Town & Manor of Hungerford News: June/July 2021

Hungerford Town & Manor

Hopefully – and the signs are good – July will see the beginning of the end of the various indoor lockdown restrictions that have caused such havoc over the last 18 months. There might even be some fine weather to celebrate this (but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves…)

For the Town and Manor, a good part of our work is been outdoors: indeed, this is a bit of a theme of this month’s post. Covid or not, the seasons continue their cycle. All the regular tasks relating to the Common, the Marsh, the waterways and the T&M’s various properties have continued, as nature demands that they must.

Our wonderful Wednesday market is outdoors, of course – the best place for your weekly shop for everything from bacon to bread, from olives to oranges and from Gorgonzola to geraniums. This has continued without a break during the pandemic. 

One of our major outdoor projects is the Sparkling Streams, work on which is now well under way at various locations. This a partnership between Action for the River Kennet, the Town and Manor of Hungerford and the Southern Streams Farmer Group, co-ordinated by North Wessex Downs AONB.

An outdoor activity which everyone can get involved with is the Town and Manor’s July photography competition. This celebrates the success of our wild-flower planting on the Common and is an encouragement for everyone to go out to see (and photograph) these flowers and their pollinators for themselves.

One thing that tends to take place indoors, however, is the business of examining our funds and periodically writing cheques to local organisations which have made applications for grants. So far this year, nearly £13,000 has been donated in this way – part of a regular series of contributions which the Town and Manor is able to make to the local community.

More details on all these points – as well as the CEO’s delight at her new purchase (also an outdoors item) – can be found below.

The Wednesday market

The Town and Manor continues to run and support the weekly Wednesday market. We would like to thank the volunteers who give up their time every week to ensure that visitors to the market are reminded of the regulations during lockdown to maintain the safety and well-being of all shoppers. We’d also like to thank all the traders who set up at crazy o’clock in the morning (so please observe the no-parking signs on Tuesday night – see below) to keep us well stocked.

The market takes place every Wednesday from 8am until about 2pm. Please see below for important information about parking arrangements from midnight on Tuesday. 

Hungerford's wednesday market continues during the january lockdown - with a few changes (12th january up to date)

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. 

Wildflower photography competition

The Town and Manor is delighted to announce a wildflower photography competition for all wildlife and nature enthusiasts: this follows a wild-flower planting initiative in 2017. The plan was to reintroduce native wild species that had declined over the years due to human behaviour. The planting proved a little troublesome due to how compacted soil on the Common had become over the centuries but we’re delighted that the seeds have germinated.

We would like to embrace this success and hold a photographic competition. There will be two categories, each with a £100 prize:

  • The best photograph showing the flowers
  • The best photograph showing a pollinator on or within the flowers.

The photograph(s) should be accompanied by another offering proof that the image was taken on Hungerford Common and a written declaration that you took the competition photographs on Hungerford Common. Please include your name, address and contact phone number with all entries, which are limited to five per person per category

You can send your entries by email or post to admin@townandmanor.co.uk. Alternatively please post to: Town and Manor of Hungerford, Wild Flower Competition, Town Hall, Hungerford. RG17 0NF. The letterbox, for hand deliveries, is by the rear entrance of the Town Hall.

The closing date for entries is 31 July 2021. Judging will take place in August and the winners notified on Monday 16 August 2021, The winning entries will be notified and the winning pictures will be posted on the Town and Manor Facebook page and in Penny Post. The Judge’s decision will be  final.

Grants to local organisations

The land and property that the Town and Manor owns in Hungerford is managed for the benefit of the community. The Town and Manor is a charity, so the profits can efficiently be provided to good causes in the town.

Our donations so far in 2021 include:

  • Hungerford Youth and Community Centre – £3,700 and a new PC for its staff.
  • Camburn Trust – £1,500 for students to enable them to purchase equipment, tools or books to support their further education.
  • Hungerford Primary School Mindfulness Garden Project – £500.
  • Hungerford Cricket Club – £1,000 for new training nets.
  • HADCAF Hungerford Summer Festival – £500.
  • Hungerford Town Football Club – £5,600.

Dogs bins

West Berkshire Council (WBC) empties the bins around the Common and Freeman’s Marsh once a week (unfortunately there isn’t the budget for emptying more regularly). WBC and the Town and Manor politely request that local dog owners take their bagged poo home, especially during the busy summer months. This will prevent the build-up and overspill around the bins. This not only creates a dreadful smell, but also a health hazard to humans, cattle and many other habitat species.

The cows

Cattle have right of way on the Common. Should they be in the road, please be patient and allow then to cross. Please note that your speed should not exceed the limit. Should the cows be stationary on the road, do not blast your horn. Instead get out of your car, clap your hands and tell them to move in a calm voice and they will oblige. Should the cattle damage your vehicle it is your responsibility to claim on your insurance.

Sparkling Streams

The Town and Manor, as part of the Sparkling Streams project, is planning some river and habitat improvements on and around Freemans Marsh. Further information can be found in this separate post. This is in addition to our main project of restoring the river Kennet at Eddiington.

Firstly, on the River Dun on Freeman’s Marsh, we are working with the Environment Agency to put in some flow deflectors. Deflectors are a common approach to river restoration as they create variable flow conditions, narrow flow paths, deepen mid-channel flow, improve bank protection, and provide an area of refuge for fish in slow-flowing water.

Secondly, on the River Shalbourne we are working with Natural England to look into having a bit more water out onto the old water meadow on Freeman’s Marsh. We are currently consulting with specialist river environment engineers to ascertain the best method to achieve this.

These are two examples of how the Town and Manor is continuing to improve natural habitat and improve riverine environment within the estate. The Town and Manor is constantly looking at how we can improve and enrich our beautiful countryside.

The Town and Manor goes greener

There are, according to the RAC, nearly a quarter of a million electric vehicles on the UK’s roads (more than 10 times the number as there were in 2015). One of these, a VW ID3, was recently purchased by the Town and Manor’s CEO Ellie Dickins to replace a gas-guzzler that she’d had for the last 18 years. If you visited the Hungerford EV exhibition on 3 July at the Croft Field you might have seen this on display. “It’s a dream to drive and extremely quiet,” she told Penny Post. “Absolutely no regrets at all!”

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 the 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 admin@townandmanor.co.uk or call 01488 686555.

Below is a photo of some of the summer inhabitants of Hungerford Common. Please be careful when driving and remember that the cows have right of way there.

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