Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society


 News February 2015

The Annual  General Meeting will take place on Tuesday March 17th at Church Cottage at 7.30.  After a brief AGM, our speaker will be the Society Chairman, Ian Williams, who will talk about Basingstoke in WW1.

Basingstoke and the Great War

How Basingstoke & its people changed from 1900 to 1920

We very much hope that you will come along to the AGM and hear Ian’s talk. This is an interesting piece of research and a good talk with lots of images! It’s also time to consider whether you would like to be involved with the committee and its work. All members are welcome at our meetings – details on p.4 so do come along and find out what we do! (Parking after 7 at Church Cottage is fine)

The Old Common and the Football Club …. some good news

The ward councillors for Eastrop challenged the council on the legality of their consultation because they failed to consult on alternative sites for the football club or to demonstrate that they had properly considered anywhere but the Old Common. The council will now suspend any decision for 6 months, which is good news. However,   we are disheartened that Cabinet is to confirm a policy with regard to open spaces in the Borough, which specifically excludes protecting those sites …

where an earlier council decision has already been made to either develop a site or investigate the potential of a site, or where a previous decision has been taken that access across a site may be required in the future.”

The two sites which are starred for exclusion are the War Memorial Park and a play area in Whitchurch, so there is no doubt that this clause was inserted because someone in the council had offered the land to the football club without proper consultation. Therefore because there has been discussion about disposing of the Old Common, then the council want to preserve the right to do so at a later date. Cabinet, chaired by council leader, Cllr Clive Sanders and with this particular hot potato in the hands of portfolio holder, Cllr John Izett, is now embarrassed by this earlier decision and has to decide how to extricate itself.

On 17th December a group of Heritage Society committee members met with the council’s lawyers where we put forward all our evidence that there had been a clear commitment that the land lost from the War Memorial Park for the southern ringway would be compensated. There was evidence that the compensatory land would be 20 acres. However, no clear evidence was found in council minutes as far as we know, but we do know that our collected evidence is very sound.  What concerned us was that the 22 acre site which is home to Totally Tennis, the Arlott Pavilion and 2 football pitches would be deemed to be the compensatory land. But we maintain that this is not open space in the sense that the parkland is because it has been covered with structures and activities.  

So the issue rumbles on and meanwhile many scores of new small homes are planned for the central town area. This is not the moment to dispose of rare open space at the Old Common.

Peace garden project

The council has embarked on a project to mark the anniversary in 2018 of the end of WW1 with a Peace Garden. The garden will be tucked into the War Memorial Park, between the aviary and the entrance gates so that it will not affect views from the park towards Goldings. The garden will aim to celebrate peace and reconciliation and provide a relaxing space for contemplation through the memories of past conflicts. It will not, however, be a war memorial garden, but very strictly a ‘PEACE’ garden. There is currently a small advisory group on which the society is represented but it is hoped that there will be a wider group of Supporters. If you are interested in this project and would like to get involved, then contact Margaret McGrath at the council 01256 845407 or  Or phone Debbie Reavell 01256 473390

The Willis Museum exhibition has some amazing objects from the British Museum’s China exhibition, including this whopping Ming vase which alone is well work a visit. The exhibition is on until 2 April

And while you are at the Willis, take a look around at the improvements which are taking place to improve the Top of the Town. There are new planters,  refurbished seats and new information signs. There will also be new signs with ‘heritage’ information to guide visitors from the car parks. The society is helping with the wording for these signs. Frontages are being improved too.

5 months since this sculpture was damaged by a truck and still no sign of a repair.  

Large porcelain flask painted with underglaze blue decoration. Made in Jingdezhen, China. Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period, 1426 1435. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Improvements to frontages with the aid of grants and encouragement.

Cleaned up! Local people chose this option rather than replace with new

L’Arc by David Annand, Alençon Link.