Monthly Archives: March 2016

Village Hall Refurbishment

We have started the detailed design and have recruited a team of key users and experts to ensure that we specify exactly what we want before we seek prices from builders.

We have received a grant of £7,500 from the Vale of White Horse District Council and the Beer Festival raised an excellent £2,000 towards the refurbishment. With the support of the Parish Council, we now have over £200,000 in donations and pledges towards our target of around £500,000 including fees and VAT. We are grateful to everyone for all their support and efforts so far. A number of applications for further grants have also been submitted and we await their outcomes.

We are preparing a pamphlet for distribution to every household in the village summarising where we are with the project and inviting personal donations. We’ll link this with a re-launch of the project pages on the Village website. We are also producing a promotional film to support the campaign. We will be looking for volunteers to appear in this. Let me know if you are interested or have any ideas or proposals to raise money.  Steve White

PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY BETWEEN WOODWAY (WHITE SHOOT FARM) AND BOHAMS ROAD

The PC was extremely pleased that Beeswax Farming has created a Permissive Pathway across its land between the top of Cow Lane and Rubble Pit Lane.

They responded positively to our request and we are grateful to them. However a Permissive Path is made at the discretion of the landowner and in order to ensure that we retain a public right of way the PC intends to submit an application to make the track from the top of Woodway to Bohams Road a Bridleway/footpath. This will take a considerable amount of time but we are starting to collect evidence in support of this application now.

We would like all users – dog walkers, walkers, cyclists, horse riders etc – to fill in the evidence form which could be obtained from the Post Office or downloaded here. Guidance on how to complete the form can be downloaded here.

To see which area will be covered by this application, you can consult this map.  Please identify the stretch of the path for which you can provide evidence and mark it on the map.

Please return the signed hard copy of the form and the map to Jane Gibson – 5 Westbrook Green or the Clerk, 83 Dibleys. Remember that you can provide evidence not only of your own use but that of others using Question 12 on the evidence form.

The more evidence we can provide the better and we must be able to cover a period of 20 years or more. Both current and historic evidence will be most useful.

Image above and maps:
© Crown Copyright and Ordnance Survey Rights
Parish Council PSMA OS Licence No.100041147

BLEWBURY’S SECRET SUFFRAGETTE?

In one corner of the Blewbury’s old cemetery in Boham’s Road are two fairly ordinary graves, which are the main reminder that the village has of two women, Gladys Hazel and Dr Gertrude Austin, who retired to Blewbury in the 1930s and lived in a newly built bungalow in Westbrook Street, with Gladys’s school age nephew, Peter Waterfield.

They lived there for over twenty years during which time Peter grew up, went to Oxford University, married the daughter of the Vicar of Didcot, and then left the village to pursue a career as a school teacher and head teacher. Peter, now in his 90s, lives in Cornwall. Just last year, to his amazement, he came across an old manuscript which turned out to be his Aunt Gladys’s memoirs. These memoirs reveal that, in her earlier life, she had been a very active, militant Suffragette. She was born in 1880 and had become a school teacher in Birmingham, when she was invited to a tea party, which was addressed by Emmeline Pankhurst sometime around 1908. Fairly soon after that she became heavily involved in the Suffragette movement, working in their offices in Birmingham, Leicester and Bristol over a period of several years. Passive campaigning led to more militant activity. On one occasion for example, she describes stepping into the middle of a road to obstruct a troop of mounted police during a visit to Birmingham by Asquith. The cavalcade was forced to part either side of her to great cheers and laughter from the assembled crowd. She calls it her “first taste of heady power” and writes: “I was immensely exhilarated”. Not all acts of defiance were as enjoyable. During the time she was in Holloway Prison, Gladys took part in a hunger strike and was force fed. In her memoirs she describes the occasion when the now famous Emily Wilding Davison attempted suicide in Holloway, trying to end the suffering and force feeding of others. “My cell door was open and a warden hurried to me calling: ‘Come quick!’ I followed her out to the gallery. And there was Emily Davison. She was sitting with her feet hanging down over the stairway her face closed and set. The warden said, ‘Speak to her and stop her doing it.’ I felt suddenly full of [emotion] and in a sort of rage and I said, ‘Why? She’ll be well out of it.’ And I turned away. I heard her fall and saw her lying across the steps as they hustled me into my cell.” Earlier in 1912 she had been involved in a demonstration in New Bond Street in London. She was arrested after smashing several windows of Asprey’s store, but while being led away by a burly policeman still managed according to his account in court to ‘break two more windows’. So this quiet old lady living in Westbrook Street from 1939-1959 had quite a colourful past campaigning for women’s rights, and it seems that no-one living in Blewbury at the time knew anything of her past. Her nephew has very fond memories of his time in the village, and is collaborating with the Local History Group to ensure that his aunt’s exploits on behalf of such an important cause are not forgotten. Anyone else with relevant information about Gladys and Gertrude is encouraged to contact the group. Roger and Elizabeth Murphy