News

Fallen tree blocks road

A tree fell across a road earlier today, blocking traffic between Whitchurch Hill and Goring Heath. Photo forwarded by Jane Yamamoto, who was alerted and reported it to the authorities at around 1 pm.

Date/Time : Friday, 26th November 2021 17:17

The Exhibition can now be seen online

The 2021 Art & Craft Exhibition in the Village Hall closed yesterday after giving interest and pleasure to many visitors over the weekend.  But that is not the end of it.  Many of the exhibits can now be conveniently viewed at home in the Online Exhibition, presented again after its creation last year when there was no physical exhibition.  If you missed this year’s show, or you would like to enjoy some of the works again, click on the link above.  The online exhibition will be open until 5th December. 

The flavour of the art and craft work can also be appreciated in the Photo Gallery. 

The winner in the Adult Art category was Andrew Clarence, a first-time exhibitor, for a remarkable still life of lemons. 

The painting of a Kitten, seen above, was entered by Lucy Birkett. 

The Chairman’s Cup was awarded to Alison Livesey for her Halloween Spooky Tree knitwear. 

Among other craft items, an ingenious pendulum clock made in Meccano around 40 years ago by Geoff Weir attracted attention.  

The exhibition organiser, Sally Woolhouse, has provided a List of 2021 Prize Winners

Date/Time : Monday, 22nd November 2021 18:36

Don’t miss the Exhibition!

The Art & Craft 2021 Exhibition opened in the Village Hall this morning, displaying a wonderful collection of paintings, craft works and photos entered by Whitchurch residents and school children.  The exhibition will be open again tomorrow, Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm.  After that there is an opportunity to see many of the works online. 

The lion’s head above, painted by Jean Marc Grosfort, is on display. 

The top prize for art has been awarded to Andrew Clarence, a first-time exhibitor, for a remarkable still life of lemons. 

Among many craft items, an ingenious pendulum clock made in Meccano many years ago by Geoff Weir has attracted attention. 

There is no formal prize-giving ceremony this year but prize winners in all the categories, for adults and children, will be notified.

Here is the List of Prize Winners for this year.   

Date/Time : Saturday, 20th November 2021 15:50

A reminder for next weekend’s Art & Craft Exhibition

If you are entering an exhibit, you need to register online this year.  The deadline is this Wednesday, 17th November.  Many entries have already been registered. 

Owing to the current concerns over Covid it has been decided to cancel the prize-giving ceremony this year.  But prizes will still be awarded. 

The exhibition will be in the Village Hall on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st November and afterwards online.  Don’t miss it! 

For more information see the latest notice from the organiser, Sally Woolhouse. 

The picture shows some of the entries in the 2019 exhibition.

Date/Time : Saturday, 13th November 2021 15:16

Otter seen fishing at Whitchurch bridge

Reports of otters visiting Whitchurch have sometimes been based merely on the evidence of spraint (droppings) near the river, but on Tuesday Nick Plumridge spotted an otter with a freshly caught fish and managed to film it as it swam below the toll bridge.  See his short video here.

Date/Time : Friday, 12th November 2021 15:17

Another parked car damaged in the High Street

At around 7 pm on Sunday evening a crashing sound alerted nearby residents, who discovered that a Mercedes being driven down the hill had hit a car that was legitimately parked in the layby, facing the same direction.  Both cars were damaged and undriveable.  An ambulance came within half an hour and the driver of the Mercedes was taken to hospital, though she was reported to be suffering only from shock.  The Mercedes was towed away for repairs. 

The layby was demarcated with a white line last year, and a broken length of the line indicates where parking is permitted. 

A speed limit change from 30 mph to 20 mph may be introduced by Oxfordshire County Council before long.  Whitchurch is on the initial list of villages that have expressed interest.  Currently OCC staff are carrying out a traffic speed survey in both the High Street and Hardwick Road, using double sensors placed across the road.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 09th November 2021 16:23

PAWS event in Pangbourne (UPDATE: Video added)

On Saturday morning the Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group (PAWS) took part in the Global Day of Action outside Garlands in Pangbourne.  Heather Thorne introduced Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, who spoke about progress at the COP26 event in Glasgow and the chances of obtaining sufficient change in our way of life. 

Prayers were said and a two-minute silent Vigil was called for at 12 noon, while the traffic flowed nearby.  Visitors were encouraged to write their thoughts on a paper leaf and pin it to a message board, and also to sign a petition.  Photographs of these will be sent to Alok Sharma and John Howell. 

Sir Brian, who has been involved with PAWS from the beginning, was Chairman of the UK Climate Committee and a member of the UN IPCC team that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Pangbourne’s MP Alok Sharma is the COP 26 President.  

There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery.

Update, 9th November:  A video of Sir Brian Hoskins's comments on progress at the COP26 event in Glasgow has been added.  To watch it go to this page.

Date/Time : Monday, 08th November 2021 11:20

“So, what can we do?” asks PAWS

The Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group (PAWS) has taken the opportunity of the COP26 conference in Glasgow to suggest how we, in our two villages, can make changes in our daily lives that will contribute to reducing carbon emissions. 

The attached article from the latest edition of the Pangbourne Magazine presents a list of ideas and resources, including local information.

PAWS says: “We can all be climate warriors, leading politicians by example.”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 03rd November 2021 15:45

Details announced for Art and Craft show next month

This year’s Art and Craft Exhibition will be ‘live’ in the Village Hall on 20th/21st November and will also be available to view online.  All ages are invited to submit their artwork. 

The exhibition website, specially developed by IT expert Adrian Dixon of Hardwick Road, is now online.  It gives all the information needed for entering exhibits and the link to it can be found at the foot of this page.  

The photo above shows 'Fireworks Night' by Eliza Kemp, an entry in the 9-11 years category last year. 

Date/Time : Friday, 08th October 2021 16:53

Brown bin collection days changed again

The latest advice from SODC on brown bins indicates that on Thursday 7th October only two of our village roads will have a brown bin collection: Hartslock Bridleway and an unknown portion** of the High Street.  All remaining Whitchurch roads are now scheduled to have their brown bins collected two weeks later, on Thursday 21st October. 

This information comes from the SODC webpage that explains the changes in garden waste collection from 4th October.  It follows the temporary suspension of the service in early August caused by the shortage of HGV drivers.

**Update, 6th October:  The question of which parts of the High Street will have brown bins collected tomorrow has been clarified by SODC in response to queries by Geoff Weir.  Only two areas will be collected tomorrow in addition to the Hartslock bridleway:  Old Barn Cottages and St Mary’s House.  All other High Street properties will have their brown bins collected, together with all other areas of the village, two weeks later on 21st October.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 29th September 2021 16:14

Art & Craft Exhibition returning to village hall

This year’s Art & Craft Exhibition, back in the village hall, will take place over the weekend of 21st - 22nd November.  Ambitiously, this year it will be a combined live and online show, with the option of viewing entries on exhibition webpages like those developed last year when it was entirely online. 

A new category ‘Christmas Card’ is being added this year, open to all age groups.  The winning entry will be adopted for the Whitchurch Society’s 2022 Christmas card.  Laura Lucas, chairman of the Society, says the plan is to offer Christmas cards for sale to raise money towards a small project in the village such as a new bench. 

The theme for the Joyce Voysey prize, open to all age groups and in any medium, is ‘New Beginnings’. 

Sally Woolhouse and Adrian Dixon are currently finalising the exhibition rules, timetable and webpages.  The full details will be posted on this website in the next week or so.

The picture above shows some of the photos entered in the 2019 exhibition. 

Date/Time : Friday, 24th September 2021 12:26

High Street traffic trial on 7th October

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue said today: 

“Oxfordshire County Council will be conducting a traffic trial at the lower narrows in the High Street on Thursday 7th October.  The intention of the trial is to understand the impact of introducing a priority Give Way system from South to North instead of the current two-way Give Way system.  The goal would be to improve pedestrian safety by making the right of way clearer to drivers, in order to avoid the situation where two cars go down the narrows at the same time, causing one car to mount the pavement, which does not have a raised kerb." 

"We expect this trial will be run all day by OCC, with members of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG) observing the situation from about 11:30am.  We are expecting a longer trial to follow once this initial trial is completed.” 

Date/Time : Saturday, 18th September 2021 15:55

Questionnaire on traffic and parking

The Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG) of the Parish Council is conducting a new village-wide survey this month. This is your chance to influence options which will be put to the Parish Council in its quest to improve parking and traffic in our village. One hard copy of the questionnaire will be delivered to each household in the coming week or so. However, if you would like to complete it online, you can do so at bit.ly/3mMK0DH . 

The closing date for submitting written or online responses is 30th September 2021.  

In order to make the best sense of the data, respondents are being asked to supply their name and address. All data will be processed securely as per GDPR. Separate names are requested from multiple respondents from one household. 

For any queries, parish councillor Diana Smith can be contacted at cllrsmith.whitchurchonthames@gmail.com or 07818 782 384.  

Date/Time : Saturday, 04th September 2021 11:49

Break-in at Pangbourne Co-op

In the early hours of this morning the Co-op store in Pangbourne was broken into.  According to the Reading Chronicle, the thieves smashed a window and took boxes of cigarettes.  The incident was reported to police at around 3 am. 

This morning the store was closed while police investigated.   

Date/Time : Thursday, 02nd September 2021 18:34

Dogs menace walkers on bridleway

Two fierce bulldogs, resident at a property on the Hartslock bridleway near the derelict horse manège, have been causing a nuisance to passing walkers and their dogs.  There have been four incidents recently resulting in complaints and the police have spoken with the owner.  If others have had a similar uncomfortable experience, they should report it to the police on 101. 

The picture shows two bulldogs, painted by Henry Wilkinson.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st September 2021 19:53

The Friends announce their first post-lockdown event

The Friends of St Mary’s and St John’s are holding a wine tasting and cheese evening on Saturday 9th October in Goring Heath Parish Hall, a fundraising event to help maintain the church buildings and churchyards.  Find out how to buy tickets here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st September 2021 15:03

Afternoon Tea returns to the Village Hall

To celebrate the reopening of our beautifully refurbished Village Hall, Jean Marc Grosfort has announced that Afternoon Tea will be served, with home-made cakes, on Thursday 2nd September.  All welcome.  No charge, but donations to charity.   Here is the poster

We now have a redesigned Village Hall webpage and related pages, including new photographs specially taken to show the hall arranged for different uses.  The members of the management committee are listed and details of the many renovations that have transformed the hall are given on this page.  

Date/Time : Wednesday, 25th August 2021 19:59

Project will enable fish to reach Whitchurch

On the riverbank at Mapledurham the Environment Agency is building a a fish pass that will allow migrating fish to swim up the Thames beyond their current limit.  The £400,000 project includes a river intake (photo) on the Berkshire side of the river upstream of Mapledurham weir, which will divert water along a newly-created meandering stream across the floodplain.  This leads to a small existing stream which flows parallel to the Thames and joins it downstream of the weir.  

There are two more photos here

The work is scheduled to be completed this year. The Environment Agency says that trees and other plants will be provided along the banks of the new channel, which is designed to help all water dependent wildlife to migrate around the weir. 

However, the next obstacle upstream is the Whitchurch weir, which has no fish pass.  Migrating fish will not be assisted there in continuing their journey further upstream.  So, as well as benefitting wildlife, it seems that the project is good news for the many people who fish from the riverbank on the Pangbourne meadow.

Date/Time : Thursday, 19th August 2021 19:10

Tree Quiz and Tree Fest

Two events have been announced by PAWS (Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group) as we approach the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

Sally Woolhouse gives us the details: 

Tree Quiz, starting today 

To get everyone looking at our local treescape, PAWS have created a Tree Quiz as a summer holiday activity. There will be prizes for the best entries in three age groups (under 8, 8-11 and 12-15 years) but anyone can have a go and enjoy the challenge.  You simply walk around the villages of Whitchurch and Pangbourne, finding and identifying 12 different types of trees. 

Here is the TREE QUIZ for downloading.  Alternatively, you can pick one up from Garlands Organic in Pangbourne.  The closing date is 11th September.  Good luck! 

Tree Fest, in October 

PAWS are also planning a Tree Fest – a series of events to raise our communities’ awareness of the important COP26 conference. 

It is becoming very evident every day that climate change is a major concern and a priority for action today.  One action that we can take as individuals is to protect our existing trees and to plant new ones.  We have many wonderful trees in our villages that were planted years ago.  It is essential that we keep them safe as they absorb carbon dioxide and keep it locked in the ground.  Also, as newly-planted trees grow, they too will absorb carbon dioxide. 

Details of Tree Fest events will appear on this website.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 10th August 2021 10:40

Planning for The Queen’s Jubilee

Plans have been announced for celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, which centre on an extended bank holiday weekend from 2nd to 5th June.  Full details are on the royal website

One of the events is The Big Jubilee Lunch to be held across the country on Sunday 5th June.  Our participation in Whitchurch is a possibility that the Parish Council will be considering at their next meeting on 9th September. 

Parish chairman Jim Donahue said today:  "The Parish Council has decided to postpone the community celebration on the Village Green we had hoped to have in September due to continued uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic situation. 

We have also been made aware that the government will be encouraging local celebrations the weekend of 2-5 June to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and will aim to have something at that time. 

We are also pleased to see other community activities such as Art Cafe starting up again and look forward to seeing other community activities being held in person as people feel comfortable." 

The Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Sir Tim Stevenson, has recently written to all communities in the county, commenting on plans for tree planting, beacon lighting and the Big Lunch.  His letter can be read here.

Date/Time : Sunday, 08th August 2021 14:23

Eastfield House is for sale

Majesticare, the owner of the derelict care home Eastfield House, has put the property on the market with London agents Christie & Co.  The property is described as a Care Development Opportunity, with planning consent for a new 45 bed care home in a “highly affluent and picturesque location”. 

The planning consent referred to is for Application P11/S0126 made in April 2012, which was initially refused but granted on Appeal in August 2013, involving partial demolition of the existing building.  The agents state that the application “has been commenced and confirmed in writing by the local Planning Authority as extant”.

Christie & Co currently advertise 240 care homes for sale around the country.  In a report of December 2017 they cast doubt on the financial viability of the proposed development of Eastfield House. 

Date/Time : Friday, 30th July 2021 10:57

The Greyhound has new owners

The family-owned company Oak Taverns of Thame, Oxfordshire, has completed its purchase of The Greyhound from Punch Taverns. 

Company director Simon Collinson said yesterday: “We have appointed Jason Walls, an experienced local Licensee, to operate the pub.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will be doing some minor refurbishment works to get the pub open for as much of the summer as possible.” 

Last Saturday evening, landlord Mark Lovett pulled his final pints before closing the pub.  He was presented with gifts by regulars who expressed their warm appreciation of all his hard work in maintaining the place as a central feature of Whitchurch life. 

When the pub re-opens in mid-August, it will be a Free House for the first time in living memory, offering beer from national and local breweries and from Oak Taverns' own micro-breweries in Oxfordshire. 

There is more information about Oak Taverns on its website.  

Date/Time : Saturday, 24th July 2021 18:33

Traffic delays in Pangbourne for 'emergency' water repairs

This morning Thames Water started work on repairing the two-week-old leak in the centre of Pangbourne, in the street near the Co-op. 

The Pangbourne Parish Clerk commented this morning: “Unfortunately Thames Water have today called in the ‘emergency’ water repairs permit to the mains pipe that’s been leaking for two weeks outside the Co-op / square in Pangbourne, so no advance notice and working on a weekday - despite everyone’s best efforts to plan this and get it done on a Sunday.  It’s pretty jammed out there and will likely get worse.  West Berks Council Highways Dept are working to get Thames Water done and gone ASAP but I suspect there will be disruption tonight.  It’s probably worth advising people to avoid the village if they can - especially at rush hour.” 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 13th July 2021 14:31

Roadworks in High Street for new storm drainage pipe

A team of three from OCC’s contractor, Drayton Construction, started work today on providing a new drainage route across the High Street.  The PVC pipe will allow water building up in the Greyhound area during a heavy rain storm to cross beneath the street and flow into the main roadside drain leading to the river. 

The need to replace the present cross-drain became apparent during the flash flood of 16th June last year when the interior of the Greyhound was flooded. 

Temporary traffic lights for alternate one-way flow are in operation. 

The OCC Highways Department had been asked by the Parish Council to do this work before resurfacing the High Street, but it seems that this was not possible.     

Date/Time : Monday, 05th July 2021 16:23

Heritage orchard proposed for Memorial Garden

The Parish Council would like to hear opinions about the idea of planting an area of the Polish Church Memorial Garden in Manor Road as an orchard.  Katherine Higley explains the proposal below. 

The 2019 Village Plan defined the Polish Church Memorial Garden as a 'quiet place for relaxation and remembrance of the church and those who worshipped there.'  Currently, the area has a seating area on the church site and a spinney where children can explore and be inspired by the insect life, the trees and the flowers.

The Parish Council have been asked to consider a proposal put forward by a younger member of the community, Alastair Dunstan, who is passionate about saving heritage fruit trees from old trees in the village**.  The idea is to plant a small number in the SE corner of the garden.  One of the last remaining former residents of the Polish camp, Mrs. Kowal, said that she thought the idea was 'a lovely tribute to the former community' and that it reminded her of the fruit trees in her late husband's village in rural Poland.  The history of orchards in Poland dates to the 11th century.  Interestingly, parts of Whitchurch had orchards up until the Second World War.

The Parish Council are interested to hear your views on this proposal. 

The Parish Council are also interested to understand what other ideas people in the village may have for the different ways in which this space could be used. 

Please note that the closing date for comments is Friday 3rd September 2021.  The Parish Council will discuss the responses at their September meeting on Thursday 9th September.  The Parish Council will store your responses for a period of four months during which we may contact you to hear more about an idea that you have suggested.  After that all e-mails and responses provided by other methods will be destroyed.  Your responses will only be shared with other Cllrs and the Parish Clerk if strictly necessary. The Parish Council may choose to publish a report explaining the suggestions received and considered; no names of residents will be used.

Please e-mail me (Cllr Higley) at cllrhigley.whitchurchonthames@gmail.com with your views. 

 

**Alastair would like to hear from anyone with a heritage fruit tree in their garden who would like to contribute to his project and have their tree grafted.  He explains his plans on this page.  Please email him if you can help.    

Date/Time : Sunday, 04th July 2021 16:36

Martyn Jordan, husband of Vicky, has died

Martyn died at home on Saturday evening (June 26th), having been diagnosed with a brain tumour in February 2020 and undergone treatment.  He was married to Vicky for 54 years and was well known in the community for his role as treasurer of the Twinning Association.  Martin and Vicky were married in 1967 and arrived in Whitchurch Hill in 1971. 

He is survived by Vicky, their daughters Helen and Sally and granddaughter Lauren.  No formal funeral is planned but there will be a small family gathering with a celebration later in the year. 

Last year Martyn wrote a summary of his career, in which music, mathematics, bell-ringing, golf and family featured strongly. 

Date/Time : Monday, 28th June 2021 11:54

Warning about Vaccine Passport scams

An alert was issued by Neighbourhood Watch today, warning about convincing-looking NHS emails that explain how to apply for a Covid Vaccine Passport.  You are led to a fake NHS website that asks for personal details and an admin fee. 

More information here.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 22nd June 2021 21:37

Coroner's conclusion on fatal cycling accident

Twelve-year-old Corey Caton from Reading was seriously injured on 7th November last year when his new bike veered into the path of a Volkswagen van.  He was cycling with his father down the steep, winding length of Whitchurch hill above the Whitchurch war memorial.  He died two days later in hospital. 

The Coroner in Oxford concluded that the death was a “tragic road traffic collision”.  He ruled out the relevance of the van driver using a headset phone at the time.  He did not accept the suggestion by Corey’s mother’s solicitor that there was gross negligence by the father. 

The collision investigator said that the speed of the bike was the most likely cause of the loss of control on the bend.

More information in this BBC news article, source of the picture of Corey above. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 09th June 2021 15:42