Town & Manor of Hungerford News: December 2020/January 2021

Hungerford Town & Manor

I hope you all had as merry a Christmas and new year as circumstances allowed. 2021 promises eventually to offer a respite: but until then the regulations have been getting ever stricter since this time last month.

One of the casualties of this has been the indoor Wednesday market which, after a brief re-opening, has once again had to close. The street market, however, continues although with some changes in the light of the latest government announcements.

That aside, the two other main news from the Town and Manor are the appointment of a new CEO to replace Jed Ramsay and the recent award of substantial grant from the Green Challenge Recovery Fund for some major restoration work on the River Kennet in conjunction with other local organisations.

More information on these and other aspects of the Town and Manor’s work can be found below.

Successful grant application

The Green Challenge Recovery Fund was launched in September 2020 as “a short-term competitive fund to kick-start environmental renewal whilst creating and retaining a range of jobs in England” and “to help the nation build back greener from the Coronavirus pandemic.” It offers funding (via the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency) for environmental charities and their partners to start work on projects across England to restore nature and tackle climate change. All the projects need to be completed within a year. The T&M is delighted to announce that it has been successful in applying for a grant under this scheme. 

The T&M has teamed up with the North Wessex Downs  AONB, Action for the River Kennet and the Southern Streams farming group to bid for funding to improve our chalk stream rivers and the surrounding environment. 

The grant enables the T&M to restore a historic river channel which was closed off when the mill at Eddington was built. The opening up of this channel restores natural river flow and important habitat for wildlife including birds, water voles and invertebrates, as well as plant life. It will also re-connect the river to the flood plain. This is vital in reducing the risk of flooding in Hungerford. The work will take place over the next 12 months. 

The overgrown area in the middle of the photo below is currently covering the stream: the land to the left is the flood plain the stream will re-connect to when the stream is cleared.

New CEO appointed

The T&M has also appointed a new CEO following the departure of Jed Ramsay in October. Jed did a great job during his three and a half years and has moved back to his area of specialty in river and flood management. The Constable and Trustees advertised the CEO position in-house, on the T&M website, locally through Penny Post, NWN as well as nationally and internationally on line. 
The trustees, following charity commission guidelines have shown transparency throughout the recruitment process  There was a good response to the job vacancy and following scrupulous interviews have appointed Ellie Dickins as the new CEO. 
Ellie has a wealth of experience with the T&M, having been involved in the organisation for over 20 years. Ellie served as constable for three years and has gained a lot of knowledge in that time of how the T&M is organised and managed. 
“I am delighted to have been appointed as CEO,” Ellie said. “I will undertake to uphold the traditions of the Hocktide court, as well as ensuring the ancient rights of the commoners are maintained. The T&M charity needs to ensure that we cover our costs of maintaining our land, buildings (which includes the Town Hall, the only privately owned one in the country) and rivers, as well as keeping up our charitable activities – in 2020 we donated £10,000 to local organisations including the Hungerford Town Band, the Youth Club and contributed to the Christmas lights. As all of this is provided from the income the T&M generates, all of these amenities, open spaces and donations are provided at zero cost to the local council tax payers. My job is to ensure that the T&M continues to provide these benefits for Hungerford.”

The Wednesday market, with some changes, continues – outside…

We would like to thank all the customers who have supported the market during lockdown and since its gradual relaxation and hope that you will continue to do now regulations have been re-imposed. All research suggests that transmission of viruses is a lot less likely to happen outdoors rather than in, so you should be able to continue to shop here with confidence. A huge thank you also to the stall holders who have kept it going.

Please note that with effect from Wednesday 6 January the following changes will apply:

  • The stalls will be limited to those providing food (the plant stall will also be there. Note that some stallholders may not be present every week. 
  • As was the case during the first lockdown in 2020, we will have volunteer marshals directing members of the public and ask that people are patient and courteous. We are all in this together.
  • The market is for essential use only and should not be used as a meeting place. 
  • All stall holders will be advised to wear face coverings. 
  • Of course, this could all be subject to change. We please ask that anyone wishing to use the market for essential items does so while abiding by current government guidelines. We are all living in uncertain times at the moment and individuals should  take the upmost precautions to protect themselves and others – hands, face, space.

…but not in

Sadly, the indoor market is officially closed until at least 30 January. Its eventual re-opening will depend on the prevailing government regulations. 

The market takes place every Wednesday from 8am until about 2pm. Please see below for important information about parking arrangements from midnight on Tuesday. Note that the photographs below were taken when face masks were not a requirement for stall holders.

Parking on in the High Street

Please observe the ‘No Parking after midnight’ signs put up on Tuesday afternoons in some bays on the Town Hall side of the High Street.

Some traders set up very early in the morning but can’t do this if vehicles are parked there. 

Events at the Town Hall complex

The Corn Exchange is available for hire throughout the year – government Covid regulations permitting, which they do not at the moment – and we welcome members of the community and local groups and organisations to use the building for their events, parties, weddings and celebrations. For a small fee, we also hire out the veranda which, when better times return, provides an ideal spot for a stall or as a pitch for a charity fundraiser.

Please call 01488 686555 or email for more information

The responsibilities of the Town and Manor

The Town and Manor of Hungerford is a unique institution, the only such body in England to have survived (in other places, the functions and assets of these organisations have been assumed by local councils). Some reflections on its past, and its present, role can be found here.

Many aspects of the Town and Manor, including its ownership of the Town Hall, make it look like another tier of local government (which it is not) and as a result many people are unsure of what aspects of local life it is responsible for. These are some of the main things that the Town and Manor does, all at no cost to the local residents:

• Hungerford Common (including maintenance, the cows,  the paths, the trees and event licences).
• Freeman’s Marsh (including maintenance, the cows, the paths and the trees).
• The trees in the High Street from the Canal Bridge to junction of Atherton Road (maintenance).
• The Croft (including grass cutting, trees, posts and event licences).
• The Town Hall (including bookings and maintenance).
• River Kennet and River Dun (including weed cutting, debris clearance and bank maintenance).
• Hocktide (all aspects of the festival).

For any problems, issues or enquiries relating to any of these matters, please email or call 01488 686555.


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