Wednesday 29 February 2012

Selborne Brickworks: Farm track

The South Downs National Park Authority has intervened in the planning application for the anerobic digester at Selborne Brickworks resulting in this separate application (20661/049) for "Change of use of a farm track to an access to land at Selborne Brickworks".

This application will be decided by the park authority rather than by the county because "The above application, which proposes the extension of a haul road to allow access to a proposed anaerobic digester, may be significant in terms of its potential implications for the South Downs National Park."

Sunday 26 February 2012

Childhood Ramblings - part two

One of my life long interests has been aircraft and living as we did in Kingsley we were not so many miles from the RAF Base at Odiham were squadrons of new jet powered fighter aircraft were based.I would spend many hours outdoors looking heavenwards and listening for the distinctive whistle and whine of a jet engine. One aircraft in particular was called the Gloster Javelin and was a twin engine, delta winged fighter. This aircraft was developed as a Night Fighter and thus would fly mostly at night. The engines produced a particularly ghostly howl which I found rather frightening as I lay in bed. Other jets based there at roughly the same period where De Havilland Vampire and the Gloster Meteor which first saw service at the very end of WWII gaining some success in downing the German V1 flying bombs or 'doodle bugs'.

When he could be persuaded, my father took me a few times to the Farnborough Air Display where Britain's finest aircraft were shown and a few white elephants also. The 'sound barrier' was the big topic of the time and a few of the jet fighters were capable of 'breaking the barrier'. The 'barrier' was officially broken in America on 14th October, 1947 by Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager in an experimental Bell X-1 rocket powered aircraft. At least two American pilots were believed to have broken the barrier earlier but their claims were not officially recognized.

At these Air Displays famous pilots of the time such as Neville Duke, Mike Lithgow and John Derry could be seen performing incredible acrobatics and high speed runs very close to the crowds. John Derry I believe was the first British pilot to pass through the sound barrier and sadly was killed later in a terribly crash at the 1952 Air show when his DH110 broke up as it made a high speed turn over the thousands of spectators. He and his Observer were killed and 29 spectators on the ground. Following this incident, many changes were mad to ensure the safety of the paying public at air displays all over the world.

At that time, breaking the sound barrier could only be achieved by first climbing the aircraft to around forty thousand feet and then diving at full power until they gained the necessary speed of around 760 miles per hour to produce the sonic boom or double bang which so pleased the crowds before continuing on downwards to fly along the length of the runway at hedgerow height. The spectators were aware of something flashing silently past them to be followed several seconds later by the enormous noise. By that time the aircraft had almost disappeared as it climbed rapidly back to altitude. I never failed to be in awe of these manoeuvres even in later years. Many complaints were received of broken glass in greenhouses!

I had mentioned in my earlier article that the Police House was at the other end of the row of houses we had moved to. People with better recollection than me may be aware of earlier 'bobbies' but the first one I remember was Mr Poulter (Polter?). He was a man to be feared and controlled the village with stern face and an iron hand. He was not averse to giving an errant youth a clip around the ear before escorting 'him' home to stand aside whilst the parent also administered appropriate punishment!

A later occupant of the Police House was Jack Lucas who had an altogether a different style of policing the village. He and his wife where great cyclists and even though he had cycled for several hours carrying out his duties around his patch, they would get on their bikes and accompanied by their two children would set off to Blackmoor or somewhere equally distant to a fete or some such activity.

One of my brothers best mates was James Parker who joined the Black Watch Regiment (correct me if I am wrong) and could be seen on occasion marching through the village in full Highland uniform when home on leave. A memorable sight if ever there was one!

In 1954 I was approaching eleven years of age and the words 'eleven plus' started to be heard. School lessons became rather more intensive as an attempt was made by Mrs Morris to school us in readiness for the day when we would have to take this dread examination.

I cannot remember exactly how many of the Kingsley children took the exam early that year but I do remember getting onto a coach to be taken to Alton County Secondary Modern where we took test papers in Maths, English and Intelligence. Sad to say, I did not gain sufficient marks to go to Grammar School so in September of 1954 I joined a great number of children of the same age from the surrounding villages, entering this enormous school feeling very bewildered. My exam results must have been border line as I was placed in Class 1A with the other first year classes extending alphabetically down through to E.

There were 43 children in Class 1A which was probably over double the number of pupils in the entire school I had left in Kingsley and I remember feeling very intimidated sitting in such a large class. I struggled through that first term and after the Christmas exams found myself at the bottom of the class The lowest three pupils were relegated to 1B leaving me effectively at the bottom of the class.

Secondary school gradually became more interesting and although I lived out in Kingsley, I joined one or two after school activities including a theatre club. After finishing one or other of these activities, I would spend my bus money on sweets at the 'Bon Bon' shop and proceed to walk the five miles home. I would 'thumb' the few cars that came along and don't remember having to walk the whole way as someone would invariably stop for me. There never appeared to be any concern as to the possibility of some unsavoury person picking me up, although we did have the occasional warning that somebody suspicious had been seen on the Common and were kept nearer to home for a few days.

My education continued and I must have got some things right as I gradually worked my way up in the classroom rating as time passed. Maths however was not one of my successes and I well remember being awarded two percent by the maths teacher for spelling my name correctly at the top of the paper!Sporting activities were not high on my list of achievements and the dreaded weekly 'cross country run' was guaranteed to cause me loss of sleep the night before. The route from school extended for about three miles and soon after the start it took us through the water cress beds which still existed at the lower end of Lenten Street, extending onwards out over some fields to return back through the same place and thus to the school.

I and one or two others would stop running as the class went off into the fields and re-join at the rear upon their return. On one particularly icy day I slipped and fell into the River Wey as it passed through the beds leaving a very wet and bedraggled boy to drag himself back to an enquiring teacher.School leaving age at that time was at the fifteenth birthday. By the time I reached my final year I had dragged myself into the top one third of Class 4A. The big question then was 'what can I do when I leave school'?

You will find out in my next 'Rambling!'

Friday 24 February 2012

Advanced Riding

Some of you will know that I ride motorcycles but not that I am a qualified advanced rider.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists is the UK's leading road safety charity and has over 100,000 active members, all of whom have passed the advanced driving test on a motorcycle or in a car.  There are benefits to IAM membership such as better insurance terms, discounts on this and that, and so on but the real major benefit is that the "conversion" to advanced driver means that you will be one of the safest drivers on the road. 

I don't mean this in a pompous or snobby way - I mean that you will genuinely be riding or driving in a way that is safer and more comfortable for you, for your passengers and for everyone else on the road.  I had been driving for 30 years when I took the IAM course, it opened my eyes.

IAM coaching concerns itself with three things: improving your skills, improving your observation and making you drive systematically.  The "system" is the same one used by the police and other emergency service drivers.  Even if you already consider yourself to be a competent driver/rider I highly recommend having at least one session with an IAM Observer.  

I was coached by Thames Vale Advanced Motorcyclists (TVAM), the largest IAM group in the country. If you ride a motorcycle then take yourself up to St Crispins School, Wokingham on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 9am the next being 18th March. You don't need an invitation, just take yourself and your bike.

If you'd rather use a car, you can contact Basingstoke Advanced Motorists or Guildford Advanced Motorists.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Kingsley Parish Council website properly unavailable

2 Churchfields Kingsley

This application  49416/005  valid since 13/02/12 seeking permission for


is currently marked as open for consultation until 22nd March.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Derek's memories 7th March

Derek Yeomans, well known to blog readers, will be at the Kingsley Centre (and probably afterwards in the Cricketers) on Wednesday 7th March to give a talk on his memories of Kingsley at 1:30pm

Why not come along and meet him in person.

Rabbits and things

Before 1953 rabbits were plentiful in and around Kingsley and, as previously mentioned were a welcome addition to the menus of many houses in the village. All that was about to change, and change dramatically. In 1953 the Myxomatosis virus was illegally imported into the UK on to an estate in Sussex. It wasn’t long before this dreadful disease reached Kingsley, probably by mid 1954 or soon thereafter. The results were as swift as they were terrible.

If the reader now consults the O.S. map of the area, the following will have a lot more meaning. At that time there still existed the remnants of the old army barracks which had,for the most part, been built of wood. These were situated beyond Fir Hill, which as previously mention, most of the children of my age called ‘the back of the hill’. If one follows the path which leads from Kingsley over the common passing the location of the old chapel on the right up and over Fir Hill. Coming down the other side of the hill and crossing the river, referred to on the map as Oxney Stream. Oxney Farm, the old Aldershot Beagle kennels, are on the right. The track, if I recall correctly, becomes a made road just about where it meets the drive up to Oxney Farm. On the opposite side of the track/road, that is on the left, are the fields in which the then remains of the old army barracks were.

There were at that time a mish mash of structures which had been used for troop accommodation, wash rooms, latrines and stables etc. It should  be remembered that these were quite old buildings in an advanced state of ruin and dated, I imagine,from a period when the army still had a lot of horses, hence the stabling and other horse related structures. Interspersed amongst this whole area were a significant number of wells. These deep holes had what was left of raised surround and round wooden lids. Lids which had long begun rotting and falling apart. I have no doubt our parents would have had nightmares had they known where we were playing and the existence of those wells. This whole area attracted us like a magnet as did the disused sewage works which then existed over beyond Oxney Farm towards Shortheath Common. On the OS Map behind Kingsley Mill and beyond what is listed as the weir, (which I don’t remember existing then), there is a small group of buildings. I know not what they are, but as near as make no difference, that is where the old sewage works were. They too had been linked to the nearby army camp. Although both areas, doubtless, held all sorts of potential dangers I never knew of an accident happening. Both of these areas provided great play grounds and were regularly used by us. However, I digress, this particular article is concerned with the old wooden barracks area and the wells.

Readers of a sensitive disposition should now abandon this article as what follows is both disgusting and revolting in equal measure. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The whole area of the barracks, both within, and in the surrounding fields were home to huge numbers of rabbits. It was a fertile hunting ground and it is not an exaggeration to say the area was crawling with them. One fine day all that changed. I remember going to the area, there were a group of us, out for the usual games of soldiers or cowboys and Indians when we came upon the most dreadful scenes imaginable. It had been some time since our last visit and, therefore, we had no idea what lay in wait. There were hundreds of rabbits crawling around in various states of infection. Some were still aware of human presence and could run but they knew not where they were running, others, their heads and eyes filled with puss were just waiting to die. Feeding becomes  impossible as the disease progresses to its climax. The animals become covered with scabs and sores and the whole thing is disgusting.

An even greater horror awaited us, for as we looked around, unable to take in the magnitude of what we were seeing, we discovered that these poor pathetic creatures could obviously smell water. The old wells were full of seething masses of rabbits piled high within the well sinking to their deaths. The top layer desperately trying to swim  and keep going whilst others from outside continued to drop down on top of them thus the gruesome cycle continued.

Words cannot describe the feelings that went through our group that morning and I am sure that all of those present, like myself, will never forget the feeling of revulsion and the sort of numbness that followed. Lewis Batty, my best mate at the time, and I spent days on end with large sticks putting those sad creatures out of their misery. But, at the end of the day, we were trying to hold back the tide, the numbers were so great and there is only so much of that sort of thing that is bearable. Within weeks the place was, all but, devoid of rabbits. The internet tells me that by 1955 the rabbit population in the UK had been reduced by 95%. I am confident that all those children that were with me on that fateful morning will never forget that awful event. Although the disease still lingers on within the rabbit population it is much more isolated and far less virulent than it was when it first struck. Rabbit populations have, in some parts, recovered but I doubt if they will ever reach the sort of numbers that existed before Myxi was introduced.

Was it necessary?, I don’t believe it was. Rabbit populations provided much sport and not a little good wholesome meat in rural communities. If a farmer had a particular problem with rabbits his request for help in controlling them never fell upon deaf ears, there were always plenty of people ready to shoot, ferret, net or lamp them. I don’t know if there is now a rabbit population in the area I have described but it would be nice to think there is and that they have managed to overcome the disease. The old huts are long gone, they were all cleared and burned and the wells filled in. The area, when I last saw it, had been returned to fields and cattle grazed it once more.

I think Mr. Waters, who had the farm behind the old chapel, took those fields over. He was a dairy farmer and would walk his cows from the farm over Fir Hill and into the meadows either side of the river. To the right of the track which went over Fir Hill was a deep ravine between the private woods on the right. Through this the cows would pass morning and at evening and during wet spells it would become a deep muddy gorge. The woods referred to were then owned by a retired naval commander who had a very nice house over looking the fields towards Kingsley Mill. His woods were home to a large population of badgers and I have spent many happy hours in the dark watching them. With the Commander's permission, I hasten to add. In spite of the fact that this was long before any debate occurred with regard to badgers and a possible link with T.B, one weekend somebody took it upon themselves to gas the Commander's badgers. He was outraged and a police investigation followed but I don’t think anyone was ever brought to book for the matter. The population quickly re-established itself and, as far as I am aware, the gassing never reoccurred. Mr. and Mrs. Waters …it may have been Walters… were an interesting couple to small boys and provided us with the odd chance for mischief! Also Mrs. Bailey at the Chapel and Mr. and Mrs. Crease who then owned the mill. All will feature in next month’s edition.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Anniversary coming up

On Sunday 24th April 1932 about 400 ramblers walked to the summit of Kinder Scout in the Peak District, land owned by the Duke of Devonshire whose gamekeepers tried to prevent the trespass. Five ramblers were arrested for unlawful assembly and breach of the peace and were jailed for between two and six months. This turned the tide of public opinion and a few weeks later 10,000 ramblers assembled for an access rally.

These actions led directly to the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which established the National Parks, Peak District being the first, and started the process of providing open access to the countryside and to the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act which enshrined a right to roam pretty much everywhere.

Rights are hard to come by.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Kingsley Parish Council - Thursday 23rd, 7:30pm

Kingsley Parish Council will be meeting in the Kingsley Centre next Thursday, 23rd, at 7:30pm.

As the agenda is unpublished we'll have to take pot luck but it's likely that the matter of Cradle Lane "monitoring" will crop up.

Monday 13 February 2012

Grooms Farm, Frith End Road, Frith End

This application 30633/020 valid since 02/02/12 seeking permission for


is currently marked as open for consultation until 10th March.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Offroad motorcycling

Yesterday, for the first time, I spent the day riding an offroad motorbike on green lanes, farm tracks and single track roads between Basingstoke and Alton in the company of three experts and another three novices (all experienced road bikers)

Riding offroad is a completely different experience to riding on the road.  Almost no other traffic (the weather, well below freezing, helped) meant that we were free to concentrate on negotiating the challenging surfaces - solid sheets of ice, frozen ruts, tree roots and learn how to fall off without (mostly) hurting ourselves.

Lunch of delicious home-made pork pie was enjoyed sitting outside (yes, us bikers really are that tough) The Star Inn at Bentworth.

So what harm occurred as a result of our day spent helping global warming?  Some of us novices have bruises from throwing ourselves at the frozen ground, the experts improved their understanding of what routes might be "challenging" for novices.  We covered about 30 miles all told, never faster than 40mph on the road and a lot slower offroad.  No vegetation was harmed apart from the odd shrub acting as a cushion.

We met three horseriders, brave souls considering the weather, and perhaps six walkers (apart from the two dozen walkers dining in The Star Inn)

Even in February we are lucky to live in such fine English countryside.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Natural England - what are they for?

"Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. We provide practical advice, grounded in science, on how best to safeguard England’s natural wealth for the benefit of everyone."

That's what they say about themselves and consequently they're used by the planners as "expert advisors" when considering planning applications.  Here's a recent response to a planning application (I've formatted the response to make it easier to read):-

The lack of further comment from Natural England should not be interpreted as a statement that there are no impacts on the natural environment. [We haven't actually bothered to read it so we've no idea really]

Other bodies and individuals may be able to make comments that will help the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to fully take account of the environmental value of this site in the decision making process. [Whatever made you think asking us might help]

However, we would expect the LPA to assess and consider the possible impacts resulting from this proposal on the following when determining this application: 

Protected Species - If the LPA is aware of, or representations from other parties highlight the possible presence of a protected or Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species on the site, the authority should request survey information from the applicant before determining the application. The Government has provided advice on BAP and protected species and their consideration in the planning system. The following link to some guidance Natural England Standing Advice on our website has been produced to help the authority better understand the impact of this particular development on protected or BAP species should they be identified as an issue at this site and whether following receipt of survey information, the authority should undertake further consultation with Natural England. 

Local wildlife sites - If the proposal site is on or adjacent to a local wildlife site, e.g. Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) or Local Nature Reserve (LNR) the authority should ensure it has sufficient information to fully understand the impact of the proposal on the local wildlife site before it determines the application. 

Biodiversity enhancements - This application may provide opportunities to incorporate features into the design which are beneficial to wildlife, such as the incorporation of roosting opportunities for bats or the installation of bird nest boxes. The authority should consider securing measures to enhance the biodiversity of the site from the applicant, if it is minded to grant permission for this application. This is in accordance with Paragraph 14 of PPS9. 

Additionally, we would draw your attention to Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) which states that 'Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity'. Section 40(3) of the same Act also states that 'conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat'. 

Should the proposal be amended in a way which significantly affects its impact on the natural environment then, in accordance with Section 4 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, Natural England should be consulted again. [We might read the application next time - probably not though]

Selborne anerobic digester again

A further application for an anerobic digester has been made for the Selborne Brickworks site and is open for public consultation until 23rd February.

Briefly, this application includes modifications intended to avoid earlier complications with planning policies DC8 (Pollution health, quality of life and amenity) and DC13 (Waste management and recycling)

Full details of the application can be obtained here (02661/048).  That page includes a comment link.

Selborne Bricks have helpfully posted some information about this on their website here.