Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

News May 2015

Annual General Meeting 17 March 2015.

Thanks to all members who attended the AGM and enjoyed Ian Williams’ talk on how

Basingstoke was affected by the war of 1914-1918. A very interesting talk.

In his report, the Chairman thanked the officers and members of the committee for their

work helping to keep the society as a voice in our community. Special thanks to Terry Tilley

who stood down from the committee. Terry has been our tree warden for many years, looking

at planning applications and assisting with comments.  Thanks to Wendy Ray for her work as

minutes secretary and to Peter Davis for his ‘blue plaque’ research and finding sources to

produce the plaques for us.    

Ongoing Work: We are involved in Top of the Town improvements through the High Street

Innovation Fund work and the Top of the Town Social Media Group. We are keen to see that

the historic ‘old town’ is well-signed. We are involved with the Peace Garden 2018 project

and with the Jane Austen bicentenary in 2017. We have worked very hard this year to try

and prevent the Old Common being taken for Basingstoke Town Football Club’s new stadium.

We hope very much that this concept is thoroughly discredited and that a better site can be

found for the club.


Our 25 anniversary was celebrated with an exhibition in the Discovery Centre with cake

and a reception given by Mayor Cllr Roger Gardiner, both excellent occasions. In October we

unveiled a plaque for artist Diana Stanley.  Another busy year!

AGM outcomes:

Chairman   Ian Williams   

Vice-Chairman  Chris Comer   

Treasurer  Cathy Williams   

Secretary   Debbie Reavell   

The committee:  Wendy Ray (minutes secretary), Tim Lehane (website), Peter Davis, John

Jones, Malcolm Collins, Mike Wall, Josie Wall, Barry Williams (tree warden), Robin Loxley

(tree warden). Our president is Andrew Benson-Wilson.

All refreshed with a new coat of blue

The Blue Coat Boy statue was re-patinated by Morris Singer Foundry from Lasham.  At the same time, we asked local construction company, The Champion Group, to repair some missing tiles from the base which had been lost through weather damage.   Champion had built the brick plinth for the statue at the time it was installed in 1994 and did this latest repair at no charge, which is generous and much appreciated.

The statue stands on the site of the Basingstoke Blue Coat School which was demolished along with the whole north side of Cross Street during town development in the 1960s. The original school was founded through the legacy of Richard Aldworth, whose mother, Jane South, was from Basingstoke. In his will of 1646, he left money for the:   “bringing upp of 10 poore Male Children being the children of honest religious poore men in the Towne of Basing Stoke aforesaid and to pay for their meat drink and cloathing for every one yearly and every year for ever”

This object (left) has ‘turned up’ and is now with Ian and Cathy Williams. It is the foundation plaque from the bandstand, which was oringinally at Fairfields – see the postcard below with the bandstand on the far right and Fairfields Schools. (This is where the tennis club is today). Maybe the plaque was removed when the bandstand was dismantled and moved to the War Memorial Park in 1927. It was moved to its present site by the……

Festival of Britain gates some years ago and perhaps the plaque should be reunited with the bandstand? John May, brewer and many times Mayor, was a great benefactor to the town – one of his gifts was the 9 bells for All Saints’ Church.

The Willis Museum has a Burberry ‘Trench Coat’ exhibition, which was previously shown in Winchester. It includes the smock and some Burberry coats and a little of his story in Basingstoke. Worth a visit

We will be offering two walks in June and July as part of the Festival this year.

 ‘Jane Austen’s Basingstoke’  Image right shows the old Town Hall, where Assemblies were held – this is the town Jane Austen would have known well.

‘Heritage, History, Myth and People’ is a walk in the Holy Ghost Cemetery at South View. Places will need to be booked, so watch for the festival publicity if you would like to join these walks. The programme will be out on 29th May.

All Saints Church centenary 2017.  

The architect of All Saints Church was Temple Moore who died in 1920 and has been called  “the  last  giant  of  the  Gothic  Movement”. Moore  was  a  Yorkshireman  who  worked  in  the Victorian  Gothic  style.  All  Saints  Church  will  celebrate  the  centenary  of  its  completion  in 2017  and  the  church  is  starting  off  with  a  'Memories  Day'  on  Saturday  4  July,  between 10.00am  and  4.30pm  to "look  at  archives,  records  and  memories  of the last  one  hundred years – bring your own memories to share, and build up the story of All Saints’ Church”.  So if you have memories, do go along to the church and help All Saints with its history.

WEA courses in BasingstokeSaturday 20 June, 10-15, URC, London Street, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill.  Enrol by 13 June. Contact  Saturday 23 May 10-15, same venue An Exploration of Soho.  Enrol by 16 May.  Both courses cost £20 and must be booked in advance.

Magna Cartathere is so much going on in Odiham this year, please look at the website for activities

Rose Hill was a handsome house on the Winchester Road entrance to the town. Neglect, vandalism and a fire resulted in the state - see right - in 2008.  The council’s conservation officers  considered ordering a rebuild, but the compromise is a pastiche of the frontage which has been built, which includes a mock front door. It’s difficult to see from the Winchester Road, and I couldn’t get a photo, which is a pity but a small development has been completed here. Not a happy story.

The Twentieth Century Society Southern branch will visit Basingstoke and we hope to help them find the best places.   Two examples are Temple Towers, 1929 and Lutyens’ Daneshill Brick and Tile Works Office of 1909.

The entrance to the Church Square Gardens of Remembrance, which commemorates the lives lost and the destruction caused by the bombs dropped here in August 1940. But where has the arch gone which completed this entrance? We are trying to find out. This photo from 1967 – it’s not your eyesight, a person has been removed - shows what an interesting arch it was structurally.  

Better news on this. The insurers seemed to have agreed that repairs can go ahead …  

Thornycroft. During October there will be an exhibition at BCoT and later in Morrisons to

tell the story of Thornycroft and the company’s contribution during the First World War.

Note:  All members are welcome to attend meetings of the society.  At most meetings we consider planning

applications which fall within the area of concern to the society and agree comments.  

L’Arc by David Annand, Alençon Link