News

Polish Memorial Garden event on Sunday 14th

A milestone event will take place on Sunday 14th August at 2.30 pm, when the Polish Memorial Garden in Manor Road will finally be officially opened. Six years ago, the responsibility for the management of the site was transferred to Whitchurch Parish Council by SODC, on the understanding that it should be developed into a tranquil green space for the community to enjoy.

Since then, this neglected area has been transformed by the hard work of numerous working parties, to make it a pleasant space to relax and quietly enjoy the meadow area and the little copse, both now increasing in bio-diversity. The most significant part of the project is the raised platform to commemorate the site of the Polish Chapel, demolished in 2014. This was an important place of worship for the Polish community from shortly after the end of the Second World War until 1992.

Do come along, from 2.00 pm, to join in the opening ceremony at 2.30 pm, including the blessing of the cross, and to hear some of the fascinating recollections of the Coombe Park Camp from past residents and their relatives. Refreshments will be served in the Village Hall after the ceremony and some historic photos will be on display there. There will be direction signs from the Village Hall to the Garden, for those who are not sure where this well-kept secret is hidden.

Everyone will be very welcome.  For further information, please contact Anna Szczeponek, the Guardian of the site, on 01189 841234 or email annaponek@btinternet.com.

Here is the poster for the event, which suggests an arrival time of 2.00 pm, for the ceremony at 2.30 pm.

For more about Whitchurch's refugee community and the history of the Coombe Park Camp, go to this page.

Date/Time : Friday, 05th August 2022 17:04

Creatures of the Night

During the last two years, Nature Editor Sally Woolhouse has from time to time posted fascinating articles on aspects of the natural world in Whitchurch, with contributions from others and plenty of photographs.  Topics have included spring birdlife, wildflowers, butterflies, deer, otters and more. 

Now she has created a new article Creatures of the Night, featuring hedgehogs, badgers, bats, moths and glow-worms.   It can be found on our Nature Notes page

She suggests staying up late one night, finding a quiet spot in the garden and seeing what creatures are out and about. 

The photo above, taken by Lorna Woolhouse, shows an Elephant Hawkmoth.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 27th July 2022 17:21

Is the new 20 mph speed limit working?

The new speed limit has now been in operation for two months and some residents are asking whether it is having any effect on traffic speed. 

Some people think that altering a single digit on speed limit signs is not a striking enough change to make drivers notice.  Painting 20 mph roundels on the road at each entrance point to the village has been suggested. 

Parish councillor Diana Smith said today: “We have recently asked OCC to add roundels on the road surface to draw drivers’ attention to the change, but OCC have told us that average speeds in Whitchurch do not justify their spending money on this.  However, the parish council intends to keep the matter under review over the next year.  Installing an electronic speed monitoring sign is another possibility.” 

TAPWG, the working group advising the parish council, has registered the village in the Community Speedwatch scheme.  This requires local volunteers, who receive training to qualify them to measure vehicle speeds and report transgressors to the police.  Anyone wishing to volunteer is invited to contact Linda Gray at lindapgray100@gmail.com.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 26th July 2022 12:47

Sally Trinder has died

With great sadness we report the death of Sally Trinder, a long-time resident of the village.  She had moved from Whitchurch to Bristol two years ago to be nearer to members of her family.  Her husband Stephen died in 2015. 

Sally and Stephen arrived in the village from Purley in 1972, living first at Wellesley House at the top of the High Street and then, from 2007, at The Gables in Eastfield Lane. 

Diana Marriott was told the sad news yesterday by Sally’s brother John Cottrell who lives in Bristol.  Diana says: “Sally died shortly after moving into a hospice, having been suffering from cancer for several months.  She was a good friend to so many people and took part in many local activities.  She worked as a primary school teacher, helped to run a charity shop in Caversham supporting the Duchess of Kent Hospice, sang with the Thames Vale Singers and played tennis and golf.” 

Before reluctantly leaving Whitchurch, she gave a farewell present of a crab apple tree, now growing at the Maze. 

There will be a private funeral service in Bristol, followed later by a service of thanksgiving in Whitchurch, details for which will be announced here. 

The photo above was taken at her farewell party in 2020.  Another photo of Sally, with her dog Toffee, can be seen here.  An appreciation of Stephen's life can be read in our News Archive for 18th June 2015. 

Date/Time : Saturday, 23rd July 2022 21:34

What is happening at the Walled Garden House? (See also Photo Gallery)

The Walled Garden House, sold following the death last year of Stan Remington, is situated within the high brick walls of the old vegetable and flower garden of Walliscote House.  A contractor was at work this morning (Monday 4th July) starting to fill in the large pond that was created many years ago to store water.  The photo, taken this morning, shows a digger used to remove the paving between the pond and the high brick wall opposite the Greyhound.  Earth and branches now partially fill the pond.

Such work requires permission from the land drainage authority, SODC.  The historic pond also is within the Whitchurch Conservation Area, which has strict regulations on construction work.  Apparently, no application has been made to SODC for permission to carry out the work. 

The pond is on the line of a stream sometimes referred to as the village watercourse that removes flood water from the fields to the west of the village via a hidden culvert flowing into the pond.  From the opposite end of the pond, it flows through another hidden culvert across the High Street and past the Greyhound. Crossing under Eastfield Lane it flows first in a buried pipeline, then in an open channel, to its outfall into the river Thames.  The whole watercourse is an essential component in the flood defence and land drainage of the village. 

The owner/developer, understood to be a Mr Knott of Basingstoke, has said that he plans to install a 0.9 metre diameter pipe to take the flow through the backfilled pond.  The pond is about 30 metres long and a 90-degree bend would be needed near the outlet.  Such a job would require pumping the pond dry and some skilful construction work. 

The land drainage and planning offices in SODC, and our district councillor Peter Dragonetti, have been informed.  The Environment Agency has also been informed. 

The tactic by a developer of taking action first and applying for permission later may remind readers of the situation at The Haven in Eastfield Lane a few years ago, where the roof was prematurely taken off the bungalow before an application was made to demolish it and build two houses on the plot.  It is understood to be the same developer who has now bought The Walled Garden House.

UPDATE, Wednesday 6th July, 5 pm: 

SODC’s land drainage officer advised the property owner/developer Mr Justin Knott of Basingstoke yesterday (Tuesday 5th) that permission would not be given for his intended works on the pond.  Later in the day, Mr Knott communicated to say that he had decided to abandon the project of backfilling the pond and installing a pipeline through the backfill.  However, the historic pond has already suffered considerable damage to its perimeter at the hands of the digger driver on Friday, Monday and Tuesday.  It now contains many large pieces of broken-up concrete, earth pushed in from the surrounds and tree debris. Its ability to function properly in a flood has been affected.  Also, silt pollution from the work may be entering the culvert under the High Street. 

It has emerged that the deeds to the Walled Garden House contain a covenant requiring the owner to keep the pond and its outlet free from obstruction.  This is in addition to the fact that any works on the pond would require Section 23 Land Drainage consent.  Furthermore, the property is in the Whitchurch Conservation Area and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  SODC’s Tree Officer has been alerted to the unauthorised felling of trees in the garden and the risk of more felling. 

Today the site was fenced off and closed. How many houses the owner hopes to build on the property will be seen when a planning application is received by SODC. 

UPDATE, Saturday 9th July: 

Despite the developer's undertaking given to SODC's land drainage officer on Tuesday 5th, on Thursday 7th a large quantity of earth was brought from near the house and dumped in piles on the long western edge of the pond.  This has been reported to SODC as no work is permitted near a watercourse without permission. 

UPDATE, Saturday 23rd July: 

Further earthworks have been carried out, as can be seen in the Photo Gallery.  The pond has been narrowed to a channel connecting the inlet and outlet culverts of the village watercourse.  

Date/Time : Monday, 04th July 2022 13:05

Historic England begins assessment of Eastfield House

Some weeks ago, village resident Laura Lucas came across a document in the Oxfordshire archives that included a vital piece of historic information on Eastfield House: the name of the architect John Thomas Lee who designed it.  Further checking revealed that he had been involved in design of three other large houses, all of which are listed.  Believing that the identity of the architect had not been known to those considering some years ago whether Eastfield House should be listed, she sent her findings to Historic England. 

She heard this week that they have deemed Eastfield House eligible to be considered for listing and they are now at the initial assessment phase of the process. 

The property is understood to be in the final stages of sale from Majesticare to Urban Village Group. The buyers are currently awaiting the result of a planning application, which involves many changes to the internal layout of the original building, as reported in our news item last month (28th May). 

The deadline for submitting comments to SODC on the planning application is this Friday, 1st July.  

For detailed information on the life of the architect concerned, see this Note prepared by Laura.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 29th June 2022 14:16

Ferryboat front door shuttered (UPDATED)

Lincoln Eu, who has been trying to keep The Ferryboat running since the death of the leaseholder Graham Dednum in May, has been told he no longer has a job.  The pub was closed earlier this week and fitted with a temporary steel door (photo)

After 11 years working at the pub Lincoln now finds himself in limbo, though as shown in this picture he and his red Mercedes are still in residence. 

The owners of the pub since 2018 have been Heineken Star Pubs & Bars, who continue to use the trading name Punch.  They are believed to be discussing the lease with Graham’s widow and family, prior to appointing a new landlord and arranging for a re-opening.  Meanwhile, they have not posted a notice at the door and the old menus and opening hours remain on display in the High Street. The pub’s website and telephone answering service offer no news of the closure. 

Their website has an Events page, reminding us of Graham’s legacy with photos of Whitchurch’s bands, the NeverNevers and the WoTJammers. 

Update, 7th July

Heineken Star Pubs & Bars, based in Edinburgh, have responded to a village resident’s concern about the current situation, as follows: 

“Our thoughts are with Graham’s family at this difficult time. Graham was very community-focussed and will be sadly missed. As regards the future of The Ferryboat Inn, we are committed to reopening the pub but there are legal and compliance procedures that need to be completed before we can recruit an operator.  The Ferryboat Inn was run as an independent business. We therefore did not employ the staff and are unable to provide any information on staffing. All marketing and local communication is also controlled by those running the previous independent business.”

Date/Time : Sunday, 26th June 2022 14:40

Cross-river action on pedestrian safety

A significant milestone was achieved last week towards improving the safety of pedestrians on the narrow, curved approach road to the toll bridge on the Pangbourne side of the river.  Two Whitchurch councillors, Jim Donahue and Frances Parkes, crossed the river and put forward a motion at a meeting of Pangbourne Parish Council.  The report they presented can be read here

The approach road is owned by the Bridge Company, while West Berkshire Council is the Highways Authority.  Efforts over the last ten or more years to have the hazardous conditions improved have not resulted in any action. 

The Whitchurch motion was approved by Pangbourne Parish Council. A small Cross-River Working Group is now to be set up, with representatives from Pangbourne, Whitchurch and West Berkshire Council. 

Jim Donahue explains that the formal approach to Pangbourne Parish Council follows discussions he initiated with a West Berks councillor and with the Pangbourne & Whitchurch Sustainability group (PAWS).  A West Berks engineer has now re-appraised the 2016 report by Peter Brett Associates.  The aim is to secure support for hiring consultants to develop one of the options studied, which are to widen the road on one side or the other, or to introduce a chicane and local widening.  The alternative concept of a raised footway through the trees has not been ruled out.

Collecting evidence of hazardous conditions is important and any incidents should be reported in detail to Councillor Frances Parkes at cllrparkes.whitchurchonthames@gmail.com or 07867 009 614.  Anyone wishing to get involved in the Cross-River Working Group should also contact Frances. Data will be kept securely and in line with GDPR, as per the privacy statement below: 

Privacy Statement:

By providing details of any incidents on the Whitchurch Bridge Approach Road, you confirm that you are content for Whitchurch Parish Council to process your personal data for the purposes of this survey. If you would like to withdraw your consent at any time, please contact Frances Parkes – cllrparkes.whitchurchonthames@gmail.com Your personal data will be shared only with members of Whitchurch Parish Council. Whitchurch Parish Council will only collect personal data that is necessary for this survey and will take all reasonable steps to ensure the personal data they hold is not incorrect or misleading. Whitchurch Parish Council will keep your personal data until the project is completed, after which it will be destroyed. This will apply to any of your personal data held by individual members. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 23rd June 2022 16:36

Whitchurch football season finishes strongly

On Saturday June 4th on the village green, AFC Whitchurch held its annual club presentation morning.  Club Chairman, Alex Hilton, welcomed parents, players and coaches representing each of the competitive U13, U14, U15 and U18 teams.   Teams split off to their individual team presentations before club friendly showcase games between the U18 vs U15 and U14 vs U13s.

In 2022 AFC Whitchurch had 70+ registered players across the 6 competitive teams (including our newly formed U8s), and another 30 in our Saturday morning Academy for 5-7 year olds.   The club welcomes boys and girls from across the age groups to come and play. For more information contact afcwhitchurch@yahoo.co.uk

The photo above shows some of the players.  To see the full picture click here.

Date/Time : Monday, 06th June 2022 12:28

Jubilee Beacon lighting on Thursday (Updated)

A Jubilee Beacon has been under construction over many weeks on Sandra Parkinson's land, on the hill at Chalkhills in Hardwick Road, with her initiative and guidance, and is now ready to be lit this Thursday evening, 2nd June.  The eight-foot-high structure is the result of much hard work by Sandra, Charles Cotgreave and other members of the Green Team, including Geoff Weir and John Bradon.  See photo

We are all invited to gather at the cricket pavilion on the village green, with a clear view of the beacon, to see it lit at 9.45 pm.   The beacon lighting team up on the hill will be Sandra, Sally & Pete Woolhouse and Charles Cotgreave.  

At 9.35 pm, there will be a bagpipe tribute to Her Majesty the Queen at the pavilion.  Alastair Dunstan has been practising the tune Diu Regnare, which has been specially written for the occasion and will be played all round the country and Commonwealth. 

At 9.45 pm the beacon will be lit, at the same time as around 2000 other beacons around the country. 

All are welcome at the pavilion.  There will not be a bar but drinks or refreshments can be brought along.  The weather forecast is favourable. 

Update, 4th June: There was a good turnout. Photo from village green added, above.  More photos. with captions, in the Gallery.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 31st May 2022 23:33

Jubilee weekend approaches

Nicola Armstrong of the School Parents Association reports: 

The village is really starting to get into the spirit of the Jubilee.  The bunting created by the children at Whitchurch Primary School and Knit & Stitch has gone up.  It would be lovely to see more bunting up around the village too.  Preparations are well underway for the Jubilee Tea Party next Sunday, 5th June, from 2 to 5 pm. 

Just a reminder that if you can bring along a cake to share as a community for the cake table that would be wonderful.  There will be refreshments available and a bar raising money for the school.  There will also be some crafts for the children.  It might also be useful to bring along some chairs or a blanket to sit on.  There will be some shelter but if this glorious weather doesn’t hold you may want to bring something to shelter under.  Look forward to seeing you all at the village green next weekend. 

For any queries, contact Nicola at nicola.luetchford@btinternet.com

The Roy Bailey Big Band will be in action on the village green between 2 pm and 4 pm.

Date/Time : Sunday, 29th May 2022 10:18

Eastfield House – new application

The derelict care home Eastfield House, recently sold by Majesticare to specialist developer Urban Village Group of Sutton Coldfield, is once again the subject of a planning application.  This time for a variation of the permission obtained on appeal in 2013, which provided for the partial demolition of the existing building and the construction of a large extension, which would have increased the number of bedrooms from 27 to 43.

The new variations include changes to the internal layout, apparently two more bedrooms, more dormers, a large brick-built 'summer house' in the garden and an additional plant room near the eastern boundary.  The entrance is at the side of the building, the main doorway at the front being redundant.

Consultation runs from 27th May to 1st July.  The plans can be seen on the SODC planning page

Eastfield House has been empty since 2016 when Majesticare closed the care home.  Following various incursions, all the windows were later boarded up against visitors.  A planning application for complete demolition was refused on appeal in 2020.

The Urban Village Group gives a brief description of the project here

Date/Time : Saturday, 28th May 2022 19:27

For this Ukrainian family it is like a fairy tale

The Ukrainian family of three, whose visas took two months to process, have arrived and are living in Swanston Field, Whitchurch, at the home of their host Mrs Judi Green and her family.  They arrived last weekend and the two children are already in school.  Mark Goldenberg, 6, has been at the Whitchurch primary since Tuesday, and his sister Mariia, 13, started at the Langtree School on Thursday.  Their mother Mrs Anna Goldenberg said she was grateful to the Greens and to the British people for welcoming Ukrainians and ensuring their safety.  She said that finally being here was like something out of a fairy tale.  But her husband Oleg remains in Ukraine, helping to provide humanitarian aid on the front line. 

Today’s Henley Standard has a report about the family and how they are settling in.   Read it here

Date/Time : Friday, 27th May 2022 15:52

Gill Williamson wins Whitchurch award

The annual Whitchurch Award was presented to Gill Williamson at the Village Assembly in the Village Hall yesterday.  Nominations were received and counted by the Whitchurch Society and all residents were able to nominate their choice of a person, or a group, who they felt had given exceptional voluntary service to the community. 

Presenting the award, parish chairman Jim Donahue congratulated Gill for being the driving force behind not only the successful Saturday Art Café, now in its sixth year, but also the Crafty Knit & Stitch group.  Asked how much the Art Café had raised for the charities that participate, she said it was around £60,000.  

Gill mentioned that the toll bridge is currently being decorated by a Knit & Stitch team with bunting and with royal portraits by children, as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.  This photo shows Gill, with Damian, and Nicola Armstrong of the Whitchurch Primary School Parents Association, on the bridge this morning. Images on Instagram: @artcafewhitchurch.

Date/Time : Friday, 27th May 2022 14:38

Defibrillator installed at cricket pavilion

A second defibrillator has been installed in the village, this time on the front of the cricket pavilion on the village green.  The first one remains active in the red telephone kiosk at the junction of Manor Road and the High Street. 

Alistair Aitchison reports that the new defibrillator was acquired thanks to the Football Club’s connection with the Football Association and it was installed by members of the Cricket Club.  Located on the front of the cricket pavilion, the defibrillator is registered on the national ambulance network.  The unlock code to the cabinet is available by dialling 999 or 112. 

This picture shows the new defibrillator. This video explains the use of the device.

Date/Time : Friday, 20th May 2022 12:29

Graham Dednum, landlord of The Ferryboat, has died

Sadly, Graham Dednum, a true pillar of our community, who became ill and was taken to hospital on 5th May, is reported to have died on the evening of Monday 16th.  The picture shows him presiding at the popular Christmas Music event that he organised in St Mary’s church for many years.  There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery.   The pub is now closed for the time being.  

Jim Donahue commented on Facebook yesterday: “Like so many others who have known Graham over the years, I am still in a state of shock about the sudden loss of such an important member of our community, without any warning or chance to say goodbye. I don’t think that I can offer the words to provide a proper tribute to him but hope that by sharing these photos, it will at least give everyone a chance to remember him as the wonderful person that he was. Amongst other things, I think that they clearly show his infectious enthusiasm for our community, especially around Christmas.” 

Helen Bowsher added: “I too was so shocked and saddened by the news yesterday. I’ve known Graham for many years. Always had a lovely cheeky warm smile. Had been incredibly supportive to the school and preschool over the years. (Fond memories of quiz nights at the school where he would do a rush order for 20 or so pizzas… always delivered with a smile. Nothing was ever too much trouble). A generous soul that will undoubtedly be missed by both villages. Bless you Graham.” 

Debbie Leach added: “James and I only knew Graham for a short time, but he still made such an impression on us. So welcoming and supportive of St Mary's Church and the community. May he rest in God's peace.”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2022 14:05

A warm welcome in La Bouille

Tim Suiter reports on a recent visit to La Bouille: 

Over the May Day bank holiday weekend a group of villagers travelled from Whitchurch to our twinned village of La Bouille in Normandy.  Due to the challenges presented by Covid, rather than the full twinning trip (alternate years either visiting or hosting visitors from France) we were a small contingent on this occasion. The main aim of the trip was to rekindle the relationship in anticipation of a larger group visiting later in the year. 

Seven of us in total in two cars made the journey on the Friday, staying with our French hosts until the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.  We all had a wonderful time and were as usual wowed by the French’s hosting skills.  In particular we were delighted to see just how dearly the people of La Bouille value the friendship between our villages and how many of them turned out to greet and raise a glass with us (picture). 

We are now planning the main twinning visit for the weekend of 1st and 2nd October (traveling on the Friday and Monday).  We would love to welcome new members on the trip and I have no doubt that anyone joining us will have a good time, receive a warm welcome and make new and lasting friendships. 

To find out more about the twinning association contact Tim Suiter on 07930 490808 or  tim_suiter@hotmail.com

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2022 13:01

Lower speed limit comes in

The photo shows the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday 13th May, when the long awaited change of speed limit in the village came into effect.  Seen in the photo from left to right are: Parish Councillor Paul O'Grady, Parish Council Chairman Jim Donahue cutting the ribbon along with Cllr Diana Smith who is Chairman of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG), Charles Cotgreave, Oxfordshire County Councillor Kevin Bulmer, TAPWG members David Baty, Rachel Hatcher and Frances Parkes.   Photo by Nick Brazil.  Enlarged version here

Jim Donahue provided these comments: 

The need to reduce speeding in the village is a key issue for the community that was first highlighted in our 2009 Village Plan and again in the 2019 Village Plan. It is only in recent months that a change on OCC highway policy has enabled us to gain approval for this change after over 10 years of requesting it.  We understand that we are one of the first villages where this change has been implemented ahead of the broader initiative to roll our 20mph in the county. We also understand that we are the first village to get the speed limit changed across all streets in the community. 

The reduced speed limit is especially important in a village like Whitchurch where it is used by so many drivers to access the river crossing every day. Our residents regularly walk over the bridge to shop in Pangbourne and parents and children are encouraged to walk for the school run so pedestrian safety is a real concern.  The village is also popular with local cyclists and walkers on the Thames Path. 

This change is the result of speed surveys and consultation. The 20mph speed limit should be achievable on the High Street where the median speed is already below 25mph. 20mph may be more difficult to achieve at the Hardwick Road entrance to the village as it changes from the national speed limit of 60mph to the 20mph, but this will be monitored and further traffic calming measures could be taken if needed. Speeding on Hardwick Road is a particular concern as that is where parents park for the school run to walk their children the remaining distance.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2022 10:55

New Youth Theatre Group

A new theatre group for young people is being set up, which is very good news for the village. It will run on Fridays at the Village Hall.

It’s being run by Lori Taliesin who, as well as acting professionally and holding an Equity card, has taught in local schools including teaching SEN children.

It is hoped that there will be enough support to run three classes each Friday:

  •          Junior (Years 1-3)              3:45 - 4:45pm
  •          Intermediate (Years 4-7)    5:00 -7:00pm
  •          Senior (Years 8-11)            7:00-9:00pm

 The village hall is an ideal location for the classes as it has a proper stage, is fully insured, has a safeguarding policy and is also licenced for performances.

Contact Lori to join the free trial class on Friday 20th May by emailing info@breakthboxtheatre.com.

Date/Time : Friday, 13th May 2022 13:43

Green Team plants apple trees

Charles Cotgreave, who has helpfully taken over the reins of the Green Team from its creator Alexa Duckworth-Briggs, reports on recent progress: 

Work on the community orchard section of the Polish Church Garden has taken a significant step forward. Members of the Green Team have planted five heritage apple trees; a sixth will be planted in the autumn. The planting layout, the details of the apple varieties and the parentage of the grafts will be published in due course on the Polish Church Garden page of this website.  Other work carried out included this year's first mowing of the grass, and the cutting back of brambles which were growing through the snowberry bushes on the southern boundary.   

The team included the site guardian, Anna Szczeponek, who provided much appreciated refreshments, and local tree expert Alastair Dunstan, who has sourced and grafted the saplings.   Alastair is willing to help with similar plantings for people in the village and can be contacted for advice at alastairdunstan5@gmail.com.  He thanks all those who have already expressed an interest in this work.  

The photo shows Charles Cotgreave with Pete Woolhouse and Alastair Dunstan.  There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery. 

Date/Time : Friday, 29th April 2022 12:06

Eastfield House sold to developer

The derelict care home Eastfield House in Eastfield Lane has been bought by the property development company Urban Village Group, based near Birmingham. On their website they say it will “be developed into a new purpose-built care scheme for senior living, featuring 45 ensuite bedrooms.”  It mentions a figure for construction costs of £3.3 million, which would be for the conversion and extension of the existing 27-bedroom building to a much larger facility, a front view of which is shown on their website and in the picture above. 

The design shown is thought to be the one for which planning permission was obtained by Majesticare in August 2013 on appeal.  It involves the partial demolition of the existing building.  A planning application for complete demolition was refused on appeal in 2020.

Eastfield House has been empty for six years.  After repeated incursions by young people a few years ago, the site security was reviewed and all the windows were boarded up.  Here is a recent photo

Date/Time : Friday, 22nd April 2022 17:46

Plan for Manor Road trees – comments invited

The Parish Council has developed a plan to upgrade the environment of Manor Road by replacing various trees on the left hand side (see picture) with yews, which would create a balance with the existing yews on the opposite side, recreating the original avenue. 

The trees to be replaced include Elm and Ash, both of which have health problems. 

There is more about the plan in this article by Councillor Katherine Higley.  She asks for comments by Friday 6th May, prior to the next Parish Council meeting on 12th May. 

Date/Time : Monday, 18th April 2022 13:34

Ukrainian Nataliia offers help in contacting refugees

Enjoying the sunshine yesterday, Sue Matthews of Eastfield Lane is seen in the picture being escorted along Hardwick Road by Nataliia Kuczynska. 

Nataliia lives in Whitchurch but is from Kyiv in Ukraine.  She has been in Britain for about three years and was the live-in carer for Nigel Grove until he died last November.  Recently she has become the live-in carer for Sue, who has been coping with Motor Neurone Disease. 

Nataliia says that if there are any families in the village who would like to offer accommodation to refugees from her country, she would be happy to help them make contact with suitable people.  She is appalled at what has been happening.  Some of her family have fled to Poland from their homes in Sumy, north-eastern Ukraine, where there has been heavy fighting ever since the invasion began.  She is extremely worried for her friends in Sumy and in Kyiv. 

She would be happy for anyone who would like to discuss the possibility of accommodating refugees to email her, via Sue, at sue.matthews103@gmail.com.  She is also contacting Becky Galea who recently posted on the Message Board.

Date/Time : Saturday, 26th March 2022 19:16

Village's 20mph limit approved

At a meeting of Oxfordshire County Council yesterday, the proposed 20 mph speed limit for Whitchurch was approved.  This follows the public consultation, in which the comments received were overwhelmingly in favour, as detailed in this report

Jim Donahue, who attended the meeting, welcomed the decision and said that it came after many years of effort by the Parish Council, supported by TAPAG (now TAPWG) and others.  The 20 mph speed limit was listed as a high priority in both the 2009 and 2019 Village Plans. 

The new signs and road markings are expected to be installed later this year.  Every road in the village is included in the new 20 mph zone. 

Meanwhile, for the pedestrian safety project at the Lower Narrows, a problem has arisen in installing the bollards.  OCC staff have detected a buried electrical cable running directly along the proposed line of bollards on the Ferryboat side.  The discovery complicates the work and how it will be solved is not yet clear. 

Date/Time : Friday, 25th March 2022 11:42

Masked men break into Hardwick Road property

At around 11.30 last night a gang of four men broke into Flat 1 on the ground floor of The Mount in Hardwick Road.  The owner, Nick Brazil, was woken from sleep by the sound of his French-windows-style front door being forced open.  He got out of bed to find out what was going on.  He was forced to his knees by one of the men, all of whom wore full face masks, and told to stay there with his head down on the bed and not to move.  The intruders repeatedly asked where the safe was.  Nick told them many times that he did not have a safe.  They searched the flat, damaged his mobile phone, but failed to find anything they wanted. 

After only a few minutes they left.  Nick called the Police who arrived promptly from Henley.  They said they would visit later to check for fingerprints. 

Nick’s dog Harold, confused by the number of visitors, had jumped on to the bed to be near his threatened owner. 

This afternoon Nick, 76, understandably shaken, said he had lived in the flat for 28 years and this was the first time he had had any trouble.  He thought it was a case of mistaken identity. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 24th March 2022 17:58

Airband work cuts off internet (Update - Repair completed)

Many residents of Hardwick Road lost their internet connection at around 11 am today when the Airband contractor pulling a new fibre cable through a BT duct accidentally damaged the BT system.  The internet was still cut at 6.30 pm when the following apology was received from the Airband project manager by two residents who had complained, Adrian Dixon and Jim Donahue: 

“I have been informed that you have experienced issues with your internet connection that may have been caused by the works being carried out by our contractor. 

As part of our network we utilise Openreach(BT) infrastructure and on this section we had a blockage within the underground duct which has been cleared and we have then rod and roped the section to pull the Airband cable through and this may have caused some damaged to the BT cables or dislodged something within the BT joint. 

Firstly, I can only apologise for the disruption this has caused.  The normal process for this is the BT customers who have been affected would log the issue with BT and they would send an engineer out to see what has caused the problem and fix it.  I don’t know what BT’s lead times are on this or how long this will take to fix.  If the situation arises that traffic management is required our road closure is in place tomorrow if BT need to use this. 

I will investigate why this has happened and either Clive or myself will let you know our findings, but sometimes these issues are unavoidable. 

Again, apologies for all the inconvenience caused. 

Regards

Mark Watts, Project Manager, Airband

mark.watts@airband.co.uk

Airband Community Internet Ltd, 105 Pointon Way, Droitwich Spa, WR9 0LW

www.airband.co.uk "

Update, 18th March, 9.45 am:  Laura Lucas reports that BT have informed her that they have investigated the damage to their underground broadband cable and that they will carry out the repair by the end of Friday 22nd March. This leaves many residents inconvenienced for several more days. Staff of Airband contractor Sitec are this morning looking at the next stage, using a detector to find BT’s duct chambers further east along Hardwick Road. They said that new customers would receive a fibre connection to their property, which could replace the present copper one from the top of the distribution pole. 

Update, 18th March, 11.30 am: Better news - BT are at work fixing the damaged cable and they expect to complete the task this afternoon. There are 100 pairs of copper wires in the cable, all to be reconnected.  There are some photos in the Gallery. 

Update, 18th March, 2.45 pm: The Airband manager reports that the repair is complete, the internet is reconnected and the road is now open again.

Date/Time : Thursday, 17th March 2022 18:37

Thames meadow walkers confined by new fence (UPDATE)

On the approach from Pangbourne meadow to Mapledurham lock, the environment of the popular Thames Path has been badly affected by the recent installation of a long, straight, timber-and-barbed-wire fence, close to the riverbank.  Walkers using the National Trail are now confined to a narrow strip, seen in the picture, less than two metres wide in places. 

A Petition has been started to have the fence moved further back from the river.  Those wishing to sign it should visit this webpage

Walkers have pointed out that the narrowness of the path will lead to muddier conditions after rain, and that there is a greater hazard for walkers, especially those with children and dogs.  This is particularly so when the river rises and the current is strong.  The fence and its location are seen as an oppressive change to a much-loved natural scene. 

The petition requests the owner of Home Farm to provide a width for walkers at least as generous as that provided by the neighbouring Spring Farm.

Update, 21st March: The Thames Path Manager in OCC is on the case. Eric Hartley has been informed that:  "We are aware of the new fence and we are working closely with West Berkshire Council who are the enforcement authority.  West Berkshire Council are in communication with the landowner and they are also aware of the concerns.  We will continue to monitor the situation and work with West Berkshire Council to improve the situation."

Date/Time : Wednesday, 16th March 2022 10:07

Installation of bollards postponed

The Parish Council advised: (but see below....)

To help improve the pedestrian safety of the Lower Narrows, bollards are being installed along the road by The Ferryboat on Tuesday 15th March.  Bollards will be on both sides of the road to protect villagers walking on the path – but it will narrow the road to only one car's width.

This may affect traffic patterns, certainly in the short term, so please proceed with caution when approaching the lower narrows….and enjoy walking along the newly protected path! 

The 15th March happens to coincide with the middle day of the three day closure of Hardwick Road for broadband roadworks.

Update, Monday 14th March:  OCC decided at a site meeting this morning that more investigation is needed of the locations of underground services before excavation work for bollards can begin.  There will be a further site meeting on 22nd March before a revised date for installation is decided.  How the work will be done in the narrow road with traffic passing is not clear as no notice of traffic lights or temporary road closure appears to have been given. 

Date/Time : Friday, 11th March 2022 14:55

Hardwick Road closure - extension to Friday

Contractors for Airband Community Internet Ltd will replace two damaged GPO chamber covers in Hardwick Road during a three day road closure later this month.  The road will be closed between the High Street and the nearer of the two Swanston Field junctions, from Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th March, between 8 am and 5 pm. 

Airband, based in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, have written to affected householders, explaining that full fibre broadband is coming to the area, thanks to an award of £6.3m from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in 2018 to OCC’s project ‘Businesses in Rural Oxfordshire’.  

The official roadworks notice and a diversion map can be seen here.  For three days, residents of Swanston Field and most of Hardwick Road who are driving to Pangbourne will need to go the long way round via Path Hill, Goring Heath, Whitchurch Hill and down the High Street.

An Airband representative has suggested to us that any local resident interested in being connected to the new service, with speeds up to 900 Mbps, should visit the Airband website and enter their postcode to see the options and the costs.  Alternatively, call them on 01905 676 121.

Update, 16th March:  The closure duration has been extended by two days to include Thursday 17th and Friday 18th.  So far the traffic management team seems to have kept the road open for most of the time. 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 01st March 2022 14:22

Public forum held on traffic and parking

There was a modest turnout for the public forum on Thursday in The Old Stables of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG).  Three members of the public attended the gathering in person and there were four on Zoom.  Five members of the Group were present to answer questions and the forum was extended to more than an hour, prior to the Group’s monthly meeting. 

TAPWG chair Diana Smith said afterwards that the forum had provided a useful interaction with residents.  The Group will now continue to develop a range of options to be presented to the Parish Council later in the year.  Monthly meetings of the Group will continue, the minutes being posted on the Traffic and Parking page of this website.  The Parish Council will then discuss with Oxfordshire County Council their preferred option, which will replace the one to which OCC gave their unofficial approval in 2019 before opposition from a number of residents caused a reappraisal, followed by a fresh start.

Date/Time : Sunday, 27th February 2022 10:16