eaux de la Seine”. 

This year it is the turn of the residents of Whitchurch and Goring Heath to visit their opposite numbers in La Bouille.  The event is planned for the weekend of 4th to 7th May.  If you would like to join in, contact Vicky

The Twinning Association AGM is tomorrow (Wednesday 31st) at 7.30 pm in The Old Stables.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 30th January 2018 15:35

Party suggested for royal wedding day

At its meeting this month the parish council discussed the idea of having a celebratory event on the village green on Saturday 19th May to mark the wedding at Windsor Castle, on that day, of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

Parish councillors are keen to know what people think of the idea.  Dave Bowen says: “The format could be similar to previous events with a picnic on the green, a band playing some music and people generally having a good time. It would be great to hear people’s ideas and especially hear from people who would like to get involved in helping to organise an event like this.” 

Dave can be contacted by email or on 07531 600 888.  Or comments can be sent to the message board.

Date/Time : Saturday, 27th January 2018 16:40

Two more village signs installed

Parish chairman Keith Brooks reports on the completion of the project to have new village signs at each of the three road approaches: 

“Today we had the remaining two new signs installed in the village.  I liaised with Mark Matthews from Kingdom Signs who produced and installed the signs, which include the design derived from those produced by the pupils of Whitchurch on Thames Primary School and an acknowledgement of our twinning with La Bouille in France.  The signs were paid for by the Parish Council and are part of a long term project to identify areas of the village which need updating and by addressing these needs we can ensure that Whitchurch on Thames always appears smart and well looked after.”

Date/Time : Thursday, 25th January 2018 19:37

New traffic calming scheme for toll bridge

The Whitchurch Bridge Company has found that the cost of its preferred scheme to widen the Pangbourne approach road is higher than expected and has decided, for the time being, to extend the 20 mph speed limit in Pangbourne across the length of the bridge. 

Company Secretary Geoff Weir stated today:

“Our engineering consultants Peter Brett Associates (PBA) are still engaged in pre-application planning discussions with West Berkshire Council on our preferred option C2 for widening the Pangbourne approach road, as described in the October Bulletin.  Estimated costs are higher than expected and we will be looking at ways to reduce these, as on present estimates we could not afford to do the works before 2020. 

We have therefore decided to proceed immediately with a traffic calming scheme which will join up with the Pangbourne 20 mph zone to give a clear and continuous 20mph speed limit from the Toll Booth, over the Bridge and along Whitchurch Road into Pangbourne.  We expect the scheme to include new 20 mph signs at the Toll Booth, a tidying up of the signage at the boundary of the Pangbourne 20 mph zone outside the Boathouse Surgery, proactive “Slow Down” signs, and the reinstatement of the roadway rumble strip alongside the Pangbourne approach road footway kerb. 

These works do not require planning permission, but do need approval from West Berkshire Council Highways Department. They have already confirmed their support in principle, and PBA are working with them to finalise the details.  We hope to complete these works by the autumn.” 

Further information is available on the Bridge Company’s website

During 2017 the Bridge Company looked at the feasibility of Option D, the concept of a ‘path through the tees’.  This idea had been put forward by village resident Jean Bull as a way of taking pedestrians safely away from the hazardous curved part of the approach road, and was outlined in our news item of 7th December 2016: ‘Support grows for walkway through trees’.  However, it is understood that Option D has turned out to be more expensive than Option C2.  PBA’s report on the feasibility of Option D, which includes drawings, can be found on the Bridge Company’s website.  

Date/Time : Friday, 19th January 2018 14:34

Community singing group starting up

So many people came to sing carols in the car park of The Ferryboat before Christmas, enjoying themselves and creating a great sense of community, that several people suggested starting up a Whitchurch community choir.  A name for it, ‘SINGWOT’, has been proposed. 

Geraldine Witcher and Clare Donahue would now like to hear from all those who would like to join in.  See the attached flyer

Geraldine says: “We would meet once a month, hopefully in the Old Stables, in an informal and enjoyable way, to sing well loved songs, and learn some new ones. There will be no requirements such as reading music or even holding a tune alone, because the aim is to have fun and enjoy singing together. So far we have a pianist, and about seven people have already shown interest. But we would like to know from people who want to join whether they have a preferred day, or time?  Please could you contact us and let us know what you think about SINGWOT.” 

You can get in touch with the organisers on 0776 646 3132 (Geraldine) or by email (Clare).

Date/Time : Monday, 15th January 2018 18:35

Whitchurch resident wins Academy Award (UPDATED)

Jerry Huxtable of Swanston Field, Whitchurch, will be travelling with his wife Denise to Beverly Hills, Hollywood, next month to receive an Academy Award following an announcement last week by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Jerry is one of five people jointly cited among the Technical Achievement Awards for their contributions to the design and development of the Nuke compositing system. This system has become the most popular visual effects toolkit in the film industry.

Having graduated in physics at York University, Jerry, now 56, went directly into computing and now works with The Foundry in London as a senior software engineer.  He explains that the Nuke system, which he and his fellow award-winning colleagues developed, is a sort of PhotoShop for film-makers: “It's basically the process of taking all the elements of a shot - the sky, landscapes, building, actors shot against green screens, computer-generated characters and objects, smoke, effects and so on - which were all taken at different times, at different locations, with different lighting, or never actually existed in real life, and putting them together to make it look like they were all shot by the same camera at the same time. This is complicated by the fact that everything is moving and has to follow the camera and remain consistent from frame to frame.”

The Huxtables arrived in Whitchurch 18 years ago.  Denise says that she is really delighted with the news and that their children Tom 23, Jennifer 19 and Lia 15 are very proud of their Dad.

 

Postscript: James Burton, reporter for the Henley Standard, read the above news item, contacted Jerry and wrote a comprehensive article, which can be seen here.

 

Date/Time : Saturday, 13th January 2018 18:30

Proposal for new house in High Street

At a meeting this week, the parish council discussed an application to build a three-bedroom house in the garden of Ash Court on the east side of the High Street, in the heart of the Conservation Area.  

Details of the proposed new house, and of a new vehicle entrance through the brick-and-flint perimeter wall for access to the existing house, can be seen on the SODC planning website here

Parish councillors resolved to submit an objection to SODC, regarding the development as unacceptable on several grounds. 

Also discussed was an application to build a two-storey garage, office and games room in the garden of Prospect House, on the corner of the High Street and Eastfield Lane, after demolishing an existing garage.  Planning details are here.  The site is within the Conservation Area.  The parish council also objected to this proposal. 

Both these applications are currently out to consultation.  Any comments must be received by SODC before 31st January. 

Hardwick ‘Veg Shed’ to expand 

At the December meeting of the parish council, Iain Tolhurst described his pre-application to SODC for enlargement of the Vegetable Shed near the entrance gates to Hardwick House.  The new shed would be twice the size of the present one, with separate road entrance and exit and parking for up to 15 cars.  For more information, see the December minutes on the Parish Council page.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 10th January 2018 16:51

The beech hedge that got away

Many years ago a line of beech saplings was planted to create a hedge at the southern edge of what is now the village green, on the left hand side of the road to the school.  But the plants were not given a regular trimming back and so grew into trees.  How to manage them now is a question that has been given much thought, as Gill Goodwin of WoTHabs explains: 

During February this year the beech trees lining the southern edge of the Village Green will  be cut to hedge height, with the exception of one large mature beech in that line.   This decision by the Parish Council was made after consultation with local environmental group WoTHABS, who in turn had consulted Oxfordshire's Forestry Officer.  In addition, the large maple tree just inside the boundary will be felled.   These works will allow the two adjacent mature lime trees and a smaller Indian horse chestnut the space they need in order to avoid the current serious overcrowding.   Originally the line of over 60 beeches was planted as a hedge and this work will get it back to a height which can be easily maintained. It is also hoped it will become a denser corridor for local wildlife as the twiggy bits produce new sideways and upward growth. The work will be undertaken during the school's half-term holiday to minimise any inconvenience. 

The height of the trees can be seen in this photo.

Date/Time : Sunday, 07th January 2018 14:36

Go Active Gold comes to Whitchurch on 7th February

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have been awarded £227,000 by Sport England towards a three year fitness project for the over-60s called GO ACTIVE GOLD.  The project comes to Whitchurch in the form of an initial taster event in the village hall on Wednesday 7th February, 10 am to 12 noon. 

The aim is to encourage more active lifestyles among older people by setting up some local physical activities catering for all abilities.  The project is fully explained in this leaflet.  Activities mentioned include Table Tennis, Golf, Yoga, Tai Chi, Senior Circuits, Keep Fit Classes, Nordic Walking and Dancing. 

All over-60s, and anyone who would like to get involved in helping to organise activities within the programme, are invited to come along to the taster event.  There is a flyer attached to the entry in What’s On.

Date/Time : Thursday, 04th January 2018 14:04