Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society
News June 2016

Basingstoke Heritage Society

Caring for our town – past, present and future

News for Members no 104
June 2016

The Festival this year is full of good things. We offered four guided walks as our contribution to the Festival this year, which were sent to on-line members by email. Pick up a programme from The Willis or the Discovery Centre or at There are three walks still to come …

Saturday 25 June Holy Ghost Cemetery History Walk 3-4pm. Meet in the community garden opposite the Great Western pub in Vyne Road.
Sunday 26 June – Blue Plaques walk 2.30 – 4 pm. Meet at Deanes Almshouses, London Street.
Saturday 2 July - Military History Walk - Commonwealth War Graves in South View. 3 –4pm.  Meet Burgess Road entrance.
All our Festival walks are free. However, places are limited and must be booked - 01256 473390  
The Annual General Meeting took place on April 19th. There were no changes to the officers or committee. If you are interested in joining the committee, then do come along to a meeting or contact the society. You would be very welcome.

Basingstoke and Runcorn new towns. This was the film we showed at the AGM and it is very interesting. We have bought a copy and that includes the right to show it publicly for no charge. We would like to think that other groups will be interested in seeing the film. If you are in or know of a group who would be interested, please contact Debbie Reavell.
The Park Prewett pavilions are safe. Cllr Simon Bound tells us that “their ownership has been transferred to The Land Trust, along with the woodland, with Rooksdown Community Association being the local agent”.  
This is a good outcome for these small historic structures
Friends of the Old Common – doesn’t that sound nice! A group has been formed to do work at the site and to be involved in its management.  The group’s aim will be “to work with the Council to make the Old Common a richer environment for wildlife and also a more welcoming site for local people. Likewise we hope to improve the planting and maintenance within the War Memorial Park as a whole”. Contact Zoe Channon at the council if you would like to be part of the group. or phone the council.
Former Burberry shop in Winchester Street. The April newsletter raised the concern that development here would alter the upper storeys. We objected to this proposal and the council have denied consent. A new shopfront has gone in, but the slender pillars visible in both these old images are retained.
British Heart Foundation has installed this new frontage, which has a traditional look to it and I love the red paint! I guess that the pillar capitals were probably painted all those years ago.
Our Jane Austen Leaflet is out and ready. Pick one up in The Willis or the Discovery Centre (their leaflets are now near Biography and the newspapers). Or contact the society. There has been interest in our leaflet and copies have gone to Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton and to Chawton House Library and Alton TIC. The leaflet opens up to show the 1762 map of Basingstoke, marked with places associated with Jane Austen. 
Downsland Parade – notable buildings in the Brookvale West conservation area.
This art-deco inspired row of shops and flats date from the mid-1930s. A few years ago, the council’s conservation officer worked hard to bring uniformity back into the group of shops; good quality sign-writing was used to identify the individual shops. Just a few weeks ago, new owners of one of the main end shops ripped out the old frontage without any planning or conservation area consent. Ian and Cathy Williams raised an immediate objection and council officers went to put a halt to the work. A new frontage has been installed, but retrospective planning consent will have to be sought. In our view, the new owner should put back the frontage which was there and we will raise opposition to the application when it appears. The replacement does not improve or enhance the conservation area.
Downsland Parade, Worting Road
Replaced without consent
Former Eli Lilly buildingmuch of the site has been cleared by housing association Sentinel who are to develop the site, retaining the white building for conversion into flats. Sentinel are very keen to hear from people who worked there and knew the building. If you can help, contact Lucy Wilson at Sentinel or phone them on 01256 338800.

Haymarket History – the boards are in place. The four panels tell the history of the building since it began life 150 years ago as the town’s Corn Exchange. They are only here temporarily, so please do go and see them. We were grateful to
Anvil Arts who paid for them.
Trees and tree wardens – Barry Williams is the Tree Warden and takes a keen interest in planning applications affecting trees in the unparished area of the town, which is our area of concern. The society objected to an application to remove the top of a fine tree in the Neville Close area, but the council allowed it. In the event, the tree surgeon refused to do the work, and encouraged proper pollarding of the tree, which will preserve its future and look good. A Lime tree in Ferguson Close had been pollarded and looks well. Many of these fine trees were planted around the town’s large houses, which are now redeveloped – for instance, when St Thomas’s Home for the Friendless and Fallen was opened in the 1880s, 600-700 trees and shrubs were planted. Fine specimens, but occasionally difficult to live with.  

Odd Basingstoke connection … You may recall this photo from some months ago. It shows the 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, part of the 10th (Irish) Division, their horses drinking from the horse trough in Winton Square. This regiment was encamped here for training for two months in 1915 before leaving for Gallipoli. One of their number was a young Irish poet called Francis Ledwige, who survived Gallipoli but later died in France. His captain, who encouraged his poetry, wrote this from Basingstoke Camp. All his future books lie on the knees of the gods. May they not be the only readers”. In 1980 Seamus Heaney wrote a poem, 'In Memoriam Francis Ledwidge.’