Monday 25 June 2012

Kingsley Parish Council - Thursday 28th

Kingsley Parish Council will meet in the Kingsley Centre this Thursday 28th, at 7.30pm.


1. Chairman’s Opening Remarks
2. Apologies for Absence: Cllr Chris Rigden, Cllr David Comber, Karine Yonko
3. Declarations of Personal/Prejudicial Interest
4. Public Question Time: Public Questions
Consideration of agenda items which will be open to public participation

5. Approval of Minutes of the Meeting held on 24th May 2012
6. Matters Arising - Queen Jubilee:
To receive an update from Cllr Rigden

7. Planning Applications ongoing:
34313/017 Oak Tree Farm, Gibbs Lane, Shortheath Common Bordon GU35 9JS

30633/021 Grooms Farm, Frith End Road, Frith End, Bordon, GU35 0QR
Full change of use of building for events associated with existing hotel, agricultural uses and hot air balloon storage with associated works, parking and access from frith end quarry haul road

22732/015 Sandyfield Farm, Main Road, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9NG
Retropective change of use of part stable block to ancillary habitable accommodation to Sandyfield Farm

26242/043 Dean Farm Golf Course, Main Road, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9NG
Increase in roof height of clubhouse to form gable ends and storage area below

37484/001 & 002 Westarkirk, Main Road, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9ND
First floor extension to rear, single storey extension to side, conversion of garage and workshop to living accommodation. Detached garage to front
53984/FUL/AE Unit 8 Kingsley Business Park Gu35 9LY
Change of use from Light industry (B1) to car repairs (B2)

New application:
34313/019 Oak Tree Farm, Gibbs Lane, Shortheath Common, Bordon, GU35 9JS
Certificate of lawful development for an existing operation – Industrial use, workshop and storage, repair and maintenance of plant, machinery and cars

8. St Nicholas Cemetery & Cemetery Chapel
To receive an update from Cllr Croucher

9. Transport, Highways and Road Safety
To receive an update from Cllr Lazenby

10. Commons, Village Greens and Rights of Way
To receive an update for Upper Green
To receive an update from Cllr Lazenby on Cradle Lane
To receive an update from Cllr Lazenby on other local Rights of Way

11. Community Resilience
12. Environment and Biodiversity
Litter Picking:
To receive an update from Cllr Scrivener

13. Sports, Recreation and Leisure
14. Kingsley Village Forum   
To receive an update from Cllr Croucher

15. Parish Plan    
To receive an update from Cllr Rigden

16.  Housing, Business & Commerce
17. Communications
To receive a written report from the Clerk detailing correspondence
18. District Councillor
19. Procedures, Finance and Payments: Payments to be made & Accounts to accept

Date of Next Meeting: Thursday 26th July 2012 - 7.30 pm at the Kingsley Centre 

Sunday 24 June 2012

Kingsley litter pick

The first Kingsley Litter Pick was held on Sunday 17 June with a small number of volunteers from the village led by parish councillor Tim Scrivenor and concentrated their efforts along the B3004 and Sickles Lane cleaning up the debris dumped by inconsiderate motorists and making our village just a little cleaner and tidier. Experience shows that when motorists see litter along the roadsides they tend to add to it whereas nobody likes to be the first to make a mess.

It's our village and everyone in Kingsley is encouraged to join in this series of litter picks; even if you only do a few yards outside your house you'll make a difference but if we all try and work together we can make a big difference.

RBLR1000 2012

I spent this weekend helping to marshal the Royal British Legion Riders branch 1000 mile SaddleSore event, the fourth time it's been run raising funds for the British Legion's Poppy Appeal.

The idea is that motorcycle riders, mostly but not exclusively members of the RBLR branch of the British Legion, ride one of two designated 1000 mile routes within Great Britain (either clockwise or anticlockwise, so four possible routes) within a maximum of 36 hours to gain an RBLR1000 certificate or within a maximum of 24 hours to gain both an RBLR1000 certificate and an Iron Butt Association SaddleSore certificate.

The event starts and finishes at Squires Cafe Bar in North Yorkshire and the photo above shows the group of about 100 ready for the off at 0500 Saturday  The other half left at staggered times up to 0800 Saturday. Us marshals then went back to our tents to sleep for a bit followed by breakfast in the cafe or the other way round.

The fastest allowable completion time was 17 hours and the first rider duly appeared at 2201 Saturday night - President of IBA UK, Phil Weston - and the riders continued to arrive throughout the night and Sunday morning.

The weather in Kingsley was not typical of conditions elsewhere in the country; Cornwall, northwest England, Scotland and northeast England were virtually underwater for most of the time the riders were out. They were possibly the worst conditions in which Iron Butt rides have ever been completed; one of the riders left this comment in the discussion forum "I had some new experiences I'd like to share: 1) Buffalo waterproof gloves do what they say, they did not lose one drop of the approx 1.5ltrs of water trapped within each of them. 2) Cool crisp Scottish rain trickling down your crotch combined with 100mph wind chill factor, becomes so much less pleasant after 13 hours, more so than one would ever imagine. 3) I have NEVER felt rain on my arms through a thick HG jacket, two jumpers and vest. 4) I have never had a bike aqua plane with both wheels at the same time. 5) I have never had water knock my feet of bike pegs."but he summarised it as "Awesome, loved it!" 

More than 130 of the riders gained IBA certificates by completing the ride within 24 hours. Total funds raised won't be known for a while yet but last year it raised more than £32,000 and this year is expected to raise considerably more.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Planning, Democracy and Law

There have been several eruptions of democratic outrage recently over "undesirable" successful planning applications. Letters to the papers, councillors expressing disgust and everyone feeling let down by the "democratic failures" of the planning system - how did this dreadful application get passed when we all objected to it?

My layman's understanding of planning law is that it is not a democratic system, it is not intended to be a democratic system and, in my opinion, it should not be a democratic system. Crudely put, planning law says that anyone can build or alter anything they want, unless the development would break a rule.

It isn't democracy that gives us what we want, it's the rule of law - as opposed to rule by tyrant.

Thank goodness I don't need permission from my neighbours, still less any councillors, to do what I want. I can just decide what I want to do and do it as long as I don't break the law. Of course it's in my best interests not to upset my neighbours but I don't actually have to ask their permission, it's my decision.

Yes, but that's outrageous - I don't want my neighbour building a block of flats in his back garden, how do I stop it? The short answer is: help develop the Kingsley Parish Plan.

Parish Plans can help form part of "the rules" that planning applications must comply with. It's no use waiting until someone wants to build a factory on Kingsley Common and then whining and getting up letters to the planning committee, they won't be able to do anything about it, it'll be too late.

The Parish Plan isn't only concerned with the planning system though; many other aspects of government and plain old life itself fall within the scope of the plan. Maybe you don't like having 40 tonne articulated lorries passing through the village; the Parish Plan can influence that in ways that you as an individual can't.

Our Parish Plan has been a long time coming; I was involved in its precursor, the village appraisal, ten years ago. A milestone was reached recently when the results of last year's questionnaire were presented at the Annual Parish Meeting.

If you want to influence what can and can't be done around here, now is the time to do it.

Monday 18 June 2012

Cradle Lane Incident Reporting

You can now file incident reports concerning bad behaviour on Cradle Lane electronically by completing this form.

"bad behaviour" includes anti-social or inconsiderate behaviour, use of Land Rovers and so on.

Friday 15 June 2012

Cradle Lane after the wet weather

Walking along Cradle Lane today I noticed that, despite the wet weather of the last fortnight or so, the lane is in excellent condition, apart from the 100 yards or so at the southern end which is impassable on foot as it almost always is.

I found signs of use on foot, bicycle, horse and motorbike but none of them particularly noticeable. No-one else using the lane though, no crowds of visitors encouraged by the Shipwrights Way thing.

Interestingly, despite all the work put into improving the drainage and surfacing the northern stretch, beyond Baigents Bridge, there was still water running down the surface of the lane just as reported in 1910 by Rev Laverty, Rector of Headley.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Childhood Ramblings – Part Four (and final)

My last episode told of my early trials and tribulations as I became a working youth.  Here I continue with the latter part of my time as a Shop Boy before commencing my Apprenticeship.

As time progressed I became more confident and learned to stand my ground with the few ‘work mates’ who continued to tease me.  As they realised that I was not such easy prey they began to accept me more and a less challenging relationship developed until I felt that I was ‘one of the boys’!
The year went by and Christmas came to the work shop with decorations (discouraged by Management) put up all over the place.  The final working day before we closed for Christmas was reminiscent of the last day of term at school.  Work was almost non-existent and the charge hands generally turned a blind eye as we stood around talking and joking. At lunchtime the majority headed off to the nearest pub with ‘under age’ me amongst them. After well over the official hour’s lunch break, the workmen gradually drifted back into the workshop with several of them rather the worse for their drinking.  Mr Robinson who was a very wise Workshop Manager, seeing that the longer the men remained in the workshop could only lead to trouble, announced that work was over for the day and sent us all home to enjoy a whole two days holiday, for that was all we got in those days. We all knew that he and the rest of management wanted to get on with their own Office party!

The winter months following that first Christmas really tested me on my journeys to and from work.  The road between Kingsley and Alton in those days was little more than a country lane and became extremely treacherous with snow and ice. Before the widespread use of salt, the council spread fine grit and flints on the worst of the ice. This may have helped the motor vehicles but was a source of misery to me and my bicycle tyres causing many punctures both too and from work.  After I struggled home in the dark one night after getting yet another puncture, my Father reached into his pocket and pulling out a Pound note said he thought it about time I bought some new tyres!

A little History lesson.
By the time I left school in 1958, “Vokes Ernst, Scientific Surgical Appliance Makers” or VESSA Ltd had been in existence for about ten years.   A company called Vokes Limited located in Normandy near Guilford, who was a major supplier of air filtration equipment throughout the Second WW, bought the Artificial Limb business from an engineering company called Desoutter Brothers.

The Desoutter family became involved in artificial limb making when Marcel, one of the Desoutter brothers, lost a leg in a flying accident in the 1920’s.  Not satisfied with the quality of the artificial limbs generally available at that time, the family used their engineering resources to design a revolutionary false limb for Marcel.   Such was the success of their design that wealthy leg amputees flocked to their door from far and wide to purchase this light weight marvel of prosthetic engineering.  What was recognised as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of ‘light metal’ artificial limbs, filled a lucrative ‘private’ market with famous users such as Douglas Bader. 

In 1948,it was decided that what was then the Ministry of Pensions would  ’supply artificial limbs to all’, paid for by the Tax Payer.  The Desoutter brothers were not interested in this development as the profitable side of their business was the manufacture of their power tools, and so sold the artificial limb business and the Patents to Vokes Limited.  Thus VESSA Ltd came into existence with a number of the Desoutter employees moving from London to Alton, to work in new premises on Paper Mill Lane just below the station.

My Apprenticeship and beyond!
Easter approached along with my sixteenth birthday.  My Father was summoned to the factory to sign my Apprenticeship Indentures.  This agreement would tie me to my employers for five years whilst I served my Apprenticeship. In doing so, I became a member of staff which meant that although I still had a clock card I was no longer paid by the hour but would receive a fixed weekly wage.
 I now had the dubious honour of becoming the first Apprentice Artificial Limb maker the company had employed and to a large degree my training programme was ‘made up’ as we went along!
In those days Artificial Limbs were constructed from light metals, largely Duraluminium alloy, wood and leather, and my Apprenticeship would in the following five years take me through all the various departments, learning as I went the necessary skills with which each material was formed and handled.  The many and varied operations involved are far too numerous to list here and at times I doubted I would ever achieve the necessary skills to become a fully qualified Limb Maker.

My years as the ‘first’ apprentice however were very interesting, proving that I did indeed have the aptitude and ability to learn this extremely intricate work.  On top of the ‘hands on’ training, I also was required to attend what was then called Farnborough Technical College, to study for City and Guilds Certificates in Sheet Metal Work.  These courses were the nearest association to the trade I was learning.  Here I discovered that my educational capabilities where also somewhat better than previously believed, and in the four years that I attended Farnborough, to my delight I received several year-end awards for examination successes, and good class work.

The latter stages of my apprenticeship became a quite complicated by the fact that I had fallen head over heels in love with a young lady who I had espied whilst making a visit to the Managers offices in the corner of the workshop.   I thought that she was the most beautiful apparition and to cut a long story extremely short, I started courting Patricia or Paddy as she has always been known in the summer of our mutual sixteenth year.

This created serious difficulties as I had to juggle a courtship in conjunction with my training.   We were to marry in 1962 at the ripe old age of nineteen and one half years and celebrate our 50th Anniversary in October.
In 1963 I successfully completed my Apprenticeship and gained City and Guilds Certificates both Ordinary and Advanced Level in Sheet Metal Work.   I was employed in the Limb Shop and was employed as a fully qualified Artificial Limb Maker and because of my training was one of the few who could work in all areas of limb construction. Better still, I was now receiving what was called ‘A’ grade pay, which at that time was in the order of £16.00 per week, and quite enjoying life with my lovely new wife.

I had always expressed an interest in the fitting of artificial limbs to the patients and in 1965 I had the opportunity to commence training as a ‘fitter’, later we were to be called Prosthetists.

I must abbreviate my next forty three working years until I retired in 2008 otherwise I will be writing many more entries to the Kings Blog.

In 1965 we moved to Manchester with a young child and subsequently had two more children.  I qualified as a Prosthetist at Withington Hospital and subsequently became Manager of the Prosthetic unit I worked in.  In 1984 due to a promotion to a management position it was necessary for me to relocate back to Alton where I worked managing all the VESSA branches around the country until being made redundant in 1989.

My last 19 years saw me working at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, Queen Marys’ Hospital at Roehampton and Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith.

My life in Prosthetics has been a most interesting and rewarding career (not necessarily financially!) and I have witnessed considerable changes in the way prostheses are constructed.  Duraluminium and wood has been superseded by carbon fibres and a variety of plastics, with sophisticated computer aided mechanisms for knee and ankle movement.

Having retired in 2008 after fifty years in the same business, my wife Paddy and I enjoy new interests being quite heavily involved in the Alton University of the Third Age (U3A), our allotment and Grandchildren.  We also travel when we can, enjoying cruises to the Alaskan Coast, the Baltic and the Antarctic Peninsula.  The latter was particularly poignant as we called in at the Falklands where a number of my patients had lost their limbs many years before.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The big Kingsley tidy up

Kingsley Centre - Sunday 17th June, 10:30am

In association with The Big Tidy Up organisation  we will be organising regular litter picks in Kingsley over the Summer months to help give the village a bit of a spruce up. It seems like leaving it lying around only attracts even more and it would be good to give the unsung heroes who regularly tackle some of the problem spots a helping hand.

We would like to offer you first refusal on an absolutely free natty green ‘Big Tidy Up’ safety  tabard and as many refuse and recycling sacks as you like, together with an opportunity to join some like-minded souls for a couple of hours  this coming Sunday morning 17th June.

We will be starting out at the Kingsley Centre at 10:30am and heading out to recover as much as we can in a couple of hours before lunch. There’ll be group photos and a stocktake at the end so that we can post our efforts up on the BTU website for all to see.

All are welcome, the more the merrier. Hope to see you there.

Interesting people: Crease, Chadwick

Mr. And Mrs. Crease lived in Kingsley Mill, which was still working back then, although not in regular commercial use, Mr. Crease would occasionally use it. I have seen it working on a couple of occasions for I spent a lot of time in and around the mill. Google would suggest to me that I probably wouldn’t recognise the area now. Back then the mill stood in a sort of island as the main river had been diverted to pass through the mill but also ran around behind it as well. Two rivers ran in and around the mill, one came down from Oakhanger across Shortheath and the other came from the north under the road the Oakhanger side of Bakers Corner, and on under the railway line, before joining somewhere just before reaching the mill. Mr. and Mrs. Crease were the parents of Mrs. Chadwick, the then village postmistress.They had some fields to the side and the rear of the mill and some farm buildings on, what I have described as, the island. There were make shift bridges over the river at various points which enabled animals and tractors to cross. Mr. Crease kept a small number of cattle and the odd pig or two. He mad hay from his fields and as stated, occasionally worked the mill. I don’t know what he ground in the mill and if it was for himself or for other people. On a number of occasions I have been fishing in the mill pool when the water from behind the mill was released and it came gushing through into the pool having turned the mill wheel. Mr. Crease would also open the mill gates to let the water through when there had been a lot of rain and the buildup of water needed releasing.

Mrs. Crease was lovely and very kind to me and, I think, the rest of the village children in general. It was the form to knock on the side door of the mill to ask permission to fish in the mill pool. I have done this many times and the routine was almost always the same. Mrs. Crease would open the door and the request would be made. She would then ask whom you were,having given your name,and asked to fish she would say that it was fine. I could never understand why she asked for a name each time for she must have recognised me as I was a very regular visitor. Often she would invite me into the room which was low ceilinged and quite dark. There were a lot of big trees outside and these clearly restricted the light within. Once inside a sweet or two would be offered and then she would ask all about the doings in the village. I think she enjoyed the company and the news being delivered in this way. She always gave her permission for me to fish and on a number of occasions when I intended to arrive at the river or mill early in the morning, (0700hrs ), she would give her permission in advance of the visit without the need to knock. Occasionally she would come out and around the corner to where I was sitting on the big stone block which was right beside the hole beneath the mill where the water rushed through, and ask if I had caught anything. I had the feeling that she had quite a lonely life in the mill on the edge of the village and for this reason she enjoyed a bit of a natter when the opportunity presented itself.

Mr. Crease was quite different, it was rumoured that he had “turns” when there was a full moon.He was, for the most part, indifferent to the little boys that periodically appeared in and around his fields. He did, however, get quite stroppy with us when he found us one day in his hay barn. There were a number of us and caught red handed Mr. Crease demanded our names. I don’t recall all of those present but one of our number was Joey Withers, who when asked for his name said it was Joe Soap. This did not go down to well with Mr. Crease and he began to issue the most dire of threats against us. This resulted in a mass reaction. We all took to our heels and ran for all we were worth. When at, what we thought, was out of his range if he decided to come after us we jointly hollered back all sorts verbal abuse. Followed swiftly by another burst of running. Encounters such as this one were not uncommon between us boys and Mr. Crease. Apart from his milling and farming duties, he also looked after the gardens of Ockham Hall. The gardens then extended to the island in front of the hall between it and the pond and created by the two tracks that pass before the hall. There were also gardens to the right of the hall as you look at it from the Cricketers, together with a small bungalow and these extended right around to the rear of the hall and between it and the cottages opposite where the cadet hut stood. In short,quite a large area of gardens to care for. There were lots of pathways throughout the grounds and we would occasionally wander through them when on our way elsewhere. If we were sighted by Mr. Crease he would immediately burst forth into the most dire threats imaginable and come running after us in order to ensure our speedy exit from his gardens. Mr. Crease was not a great runner and having discovered that he was unable to catch us when the chase was on, the sport of Crease bating was born. We would, in small groups, creep into the gardens and locate our prey. From behind bushes and trees we would call out names at him one group at a time. As he made off in the direction of one group another group would take up the shouting and divert his attention. In this way we taunted the poor man and had him running around in circles. When he went full pelt for a group we simply ran away easily outrunning him. We did not do this very often as readers should remember that Kingsley then had a village policeman and you didn’t mess with him. Even at quite a young age most of us had a healthy respect for the policeman who lived as a part of our community and knew most of what was going on in the village. How things have changed! More about the policemen of the village later.

As mentioned earlier in this article Mr. and Mrs. Crease were the parents of Mrs. Chadwick, the village postmistress. The Post Office was located in the second house to the right of the entrance to Woodfield when viewed looking into Woodfield with the B3004 behind. This building was semi detached with the first house, Church Cottage. Mrs. Chadwick was a great smoker and almost always had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Her fingers and the hair on the front of her head were yellow with nicotine stains. I remember that she smoked Turf cigarettes these came in a blue tinted packet. This was the time of cigarette cards and because of her great consumption of cigarettes, Mrs. Chadwick was a rich source of these cards. This was also a time when Great Britain still had large armed forces and in order to maintain recruitment The War Department, as it was then, issued many colorful posters advertising the advantages of being a soldier, sailor, marine or airman. Of course, it was always men that were required, women were not then generally recruited into the armed forces as they are today. Many of these posters feature uniformed soldiers in the many and varied regimental dress of the day. They were much sought after by little boys and having remained upon the post offices walls for a reasonable period, Mrs. Chadwick lets us have them.

Her son Ken also made some very nice stand up soldiers from these illustrations. He had a fret saw and would cut out an image from a poster,draw around it on a piece of thin ply wood and then cut out the shape with his saw. A Small square block of wood would be glued to the base of the wooden shape at the rear and the paper image from the poster would be glued to the front. This would then be varnished and there you had a standing soldier in full military dress. These treasures often appeared for sale at village events and were eagerly purchased for a small amount of money. At a slightly later time, the post office became attractive as a source of income as it was paying money for grey squirrel tails on behalf of the Government. First shoot your squirrel with an air rifle, pop along to Mrs. Chadwick, and hey presto, one shilling was yours. Nice one squirrel!!!. This measure was brought in as part of the Governments attempt to stop the spread of the grey squirrel throughout the country. In and around Kingsley there was still the odd red squirrel in those days. It was widely believed that the grey’s killed off the reds. They, therefore, became public enemy number one. As is now well known, that scheme failed to control the spread of the grey squirrel and was probably too little too late. But it provided, for some time, a nice little income for village people and in the early days of the scheme, incredibly, the tail from the offending squirrel had only to be shown to obtain the shilling.Not that anyone in Kingsley would have taken advantage of this situation, perish the thought! However, after a fairly short while, the tails had to be retained by the post office, most unsporting. More next month.

Monday 11 June 2012

Childhood Ramblings – Part Three

Living in the heart of a large agricultural area, the prospect of a 'job on the land' was an obvious if not an appealing one.  The two large breweries in Alton offered a more cheering prospect of employment, and a number of building firms of varying sizes struggled to exist in the pre house building boom period of the late 1950's.

Through my childhood I had always been good with my hands making models, generally of aircraft from balsa wood and the wonderful Airfix kits.  Many a night I went to bed on a ‘high’ from the glue fumes!   One of my favourite classes at school was woodwork and my father, believing that I would possibly become a carpenter; gave me a selection of woodworking tools that Christmas.  Not being a high wage earner I later realised just how much these had cost and felt very guilty when my chosen career turned out to be quite different. I do however still have many of those tools to this day! 

I had been transported daily to and from the 'big' school in town by coach during the four year period of my Secondary education.    These “Creamline Coaches” were owned by the same Mr Wilkins whose taxi had transported my mother to the Alresford nursing home for my birth.

During most of those coach journeys I had been unaware of a sign-board outside a factory gate near the station on the outskirts of the town. This sign proclaimed in bold signwriting, “Vokes Ernst, Scientific Surgical Appliance Makers”.  Below the main heading the sign also said “Artificial Limb Makers”. This rather lengthy title was in later years shortened to the acronym, “VESSA Ltd”.    Suddenly this sign set me thinking and I began to wonder if it may hold the key to my future.  If nothing else, it certainly suggested the prospect of a far from the ‘run of the mill’ occupation upon which I might embark.

A letter was composed, posted and subsequently an interview arranged.  On the appointed day, I arrived at the factory gate with my Mother, and was directed into a none too large room whose sole decoration other than for a table and chairs, were a number of shiny pink coloured Artificial legs, of differing shapes and sizes, supported in chromium frames or propped up in the corners.
After a few minutes, an elderly gentleman - well elderly at least to someone of my tender years, entered the room and introduced himself as Mr Robinson, the Workshop Manager.  I cannot now recollect the finer points of our discussion nor the time scale, although I do remember that he explained to my Mother and I, that I would initially be employed as a 'Shop Boy' for one year until I reached my 16th birthday,

Following that period, and if I had proved to be satisfactory, the company would then offer me the chance of an Apprenticeship as an Artificial Limb Maker, to learn the trade and all its mysteries in depth.  The Apprenticeship would last for five years until I was twenty-one.

I was accepted for employment and left school at Easter 1958.   School closed for the Easter break with three weeks holidays ahead of the pupils.    I was not so lucky, and on the Tuesday morning after the holiday weekend I started my employment as Shop Boy.

As I had to be on site at the factory by eight o’clock that morning, my only method of transport would have to be my bicycle as the first bus through the village did not arrive in Alton until 8.45am.  Having rather taken my coach ride to school for granted, the prospect of a five mile bike ride at an ungodly hour of the morning was not appealing!

Armed with a box of sandwiches and a vacuum flask of tea, supplied by mother, I left home on my bicycle at 7.15 am in the morning, to commence my first ride to work.  The worst part of the journey in prospect was Worldham Hill, which could be observed looming in the distance as I approached it from Green Street.   A long 1 in 7 gradient some half a mile in length up which I would walk, having dismounted after attempting the foothills at a rapidly decreasing pace. 
Once over the top, it was then a steady gradual descent of over two miles almost to the factory gates.  The journey home was of course the reverse procedure with the long slow climb followed by a very rapid descent when, if the weather and traffic permitted, I could flatten myself along the crossbar and go like the wind, not heeding the dangers which such reckless activity might generate.

I arrived at the factory gates at a quarter to eight, somewhat breathless as I was quite a plump young lad; and entered the gates along with a straggle of early comers.  Some were on foot, but most rode bicycles of varying vintage and stages of disrepair which they thrust with little or no ceremony into the cycle racks spread all around the perimeter fence inside the gates.  At that time, I had just become the very proud owner of a new Raleigh Lenten racing bicycle.  I was extremely loath for it to join the miscellany of decaying bicycles, which were being deposited all around me.  I chose with some trepidation what I judged to be a safe place for my shiny thoroughbred, which had hardly ever been out in the rain, let alone abandoned to fend for itself amongst the mongrels of the working class.  This accomplished, and with more than one backward glance, I made my way with the growing tide of workmen into a very large a rather vile smelling workshop, which I would come to know, love and often hate over the next few years.

Having just left a school of some 900 pupils, many of whom I knew by name and most by sight, over the last four years,  I also knew all the Staff members, and some had more than a passing reason to remember me!  Here I was now a total stranger surrounded by deafening noise, in an asbestos clad workshop containing row upon row of benches and something approaching one hundred workmen, none of whom had I laid sight on before. 

The first thing I had to do was to ‘clock in’.  I was given a ‘clock card’ which bore my name and payroll number which I believe was ‘Two hundred’.  This card had to be inserted into the top of the time clock and a vigorous downward motion was applied to a handle on the side. This was accompanied by a bell ringing and when the card was removed it had a neat round hole punched in it.   This action took place when finishing work for lunchtime and again when starting the afternoons work. Finally you clocked out when you finished for the day.   There was nothing like this at school but then again one didn’t get paid to go to school!

Having started work at eight o’clock, I would not finish until six in the evening. A long day for one so young and there was still the matter of a five mile bike ride home!

My first few hours in the aptly named “Limb Shop”, were overwhelming and filled me with great bewilderment, as Alan, the 'shop boy' of the past year, attempted to pass over to me with great relish the onerous tasks with which he had been burdened.

After about two hours, which seemed to me more like an eternity, there was a perceptible reduction in the volume of noise, and I became aware that the men in one section of the workshop had ceased their labours and were now sitting down at their benches, pouring steaming cups of tea from vacuum flasks and eating sandwiches taken from their lunch boxes.  The first 'tea break' of my working life had begun!  At one end of the workshop stood a young woman with a battered looking four wheeled trolley who was selling bread rolls and dispensing tea from a rather elderly looking urn to a group of workmen who had quickly gathered around at her approach. 

Slowly, she and the trolley progressed through the workshop's various 'sections' until eventually a blissful quiet descended as each member of the workforce settled into their precious moments of solitude, fortified by food and hot drink. Not for long though, as from the far side of the workshop where this phenomenon had originated, a solitary hammer began striking metal, followed almost immediately by others until all the occupants of that section resumed their labours, whilst the rest of the workers vainly attempted to block out the sounds and remain undisturbed by the increasing noise level.  Eventually they were unable to withstand the unequal struggle a moment longer, and as quickly as it had started, it was over. The tranquillity of the 'tea break' had become a pleasurable memory.

The first day of my working life dragged on as Alan gladly unloaded his duties upon my very bewildered brain, with me trying to remember my way about what seemed to me to be a rabbit warren of buildings of all shapes and sizes spread over a considerable area.  Would I ever be able to remember who everyone was, and which department was which?

From my elevated position as a school leaver with four years’ experience of the daily life of a large school behind me, here I was, once more at the foot of the ladder as far as my importance in the pecking order of factory life was concerned!   It was quite evident, even on that first day that the 'shop boy' was there to be at the beck and call of all and sundry, and to perform all the menial duties that could legitimately be passed to me, and on occasions some that were not.

An irksome duty that came under the latter heading was the purchasing of cigarettes for the work force from 'Bill', in the Machine Shop.  He would daily bring in with him to work a small rather battered suitcase, which he secreted beneath the large 'fly press' of which he was the operator.  This suitcase contained a selection of the popular brands of 'smokes' from Weights and Woodbines to the more expensive Senior Service and Craven A.   As smoking in the workplace was an accepted thing in those days it would be necessary for me to visit him perhaps a couple of dozen times a day.  All these transactions had to be carried out in a rather furtive way, with quick glances over the shoulder in case the Foreman was nearby.  Although the Foreman was fully aware of the suitcase, and actually purchased his 'fags' in the same way, he could not be ‘seen’ to condone such illegal trading, so I had to get in and away as quickly as possible. 

The suitcase would be spirited out from beneath the 'press', the sale concluded and the case returned to cover in a quick, almost fluid action. The Foreman of the Limb Shop would also use my services to purchase his cigarettes whilst at the same time, frowning upon my activities every time I disappeared from the workshop to collect supplies for the others!

Another duty, which I quickly learned to hate, was the re-filling of the workforce’s vacuum flasks if they were to work overtime.  This was a particularly burdensome task which assumed fairly gigantic proportions when the whole 'shop' rather than a 'section' was working overtime.  As many as thirty or forty vacuum flasks would have to be collected, taken to the canteen, washed, filled and then delivered back to their rightful owner.      On more than one occasion things went wrong!

With so many vacuum flasks to fill, trying to remember and identify them would tax me sorely. I remember once being accused of trying to kill one of the workers who was a diabetic. I had mistaken his flask for another and generously filling it with very sugary tea.  Another time I received a bat around the ear for dropping and breaking a particularly old and battered flask.  The workman was adamant that I should pay for its replacement, and I was only let off the hook when one of his mates took pity on me and made him see reason.  It was always a thankless job for me to perform, and many a time I would be out of pocket, having wrongly calculated the change.

My first Pay Day was an event worthy of record.   All new employees had to work a 'week in hand', which meant that I did not receive any pay until the end of my second week of employment.
At about midday, the lady Pay Clerk would enter the workshop carrying a large wooden tray, rather like a pie tray, except that in this case it contained rows of small buff coloured envelopes.  Taking up her position just in front of the Foreman's office, the ceremony would commence.

Workmen would be summoned forward, a row at a time to collect their wages from the clerk.  Having collected it, various reactions by individuals could be observed taking place.  Some would open the packet at their bench and after a quick count of the contents, the packet would be put into a back pocket, others would take pencil and paper to calculate whether the contents matched their expectations of what they thought it should contain.  Still others would simply place it un-opened in a pocket, presumably for their wife to open for them, whilst the occasional individual would take the money out of the envelope, throw the envelope away and stuff the money into a pocket.  Presumably, their wife would never know how much had been earned that week or any other perhaps!

For reasons long since forgotten, new employee’s had to work a ‘week in hand’ so my first pay day was after I had worked for two weeks. This first pay packet contained the princely sum of Two pounds, Thirteen shillings and Two pence, (roughly £2.65 in today’s money) or not much over One Shilling per hour, a fantastic sum for forty-four hours of work.  A thought did occur to me at this moment, when I realised that one hour spent cleaning the Vicars new Rover on a Saturday morning earned me Two shillings!  Discussing this one evening with my mate Tony, who had gone to work on his father’s farm, I felt even less happy upon hearing that he had collected over five pounds for his first weeks work.  Was I in the right job I remember asking myself?        Having counted the money in my pay packet, studied my pay slip and re-counted the contents just in case of an error, I put it in my pocket and handed it to my mother when I got home.

After a fairly short discussion as to how the spoils should be divided, she took Two pounds ‘towards my keep' and gave me back the rest.  This was a bit of a shock as it would appear that I had apparently been kept for nothing until that time!
The essential tools of my chosen trade had to be supplied mainly by myself, and the favoured method of collecting them was to join the companies Sports and Social Club.  Membership of said Club entitled you to gain a small discount on tools purchased at Messrs Kingdons, the local ironmongers, and at various other shops in the town.  In this way over a period of time, I would obtain in some order of priority, the basic items needed for my tool box, itself as yet to be purchased. 
On Friday lunchtime, you could find me gazing at the array of shiny new tools in Kingdons window, deciding which I could afford to buy next, and being conscious of the need to pay Mother as the number one priority.  Transaction completed, I would return to work, the proud owner of a new hacksaw, ratchet screwdriver, steel ruler or some other small tool.

These were to become my proudest possessions, which Alan very magnanimously allowed me to place for the time being in his tool box, until the day when, assisted financially by my Father, I was able to buy a tool box and padlock of my own.  How smug and self-satisfied I felt walking back into the Limb shop that afternoon carrying my shiny new blue toolbox.  This proved the wrong thing to do, as I was to find out later!

As 'shop boy', it was traditional that I became the butt of all manner of pranks and jokes, usually because I had become over confident or cocky which necessitated my being brought down a peg or two. So it was that when certain people saw my new toolbox, it immediately became the target for a new round of activity.  My precious toolbox would regularly disappear whilst I was out of the workshop on an errand, and on at least one occasion, I returned to find it had been glued very firmly to my bench.  The threat, oft muted, which struck the greatest fear into my heart, was that I would come into work one morning, after others had worked overtime, to find my toolbox suspended high in the roof girders.   To bring this threat to be, I would have had to be particularly obnoxious to certain persons during the previous day.  Glad to say, and to my everlasting relief, the deed was never done, the threat having been the best deterrent.

The last week of July and the first week of August was the traditional annual factory holiday ‘shut down’ period.  At that time, the workforce in the artificial limb making industry enjoyed only two weeks holiday per year, plus Bank holidays.

On the 'pay day' preceding the annual shut-down, all the work force received their weeks wages plus two weeks holiday pay, but not yours truly much to my consternation.  Enquiries as to the apparent deficit in my pay did not improve my humour, as it was explained that as I had only been in the employ of the company for four months, I had not accrued the necessary points to qualify for any holiday money.  With no extra holiday cash to play with, I could only resort to joining up with my old school mates who were enjoying their six weeks school holidays.

My next instalment deals the trials of being an Apprentice and engaging in a romance!

Saturday 9 June 2012

Roads, Lanes and traffic

This third excerpt from the Kingsley Parish Plan survey considers various transport and road related issues.

Proposition Support Oppose Neither
Speeding vehicles are a problem on the roads and lanes around Kingsley 71% 19% 10%
The volume of traffic is a problem that reduces the quality of village life 65% 22% 12%
HGVs create a problem for the village 65% 20% 15%
It is safe driving around the roads and lanes around Kingsley 60% 25% 15%
It is safe to walk on the roads and lanes around Kingsley 41% 49% 11%
Members of the household enjoy cycle around our lanes 32% 29% 40%
If there were more cycleways cars would be used less often 28% 50% 23%
It is safe to cycle on the roads and lanes around Kingsley 26% 50% 24%
Current public transport in Kingsley meets our needs 23% 41% 36%
It is safe to ride horses on the roads and lanes around Kingsley 15% 32% 53%
Members of the household enjoy ride horses around the village 7% 36% 56%

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Natural England - Selborne Brickworks

Browsing through the decision notice for the anaerobic digester at Selborne Brickworks I was struck by section 4 (consultations) in which a variety of bodies and individuals offer objection or no objection to the application and in which Natural England, whose role is "to provide practical advice", offers the following gem:-

It has been previously noted that Great Crested Newts have been identified on land adjacent to this site. We would therefore advise that the proposals as presented have the potential to affect species protected under European or UK legislation. Natural England has now adopted national standing advice for protected species. As standing advice, it is a material consideration in the determination of the proposed development in this application in the same way as any individual response received from Natural England following consultation and should therefore be fully considered before a formal decision on the planning application is made.

If that's "practical advice" I'm a monkey's uncle.

Trouble 't Sandy Lane

Oh dear! someone appears to be doing something they shouldn't in Sandy Lane.

This enforcement case, EC/50311/002, shows "Unauthorised creation of two accesses" as being "Breach established".

This isn't the first time.

Monday 4 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Pageant

The BBC saw fit to include shots of three or four (100 according to them) "republicans" chanting "votes not boats" or some such nonsense yesterday when seven miles of the Thames, both banks, in places 30-40 deep, hosted spectators cheering Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion marking her 60 years on the throne.

I'm sure that there are those who would prefer to elect some creep like Nicolas Sarkozy or perhaps a dictator like Hosni Mubarak than be called "subjects" but I think that, if pressed, even the republicans would admit that Liz has done a first class job.

The weather yesterday was British through and through, partly warm, partly cold, partly dry, partly tipping down. The spectacle unfolding before us was uniquely British, no swaggering warships, no goosestepping armies just a vast armada of the queen's subjects, volunteers every one of them, rowing or paddling, powered by steam or more modern fuels.

The queen came to the throne the year before I was born. I've only been doing my job 40 years and it's one I chose for myself.