Local List. We have nominated these surviving structures from the Alton Light Railway for the Local List. We did this in May but don’t know when we will know if they have been successful. Spurs from the line ran into Park Prewett Hospital and to Thornycroft’s.
Walls and Boundaries.We want to start a project to photograph old walls and boundaries around the town. Please do send us photographs or descriptions. The wall in this photo is in South View.
2017 saw some changes. Jane Austen arrived but The Lamb disappeared. Bookbenches came and went and numerous visitors found their way to The Willis for the Jane Austen exhibition.
The Lamb. When demolition began, there was concern that the inn sign would be lost. There is a planning proviso that it will go onto the newbuild. We contacted the developers, who confirm that the sign is safe
Flowers for Jane Austen on her birthday, 16th December.
The Electric Cinema, Wote Street – we don’t expect you to remember this, but you might remember the Savoy which took over and expanded it. Frederick Darrell a ‘Landed Proprietor’ born in Cotterham, Cambridgeshire in 1862 seems to have been key in bringing this new-fangled idea to Basingstoke in 1910. The 1911 census shows that he and his family were living in Bramblys Grange House. It was, in part, his money which funded this early cinema.
Image from Basingstoke Gazette article by Robert Brown, November 2nd , 2010
Park Prewett – new history. A Place Apart. The Story of Park Prewett Hospital. The author of this book is Malcolm Isted. It’s a useful addition to what we know about the old psychiatric hospital, especially as an earlier book by Dilys Smith is difficult to get hold of. The story reminds us of the progress made in the treatment of psychiatric patients over the years and includes ‘inside stories’ of those who worked or were treated there, as well as the use made of the hospital during both World Wars. As the author was not aware of the Blue Plaque we put up to commemorate the work of Sir Harold Gillies during WW2, you will not be surprised to hear that we contacted him and received a pleasant reply. The book is £10 and available from The Willis.
The Willis Museum Sainsbury Gallery has been the venue for some superb exhibitions this year. The latest one, which ended on 16th December was based on works of painter J.M.W.Turner, born in 1775 in Covent Garden. The exhibition was praised by a society member, who commented that the Hampshire Cultural Trust had done a good job of displaying the exhibits of the landscape painter. The exhibition included an early work from 1796, Fishermen at Sea, and some of the views of Venice, for which he was renowned. The sketch books on show were objects of great beauty. His tour of the West Country in 1811 ended with a stop in Basingstoke where he sketched some aspects of the Holy Ghost Ruins. The sketchbook is part of the Turner Bequest at The Tate. Although it’s difficult to see on this image, I hope you can make out the distinctive shape of the ruins.
15 London Street The council obliged the owner of this gaming premises at 15 London Street to tone-down their display as they were in breach of rules covering advertisements in the conservation area. We were pleased to see that the company did reduce the visual impact (photo on
right). However, they have now applied for a change of use from Bingo to Adult Gaming Centre (BDB 03854). Its original consent was for bingo and the applicant argued that this would make it a useful social centre. Adult Gaming places should not be given consent in areas where young people pass frequently. The society has objected – if you would like to comment then please add your voice.
James Lancaster, a notable figure in the early days of trade expansion was a generous benefactor to his home town of Basingstoke. Born, ca 1554, he died in 1618 so this year is a notable anniversary. We are grateful to the member who pointed this out to us.
45-47 Winchester Street. This application is to alter the frontages of the 3 units (photos, right) and bring them altogether with a flat aluminium frontage. (shown below). This would mean the loss of the features of these frontages which are a rare survivor in the Top of Town. We have raised our objection, but if you would like to as well, then go onto the council’s Search Planning Applications page and comment as a ‘neighbour’. The reference is 03970
This Google image shows Winklebury Ring, with Fort Hill School within it. I wonder how many towns have such a splendid ancient monument in a built-up area? It dates from the Iron Age with a rather overgrown ditch surrounding it. As you know, the school is to close, and it is important that this ancient site is cared for into the future.
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The Public Art walk was part of the Basingstoke Festival. We visited just 9 of the town’s many public art works, including the art in Festival Square and of course, Church Stone in Wote Street. We visited the Bluecoat Boy in Cross Street and ended up, as the photo shows, by L’Arc in Alencon Link, with its echoes of the work in Baghdad – we looked at a photo of that one too. It was well known because apparently Saddam Hussein didn’t pay for it. The town has some fine public art and some of it, like the Triumphal Gates in London Street tell many stories about the history of Basingstoke in the panels which are fixed on to it. The weather was fine too! If you are interested but couldn’t make the walk, then the council have a useful booklet:- https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/public-art
Natwest Bank Building - Delighted to see that finally the graffiti has gone.
We began in October last year, asking the bank by letter if anything could be done about the eyesore of graffiti on their fine, Listed, Victorian building. As we got no reply, and were not able to speak to the branch by phone, our secretary visited the bank and talked to the manager. This didn’t work either and in January, we took this up with the council but nothing happened and in May we contacted the ward councillor, who kindly made some enquiries about whose responsibility this was. Nothing changed so on 14th June we emailed the CEO of the RBS Group. No reply. But maybe all these varied approaches have worked because the graffiti has finally been removed. The building dates from 1864 and was designed by F.
Harrow Way/Viables board. This is now in position and looking very good. The new interpretation sign will be ‘opened’ on Wednesday August 15th at 3 pm at Viables Craft and Community Centre by the deputy Mayor, Cllr Diane Taylor. It was the Saxons, who named it and they called it ‘Herepath’ or ‘ancient way’. On its route is Viables Farm, where a remarkable Romano-British burial was unearthed in the 1970s. We had the Community Association and the Council both content with this project to put a board at the Craft Centre. The sign has been designed by Andy Thomsen (who also designed our signs in the Holy Ghost Cemetery). The sign is large with lots of information about this ancient route and the inns along its way and has taken many months of work to finalise the text. The sign shows a portion of the 1762 map, where the Golden Lion is shown as The Halfway, and Skippetts as Skypperds, which was sometimes an inn, sometimes a farmhouse. The route was an undisturbed minor lane until it was eventually crossed by the Alton Light Railway. When the Basingstoke by-pass shifted the mass of jammed traffic heading east and west between London and the south-west out of the top of the town, it followed part of this ancient route and became very busy, attracting restaurants such as the Pied Piper and the Venture. In its turn, the bypass was superseded by the M3. The Harrow Way enters Basingstoke from Oakley, down Pack Lane to Fiveways. At the White House it heads eastwards to pass Viables and the Golden Lion, then Skippetts and the Tunworth Road and on towards Well. The route may have altered depending on weather and safety, sometimes following a high route over the hills. Do come and see the sign and if you haven’t visited the craft centre before, then this is your chance.