News Archive

Flood Alert as river level rises (Updated)

The Environment Agency has issued a Flood Warning, indicating a threat to property, for low-lying Purley.  For Whitchurch and Pangbourne the current status is merely a Flood Alert, which means “Flooding is possible – be prepared.”  The Agency says it expects river levels to remain high.  The graph shows there has been a 3 cm drop from a peak last night. 

River levels are at their highest since 2014.  The photograph was taken this afternoon, Monday 28th December.

Update:  The river continued to fall and the Alert was cancelled.

Date/Time : Monday, 28th December 2020 17:26

Emmy award for Whitchurch resident

Jerry Huxtable has won an Emmy award from the Television Academy for 'extensive developments in engineering that materially affect the production, recording, transmission or reception of television'.  This is for his part in the development of the compositing tool Nuke, which has become the industry standard for creating dramatic and visual effects and has been used in the making of every recent Emmy award-winning TV show, including The Crown, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. 

This is the second accolade for Jerry. Nearly three years ago, he received an Academy Award for the same Nuke software in the film industry.  On that occasion he and his wife Denise flew to Hollywood for the presentation.  (Covered in our news items of 13th January and 26th February 2018).  This time the pandemic prevented them from travelling there for the ceremony and they simply waited for the trophy to arrive, which it did just in time for Christmas. 

The Huxtables have lived in Swanston Field for 20 years and have three children: Tom 26, Jennifer 22 and Lia 18.  Jerry, 59, graduated in physics from York University, went straight into software development and works with The Foundry in London.  He explained that the Nuke system, which he and his fellow Emmy-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.” 

Here is a larger photo of Jerry with the Emmy. 

There is more in the Engineering Emmy announcement and on the Foundry website.   

Date/Time : Sunday, 27th December 2020 15:08

The Whitchurch Web team wishes you a very Happy Christmas!

We have a Christmas card for you to open – alpacas in the snow by Dave Olinski.

We hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the village website during the year.  Thank you to the many people who have provided news, photos and suggestions. 

Whatever next year may bring, the Whitchurch Web team will continue doing its best to provide up-to-date local information and help us all to stay connected.  

Best wishes from Hilary, Pam, Phil and Richard

Date/Time : Sunday, 20th December 2020 10:27

Vaccination programme begins

The programme for vaccination against Covid-19 has started for patients of The Boathouse Surgery.  Contact is being made with the first cohort of NHS registered patients, those aged 80 or over.  The location of the Covid Vaccination Clinic is Rosewood Hall, Pangbourne Club, 1 Whitchurch Road, Pangbourne (formerly known as The Pangbourne Working Men’s Club). 

For those eligible, two bookings are being made.  One for the first dose and one for the second a month later. 

Detailed information is available on the Surgery’s website

The Practice Team says: “We will contact you when it’s the right time to come forward, so please do not contact the Surgery to seek a vaccine or ask when you will get one.”

Date/Time : Saturday, 19th December 2020 10:48

Carol singing at The Ferryboat cancelled

Update, Tuesday 15th December:  Sadly, the carol singing event this Saturday has been cancelled in the light of current information about the course of the pandemic and further advice received by landlord Graham Dednum.

Graham says: "Whilst in our area figures remain relatively unchanged, fundamentally the message given is that we should not be seen to encourage anyone to mix with others outside their household, either inside or outside.  We have a duty of care to those who may wish to attend. It is therefore with great regret and significant disappointment that I have concluded it would be a responsible decision to cancel the event."   

The Ferryboat Community Carol Singing event was to have taken place in the car park of the pub, accompanied by a brass ensemble, from 5.30 to 6.30 pm on Saturday 19th December.  Proceeds from drinks sold would have gone to the village's two schools. The event was to have been live streamed.

Date/Time : Saturday, 12th December 2020 16:29

Online Art & Craft Exhibition a big success

The Whitchurch Art & Craft Exhibition 2020 closed yesterday after two weeks of viewing.  There were over 200 entries on display, submitted by around 70 entrants.  The exhibition pages were visited 4500 times. 

Although this year there was no judging, and no cups or awards, viewers in the village and elsewhere were invited to vote for their favourite entries.  This proved popular and around 1900 votes were received, spread widely across the exhibition.  The highest number received was for ‘My Daddy Collage’, created by Tess Higley in the 6-8 years age group.  It can be seen in the Photo Gallery, together with other entries that attracted large numbers of votes.  A list of these, and a fuller report on the event, can be found here.

Sally Woolhouse, exhibition coordinator, says: “Despite the difficulties this year, the event proved to be remarkably successful and enjoyable, with large numbers taking part.  Well done everyone, and particular thanks from all of us to Adrian Dixon who designed the special software for submitting and viewing the entries.” 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 01st December 2020 10:06

Eric’s Walks – now available online

The popular booklet 'A Guide to the Walks around Whitchurch-on-Thames' by Eric Hartley has been published in six editions since 1980.  Today an online edition has been launched, with updated descriptions and individual maps, and all the walks are available on our Walks page

The key map on the Walks page can be enlarged with a click and shows the routes of 12 numbered walks, together with an introductory walk around the village and some short walks using permissive paths on the Hardwick estate.  The links are on the page and readers can download as many walks as they wish. 

The walk descriptions have been updated by Eric following check-walking by several residents in recent weeks.  A particular acknowledgement is due to Robin Giddings who has contributed his time and special skills in creating the maps.  He has also made a Christmas version of the key map. 

Eric, who has lived in Swanston Field since 1964, says that he hopes the new edition will help to encourage us all to get to know the countryside around the village and to keep fit in these unusual times. 

To make it easy to find the Walks page, a new tab 'Local Walks' has been included in the menu on the left.

Date/Time : Friday, 27th November 2020 10:21

Another cyclist injured on hill

At around 10 am today a cyclist riding down the hill came through the upper narrows and lost control at the road junction, running into the kerb and the lower wall opposite the Picture Gallery. 

David Brodie, who lives there, said that the man was looked after by various people who happened to be nearby and an ambulance arrived within half an hour.  The man was in shock and appeared to have injured an arm. 

David, who took the mountain bike to a safe place, said: “In my opinion the pathetic state of the white lines in this area should be rectified urgently. There have been many accidents involving cyclists at this junction.  I would also like to see double white lines on the whole length of the hill, as has been done successfully at Hurley, which dramatically cut the accident rate.” 

The virtual disappearance of some of the white lines can be seen in the photo above, including one of the two that might have helped to guide the cyclist away from the kerb.  The hazardous upper narrows in the background of the photo, which residents and Thames Path walkers must risk passing through, has also lost almost all of its pattern of warning white paint and with that, any helpful effect on traffic calming.  

It is hoped that Oxfordshire Highways will propose some improvements in road safety following the fatal accident to a young cyclist further up the hill on 7th November.

Parish chairman Jim Donahue said today that repainting of the upper narrows lines has been requested several times, including this summer with the suggestion that the work should be done while the hill was closed for the gas pipeline work.  It seems that OCC Highways agreed and gave the instruction but that their painting contractor was confused about the location and repainted the faded white lines further down the street at the junction with Eastfield Lane instead.  Now it appears that, even if OCC had any budget left, the white line painting season is over until the spring.   

Date/Time : Sunday, 22nd November 2020 12:31

Tea Hut replacement – comments invited

In February 2020 concerns were expressed by the Cricket Club at the Parish Council meeting about the increasing cost of the new pavilion project, for which the Club were expected to raise a substantial share of the funds. This was discussed further at the September 2020 meeting. It was agreed that the Parish Council would no longer pursue development of the new pavilion, for which planning approval had been obtained. Instead they would consider taking on responsibility for replacing and owning a new tea room/hut, while the Cricket Club would work on renovating the existing pavilion.

 As part of assessing the feasibility of this, Councillor Hanna Ferguson is collecting community feedback on how the Tea Hut could be utilized by the community for various events such as village fete, sports day, or private events such as small birthday parties etc, and what capacity/facilities the Tea Hut should/could have.

If you would like to provide ideas/feedback, or would like to join a small working group to develop the plans further, please get in touch with Hanna at or 07375 457 584.

The photo shows the existing Tea Hut, with the Pavilion on the right.

Date/Time : Thursday, 19th November 2020 17:41

Pre-School children walk to raise funds

The children are between 2 and 4.5 years old, they wear bright blue t-shirts, and they are walking 360 kilometres this month to raise money for the Whitchurch Pre-School. 

To find out how the rest of us can support them, and to hear how the Pre-School has been selected by the Co-op as a local community cause, see this page.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 17th November 2020 14:59

Art & Craft Exhibition opens

The Whitchurch Art & Craft Exhibition 2020 has opened online. 

Over 200 works of art, craft and photography are on display on the specially created website.  Viewers can browse all the exhibits or select one category at a time and are encouraged to vote for their favourites.  Comments can be sent to the Whitchurch Web message board.

To see the exhibition, click on this link

Sally Woolhouse, exhibition coordinator, says: “I am delighted by the response by so many people in our village to the idea of an online exhibition, which has produced as many entries as in a normal year. In these difficult times the exhibition offers a really positive experience.”

Date/Time : Saturday, 14th November 2020 11:13

Road accident closes hill

A serious traffic accident on the hill (B471) above Whitchurch caused the road to be closed from around 12.30 pm today.  Emergency services, including an air ambulance, attended. 

The road was still closed at 4 pm.  It has been reported that a cyclist coming down the hill was in collision with a van going up.

UPDATE, 9th November:  The cyclist was a 12-year-old boy, who was taken to hospital by road but has sadly died of his injuries.  The collision is understood to have occurred on the steep bend above the war memorial.  The Police issued this Appeal today:

Thames Valley Police has appealed for witnesses following a fatal road traffic collision in Reading.
At around 12.55pm on Saturday (7/11) a boy was cycling along the B471, Whitchurch Hill, heading towards Pangbourne, when he was in a collision with a white van, which was heading up Whitchurch Hill towards Crays Pond.
The 12-year-old boy sustained serious injuries and sadly died in hospital today. His family are now been supported by specially trained officers. The driver of the van remained at the scene. No arrests have been made.
Senior Investigating officer Sergeant Darren Brown, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit at Three Mile Cross, said:
“Firstly our thoughts are with the family and friends of the boy who has sadly died in this incident.
"At the time the boy was cycling with his father, if you think you saw them around this area we would like to speak you.
“We would also like to speak to anyone who saw the incident or the white Volkswagen Crafter van which was involved in the collision.
“This is a rural location but we hope someone may have some information to assist with our investigation and may have seen something.
“If you have dash-cam or CCTV in the area, we would ask you check this and please share anything significant with us.
“You can contact us by either calling 101 or making a report online using the reference number 43200364403.”
UPDATE, 18th November:  The 12-year-old cyclist who died in the accident has been named as Corey Caton.  The Henley Standard has published a tribute from his father.  

Date/Time : Saturday, 07th November 2020 16:14

New Wessex cycling trail comes through Whitchurch

We may be seeing more cyclists on the Thames Path.  King Alfred’s Way is a new 350km circular cycling trail launched this summer by Cycling UK.  It links the Thames Path with the Ridgeway and the South Downs Way, using bridleways and byways.  Part of the route is the Hartslock bridleway, Whitchurch.  A recent Guardian article about the trail included a photo (above) of cyclists climbing the ‘Hartley Steps’ on the bridleway.  Elsewhere the trail visits Winchester, Salisbury and Farnham. 

There is more information on the Cycling UK website, where current regulations on cycling can be found. 

Something on the Hartley Steps here

Date/Time : Thursday, 05th November 2020 17:50

Remembrance Sunday 2020

The decision has been taken not to hold a Remembrance Service at the War Memorial this year. 

Goring Heath Parish Council has issued this statement:

“It is with regret that we are unable to hold the Remembrance Service at the War Memorial on the B471 Between Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill this year.  Due to Coronavirus restrictions, there will be no public service. 

The Chair of Goring Heath Parish Council, Mr Chris Jessop, the Vice Chair Mr Peter Dragonetti, and Councillor Jim Donahue, Chair of Whitchurch Parish Council will lay wreaths at 11am on behalf of our community. They will observe the traditional two minute silence.  

It has been suggested that as we cannot attend at the memorial, we may like to join in with private reflection from our doorsteps.” 

The Reverend James Leach, newly resident Team Vicar with responsibility for Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill, has sent a first email to those who have been receiving weekly emails from Rev Canon Kevin Davies, Langtree Team Leader.  His message, with details of online services this Sunday, can be read here

Rev Leach, who is married to Debbie and has three children, obtained a classics degree and then spent seven years in IT roles in industry prior to ordination, followed by 14 years of service in the parish of Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.  See our news item of 19th June.

Date/Time : Thursday, 05th November 2020 11:41

Entries coming in for Art & Craft Exhibition

The period of opportunity to submit entries to the Whitchurch Art & Craft Exhibition 2020 has begun and runs until 12th November.  The exhibition will be viewable online from 14th November on a special website created by Adrian Dixon and hosted by the Reading Foundation for Art. 

Exhibitors in the village have already started to send in their entries.  A wide range of entries is expected, especially in the present lockdown conditions.  

To send in jpeg images of artworks or craft pieces or photographs, start at this page and follow the instructions.  Or you can go directly to the Exhibition pages

If you have any queries, please contact the organisers

Date/Time : Sunday, 01st November 2020 17:22

Parish councillor resigns

Jean Marc Grosfort is stepping down from his role as a parish councillor but he will continue with his project to refurbish and improve the Village Hall and its amenities. 

He has issued this note: 

 It is with regret that I have decided to step down and resign from the Parish council. Some important health issues (not related to Covid19) and some serious challenges with my work in the hospitality sector in UK and abroad are the reasons for my decision. To work with dedicated and talented councillors has been very enriching. To share from the inside the life of our beautiful village has been interesting and exciting.

Take good care and keep safe – Jean Marc Grosfort. 

Jean Marc says that three new hotel projects on which he is advising, in London’s Covent Garden, Geneva and Qatar, all need more attention as a result of the current difficult conditions. 

He says that after the Special Afternoon Tea in the newly refurbished Village Hall on Thursday next week he will be arranging another similar event nearer to Christmas, if government rules permit.  Among other projects, he says he will be continuing to work on a new booking system for the Village Hall, which he hopes will be up and running in the Spring. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 29th October 2020 11:01

How to buy a Poppy this year

The normal door-to-door collection for Remembrance Day poppies is not possible during the pandemic.  Diana Marriott and her team of ten Whitchurch collectors will therefore not be ringing doorbells around the village this year.  But it is still possible to buy a poppy and contribute to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. 

Both The Greyhound and The Ferryboat have supplies of poppies and there is a collection box at each pub.  You can call in for a poppy at any time during opening hours. 

Alternatively, you can buy a poppy online from the British Legion.  Or you can simply send them a donation

There is also ‘Poppies in the Post’ – you can request a free pack of 20 poppies to give out to friends and family in return for their donations.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 28th October 2020 17:33

Art & Craft Exhibition is going ahead online (UPDATED)

The Whitchurch Art & Craft Exhibition 2020 will take place online.  Entries, in the form of photographs, are to be submitted between 1st and 12th November.  The exhibition will be available for all to enjoy online from 14th November. 

Art, craft and photography can all be submitted, as usual.  The Joyce Voysey Prize theme this year is Happiness (picture)

The arrangements for entries to be submitted and exhibited have been specially created by Adrian Dixon.  This year there will be no prizes but viewers will be able to vote for their choice of best entry. 

Details of how to submit entries will be posted shortly on this page of the Whitchurch Web. (DETAILS POSTED, 28.10.20)

Sally Woolhouse says: 

“The exhibition organisers are very happy to announce that ‘the show will go on’ this year, in a novel way.  The online exhibition in November will showcase your art, craft and photography, as well as entries on the theme of ‘Happiness’, that you have been working on over the past year.  It will keep to the traditions of the live exhibition, open to everyone in Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill.  But, unlike the usual format, it will be possible to view the show worldwide!

If you have any queries, please contact me at”

Update, 27th October: The online hosting for this exhibition is kindly being provided by The Reading Foundation for Art. The Foundation was established as a charity in 1974 to create a collection of significant works of art for Reading Museum. The Foundation is keen to promote art in the local area and is pleased to be helping our Art and Craft exhibition.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd October 2020 15:37

Pumpkins invited online

Halloween, on Saturday 31st October, is approaching.  Some things are difficult these days, but the traditional activity of pumpkin carving is expected to be just as popular as it was last year, when some wonderful creations appeared in Whitchurch towards the end of October. 

This year carvers of all ages in Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill are invited to send a photo of their pumpkin for display on this website for everyone to enjoy.  There will be three prizes, for Under-11, Under-16 and Over-16 age groups.  Under-11s may prefer to paint their pumpkins rather than carve them.

Please email your photo to Helen Willis at this address by 5 pm on Friday 30th October, giving your name, age and home address. Your pumpkin will be displayed in the Photo Gallery.  And you could win a prize! 

If you don’t have a pumpkin, Lin’s VegShed at the entrance to the Hardwick Estate has a good stock in all shapes and sizes.  Buy local!  The VegShed is generously donating a family size veg box as the Over-16 prize.

Date/Time : Thursday, 15th October 2020 20:15

Next month’s Art & Craft Exhibition cancelled

The organisers of the annual Whitchurch Art & Craft Exhibition have announced the cancellation of this year’s event owing to the pandemic and are planning an online exhibition instead. 

Sally Woolhouse, chair of the organising committee, said today: 

This year’s annual show was scheduled to take place on the weekend of 14th/ 15th November. However, it is with much regret that the planning committee have decided that we should not hold the exhibition this year because of the worsening Covid-19 situation. 

We have discussed all the issues in detail and looked at the appropriate current guidelines for the use of the Village Hall. Our conclusion is that even with the necessary strict hygiene protocols in place, there would inevitably be potential risks for our great team of volunteers and of course the visitors. 

The exhibition has been run by The Whitchurch Society since 1972 and it has always been keenly anticipated and well supported by our local community. It was therefore a very difficult decision to cancel this year. However, our team will do its utmost to return the show next year in its traditional format, with the prize-giving and refreshments, and a very sociable event where everyone can gather to enjoy the lovely exhibits. 

Meanwhile, to avoid too much disappointment, we are planning to organise an online exhibition in November, to showcase your art, craft and photography that you have been working on over the past year. Keep an eye on the village website where the details of how, when and what to enter will be posted.

Date/Time : Saturday, 10th October 2020 17:09

Eastfield House owners fail to renew permission

Majesticare have been turned down in their attempt to renew the time-expired planning permission granted on appeal in 2013 for a large extension to their derelict care home, which has been closed since 2016. The refusal is linked to the likely adverse impact on three protected trees.

The next move in the long saga of planning applications and appeals could be another appeal by Majesticare, as on the previous occasion. 

There is more information in an article in this week’s Henley Standard

Full information can be found on the SODC planning webpage

Date/Time : Saturday, 10th October 2020 17:37

Road up the hill is now open again

The gas main replacement work has been finished and the road has been re-opened, on schedule, this afternoon.  That brings to an end a month-long period of frustration for drivers. 

The contractor has carried out some grass seeding on damaged banks. Some of the ten roadside soakaways appear to have been damaged by the wheels of heavy plant and will need repair.

The village entrance gateways and the sign are also damaged.  The damage is thought to have been done before the start of the gas pipe work.  

On the separate Hardwick Road pavement work, the full length of the asphalt base was finished today.  Tomorrow, and on the next three days, the smoother top surface is expected to be placed, working westwards from Muddy Lane.  This is likely to inconvenience those parking for the school run tomorrow. 

Date/Time : Monday, 05th October 2020 16:30

Parish council seeks a way forward on traffic and parking

At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the parish council held online yesterday evening, councillors discussed traffic and parking issues for over three hours.

The two informal consultations held this year highlighted various concerns about the proposals for double yellow lines and parking bays in the High Street put forward by TAPAG, the Traffic and Parking Advisory Group that has been assisting the council for several years,.  Foremost among these was concern about the two-phased programme, whereby the yellow lines and 24 bays would be established first, with the bays given residents-only status later.  This phasing was proposed because of the need for the police to delegate their parking enforcement powers to SODC, a change that is underway but will take time to complete.

Councillors were told that the effect of Covid had been to reduce the severity of the problem, at least temporarily.  They were asked to give their opinions on the priorities for a scheme in terms of congestion, speed, pedestrian safety, pollution, street crossing and traffic calming.  After much debate the council resolved to concentrate on short-term improvements, including pedestrian safety at the Ferryboat narrows, while re-evaluating and refining the current proposals.  A scheme involving yellow lines and parking bays would then be introduced in the medium term once it is possible to ensure residents-only parking from the start.  There was also discussion of changes to the approach adopted by TAPAG in respect of consultation and transparency.

Some complaints are reported to have been received about the apparent conflict of interest for any councillor who is personally affected by proposed parking changes.  

Minutes of the meeting will be published and the subject is expected to be raised again at the parish council meeting next Thursday.

Date/Time : Friday, 02nd October 2020 20:02

Whitchurch hill re-opening at end of Monday

SGN clarified to the Whitchurch Web today that the gas main works on the hill are still on schedule, and they expect to be working at the weekend in order to re-open the road by late in the day on Monday 5th October.

Project Manager Matt Morland said that he will let us know if they encounter any snag in the next few days which affects that opening date.

The re-opening will come as a relief to those using the Path Hill unofficial diversion route, and to those living on the route, who have been blighted by gridlock and road rage in recent weeks.  The start on 24th September of the Hardwick Road pavement works made things worse, including the addition of a large Tarmac lorry to the overloaded route.  

Date/Time : Thursday, 01st October 2020 15:15

New and improved Coombe Park fence

Following the granting of planning permission in April for an acceptable design for the Coombe Park boundary fence, about half the length along the Hartslock bridleway has now been rebuilt (photo).  The new fence consists of timber palings on a steel frame, instead of being entirely of steel, and has a height of 2.2m, which is about 0.2m lower than before.  Instead of hazardous steel spikes there are now tapered timber points.  Most importantly, considerable lengths of the fence line have been moved further away from the bridleway and the hedge is now to be planted on the bridleway side rather than on the Coombe Park side.

The planning documents show that the hedge will contain six native plant species, mainly hawthorn and hazel, with some field maple, spindle, holly and wild privet. The plants, initially bamboo-staked and with spiral guards, are to be actively managed ‘to create a dense bushy structure at a height of 2.5m with foliage down to ground level’.  

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue said today that he was very pleased that the owner of Coombe Park had reached an agreement with SODC to have a boundary fence that is more appropriate for the Thames Path and he felt that the successful outcome of the planning process called for congratulations to SODC and also to owner Mr David Pain for undertaking the realignment and rebuild. 

Date/Time : Sunday, 27th September 2020 18:05

Hardwick Road pavement renewal starts

Work started this morning on the rebuilding of the pedestrian pavement along Hardwick Road, which is expected to take two weeks.

The work is part of a jointly financed project, negotiated by the parish council with OCC, to improve the village’s pavements.  Other worn out or damaged pavements in Swanston Field, the High Street and Manor Road are planned for repair in a separate operation that OCC expects to carry out by the end of the year, using a ‘slurry seal’ technique rather than a complete resurfacing.

Some confusion was caused this morning to parents who normally park in the area to drop off school children.  Today is also bin day, adding to traffic problems (picture). 

The Skanska team leader at the site today seemed unaware of the temporarily heavy traffic or the need for school parking in the area.  Parish council chairman Jim Donahue said that he had informed OCC weeks ago that there were two reasons for them to consider delaying the work: the current high traffic volumes caused by the road closure on the hill, which will continue until 5th October, and the desirability of doing the work outside the school term.  However, OCC decided to keep to their programme. 

Further east along Hardwick Road, OCC have filled in the deep roadside rut, following requests from the parish council, and are understood to be planning to trim back the hedge.  

On the separate topic of drainage, Jim Donahue said that he had been told by OCC that they have decided on a solution to address the shortcomings of the stormwater drainage from the Greyhound area.  This will involve replacing an undersized pipe connecting the drainage gullies on the Greyhound side of the High Street to the road drain on the other side with a larger diameter pipe. They have put this in next Fiscal Year's budget request. This follows a report by members of the village’s Flood Forum on the flash flood of 16th June 2020, which is on this website here.

Next Monday OCC’s specialist contractor OPC is expected to return to Whitchurch to continue the earlier work on cleaning out the High Street storm drainage system.  

Date/Time : Thursday, 24th September 2020 16:42

Whitchurch hill to be reopened on Monday 5th October

SGN have confirmed that they are currently on schedule to re-open the road up the hill on Monday 5th October.  Project Manager Matt Morland said today that they have successfully tested the new length of gas main and tomorrow will start work on the final connections to Castrol/BP and to several houses, before backfilling holes and reinstating the site.

He said that, in response to complaints about heavy traffic and occasional gridlock on the unofficial Hardwick Road and Path Hill diversion route, SGN increased and improved the signage to guide traffic to the official diversion route through Streatley and Goring.  However, some drivers used their Sat-Navs to find the shortest way around the closure, ignoring the official route.

Susan Day of SGN said the company appreciates the inconvenience that the road closure has caused the local community and wants to thank everyone for their patience.

Karl Bishop, site representative for contractor Direct Mole, said that his team would be paying special attention to reinstating the war memorial area to a clean condition.  

Date/Time : Wednesday, 23rd September 2020 19:43

Art & Craft show to go ahead in November

It's good news for our many lockdown artists, photographers and craftspeople.  After much discussion and checking of the current guidance on use of the village hall, the Art & Craft Exhibition committee is going ahead with this year's exhibition, though with certain changes from the norm. There will be no prize-giving ceremony, no serving of refreshments, and there will be a limit to the number of people in the hall, with a one-way system in place.

The dates are Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th November.  Here are the List of Classes for Adults and Juniors, the Timetable for Entries and the Rules.   

This year’s theme for the Joyce Voysey Prize is ‘Happiness’.  Last year’s theme was ‘Masks’ and who could have guessed how soon we would be wearing one?

The photo above shows some entries in last year's exhibition. The committee is keeping its fingers crossed that the current social distancing rules will not be changed significantly before the event. 

So, there is just under two months for the creative Whitchurch people of all ages to show the rest of us what they can do!  

Date/Time : Sunday, 20th September 2020 18:44

Drone training flights cause anger in village

As the message board shows, the repeated circuits flown by a large drone around the hillside near Hardwick Road have been causing annoyance to many residents.

It appears that these flights are part of a training course run by Damion Morphy from Lower Hitch, a property on the right at the top of the hill leading up to Whitchurch Hill.  It is understood that courses for would-be drone pilots have been run there from time to time.

The current drone is ‘the size of a wheelbarrow’, according to a close neighbour of Lower Hitch, who says that this morning alone there were at least five flights, each involving many circuits, and all creating an unpleasant whining noise.  Farm animals are reportedly being disturbed. One resident described the sound as somewhere between a chainsaw and a banshee. 

Some residents have complained that the drone has occasionally been tracking people, speculating that this may be training in surveillance.  Mr Morphy is understood to be connected to the nearby company Advanced Tactical Resources based in Goring Heath, which offers training in aerial surveillance.  Further information can be found in a Henley Standard article of 2019.

Both SODC and the Police have been informed about the noise nuisance created by the drone activity, which has been exceptionally frequent and noisy in recent days.

The photo above shows an example of a six-rotor drone.  The drone referred to in this item is shown in this photo taken in Whitchurch on 9th September. 

Update, 6 pm

A police representative, WPC Barbara Taylor, visited the drone launching site earlier today in response to many complaints.  She said afterwards that the drone company has hired the field only to fly their aircraft for a period of two weeks finishing this Friday.  The drones are licensed to fly above 50 metres and below 400 metres and they are registered by the CAA.  They are allowed to fly over properties as long as they are above 60 metres as the airspace is free, she said. 

After her visit, the drone flights continued right through the afternoon.

Some residents are considering challenging the legality of the flying operation.  Others are filing a complaint about the noise on this page of the SODC website on the understanding that even if the operation is legal the number of complaints about the nuisance will carry weight with the local authority.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 09th September 2020 14:35

Whitchurch Under-17s football team wins Cup Final

The Anglers finally beat the Woodcutters.  Originally scheduled to be played back in April, the East Berkshire Football Alliance U17s Plate Cup Final between AFC Whitchurch Woodcutters (Woodcote) and Anglers (Whitchurch-on-Thames) was played on Saturday morning at Checkendon. 

There is a larger photo of the Anglers here

Alistair Aitchison reports: 

In front of a large crowd of enthusiastic and socially distancing family and friends, the Anglers won 1-0, thanks to a first-half goal by Thom Denning.  It was a very tight game played in a good spirit.  Jonathan James, referee for the game commented afterwards that it was “A really enjoyable, hard-fought, high quality youth match”. 

Although the Anglers won, the game could have gone either way, with the Woodcutters having a second half penalty saved by Anglers keeper, Isaac Aitchison.  The game was a credit to both teams and the work that coaches and club officials are doing to develop talented players who play with intensity but also fairness . 

We are grateful to our team sponsor Leslie Prater and his labrador Dillon for financial support and also to Whitchurch Parish Council for their support in providing facilities, especially during this challenging period of lockdown, where local players could maintain their fitness and develop their skills. 

The season starts again this coming Saturday 12th September and continues through the end of April.“ 

Players interested in joining any of the five teams spanning ages 5 to 18 should visit the Sports page of this website to find out more.

Date/Time : Sunday, 06th September 2020 15:00

Opinions differ on traffic and parking plan

The informal consultation held online yesterday evening to discuss traffic and parking issues drew together over thirty residents, who had a wide range of opinions. The meeting continued for three hours.

Several speakers felt that the current plan is handicapped by the need to carry it out in two phases.  The first being to paint the yellow lines and mark out the parking spaces.  The second being to designate certain parking places as residents-only, which cannot be done at present as it requires the transition of certain powers from the Police to SODC.  Though this transition is believed to be underway, it is not expected to be complete before the autumn of 2021 at best.

Other participants were concerned that if fewer cars were parked in the High Street the traffic would be able to move at a higher speed and this would increase the risk to pedestrians.

Some were adamant that there should never be yellow lines in Whitchurch.  

Parish chairman Jim Donahue said today: “I would like to thank everyone who attended the meeting and took the opportunity to give their views and learn more about the proposed changes. We had more than 30 people attending, most of whom stayed for the full three hour meeting! There was some useful feedback on the traffic proposal and an opportunity for TAPAG members and a representative from Mode traffic consulting to clarify some things. The desire for residential parking is clear. Some people also felt that there is a more urgent need to address speeding and pedestrian safety as opposed to congestion and inconsiderate parking.  Since the start of the pandemic, there is less congestion during rush hours, but also more speeding in areas where there is less parking. This situation where the overall level of traffic is temporarily reduced also gives us some time to ensure we are proceeding with the right solution.  The Parish Council will consider this feedback before deciding on the next steps.” 

Information on this issue is carried on our Traffic and Parking page, which will be updated with any developments. 

Date/Time : Friday, 04th September 2020 18:04

Farewell tree for the Maze

Sally Trinder, who is reluctantly leaving Whitchurch later this month after 48 years, has given a farewell present to the village of a crab-apple tree, which has been planted at the Maze by Pete Woolhouse.  Shown here with the tree are Sally Woolhouse, Sally Trinder and Pete. 

Sally Trinder says: “I have loved living in Whitchurch and am sad to be leaving.  We were originally at Wellesley House and then after 2007 at The Gables.  Stephen died five years ago, and the time has now come for me to move nearer to other members of my family in Bristol, where he and I spent the first years of our married life.  The tree is planted at the Maze, where Toffee and I have had many happy walks.”

Date/Time : Thursday, 03rd September 2020 14:08

Thames Water has leaks to repair

There are two water leaks in the village that are of concern.

This afternoon a steady stream of water began to flow through the upper narrows and on down the High Street.  The source is at the southern limit of the trench being excavated by SGN’s contractor Direct Mole Ltd for the replacement gas main (picture).  Their work has evidently disturbed a water supply pipe.  The leak was immediately reported to Thames Water.

The second is the long-standing and much-reported seepage on the road in the narrows of Eastfield Lane.  It has at last been accepted by Thames Water to be their responsibility, after many visits and water tests in past months had led to their repeatedly denying the possibility. Their personnel will now try to locate the source more precisely before they plan any excavation, which could cause access problems for Eastfield Lane.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 01st September 2020 20:42

The Greyhound goes on sale again

Punch Taverns has put The Greyhound pub on the market again, at a freehold price of £675,000 + VAT.  The agents Fleurets, who specialise in the leisure sector, state (incorrectly) that the property has ceased trading and is closed. They describe the location of the five bedroom property as in the ‘pretty village of Whitchurch on Thames,’...‘an affluent and desirable residential area.’

The agents are holding an open viewing session on 8th September.

The price is higher than when Punch Taverns offered the pub for sale six years ago.  This was our news item of 3rd March 2014:

“The owner Punch Taverns, which has put The Greyhound on the market for £475,000 plus VAT with a closing date of 18th March, has said that the sale is a commercial decision and it hopes to sell the pub, in its grounds of 0.11 acre, as a going concern.  The company is known to have incurred financial problems following an ambitious period of expansion.  However, there is a possibility that the pub could be bought for conversion to a private house.  With this in mind, the Parish Council has applied to South Oxfordshire District Council to have the pub listed as ‘an asset of community value’ which would give a six month moratorium for a bid to be made by someone in the village. Parish Chairman Harry Butterworth said most people would regard it as a serious loss to the community if such a key feature of the village were to be lost.  It was therefore important to give the community a reasonable chance to consider its options.  However, the process of applying for the listing takes several months and it will not be known for some time whether the application is successful.”

Parish chairman Jim Donahue said today that he would be happy to hear from any individual or group in the village who needed time to put a bid together to acquire the pub and run it as a business. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 27th August 2020 16:11

Road closure on hill postponed by two weeks

The month-long closure of the B471 on Whitchurch hill, scheduled to start today 24th August as shown on the sign in the picture, has been postponed by two weeks.  Matt Morland, project manager for Scotia Gas Networks (SGN), said today that Oxfordshire County Council had belatedly realised that another road closure in the area makes it inadvisable to proceed.  A road closure in Goring is scheduled for a similar time and would block the designated diversion route for the Whitchurch project. 

The hill will now be closed from 7th September to 5th October.  The information on the signs will be changed.

The Goring closure is for pavement improvement works between the railway bridge and Tesco and is scheduled from 25th August to 7th September.  There is speculation that the late discovery of the clash could be due partly to the working from home of local authority staff during the pandemic. 

Date/Time : Monday, 24th August 2020 18:05

Whitchurch running expert publishes book

High Street resident Shane Benzie, running coach and founder of Running Reborn, has written a book The Lost Art of Running – A Journey to Rediscover the Forgotten Essence of Human Movement.  His research for the book included visits to Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Morocco to study running and walking techniques.  As part of his research in Uganda, he set up a coaching academy for young people in rehabilitation centres, a development that he hopes to see introduced to other communities. 

The paperback book can be ordered here.

Date/Time : Saturday, 22nd August 2020 15:21

Meeting on traffic and parking, 3rd September

The Parish Council is providing a second opportunity for an informal consultation on proposals for solving traffic and parking problems in the village.  The meeting will take place online at 7 pm on Thursday 3rd September.

Details of how to join the meeting and how to submit questions in advance are given on the Traffic and parking page.  The page also has links to an Information Pack from TAPAG and a drawing showing the road markings proposed last year by traffic consultants MODE.

Date/Time : Thursday, 20th August 2020 14:57

Refurbished village hall opens on 1st September

After months of refurbishment and upgrading, the Village Hall will be open for bookings from the 1st September.  It has a new central heating boiler, new curtains, new windows, new flooring, new doors and a smart new kitchen (pictured) making it a much more desirable place to hold events. 

The improvements have been made possible by generous donations from business as well as Parish Council funding.  They have been organised by parish councillor Jean-Marc Grosfort. 

There are new rules for using the hall, following government advice. 

Jean-Marc says: “We hope that many people will now want to use this splendid community asset.”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 19th August 2020 10:43

School receives a fibre optic connection

BT Openreach has installed a ‘Full Fibre’ broadband cable from the High Street to the Primary School in time for the new school year.  The trench excavated in the grass verge along Eastfield Lane has been backfilled and grass seed scattered in the hope of recovery.

 Fiona Broadbent, the school’s Business Manager, says: “We have found that with the increased use of the internet by teachers, pupils and school administrators we have struggled with the internet speeds we were able to get at the school.  Whilst the line will be for our own private use, there will now be ductwork in place along Eastfield Lane so I would hope that may make it easier and hopefully cheaper for other residents to request their own fibre lines in the future.” 

Date/Time : Saturday, 15th August 2020 11:27

Racing driver tries witchcraft to recover stolen car

Retired racing driver David Brodie, of the Modern Artists Gallery in the High Street, was approached by a group of strangers who offered to help identify the thieves who had made off with his beloved replica Ford Escort.  The group of four conducted a ‘blood curse’ ritual and departed, saying only that they were from the New Candlemas Society.

Read more in this article from this week's Henley Standard.

Date/Time : Thursday, 13th August 2020 21:38

Whitchurch footballers sweep awards in Wallingford

Former AFC Whitchurch players, Euan Aitchison (22) and Lawrie Aitchison (20) won two of the three individual player awards at the recent Wallingford Town AFC 1st Team end-of-season event.

Euan received the Player of the Year award while Lawrie received the Clubman of the Year award.  Euan had received the Young Player of the Year award in 2019.

Wallingford Town AFC play in the Uhlsport Hellenic Division 1 East league.

Seeing former Whitchurch players continuing to play and progress in local senior teams shows that from the village teams in AFC Whitchurch there is a clear pathway ahead. 

Date/Time : Friday, 07th August 2020 12:50

Business returns to The Ferryboat

Landlord Graham Dednum reports a steady increase in clients visiting the pub for drinks and meals since it re-opened three weeks ago.  A new menu, including takeaway options, is being introduced next week.

The Ferryboat has been registered for the Government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme which offers clients a 50% discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This will start on Tuesday 4th August, as Monday is not an opening day.  The discount, capped at £10 per head, applies to food and non-alcoholic drinks. 

The pub, which has been refurbished during lockdown, is strictly observing the recommended Covid-19 safety measures to protect both staff and clients. As shown in the photo above, these include a fully protected bar serving area, new signs explaining the procedures and floor-standing hand sanitisers at each entrance.

Graham points out that all village pubs depend upon continued local support and he feels that “use them or lose them” has never been more relevant.  He assures everyone of a warm welcome. 

Date/Time : Monday, 27th July 2020 14:42

Another brick wall takes a hammering

More damage was done to the village’s brick walls this morning when a garden retaining wall in the narrow part of Hardwick Road, not far from the High Street, was struck by a vehicle, possibly the bin lorry.  Parts of the wall fell into the road.  

Someone who drove past shortly afterwards said he saw the bin lorry, with staff of SODC/Biffa holding up the traffic and taking photos. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 23rd July 2020 16:15

Hill to be closed for work on gas main (UPDATED AGAIN)

Next Monday 27th July, traffic lights will be installed for one-lane flow on the B471 hill between Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill, as SGN begins a two-month programme of gas main replacement. 

At some time during the two months the road will be completely closed for an unspecified period. 

The work planned is the replacement of the present gas main with a plastic one, which appears to be similar to the work SGN carried out along Hardwick Road and Hillside last summer.  Further back in time, SGN excavated a trench along Hardwick Road in 2011-12, when they installed a new gas trunk pipeline across the river and through the village, prior to the rebuilding of the toll bridge.

Here is the full message received today from Scotia Gas Networks, with more information. 

Update, Thursday 23rd July:

In response to a query from the Whitchurch Web, SGN has clarified that the lower end of the closure will be at the junction of Hartslock Bridleway with the High Street.

Confusingly, a roadworks sign was erected yesterday in Hardwick Road, where last year's work was done.  The sign gives a conservative allowance of 19 weeks duration for the work, which is more than double the SGN estimate.

Update, Thursday 6th August: 

The complete road closure of the hill will be from 24th August to 21st September. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 22nd July 2020 17:00

Whitchurch Pre-School has new plans

The Pre-School lost £20,000 during the Covid-19 lockdown but is bouncing back with fundraising activities, a Forest Schools initiative in the allotments and a plan for a new building.  The present Portacabin was bought second-hand more than 20 years ago and has become costly to maintain.

A recent generous donation has doubled the crowdfunding total, bringing it to £1,980 against a target of £5,000. 

Read all the news in this update from Pre-School chair Mel Uglow.

Date/Time : Monday, 20th July 2020 17:09

Light aircraft noise campaign

After the peace and quiet of the lockdown period, the recent return of aerobatic pilots and their noisy aircraft to the skies above Whitchurch has caused annoyance to many residents. 

One of them, Geoff Weir, has set up a campaign group called SNOW – Stop Noise Over Whitchurch.  His comments on the message board have already been responded to by several others.  Many more are thought to agree that for one person in the air to disturb thousands on the ground by pursuing their hobby is not acceptable. 

Details of the SNOW campaign can be read in this document.  Geoff wishes to engage with the authorities at White Waltham airfield near Maidenhead, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Chiltern AONB board and anyone else who can help. 

To express your support for the campaign, or comment on it, send him an email or comment on the message board.

Geoff also says: "If anyone wishes to complain directly to White Waltham airfield, their phone number is 01628 823272. They’ll ask for the plane’s registration number, but if you give your postcode and the time the plane was overhead they’ll probably know the plane involved from their flight plans."

Date/Time : Thursday, 16th July 2020 11:11

Investments in pavements and storm drains

In two separate initiatives, Oxfordshire County Council will soon be working with the village to make significant improvements to its infrastructure. 

The first concerns flooding and drainage.  Following the flash flooding of 16th June, work is scheduled to start soon on jetting and root-cutting in the storm drainage system along Hardwick Road and in Swanston Field. CCTV will be used by the contractor OPC (picture) to investigate the system and its soakaways. This will be followed later in the month by similar investigations in the low-lying area of The Greyhound, where the complicated drainage system has proved inadequate on many occasions.  Also in line for investigation is the storm drain outside the Picture Gallery which currently allows some water to reach a cellar.  Finally, the effectiveness of the ten roadside soakaways on the hill will be checked. 

Within the village, the members of the Whitchurch Flood Forum (Warren Beard, John Southey, Geoff Weir and Richard Wingfield) have been sharing their knowledge of local flooding and drainage with OCC and OPC.  Recently the function of the ancient watercourse crossing beneath the street near The Greyhound, sometimes known as the ‘mysterious culvert’, has become clearer. 

The second initiative concerns the pedestrian pavements in the village, many of which are in a badly deteriorated state.  After many years of unsuccessfully requesting action by OCC, which is the responsible authority, the Parish Council resolved at their monthly meeting yesterday to go ahead with a pavement improvement project involving a contribution by the village of around £25,000.  This is to be funded partly from the parish council’s reserve funds and partly by a grant already received, with the work being carried out by a contractor to OCC.  The full value of the work is said by OCC to be up to £80,000. 

Yellow arrows have recently appeared on the pavements around the village, indicating the areas that will eventually receive either local repairs or more extensive replacement.  They are in Hardwick Road, Swanston Field, Manor Road, Eastfield Lane and the High Street. 

Parish chairman Jim Donahue comments:

I am pleased that we are finally getting action from OCC on these longstanding issues in the village. They have committed to program to clear drains in areas that were impacted by the flash flood that include Hardwick Road and Swanston Field in addition to the “Greyhound bowl” where the worst flooding happened. OCC supports the work that the Flood Forum team are doing and we all share a desire to have a long-term solution to the problem. 

The need for pavement improvements has continually been raised among issues from residents over the years and was the second highest priority issue raised by residents in the 2019 Village Plan after Traffic and Parking issues. The funds we are contributing for this have been budgeted as part of our 3-year Village Plan budget and include OCC grants and Community Infrastructure Levy funds that we need to spend, or they will expire.  They have committed to a complete resurfacing of the Hardwick Road pavement in time for school drop-offs in September and are also identifying fixes required on other streets. The Parish Council is also committed to improving safety on the pavement in front of the Ferryboat, but OCC has provided several reasons that they don’t believe a raised kerb there is feasible so will look at other options.”

Date/Time : Friday, 10th July 2020 18:36

Playground re-opens

The Manor Road playground, much missed by many regular users during the recent lockdown, has been re-opened.  Parish councillor Carrie Leadbeater-Hart reports: 

“The Parish Council are pleased to announce that as of 9.30 am today the playground on Manor Road is open to small people once again!   Councillors Jon Steward and Hanna Ferguson (pictured) have carried out a risk assessment which involves daily cleaning of the play equipment with disinfectant spray and also the installation of a foot operated sanitation station.   Children and adults are asked to read and follow the guidelines for safe use, which are posted on each entrance gate.  Enjoy!!”

Date/Time : Friday, 10th July 2020 17:44

Whitchurch celebrates gardening

Photographs of 18 flower-filled gardens in our village are now on display, thanks to the many residents who submitted photographs during June for the Whitchurch Society Gardens Walk, which this year has been an online event.  To see them, head to Photos/Gardens 2020. 

Whitchurch Society chair Laura Lucas says she is delighted by the response: 

“The Whitchurch Society would like to thank all 18 households who kindly submitted photographs for our virtual Gardens Walk this year.  Several gardens were submitted that haven’t been opened to the village before, which is particularly nice. Many residents have enjoyed the photographs and number 18 Swanston Field (pictured) was especially well-admired. 

Sally Woolhouse has begun planning this year’s Arts & Crafts Exhibition (14-15 November) which we hope can go ahead as normal, and next year’s Gardens Walk will be held in the usual way, on foot, rather than online! 

The Society will also be supporting the work on the Conservation Area Appraisal over the next couple of years and continues to support the annual Village Walks and also the Parish Council with the Whitchurch Award.  If you would like to help us in any way with any of these, or have a new idea, or would like to make a contribution to the Society, please email us on”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st July 2020 15:31

Vandals spray orange paint on cars

At around 2 am on Monday night vandals sprayed orange paint on a row of ten cars in Manor Road, parked at the kerb outside Numbers 22 to 29.  The cars included one that had belonged to Pete Hollitzer, who died recently. 

Police were called after the damage was first noticed on Tuesday morning. They have visited Manor Road, interviewed residents and distributed a leaflet asking anyone with information to call 101, ref 43200187458. 

The Police leaflet also suggests that residents set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.  Keith Brooks, Neighbourhood Watch coordinator for Whitchurch, says he would be happy to help anyone who would like to do this.  They can contact him on 0118 984 1178 or by email.

Yesterday, a joint effort by neighbours succeeded in cleaning most of the paint off the cars. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 24th June 2020 19:03

Torrential downpour floods village centre

Exceptionally heavy rain and hail struck Whitchurch between 4.30 and 5.00 pm this afternoon.  Water poured down the High Street, forming an extensive pool in the low area of the High Street near The Greyhound.  Traffic was brought to a halt.  The interior of the pub is reported to have been flooded and it seems that other houses in the area may also have suffered.  The Fire Service attended at around 5.30 pm.

More pictures here.  Photos by Geoff Weir 

Update, 17th June:  The Greyhound is reported to have been flooded inside to a depth of six inches.  This has hit the pub hard as it comes shortly after landlord Mark Lovett had the interior completely redecorated ready for re-opening. 

The Parish Council's road drainage volunteer Warren Beard, whose nearby house was also affected, cast doubt on the efficacy of the roadside soakaways on the steep hill, which were re-excavated last year.  He said that the task of surveying the drainage culvert, which the parish council agreed to fund, had not yet been achieved owing to a Covid delay and should now be a priority. 

 John Southey, who lives nearby and has made a study of flood risk in the village, said that he believed the drainage culvert was running freely and it appears that the huge quantity of debris coming down the hill after a long dry period had rapidly blocked gratings of road drainage gullies in the area, causing the build-up on the road of a large volume of water. 

Parish chairman Jim Donahue said that OCC had been requested to clear the road of mud and debris urgently and that he would help push ahead with the task of surveying the culvert. 

There are more pictures in the Gallery.

Update, 24th June: The Henley Standard has a report here.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 16th June 2020 18:19

Remembering Pete Hollitzer, 1949-2020

Pete Hollitzer, who lived in Manor Road, lost his short but intense fight with cancer and died on 22nd May, aged 71, at home with his family. 

Pete grew up in Yattendon and lived in Lower Basildon before moving to Manor Road in the mid-1990s.  He worked locally as a bricklayer and builder and had many other interests.  Espalier was a lifelong hobby and he was always teaching himself something new – he became a guitar player, painter, wood carver, vegetable grower and baker. 

Through work and his many interests, he came to know and be known by so many people.  He will be missed by his family, friends, neighbours and all those that knew him. 

There will be a short procession from his home at 22 Manor Road on Wednesday 17th June from 1.00 pm.  All those wishing to pay their respects and say their goodbyes are welcome to join in. 

This tribute is by Pete’s daughter Maz Elsome.

Date/Time : Sunday, 14th June 2020 22:02

Action agreed on Village Green fence

The recent problems at the Village Green concerning litter and the boundary fence were discussed during a virtual meeting of the Parish Council yesterday. 

Councillor Diana Smith reported on the problem of footballs kicked into the adjacent paddock and having to be retrieved, possibly disturbing the horses.  She had discussed the matter with Mr and Mrs Allen, who run the paddock, and with representatives of the football and cricket clubs, and this had led to a recommendation that several steps should be taken.  First, to acquire and set up a Ball Stop Net parallel to the fence, allowing access to the stile.  Second, to establish an alternative goal location to the north of the football pitch for occasional use.  Third, to install a rubbish bin.  The total cost of around £800 would be reduced by grants from the Football Association.  Alastair Aitchison said that the Football Club would take responsibility for emptying the bin. 

After discussion, the council resolved to proceed with all three steps and two further ones:  to consider installing a CCTV camera temporarily as suggested by police investigating the recent incidents of glass crumbs appearing in the goalmouth area;  and to consider more signage to remind users of what is permitted on the Village Green.  

It was agreed that turning the football pitch through 90 degrees and using a mobile goalpost at the southern end was not an acceptable solution,  mainly because of the degree of interference with the cricket pitch. 

Update, Saturday 13th June: 

Regarding the incidents of glass being found more than once in the west goal area, chairman Jim Donahue has clarified that the police responded by placing ‘Police Operation in Progress’ signs in the area and said they would increase the number of police visits. See photos.

He added: "The Parish Council wants to ensure the Village Green is available to use for the entire community. Allowing youth to safely play football is clearly important for a large number of families in the village, and I hope these measures will allow this to continue to happen whether it is part of team practice, family activities, or playing with groups of friends.  The Parish Council is not responsible for behaviour of people using the Village Green, so if residents become aware of activities that may break social distancing rules or may involve vandalism or other activities it should be reported to the police. We are working with the police on the serious issue of glass being found on one of the goals on a number of occasions that appears to be deliberate, so are considering the temporary use of CCTV cameras in cooperation with the police."

Date/Time : Friday, 12th June 2020 20:32

Gardens 2020 on display

The Whitchurch Society’s annual Gardens Walk is a special online event this year.  A display has opened on this website today of photos sent in by homeowners in the village.  To see them click on the Photos tab in the menu on the left, then select Gardens 2020. 

The first two gardens are there already and we would like to receive many more images of Whitchurch colour, especially after the extra lockdown attention that many gardens have received this year. 

Please send your photos (up to four of them) to the Whitchurch Society at this email address as soon as possible, but before the end of June.

Date/Time : Friday, 12th June 2020 13:04

New priest for Whitchurch

The vacancy for a parish priest, created by the appointment of Rev Claire Alcock to a Reading parish last September, is to be filled by Rev James Leach, who is currently associate priest in the parish of St James, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, where he has served for 14 years. 

Announcing the appointment, Langtree Team Rector Kevin Davies said that Rev Leach had been offered and accepted the post of ‘House for Duty’ (part time) associate priest serving the parish of St Mary’s Whitchurch and St John’s Whitchurch Hill. This is the same role as for Rev Alcock.

He said that Rev Leach (pictured) will move into St Mary’s House with his wife and youngest daughter later this year and that we all look forward to welcoming them into the Whitchurch community. 

Update, 23rd June:  There is more on the appointment of Rev Leach in this article in the Henley Standard.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 10th June 2020 19:02

Classic car stolen from behind Picture Gallery

At around 11.30 pm on Sunday evening thieves broke into the private yard behind the Modern Artists Gallery in the High Street by trespassing through a neighbouring property. They were intent on stealing the valuable replica Escort Mark I (pictured) owned by racing driver David Brodie, a classic car enthusiast with a successful career in motor sport.  The car was parked in the yard, behind a locked gate. 

David says: “I had removed the ignition and starter for security reasons but the car was pushed out on to the street through the locked electric gate, once the thieves had forced them open – and may have been wheeled down the street, possibly as far as Manor Road”.  He adds that “amazingly, the thieves managed to get the car started, so it was obviously someone experienced in car theft.” 

David’s wife Peggy says that the red and gold Escort Mark 1 - Replica 1968, which has a value of around £60,000, meant a lot to David.  It had been owned previously by the late Les Lyons for whom the racing fraternity has huge respect. The Brodies displayed the car at the 2019 Silverstone Classic event.  The door panel lists the names of the drivers of the famous original: Les Lyons, Graham Hill, David Brodie, Frank Gardiner, Jack Oliver, Roger Clark.  The original car is particularly well known for winning the 1968-69 Championship event and is said to have won over 200 races between 1969 and 1972.  The replica was built in the late 1990s. 

A Newbury Today article dated May 2015, when a documentary film was being made about the car, features David and gives more information. 

The police are actively investigating the case.  The Brodies are offering a reward for any information that leads to a recovery.  They can be contacted at 0118 984 5893 or by email.

Update, 12th June: This week's Henley Standard has a report on the theft here.

Update 23rd June:  The Henley Standard has published a longer article, including an interview with retired racing driver David Brodie.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 09th June 2020 15:57

Tidying up the village

There was a good response to the request by the chairman of the parish council for help with two jobs: removing the old mail storage box and repainting the red phone box at the Manor Road/High Street junction. 

Yesterday Nick Plumridge arranged for the concrete support post for the storage box to be cut out and the hole filled with concrete, all within a budget set by the parish council. 

See the Spot the Difference page. 

Royal Mail had confirmed to the parish council that it had no record of the storage box and the local post office said it had not been used for at least ten years. 

Allan Scriven has kindly offered to repaint the phone box free of charge. Again - it turns out that he repainted it six years ago.

Date/Time : Sunday, 07th June 2020 10:34

Hospital scrubs project completed

The Whitchurch project for making hospital scrubs that was started in mid-April has been successfully finished.  Volunteers sewing hospital garments and accessories (described in our news item of 17th April) made a grand total of 40 sets of scrubs, 150 bags and many headbands.  All the goods have been gratefully collected by Angela Hindle, facilities manager at the Royal Berks Hospital. 

The photo collage (left) shows some of the volunteers who were involved in the many hours of sewing.  Here is an enlargement.

Project organiser Yvonne Kerevan said today: “A very big thank you to all who contributed towards our Whitchurch venture, which has had a wonderful result.  Angela Hindle of the RBH was thrilled by what she found ready for collection.  Special thanks to the Rotary Club of Pangbourne who donated the funds to support the project.  This has been a very worthwhile effort, made all the more pleasurable by the number of generous and kind-hearted people we have all met.  Thank you so much, it has been a great pleasure to be involved.” 

Date/Time : Friday, 05th June 2020 13:39

Gardens Walk 2020 – an invitation

The village may be deprived of the usual Gardens Walk this year but the Whitchurch Society is inviting village residents to send in photographs of their beautiful gardens to create a virtual garden walk.  Starting today, and at any time during this month, please send up to four photos of your garden, showing either individual flowers, or beds, or shrubs, or trees, or a short walk-through video, to the Whitchurch Society’s email address.  Please include some thoughts, if you wish, about the plants or about your garden.  Photographs and comments will then be put on display on this website. 

Laura Lucas, chair of the Society, says: “We would love to receive lots of colourful images of early summer gardens in Whitchurch for us all to enjoy following the lockdown period.  Please share a part of your garden with us all!”

Date/Time : Monday, 01st June 2020 12:31

Annual Parish Assembly held online

Yesterday’s Annual Parish Assembly was held on Zoom this year.  Reports were given by many of those involved in village groups and working parties. 

A highlight of the event was the announcement of the Whitchurch Award 2020, after nominations by village residents had been received and a recommendation made by the Whitchurch Society to the Parish Council.  Parish chairman Jim Donahue announced that the recipients this year are Sally and Pete Woolhouse (pictured) and he paid tribute to their sustained and inspirational work on behalf of the community over many years. 

His tribute can be read in full here.

There is a screenshot of the event in the Photo Gallery.

There is an interview with the Woolhouses in the Henley Standard here.

Date/Time : Friday, 29th May 2020 13:15

Butterflies in Whitchurch

Can you tell a Peacock from a Red Admiral?  Or a Holly Blue from a Speckled Wood?  The sixth and latest in our series of Nature Notes is Butterflies in Spring, written by Sandra Parkinson and illustrated with her photographs of the butterflies she has seen recently at Chalkhills in Hardwick Road.  There is even a puzzle: Spot the Dingy Skipper. 

Find it on the Nature Notes page.

Date/Time : Saturday, 23rd May 2020 20:07

Football nets go back up

At a virtual monthly meeting of the Parish Council yesterday the issue of the fence between the village green and the private field was discussed, among other issues.  It was agreed that the goal nets would be replaced as soon as possible.  They were put back up today. 

It was explained that the absence of a net had been causing more people than normal to cross into the horse field to retrieve balls, in response to which the owner of the field had added panels to raise the fence, including a short length of spiked metal posts.  The owner has agreed to remove these. 

Jim Donahue said that the recent shocking discovery of many small pieces of glass on the ground in the goalmouth area had been reported to police, who had visited the site. 

Among other business, Jim Donahue was re-elected as chairman and Diana Smith was elected as vice-chairman. There is currently one vacancy on the council. 

The list of issues raised by residents and the current situation on each has been updated and can be found on the Parish Council page.

Date/Time : Friday, 15th May 2020 18:13

Pam Wilkinson 1938-2020 (Updated)

Pam Wilkinson of Eastfield Lane, who arrived in Whitchurch with her husband and two sons in 1976, died yesterday morning at the age of 82 after a short illness.  She died peacefully in her sleep with her family around her.  The death was not Coronavirus-related. 

Pam was actively involved in many village activities including the Crafty Knit & Stitch group, which she started, and the Art Café, which she helped to set up.  She was a driver for the Pangbourne and District Volunteer Car Scheme and she sang with the Thames Vale Singers.  She was an active member of the Theatre Club.  She was always happy to help other people.

Update (10th May):  Susie Wilkinson has invited those who knew Pam to show their support of Sue Ryder Nurses and the Hospice at Home healthcare team.  She has opened a JustGiving page in support of Sue Ryder South Oxfordshire Emergency Appeal.

Date/Time : Thursday, 30th April 2020 18:14

Book exchange set up in phone box

A small temporary library opened today in the phone box on the High Street, to help village residents who are running out of books for themselves or their children to read. 

Alastair Aitchison suggested the library idea a few days ago when he found that no less than ten families contacted him in response to his message on this website offering some children’s books. 

Jim Donahue suggested the phone box as a suitable venue and discussed the possibility with Jean Marc Grosfort. 

Jean Marc carefully measured the space available in the phone box and built a set of shelves, leaving adequate space for the defibrillator.  A poster reminds users of the coronavirus precautions. 

The suggestion is:  Bring a book and place it on the shelf.  Take a book home in exchange.

Date/Time : Sunday, 26th April 2020 20:51

Launch of Operation Bookworm

The local group known as the British Modern Military History Society (BMMHS) has grown with remarkable speed from its first event last May into a society with regular sell-out monthly talks in Woodcote Village Hall.  But the coronavirus crisis has stopped it in its tracks. 

Realising that many of us now have some spare time, the Society's joint founder, Jerry Cockeram of Whitchurch, is inviting us all to contribute a story about our experience, or that of a relative, in a military conflict of the last 200 years, with the intention of assembling the stories into a book to raise funds for charity.  This is Operation Bookworm.  Read the invitation in full

Jerry hopes that the programme of talks will re-start in September.  News will be on the BMMHS website

Date/Time : Monday, 20th April 2020 15:41

Use of village green clarified

The Parish Council met yesterday in a virtual session to discuss how government regulations and guidance should apply to the village green.  They agreed that it was most important for the village green to remain open for local exercise during the coronavirus crisis but that the nets should be taken off the football posts and the cricket practice nets should be taped off.  New signs will be displayed, reminding residents about the need for social distancing and requesting that dogs are kept on leads.  Read the full statement here.

Date/Time : Sunday, 19th April 2020 10:29

Can you sew? Help make some scrubs for the NHS

The Sewing Room in the Royal Berkshire Hospital has responded enthusiastically to a suggestion by Yvonne Kerevan in Eastfield Lane that volunteers who can sew should make scrubs for staff at the hospital. 

Yvonne is now helping to coordinate volunteers in Whitchurch.  She says: “Your help is urgently needed to support the NHS.  Please contact me on 0118 984 1424 or by email.”  She and others are turning sheet material and duvet covers into scrubs.  Some others are making headbands and drawstring bags. 

Angella Hindle, Facilities Manager at the RBH, provides more information here.   She gives the address of the Sewing Room for delivery but also offers to collect. 

Gill Williamson of the Crafty Knit & Stitch group has sent this link to a paper pattern for scrubs; also links to patterns for drawstring bags and headbands.

Date/Time : Friday, 17th April 2020 11:57

Resignation creates a vacancy on the parish council

Parish council vice-chairman Rachel Hatcher resigned last month, after more than four years on the council.  She said: “I have very much enjoyed being able to serve the community over the years and now that my children are older, plus with my work location changing to London, I need to be able to change how I use my time.”  At the March meeting, all councillors expressed their gratitude for her work as a councillor. 

This creates a vacancy.  Any Whitchurch resident over 18, who is on the electoral roll and a citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, EU or Ireland, can apply to become a councillor.  Applications should be received by 30th May.  Full information in these notices.  

Date/Time : Thursday, 16th April 2020 13:14

Whitchurch Society clarifies events for the year

The Gardens Walk organised by the Whitchurch Society has been a popular event in the village for many years and this year it was expected to take place in June.  That does not seem feasible now, which is a pity as many of us are likely to be spending even more time than usual tending our gardens during the lockdown period.  However, all is not lost as an alternative is planned.  

Laura Lucas, chair of the Whitchurch Society, has suggested that there should be a Virtual Garden Display instead of the Gardens Walk.  During the month of June, gardeners will be invited to submit photos of parts of their garden for display on the Whitchurch Web.  Details will be announced here nearer the time. 

Also featuring in the programme of the Society is the Whitchurch Award, now in its second year.  Village residents are invited to nominate one or more individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to village life.  The Whitchurch Society will receive and examine these nominations, forwarding a short-list to the Parish Council, who will make a final choice.  Last year the award was presented to Eric Hartley by the parish council chairman at the Annual Parish Assembly.  The invitation to submit nominations by 10th May will appear in the forthcoming issue of The Bulletin and can also be seen here.

Date/Time : Sunday, 12th April 2020 18:32

Water leak floods High Street

There was a burst water main in the High Street near the Ferryboat last night. This morning an emergency Thames Water team was present, trying to locate the leak before digging up the road to make a repair. 

A member of the team at the site said that to maintain the water supply to as many houses as possible they had re-zoned the system and only a few properties should lose pressure altogether.  Some others would experience a lower pressure than normal.

He said that the water in our village comes from a reservoir in Tilehurst and across the toll bridge.  This is a change from the situation that existed up to a few years ago when our water supply was piped down the hill and the link from Pangbourne was used only in emergencies.  The change was made after problems with excessive water pressure in the village, he said.

At 1.30 pm the team was awaiting the delivery of traffic lights for one-way flow before they could start work.

Update, Friday 10th April:  Geoff Weir reports: The leak was fixed at about 9.30 pm last night by Thames Water's sub-contractor Clancy Docwra.  During the night another gang came and removed all the debris and backfilled the hole, leaving the area neat and tidy and just waiting for the tarmac layer.

Date/Time : Thursday, 09th April 2020 13:08

Coombe Park boundary fence – changes proposed

New plans have been submitted by agents for the owner of Coombe Park, modifying the design of the estate’s boundary fence after strong opposition from many quarters to the high-security 2.4m-high steel fence that had been erected without planning permission along the bridleway. 

The planning application is P19/S0366/FUL

The fence design has been changed to round-topped vertical timber palings mounted on a steel frame, overall height 2.2m, for the full length of the boundary alongside the bridleway.  The gaps between palings are the same width as the palings.  There are no spikes at the top.  The hedge, to be planted along the full length alongside the bridleway, is to be of mixed native species and located on the bridleway side of the fence.  A note on the drawings states that the fence is ‘located 1m back from the bridleway’. 

For the boundaries shared with the Polish Garden and two nearby private gardens the height is reduced to 2 metres and the fence is likely to be of timber. 

Behind the village hall and its car park the requested height is 2.4m, of steel, and the proposed route still runs close behind the hall.  The agents, Oakley Planning of Devizes, explain in a letter that this is ‘where there are most difficulties with break-ins, with trespassers using existing structures and buildings as a way to jump over the existing fence.’  A yew hedge is also proposed for this length. 

The consultation period ends on 20th April.

Date/Time : Thursday, 02nd April 2020 19:19

Whitchurch Nature Notes launched

Our current state of lockdown has coincided with the welcome arrival of Spring.  Many of us will be finding ourselves spending more time than usual enjoying gardens and taking exercise in or near the village.  Some of us may have been wondering what that lovely white roadside blossom is, what on earth a bumble bee could be doing so early in the year and whether that was a kite or a buzzard overhead.  The good news is that, from today, guidance will be available on this website in the form of Whitchurch Nature Notes. 

The first Whitchurch Nature Note is Signs of Spring Part 1 which has been written for us by Sally Woolhouse and includes her own photographs.  More Nature Notes will appear here in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile Sally, who has kindly agreed to be our Nature Editor, would welcome any nature news, suggestions, comments or questions by email.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st April 2020 12:25

Latest update on getting help in the pandemic

The number of volunteers in the village who have offered to help with collecting a prescription, shopping for someone in need or just keeping in touch, is now approaching 50. 

John Bradon has provided an updated version of the list.  Lily King has been checking emails and tracking any requests. 

Date/Time : Friday, 27th March 2020 19:01

Whitchurch joins nationwide salute to NHS workers

At 8 pm this evening the sound of applause broke out in many areas of the village and continued for several minutes as residents acted together to show their appreciation of the doctors, nurses, carers and others tackling the coronavirus outbreak. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 26th March 2020 20:16

Update on getting help during the pandemic

A larger group of Whitchurch volunteers, 30 strong, has now been established to provide help with getting shopping, picking up prescriptions, posting letters or parcels, or just keeping in touch to check how you are. 

The list of volunteers in each area of the village is shown here:  NON-MEDICAL HELP DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – Update, 19th March 2020

To request help, send an email to  A volunteer will note your name and address and someone will be in touch. 

A paper copy of the list, with phone numbers, is being delivered by hand to all households.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th March 2020 16:08

Response to Coronavirus in Whitchurch

The Parish Council has issued a statement on the current health situation.  It can be read here: Village Response to Coronavirus

The village’s Community Emergency Plan, published less than a month ago, established a ‘telephone tree’ network of communication to provide help to vulnerable people.  This is now being put to use at an earlier date than anyone expected. 

Ten volunteer coordinators are named in the statement, covering all areas of the village.  They can be phoned or emailed by anyone who is self-isolating and in need of some help, for example with shopping.  The ten coordinators will work with other volunteers in their areas to help vulnerable people. 

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue is temporarily in the USA and has asked John Bradon to deputize for him in coordinating the volunteers. 

For more about the Community Emergency Plan scroll down to our news item of 23rd February.

Date/Time : Monday, 16th March 2020 15:22

Bang goes another brick wall

Robin Shuff lives at The Vines, a High Street house just below the Hardwick Road junction.  On Sunday night, at around 1.50 am, he was awoken by a loud noise and discovered a green Vauxhall Corsa wedged into his garden wall.  He helped the driver, a young man, into the house and called the police.  The driver was uninjured.  The police summoned a truck to remove the car, which was partially obstructing the roadway. 

It appears that the driver, travelling down the hill, lost control of his car and clipped the kerb opposite the picture gallery.  He then collided with a black VW Transporter owned by a nearby resident, which was parked on the opposite side of the road.  The Corsa bounced off the side of the VW, crossed the road again and crashed into the garden wall.  The first impact caused considerable damage to the VW, shifting it sideways.  The second impact demolished part of the garden wall, narrowly missing a timber pole.

The police are understood to have breathalysed the driver, who was returning to his home in Pangbourne.  He is thought to be likely to appear in court in the next week or so. 

The photograph above was taken by Robin Shuff.  More here.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 10th March 2020 19:22

Eight-year-olds help to protect the oceans

Over two recent weekends, Eliza Kemp and Anna Acworth, both aged eight, have been drawing the attention of passers-by on Hardwick Road to the urgent need to take environmental issues seriously. 

In total they have raised £65.09 in donations.  They would like to thank everyone who stopped to learn more about their campaign.  

Eliza’s father Peter reports that they have donated the funds raised to Plastic Oceans UK, an organisation dedicated to ending plastic pollution within all marine and freshwater sources.

Date/Time : Sunday, 08th March 2020 13:57

Progress on Polish church memorial

At the parish council meeting on 13th February the creation of a memorial on the footprint of the demolished Polish church in the field at the north end of Manor Road was further discussed. Alexa Duckworth-Briggs reports: 

From previous meetings with local residents and those who have links to the church and garden when it was in use a remit was agreed for the suppliers: 

  • overall design as in this sketch
  • area 4 x 6m to 5 x 7m
  • area to be levelled out to create a flat base
  • memorial to be hard wearing and vandal proof
  • an area for quiet contemplation 

The parish council has agreed a budget and from three tenders a supplier has now been chosen and engaged for the work, which will need to be organised closely with local residents and Coombe Park. The memorial includes two benches and four planters.  The ground surface will be of concrete cast within a timber surround. Grants are being investigated for additional items such as an information board and a memorial cross. 

There is a get-together at the site to share the latest updates, plant trees and do some clearing in the garden at 2 pm on Saturday 21st March. All are welcome! 

Any photos of or information about the church and site that can be used to design the information board or to plan the celebration to "open" the site are most welcome. 

To find out more, get involved or share history and memories please get in touch with Alexa on or 07557 852600. 

The photo shows the derelict building in 2013, shortly before it was demolished.

Date/Time : Thursday, 27th February 2020 17:50

Concerns over parking plan discussed

A meeting of those opposed to the TAPAG proposals for 24 parking bays with double yellow lines took place last night, hosted by Carrie Leadbeater-Hart. 

Carrie reports as follows: 

“Thank you to everyone who came along to last night’s meeting, to discuss their concerns and suggestions with regards to the proposed Council/TAPAG plan for double yellow lines along the High Street.  It was a very positive and constructive meeting and we hope that the Council/TAPAG will listen and respond positively.  We have collated the discussions into three lists: 

Concerns, Suggestions and a Request for Information from the Council/TAPAG  

We would encourage the Council to respond via a group meeting for all concerned residents and to be open and transparent – we all love living in the Village and want to ensure that all residents’ needs are respected and met.  If anyone would like to get in touch please do – all comments welcomed – send me an email .”

Date/Time : Tuesday, 25th February 2020 20:02

Community Emergency Plan published

Over a dozen Whitchurch residents have been involved during the last year in the creation of a Community Emergency Plan for the village.  The 15-page Plan has now been published by the Parish Council.  It can be found by scrolling down the Parish Council page of this website to the appropriate section, or by clicking here.  

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue explains: 

“The purpose of the Plan is to ensure the village is prepared for emergencies and that action can be taken in a timely manner to minimise any negative impacts. 

The most likely scenarios foreseen in the Plan are:

  • Flooding
  • Roads/pavement blocked
  • Power cuts for an extended period of time

Actions are listed in the Plan to prepare for, and respond to, these scenarios. 

It is recognised that there is a broad range of other emergencies that we could face, but these are considered of lower probability, for which impacts are difficult to predict (e.g. contaminated water supply, spread of epidemic, extreme cyber attack, plane crash, nuclear/chemical incident).  The Plan would still apply to these scenarios, but specific steps would need to be determined at the time. 

One of the key elements of the Plan is a telephone tree list of Area Coordinators to assist communication with residents in every street or area of the village.  I will act as the overall emergency coordinator and initial point of contact for news of an emergency from OCC, SODC or other sources and will then cascade this information to the Area Coordinators. 

The Plan has been sent to the Emergency Coordinators at both Oxfordshire County Council and South Oxfordshire District Council. 

Hard copies of the Plan are available on request.  Please email me or one of the other contacts in the plan with any questions.” 

Further information is given by Jim in this list of five steps that are to be taken in order to be prepared for Emergencies.

Date/Time : Sunday, 23rd February 2020 18:53

TAPAG replies to comments on parking scheme

TAPAG has responded to the points made by several residents, following the informal consultation in the Old Stables, in the news item “Parking proposals challenged” and in recent posts on the message board. 

“TAPAG would like to thank everyone for all the feedback we received to last week’s informal review of the recommended approach to ease traffic and create more orderly parking in the High Street, which is seen by over 90% of respondents to the Village Plan as being a priority item for the Parish Council to resolve. 

The main focus areas have been to ease dangerous pinch points at the narrows and junctions, improve traffic flow whilst reducing frustration and ensuring adequate parking is still available for our residents. In addition, reducing poor air quality featured highly to many, especially those with young children.  TAPAG has always tried to look at the bigger picture, including all roads and verges as well as pedestrian safety in the village not just the High Street as there is little point in just moving the problem elsewhere. To this end we received support from the Parish Council to hire a professional consultancy to assess the situation, analyse the painstaking work on speeding and parking surveys over nearly 3 years, and provide a proposal that can be taken through an official process to implementation. Their view was we needed to stop parking in certain areas and better organise the parking in other areas so that, instead of cars being spread out all the way up the street and pavements, they are arranged in groups to provide places to pass. Our regular surveys of the parking in our village reveal that there are rarely more than 24 cars parked in the high street at any one time.  We fully realise that this means change, and may mean more to some than others, but we have done our best to ensure this was not unreasonable. 

There seem to have been a few misunderstandings and the statement that we have informal approval without a public consultation is incorrect.  Our consultant recommended that we discuss the proposal with the Highways Officer before formal submission.  The officer made some amendments and suggestions, after checking drives and sightlines, to which we have received informal approval.  The next step, which is not mandatory, was to have an informal public consultation for people to air their views. The final step is for the Parish Council to make a formal request to OCC to implement the plan which would lead to a formal public consultation.  All of this was well documented in the bulletin and on the website notifying residents of Saturday’s forum. The “exit poll” from Saturday’s informal public consultation showed five not in favour, one of whom favoured no parking at all and 50+ in favour not including Parish Council and TAPAG members. 

All the points raised in the objectors’ posts can be countered with a logical response although many are setting hypothetical scenarios. Furthermore, no positive alternatives are offered to improve traffic flow, get order into the parking and restrict car-parking on the High Street by commuters.  A Residents' Parking Scheme for the High Street is the aim but is governed under the authority of SODC.  TAPAG is already in discussion with our councillor.  It is the intention to continue to press ahead with getting approval for this once the existing parking spaces have been controlled.

 The information shared on Saturday is just the first phase and there are still discussions taking place about parking for residents.  However, if we do not make a start the traffic situation will not improve.  With increased building north of our village, and the problems with congestion and parking in Pangbourne, it will only get worse.  These measures can start to make a difference. 

TAPAG, 15th February 2020”

Date/Time : Sunday, 16th February 2020 09:27

Parish council news

At the parish council meeting on Thursday Hanna Ferguson was co-opted to fill the remaining seat on the council.  Hanna, who has worked in Kenya and Myanmar on United Nations development programmes, has been resident in Whitchurch with her husband and two sons for several years.  The parish council is now rich in its diverse origins, which embrace Switzerland, Finland, Canada and the USA, as well as the UK. 

In other matters, the council resolved to object to the current planning application for Eastfield House on a variety of grounds: bulk, un-neighbourliness, traffic generation, inadequate parking, flooding/sewerage, access in a school cul-de-sac, the existence of more suitable uses for the building and a long history of planning creep. 

Budgets were agreed for two items in the recently published Village Plan: the creation of a Polish Church memorial area at the north end of Manor Road and the commissioning of a Conservation Area Appraisal for the village.  It was agreed to have the damaged brick pillar at the corner of Manor Road rebuilt.

Date/Time : Saturday, 15th February 2020 14:46

Parking proposals challenged

A group opposing the Parish Council’s proposal to remove all parking from the High Street, apart from 24 spaces, is to meet at Hawthorn Cottage on Monday 24th February at 8.00 pm. 

Carrie Leadbeater-Hart explains: 

“The purpose is to urgently discuss our concerns and to raise a formal objection to the plans (which according to the Council have been informally approved already by the OCC Highways Officer - without formal consultation!!) 

Our initial concerns are: 

  • No provision for Residents Parking,
  • No provision of centrally located village car park - therefore:
  • Increased parking on Eastfield Lane (school road with many child pedestrians),
  • Increased parking on Manor Road,
  • Increased parking on Hardwick Road,
  • Increased parking by toll bridge approach,
  • Increased speeds along the High Street,
  • No widening of pavements to protect pedestrians,
  • The Parish Council’s spend on what is ultimately a flawed plan that will not improve safety. (Estimated £10k that could be spent on public buildings/pavements etc). 

Any queries to me at  All are welcome to the meeting.” 

Date/Time : Thursday, 13th February 2020 13:40

Traffic scheme passes its first hurdle

Members of the Traffic and Parking Advisory Group (TAPAG) were busy at The Old Stables on Saturday afternoon explaining their proposals for dealing with the traffic situation in the village. 

Visitors were able to examine a plan of the High Street showing the proposed locations of 24 parking places and the double yellow lines.  The parking places are in five groups, all on the same side of the street: below the Picture Gallery 4; near The Little House 3; near Whitchurch House 2; near Mallards 8; near The Greyhound 7.  It is expected that the double yellow lines will be of the narrow type sometimes used in conservation areas to reduce the visual impact.  

Afterwards, a spokesman for TAPAG said that the vast majority of the 50 visitors who signed the attendance sheet were in favour of the scheme.  Of the small number against, all except one called for the immediate introduction of residents’ parking. 

In recent years car owners from outside the village have been parking in the High Street to avoid Pangbourne’s parking restrictions and charges, whether they are shopping there or taking a train to Reading or London.   TAPAG has also come across cases of cars parked while their owners take a train from Pangbourne to Heathrow for overseas trips lasting several days. 

TAPAG explained that the proposed scheme cannot initially favour residents over non-residents.  But the scheme will later be modified to introduce Residents Only parking once SODC has received delegation of responsibility for policing of parking, which is under active discussion. 

Regarding traffic speeds, once the scheme is in action TAPAG intends to re-examine the feasibility of a 20 mph limit and possibly other calming features in the High Street and elsewhere.  A degree of urgency is suggested by information from David Maynerd that parked cars near his house Mallards have been written off by passing vehicles in four collisions over the last two years.

The parish council is now expected to submit the TAPAG proposals to OCC Highways, after which there will be a formal public consultation before the road markings can be painted.

Date/Time : Monday, 10th February 2020 10:12

Meeting to discuss the Village Emergency Plan

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue says: 

“I am organising an Emergency Planning meeting at 8 pm on Wednesdy 29th January in the Ferryboat Inn – everyone in the village is welcome. 

A draft Village Emergency Plan was developed as part of the Village Plan work in December 2018 and has now been updated. 

The plan looks at the key risks and actions we can take as a village for scenarios such as flooding, roads blocked, power outages, if someone has a heart attack, etc. 

One of the key areas we need volunteers for is Telephone Tree contact for various streets of the village.  We need points of contact to coordinate with local residents that may be affected by the emergency, in particular those residents that may be particularly vulnerable.”

Date/Time : Sunday, 26th January 2020 14:10

Consultation on traffic and parking, 8th February

The Parish Council’s Traffic and Parking Advisory Group (TAPAG) has been working in association with Mode Consulting and Oxfordshire County Council to find a way of improving traffic flow through the High Street while still providing car parking for residents.  The proposals were discussed at the Parish Council’s November meeting (see Minutes, Section 10, on the Parish Council page).  The next stage is an informal consultation on the proposals, which will be held on Saturday 8th February between 2 and 4 pm in the Old Stables. 

TAPAG has made this announcement: 

Traffic and Parking 

As many of you will know, from your contributions to the Village Plan, traffic and parking are the main issues concerning residents of our village. 

The Parish Council tasked the traffic advisory group with trying to find a solution. A consultant was engaged and meetings with OCC Highways undertaken.  A plan to get more order into the parking and improve traffic flow was submitted to OCC and, with a few minor tweaks, provisionally approved by the Highways Officer. 

The next step is for the village to hold an informal consultation with residents to gauge opinion before submitting a formal request to OCC.  At this point a formal public consultation will take place at a cost of over £3000 which will be borne by the Parish Council. 

It is important that as many people as possible attend this informal consultation to give their opinions both from a positive and negative perspective.  Members of TAPAG will be on hand to answer questions and explain reasoning and interpretation from the flow and parking diagrams which will be on display. 

The meeting date is Saturday 8th February between 2.00 and 4.00 pm in Old Stables.  Please make a note in your diaries. 

TAPAG, 20th January 2020


Date/Time : Wednesday, 22nd January 2020 16:42

Relatives of RAF airman sought

Five young RAF airmen died in May 1940 when their bomber hit the ground near the village of Brissy-Hamégicourt in northern France.  A commemorative celebration is planned by a French association ‘Mission Fraternité 2020’ for 23rd May this year and relatives are invited to attend.  The organisers have tried to contact relatives of all the five airmen and have succeeded with four of them.  But they have failed to trace the family of Pilot Officer Dennis Frederick Stanford HOLBROOK (pictured), who was 20 when he died. 

During the war Dennis Holbrook’s parents and sister were residents of Whitchurch (address: “The Lynches, Whitchurch, Near Reading” according to the National Archives).  The Whitchurch Web has received a request to help find the Holbrook family, in the hope that one or more family members will be able to attend the event, which is expected to attract 400 or 500 people.  

The emailed request from Sami Thellier, president of the association, from which above information comes, is here.  If you can offer any information he would very much like to hear from you.  His email address is shown in the attachment.  Alternatively, contact the News Editor.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 15th January 2020 18:41

Remembering Rosemary Prater

Rosemary, wife of Leslie Prater, died peacefully at home on New Year’s Day, aged 77.

After living in Goring for 44 years she and her husband moved to Whitchurch in the autumn of 2013.  Shortly after the move she was diagnosed with cancer, which she fought bravely for six years. Rosemary will be sadly missed but fondly remembered for her dedication to her family and for her enthusiasm and love for her garden.

A funeral service will be held on Monday 27th January at 1 pm in St Thomas of Canterbury Church of England, Goring, followed by a reception at Goring & Streatley Golf Club.  Please contact Leslie on if you would like to attend.

Date/Time : Sunday, 12th January 2020 14:12

Eastfield House planning application, again (UPDATED)

Ross Healthcare of Stoke-on-Trent, owners of the derelict Eastfield House, have submitted a repeat application to demolish, rebuild and extend the care home, which they say is identical to their approved applications of 2013 and 2016. 

The document ‘Planning Support Statement, December 2019’ states that the application is ‘for the partial demolition of the existing care home’ but does not make clear which parts of the building would be retained.  The document ‘Photographs of Existing Buildings’ shows that the front elevation would be demolished and reconstructed. 

The large basement that was a feature of other applications since 2016 is not there.  The number of beds is 45 (existing 27) and car park spaces 14 (existing 9).  In the Application Form the number of beds is 43. 

The extensive documentation for this application, Ref P19/S4631/O, can be found on the SODC planning page, including the two documents mentioned above. 

If the application is successful and the consent is refreshed, it seems possible given the long planning history to date that further applications will follow. 

SODC will need to check whether the conditions they laid down in 2016 have been complied with and decide whether to accept the applicant’s contention that no Transport Assessment or Travel Plan is required.

The consultation period ends on 7th February.  Currently, the next scheduled meeting of the parish council is on 13th February, which suggests that an extension will be needed.

Update, 31st January 2020:  Mr Pasquale Nicosia has written to the Whitchurch Web to clarify two points in the above news item.  Here is the letter, dated yesterday: 

“I am writing on behalf of the applicant in reference to your article dated 11th January 2020 in relation to the planning application for Eastfield house. 

You correctly say the planning application form states the number of beds as 43, this is incorrect and the form has been amended with the LPA to state the correct number of beds which is 45. 

The application is for a partial demolition and this is clearly indicated in the application plan ‘Floor Plans Existing (Demolition)’  drawing  number 433-009, however you were correct to point out the ambiguity in the Supporting Document ‘Photographs’ which incorrectly stated the front  elevation was to be demolished and rebuilt. This is not the case and the document has been corrected and resubmitted to the LPA.” 

The above letter, together with the drawing referred to, clarifies that less than half of the existing building would be demolished under the current application.  The main part of the building, nearest to Eastfield Lane, would be retained.

Date/Time : Saturday, 11th January 2020 18:47

Coombe Park fence design to be scrapped

The agents acting for the owner of Coombe Park have proposed to submit a new fence design to South Oxfordshire District Council, following the barrage of objections to the installation last year of high security 2.4 m high spike-topped steel palisade fencing along the Hartslock Bridleway.  

Earlier this week the agents asked for the parish council’s view on the following:

“We would like to propose that the fence alongside the driveway (to the rear and adjoining the village hall) remain at 2.4m but that it be of timber palings, rather than the palisade fencing as currently proposed. Having read the Parish Council’s comments in respect of the most recent amended plan, we understand that this is a design which you may find acceptable.

We would also like to propose that the fence along Hartslock Bridleway also be amended to this design, so with timber palings fronting onto the bridleway in place of the current design making it very similar to the original fence. The fence would be sited on the same line as the original fence as was agreed with South Oxfordshire Rights of Way Officers as being clear of the bridleway (the previous fence having been granted planning permission in July 1984 under reference SO/S/262/84).“

Parish chairman Jim Donahue reports that this proposal was discussed at Thursday's meeting of the parish council and supported in principle, though an official response will have to await a close look at the revised application when it is submitted.

Date/Time : Saturday, 11th January 2020 15:03

Hardwick on Channel 4 this Wednesday

A Channel 4 team spent a day recently filming at Tolhurst Organic on the Hardwick estate for part of a documentary to be shown this Wednesday 8th January at 10 pm.  The programme is presented by George Monbiot (pictured), an activist who is critical of cattle farming. 

Eugena Tolhurst says:  “Our Whitchurch neighbours might like to see what we do here.  A large part of our work is educational.  We are the first farm in the world to set up and successfully demonstrate the Stock Free Farming model, with the first ever set of standards for attaining the stock free symbol.  Stock free farming is farming without any animal input, for the sustainable future of our planet.  Iain Tolhurst is an expert in this field and we now have groups coming from all over the world to learn about this method.” 

The programme title is “Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed the Planet”.

Date/Time : Monday, 06th January 2020 12:25

New Year’s Day walk

The founder Eric Hartley says it is the 13th annual New Year’s Day walk.  This year’s two-hour five-mile event attracted around 40 walkers and their dogs, who set off from the art gallery at 11 am today straight up the hill to Coombe End Farm.  From there they descended gradually towards the Hartslock nature reserve, where this photo was taken, and then back to the village along the Thames Path.  Here is a better photo by Jim Donahue.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st January 2020 18:26