Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society 
 News January 2016

Basingstoke Heritage Society

Caring for our town – past, present and future
News for Members no 102
January 2016

A very Happy New Year to all our members
We need to talk about the Old Common again as its fate is fast approaching. We understand that when Cabinet meet on 26th January they will be making a decision about the Football Club. They will decide whether they should offer the Old Common site to the club for 150 years at a peppercorn rent or whether they should give up the attempt to help the club find a new site. The Old Common would have gone without a fight except that residents and our membership  have objected.  
1894 map showing the common as it was before the A30 by-pass let alone the ringway and Black Dam estate were built
We need to show that we do care about this piece of land so if you can, please come to the meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday January 26th at 6.30 at the council offices. We hope that a substantial presence will help our argument. At the present time, the Agenda for Cabinet’s meeting has not been published, but it will be available on the council’s website.  This might be our last chance, although of course both The Camrose (change to Retail Park) and a stadium on the Old Common would both have to go through due planning processes.

Fairfields School Foundation Plaques
We asked for two foundation plaques, which are on Fairfields School, to be repaired. The work has been done and below is one of them, with the bottom right hand corner built up where it had chipped off.    

Introducing Jane Austen 200 - a Preview, opening at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke on 9 Januarygives you the chance to see Jane Austen’s portable writing desk* and one of her original manuscripts on loan from the British Library - displayed in Hampshire for the first time. You will also find out about Jane’s links to Hampshire and Basingstoke and be given a taste of what we are planning for our Big Theme in 2017 - Jane Austen 200 - a Life in Hampshire. The exhibition runs until 20 February and admission is free. It will be accompanied by a range of events for adults and children.  * See ledger entry, right, from John Ring of Basingstoke.   
mahogany writing desk with a long drawer and glass ink stand compleat' to Revd Austen Senior, Steventon in 1794
25-27A Winchester Street – former Burton’s building proposed for change of use to betting and gaming by William Hill. The council’s Licensing Committee eventually granted the licence.   The proposal refused for the Change of Use has gone to Appeal. The upper floors are proposed to be a drinking establishment/nightclub.
Left: one of the Burton family foundation stones at the Winchester Street premises
Gardens of Remembrance Arch
The arch at the entrance to the Church Square Gardens of Remembrance has been rebuilt exactly as it was and looks good. Thanks to the council for this work. The gardens are on the site of houses which were destroyed by bombing in August 1940.  St Michael’s Church still shows the scars of that event on the church’s east wall opposite Festival Place entrance.
The Haymarket Theatre, formerly the Corn Exchange is 150 years old – it opened in 1865. We hope to mark this event (a little late) with some interpretation boards in the windows of the theatre, telling its interesting history.

   Two new books for your     entertainment.

      Drunkards, Thieves and Rioters is written by Bob Clarke      so you can expect a good lively read. Bob has trawled the     newspapers to find some interesting stories  about    historic trouble-makers and badly-behaved policemen!

  Raz Razzle’s book describes just what it says – the  music  scene in the 1960s; the great music legends  who played in  Basingstoke and the local bands who entertained us in those days.

We hope that many of you attended the consultation held in the War Memorial Park in mid-November. This is going to be a massive development and is, strictly speaking outside the society’s area of concern (the unparished areas of Basingstoke). The exception is Worting, which has no parish council. However, the impact will be felt throughout the town and we are anxious to see an excellent development with good housing design and green spaces. Committee member John Jones produced the following guidelines or principles, which we would like to see:-

Coherence and consistency with the existing town
Protect existing buildings of merit that contribute to the historic heritage of the town
Quality of design and building standards – and which should include innovative and creative modern architecture - to meet the needs of residents, opportunity for businesses and the town’s residents generally
External appearance that meets the style expectations at the time of development and blends well with surrounding and adjacent properties  -  but which avoids pastiche and poor replication of design building styles from previous eras.
Sustains historic open space and the long established connections between town and countryside – such as Basingstoke Common.
Encourages a sense of community – for both the full community of Basingstoke but,  within a town that has expanded significantly over the last 50 years, promotes real and constructive atmospheres conducive to community at much smaller local levels .
Benefiting and meeting the needs and expectations of a full spectrum of residents from lower income to affluent and from young to old: significant new, or progressive, developments should ensure they incorporate adequate facilities for all, including young and old (eg care homes, schools, community halls)
Add value – new development should add in as many ways as possible to the perceived value - visual and otherwise – of the town as a place to live and work.
John Aidan Liddell V.C.  1888-1915
This plaque (left) has been put up in Sherfield-on-Loddon to commemorate the village’s Victoria Cross holder (the family lived at Sherfield Hall (now a school). Most of the boards we did for the 2011 exhibition are in the Discovery Centre, but the Liddell board was larger. We offered it to the Village Hall and they have accepted it and we look forward to seeing it on show. Liddell’s M.C. is commemorated in a window in the Holy Ghost Catholic Church and he is buried in the cemetery at South View.
Sir Harold Gillies – the plastic surgeon (as they were then known) was the subject of one of our blue plaques. If you saw a TV programme on Channel 4 on 24 October 2015, entitled ‘The Sex-Change Spitfire Ace’, you would have been interested to discover that Gillies did the very first female-to-male reconstruction at Rooksdown in 1946. An interesting ‘First for Basingstoke’.