Town & Manor of Hungerford News: September/October 2021

Hungerford Town & Manor

As I write this, we are waiting for the fruit on our trees to ripen fully. Some harvesting has started but the crop is a bit late this year. See the section below for more on this and how you can get involved.

This issue also includes a medical update on the cow that was recently injured by a car of the Common. The recovery time has been longer than we’d hoped but she should be back on her hooves in a week or so. The new 30mph speed limit on the Common will be in place from early December when the signs are finally installed. This has been the result of many years of work and we once again thank all those involved in this campaign. As long as this speed limit is observed there should be fewer such incidents next year.

The winners of our photography competition have been presented with their cheques – congrats to them and to all of you who took part. See below for a small selection from the many entries we received.

A photograph of a less attractive kind shows some of the damage caused in the Town Hall by the recent flooding. As we explain below, this is a pretty major problem and is taking longer to repair than we’d hoped.

One project that is on course is the Sparkling Streams initiative. In the section below we describe the work being done on the river Kennet and at Undy’s Meadow. As well as improving immediate environment this will also offer protection against future flood risks.

We also take a look at five Minis, a wide range of events, dog bins and parking on the High Street on Tuesday nights – observing the no parking signs is essential if we’re all to enjoy the wonderful Wednesday markets which continue to go from strength to strength. The market may be the most visible sign of the Town and Manor’s work but it’s by no means the only one, as we hope this latest monthly summary will explain. See the final section for a list of our responsibilities and how to get in touch.

Photography competition

The winners of our photography competition, Gary Black and Alison Valesoa Laly, were presented with their winning cheques of £100 by The Constable, Peter Joseph on 17 September.

You can also click here to see all the images (which are also on the T&M’s Facebook page). A selection of these can be seen below.

The Wednesday market

The Wednesday market continues and we would like to thank all visitors to the market for their support during Covid-19 restrictions. The outdoor market continues to thrive and we have new stallholders coming soon. The Wednesday indoor market continues in the Town Hall, and we have seen an increase in footfall which is very positive news.

Should you wish to have a stall in either market, please contact admin@townandmanor.co.uk for more information.

The market takes place every Wednesday from 8am (though they set up far earlier than this) 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. 

Accident on the Common

We mentioned last month about the heifer that was stuck by a car in the hit and run incident in August. At the time we thought that she’d back with the herd in a few weeks but nature moves at its own pace and the recovery period has been longer than we’d thought. In particular, one of her hooves has only recently starting showing signs of real improvement. She will be moved off the Common as soon as she is certified fit to travel by the vet. Hopefully this will be before the end of October.

She is being treated by our Hayward, Philip Porter (once again, a huge thank you goes out to Lauren at the Down Gate who has been helping Philip with the administration of medication and ensuring she has plenty of food and water). 

Should you witness one of the cattle being hit by a vehicle or looking unwell, please report it to admin@townandmanor.co.uk, if you could add any accompanying photos that would be useful. Alternatively please call 07379 058208 to report an incident.

New speed limit on the Common

Last month I was delighted to announce that West Berkshire Council’s Highways department has signed off the agreement to reduce the speed limit over Hungerford Common to 30mph. The Town and Manor has fought hard for many years, with the support of Hungerford Town Council and our District Councillors, to get this reduced. Thanks to a team effort this has now been accomplished. The signs should be being put up in the week commencing 6 December.

Whilst this change comes too late for this years’ grazing cattle, the speed reduction is also key in improving safety for all users of the Common. The benefits will be felt by the whole community including cattle, dog walkers and cyclists who have all been affected by inconsiderate road users.

The fruit harvest

Our orchard has started to see the fruit ripening with the start of autumn. Due to the late frosts in May and the cooler summer, however, much of this is not yet ready for picking.

For many years the Town and Manor has organised fruit picking days, with much of the fruit used for making apple and pepple (apple and pear) juice. Last year we donated much of the crop to be juiced and put in cartons. We organise group pickings in conjunction with HEAT and St Lawrence’s church volunteers to collect fruit for their own consumption and donations to the food bank: the first one of these sessions took place in early October. We are currently monitoring the the ripening of the rest of the fruit and will organise further picking events when nature decrees the time is right.

Should you wish to come along and join in, please contact admin@townandmanor.co.uk and we can put you in touch with these volunteer groups as well as informing you of the dates planned for picking the crops (which include apples, pears and plums).

Dog bins

A reminder that 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. This will prevent the build-up and overspill around the bins. This not only creates a dreadful smell but is also a health hazard to humans, cattle and many other habitat species.

Flooding in the Town Hall

As mentioned last month, we had a severe flood in the Town Hall and Magistrates Room in early August which severely damaged the walls and floors. This is all serious enough but could have been a lot worse if the ceilings had collapsed.

We are currently waiting for the delivery of the replacement flooring before we can decorate and re-open the rooms. It is anticipated that the Magistrates Room will be overhauled first as that was the worst affected. We hope this will be completed by the end of December. Once this is finished, we will then repair and redecorate the Town Hall. 

This was all caused to pigeon nests and faeces blocking the drainpipes. The Town Hall complex suffers from pigeon damage to the stonework caused by their nests and pecking but, most importantly, by their poo which eats away at the stonework. The Town and Manor is extremely grateful to HTC for culling the pigeons in Hungerford.

Events in the Town Hall

The Town Hall has played host to several weddings over the years. Everyone has their own way of organising such events as well as their own way of getting there. For example, one Saturday last month you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Hungerford was the setting for a re-make of The Italian Job: in fact, these five Minis were bringing the bride and bridesmaids to the Town Hall.

it’s not just weddings we do, of course. It’s great to see the Town Hall complex being used for more events, including regular antiques fairs at the weekends, since the lookdown restrictions have been eased. We are receiving more requests for indoor markets and fairs and have seen new markets such as the Maker’s Market and a number of charity fairs. The Town Hall has also hosted the repair café, the Covid-19 vaccine van and an Abba tribute event – a wide range of purposes as we think you’ll agree. We look forward to welcoming an ever-more diverse range of products and events into the Corn Exchange

The Town Hall complex is available for hire for all types of events. Local charities and residents receive a 25% discount on charging rates. Should you wish to hold an event, please email events@townandmanor.co.uk or call 07880 311 731 to enquire about availability.

Sparkling Streams

A reminder that the Town and Manor, as part of the Sparkling Streams project, is undertaking river and habitat improvements on and around Freemans Marsh. Further information can be found in this article (on Penny Post) and this one (on the AONB website). This is in addition to our main project of restoring the river Kennet at Eddiington.

Work has recently started on the improvement to the River Kennet upstream of Eddington bridge. This will narrow the river to create a better flow of water to enhance riparian life and improve water quality as well as creating new areas of vegetation key to biodiversity.

We will also be restoring a small offtake which will enable water to re-connect to the flood plain known as Undy’s meadow – important to preventing Hungerford from flooding resulting from extreme weather due to climate change. This work of course comes at a time when climate change is being discussed at COP26 being held in Glasgow this month

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.

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