Henley NEWS On-line


Reporting Each Week on Events In and Around
Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, England

Masthead picture - Swans at the Golf Club Lake by Dawn Leech

Edition 166 - 24th July 2007
Every Thursday
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Worst Floods in Living Memory Hit Henley

On Friday 20th July, 100 mm (four inches) fell in a short period across the counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucester and Oxfordshire. The Environment Agency issued 16 severe flood warnings, stretching from Lincolnshire to the Midlands and the Welsh borders. Keith Groves, Head of Forecasting at the Met Office, said: "We are talking about a major rainfall event. When you get such heavy rainfall in such a short time then there is a greater risk of flooding."

Warwickshire Police quickly issued warnings that Henley and Wootton Wawen were particularly affected. The map right shows the areas of the town which were flooded when the River Alne burst its banks. Particularly badly affected were properties in the High Street, Back Lane and Beaudesert Lane. The flooding reached its peak at around 7 pm. By the next morning, the level River Alne had fallen by around 4 ft and was back to normal level.

Two elderly ladies had to be evacuated from their home in Back Lane by the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service in an inflatable boat. They were transferred to a friend's house on higher ground. BBC Midlands Today reporter Peter Wilson had to be rescued from his car in Beaudesert Lane. He said: "I found myself in the middle of the ensuing chaos. Water was rising 2ft to 3ft high and cars were quickly submerged. You don't realise how powerful that water is."

Even a Johnsons Coach got stuck on the Warwick Road and had to be pulled out by a tractor, as our picture below shows. The White Swan Hotel opened its function room to stranded motorists, including two ladies from Solihull. Peter Crathorne, Chairman of the High School Governors and Cllr Stephen Thirwell opened up the High School as an emergency rest centre. Henley NEWS On-line circulated advice to its readers supplied by Warwickshire County Council about Information for residents whose homes have been flooded.

By Saturday morning, there were piles of ruined carpets outside many properties in the High Street, Back Lane and Beaudesert Lane.

Andrew Gardner, Court Leet Brook Looker, is overwhelmed.

Mike Faulkner, a resident in Prince Harry Road emailed Henley NEWS On-line saying, "We are mopping up and it will take months to recover. What I and my neighbours found odd was just how suddenly the water drained away soon after entering our homes.  It was as if someone had opened a sluice gate and the water was released from the strain of the river. The floods were reminiscent of 1998 when fortunately we were not flooded at home.  Ironic, for the Warwick Road was flooded then and we'd have thought that the extensive work carried out by the Environment Agency would have helped to reduce not increase the risk or flooding.  That said my neighbours and I have been campaigning for years with the Parish Council to do something about the flood risk since they own the "flood plain".

The Heritage Centre keeps a file of documents relating to planning and development.  Among them is one entitled Policy Document, produced in collaboration with the District Council and dated about 1980.  It says: there should be no development on the flood plain and no backland (back garden) development. When were the houses in Prince Harry Road built?

Another reader, Jayne Llewellyn, reported, "Thankfully I was not affected by the flooding except that my church and parish hall were flooded. However, I was stunned to find that Henley had no sandbags. How was this? I also discovered that residents who had contacted the county council and were told that there were none available to them."

It has been subsequently been learnt that there were sand bags in Henley but there was no plan in place to advise residents how to obtain them. The Rotary Club, the Cricket Club, Henley Forest Football Club and Henley NEWS On-line are all organisations which could, in the future, co-ordinate the distribution of sand bags. Perhaps, this is a topic for the next annual Parish Meeting.

Many towns and village across Warwickshire suffered far worse than Henley, particularly badly hit were Stratford upon Avon, Leamington Spa, Welford on Avon, and Evesham. The Environment Agency says it could not have prepared for the scale of the flooding. But critics say ministers failed to prepare for the crisis. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the final bill for damage and disruption was expected to run into "hundreds of millions".

Countless residents helped their neighbours and complete strangers. On behalf of our regular 1,200 readers, Henley NEWS On-line thanks all those good citizens of Henley and beyond for their help and good fellowship. Below are pictures taken on Friday and emailed to Henley NEWS On-line by our readers.

Lynch Gate at St Nicholas Church

Duncan Bainbridge delivers sand bags

A torrent runs down Back Lane

The Market Place

The High Street

Prince Harry Road footbridge

The River Alne by Prince Harry Road

Stratford Road Bridge over Oldberrow Brook

Beaudesert Lane by St John's

Beaudesert Lane

Johnsons Coach towed by tractor on Warwick Road

Photos Alan Robson, Malcolm Coulter, Ray Holding, John Love and Bill Leech

The Manor of Henley-in-Arden

Court Leet and Court Baron

Court Circular

Published by Authority of the High Bailiff

I wish to echo the Editor’s thanks to those individuals and businesses which worked to help distressed folk to survive and recover from the floods. On behalf of the town, I would also like to thank all those property owners and occupiers who have cleaned up the street outside their own properties so well and within a very short time.

The sheer volume of water beggared belief. The Rector, Rev. John Ganjavi reported being almost swept off his feet in the torrent round the Beaudesert Church Hall. This building suffered badly – there was perhaps one foot of water in it at its peak. It has a wooden floor, the drying out may prove very difficult. Elsewhere, the floor of St John’s nave was under water up to but not onto the chancel step. The basement of the Guild Hall is now layered with mud. I am not yet sure of the position in the Library, which was flooded.

As a mountaineer, I have always been interested in land layout, watersheds and land drainage patterns. The Alne is a short sharp river: it comes up quickly and goes down quickly. Its valley is not large and nor is the catchment area feeding into it. At Blackford Mill, the inundated home of the Court Leet’s Butterweigher Graham Smith and Kate, it looked as though the volume of water passing down the valley had increased at least fifty fold. My wife Ann had a precarious trip back from Stratford early on Friday afternoon and from what she described most of the road flooding was not obviously related to gradient in the road. Some of the larger pools were on high spots in the road. It appeared to be just short term surges of runoff from the adjoining land, unable to get away by way of road drainage – and some of it was already impassable at that fairly early stage in the day.

The Alne appears to have left its bed somewhere near the Bird in Hand, and re-entered it lower down. It then emerged again above the Buckley Green turnoff, where it was apparently very deep, and stayed on the road into the town, doing most damage on the East side. If you look at the map contours it is hard to understand this pattern of behaviour. Can anyone explain?

Keith Wedgebury of “Wedgie’s Warwickshire” fame on Coventry and Warwickshire radio called on me to do a short live interview about the sequel to the floods and I reported as much as I knew. This was his second visit in a week: previously he had called by arrangement to test a telephone line for some local radio broadcasts, on various subjects, to follow later in the summer (as it is laughingly called!). The plan is to put a temporary receiving station at the Heritage Centre and do broadcasts from various points around the town, on topics of interest.

The picture right shows Keith checking out the line, which was pronounce satisfactory for the proposed purpose.

Ray Holding

To view the Court Leet website, go to www.henley-in-arden.org/court-leet

District Councillor Thirlwell

It goes without saying that last Friday will be a day that none of us will forget in a long time. 

On behalf of District and County Councillors, I would like to say a sincere thank you to the emergency services who rescued some of our senior residents, The Baptist Church, who opened up their hall to serve hot drinks, those businesses that were able to open who offered shelter and hospitality, County Emergency services that opened up the High School and ran a refuge centre especially for those non residents that found themselves stranded in Henley and to the residents of Henley who ensured that neighbours and friends were safe and gave strangers refuge. 

Now the clear up has started and for some it will be a long process.  A free collection service has been but in place by the District Council for the removal of flood damage possessions, to make use of this service please contact 01789 260380/1.  Only use this service after your insurance company has given authorisation to dispose of flood damaged goods.

The End of Term Splash

Wootton Wawen Preschool held its end of school year party for the Children on Friday Morning. This quickly turned from a summer bash to a very wet Splash as the car park and road past the village hall became a river.

The pre-school is next to the Primary school, and many parents were wading through water to rescue the children from both schools. Luckily, we were able to get all the pre-school children out safely. The staff tried quickly to tidy the hall and ended up abandoning before they too were stuck in the floods.

At 7:30 am on Saturday (the day I was going on holiday with the family), we received a call saying the area under the stage in the hall was full of water, approx 6”. Lan and I quickly got down there to find 6” was in reality around 12”. The area under the stage is where all the preschool equipment is stored, along with spare clothes etc. Trish (the supervisor) and her 3 boys followed us into the hall and we started to remove equipment out to dry. Jill and Rob then joined us so it was all hands to the deck to start sorting out the good and bad bits of equipment.

The area was pumped dry, thanks to Keith Baker (Trish’s husband) which made clearing up a little easier. Every thing soft (clothes, paper, soft toys etc) was sorted some can be saved with a good wash, but much of this had to be binned. Everything Wooden is now drying with the hope we can still use it and some items made of plastic are waiting for us to give them a good wash.

What was hard, was I picked up from the water a child’s hand print on a cut out piece of paper, something the children do with great pleasure. It just had to go in the bin.

The funniest part of the day was when the pipe from the pump came off and we had a fountain, with me at the bottom of it desperately trying to get the pipe back in. (Thanks for the T-shirt Emma)

Can I say a big thank you to Jill & Rob Kingscott, Trish & Keith Baker (+ their 3 lads), Lan and the 2 families who looked after our 3 children for helping get the Pre-school back on track for September.

Just as everyone else affected, we now have to make our insurance claim for new toys, but if you are a firm who has spare computer paper that the children can write on, let us know as we lost a lot of our paper in the water.

We will be back to normal service on September 5th so please if you want your child to attend a preschool (from 2years 9 months to school age) come and have a look or call 07752 381205 for more info. We will not let it stop our great little pre-school from running!


Andy Langford - Chairman, Preschool Committee

Phenomenal Demand for Henley Websites

Chart showing weekly demand for the last 52 weeks

The Henley NEWS On-line website and the official Henley Gateway website at www.henley-in-arden.org both received unprecedented high demands during the last few days, as the chart right shows. As a result, the capacity of both sites has had to be increased.

Henley NEWS On-line has offered its services free to the JPC for any future similar emergency, as it has the communication systems in place to reach a large proportion of the community with an email broadcast almost instantaneously.

The Henley Gateway website has been updated and now contains pages and links about Emergency Planning. It is hoped that more information about the emergency plans for the area can be included at a later date.

Henley library remains closed

The Henley-in-Arden library is to remain closed while damage caused by the flooding is repaired. The library has been damaged by mud brought in with the water and is likely to be closed for four weeks for redecoration and replacement of carpet.

Warwickshire County Council is aksing residents in flood hit areas not to worry about returning overdue books. Updates will be posted on the library website accessed from the link below.

Warwickshire Libraries website

Floodline Automated Phone Call Fails

My aunt, a capable and independent 90 year old, lives in Wootton Wawen. After being flooded in 1998, she registered with Floodline and was sent confirmation and her secret password. She assumed that she would receive an automated telephone message if she were in danger of flooding again. (Isn't this the whole purpose of Floodline?). My sister and I telephoned her frequently during the afternoon, but she was monitoring the river level, and assured us that it was at a safe level. At 7pm, it all changed; within minutes the river level came right up, and water started pouring into her house. And not one squeak from Floodline. By that time, of course, we could not reach her.

Not a particularly dramatic flood story, but my concern is the absence of information from Floodline. I don't know if you have received much feedback from your readers, but I would be extremely interested to hear if any other people were registered with Floodline and whether they received any warning. It wouldn't have stopped the flooding, but a bit of notice would have enabled us to get to her and help move furniture, carpets, etc. As it was, we spent the night worrying about a 90 year old paddling round a dark, wet house all by herself.

Sue Osborne

Beware the Doorstep Caller in the Floods Aftermath

As the floods recede and Warwickshire begins to return to normal, Warwickshire Police are reminding residents to beware of the doorstep caller who may use the opportunity to trick householders out of their money and steal items from their houses.

Detectives are investigating two incidents that occurred on Saturday where callers, claiming to be from the "Water Board" have gained access to peoples homes.

It is unclear if the floods were part of the persuasion tactics to gain entry to the houses, but these incidents remind us of all that offenders will use a variety of reasons to con their way into homes.

A man knocked on the door of a house in Knowle Hill in Hurley at approximately 12.30 on Saturday saying he needed to switch the water off. He showed the householder some kind of card purporting to be an identity card. The victim who is a 92 year old man, let the man in and showed him to the water supply before leaving him on his own.

After the offender had left, the householder discovered that £300 cash had been stolen by the offender - who was described as a white man in his 20's, about 5'6" tall, medium build, with short black hair, clean shaven and was possibly wearing a black jacket.
In Warwick on Saturday, a 91 year old woman had several thousand pounds stolen by men who the lady believed to be from the Water Board.

Around 14:45 hours the woman was in her kitchen in Antelope Gardens, when a man knocked on her window and asked to be allowed into the house. He showed the lady some kind of identification but as the lady is partially sighted, she is unsure what the id stated. Two men went into the house and one told her all all her taps and her shower needed to be turned on until the water turned blue. They also put her heating on. One of the men kept her talking in the kitchen and the other man went into her lounge and bedroom.

The lady became suspicious when the second man opened a dresser drawer. She pressed her alert button and the men left. She discovered that approximately £3000 had been stolen.

Chief Supt David Whitehouse, head of Community Safety said: "Householders must always be wary of anyone who calls unexpectedly at their homes, and especially following emergencies like the recent floods when offenders have the perfect excuse to trick their way into people's homes. They will use a variety of tactics like checking the water pressure, checking the electricity supply, or the gas supply or stating they need to turn the water off because of a leak further down the road. Always ask for official identification from anyone at the door. If they are genuine they won't mind. Don't be embarrassed to check it thoroughly and call the company to make sure the caller is genuine. It is also a good idea to register with Severn Trent's recently launched Password Scheme to easily check that the caller does genuinely represent Severn Trent."

To use the Password Scheme householders should register with the company by telephoning 01332 686043. The resident will be given an individual password - known only to them and to Severn Trent Water Authority. Any employee from the company calling at the house will use the password as proof that they are a genuine employee. In addition, all Severn Trent Water employees carry a photo identity card, and make appointments with the householder prior to attending.

Issued by Warwickshire Police

Recovery begins in Stratford District

The following press release has been received from the District Council.

Following the severe weather conditions of the last couple of days and high amount of rainfall phase two of the emergency plan begins with the recovery operation.

“We sympathise with the circumstances many people find themselves in and the emergency services together with local authorities are working to help bring communities' and individual householder's lives back to normal,” says Paul Lankester, Chief Executive of Stratford-on-Avon District Council. We are now moving to the preparations for the recovery stage of this emergency, and we have a targeted operational plan to help bring this back to normal. This moves into effect today. This will initially focus on health aspects, as well as trying to ensure people who have been evacuated from their homes or unable to get to their home can move back and start to arrange any aspects of the clean up from their point of view.”

Some tips during the recovery operation:

  • Do not enter your home until it has been confirmed if it is safe to do so. Your home cannot be pumped out until the land and highway drainage system is able to drain away water.
  • If you are worried about whether your home has been contaminated by sewage please contact Stratford District Council's Flooding Hotline on 01789 260380/1.
  • Contact your insurance company to find out if there are any procedures you have to follow for a claim - do not dispose of anything until you have been told you can do so by your insurer.
  • If furniture and other household goods have been soiled or damaged beyond repair, please contact the Stratford District Council Hotline on 01789 260380/1 to arrange a special collection. This should only be done after Insurers have confirmed this is an appropriate course of action.

District Council refuse collections will continue as far as possible as normal (see previous release). For up to date information please see the Stratford District Council website on www.stratford.gov.uk.

Flood insurance advice for Warwickshire residents

Residents in Warwickshire who have been affected by the weekend’s flooding are being advised by Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Trading Standards on what they should do if they have suffered flood damage.

Ruined or damaged carpets, furniture, electrical items and other personal items are some of the things homeowners will now want to try and claim for on their insurance policies.

First priorities…

  • Contact your contents and building insurer on their emergency helpline as soon as possible. They will provide assistance on making a claim and, if necessary, they should also help with alternative emergency accommodation (this is normally covered under a household policy).
  • If you don’t know the name of your insurance company, speak to your broker, insurance adviser, mortgage lender or bank (direct debit/standing order payments can be used by them to identify your insurer) who may be able to provide details.
  • If you are in rented accommodation, speak to your landlord or local authority where you pay your rent.
  • Your insurer will expect you to take reasonable steps to protect property. Therefore, take easily moveable objects upstairs and, if possible, use sandbags to hold back the water. For the sake of safety, make sure the electrical supply is switched off at the mains and equipment unplugged.
  • As for cars and other vehicles, comprehensive insurance should cover flood damage. However, third party cover won't pay out if your vehicle is damaged by flood.

When flood waters have receded…

  • You can take up carpets, but you must retain them so that the insurance company loss adjuster can see them and verify the claim.
  • It is very important that you keep all damaged items rather than throw them away, for the same reason. If necessary, store them outside, in your garden or elsewhere.
  • Keep a record of the damage. Ideally take photos or video of the flood damage. If you don't have a camera to hand, take notes of what happened and the damage caused.
  • If emergency pumping or repair work is necessary, you should have this done. You don't need to go through your insurance company for this, but you should be able to claim the cost back from your policy. Keep all your receipts and paperwork.
  • Flooding can cause structural damage. The roof line is often a good indicator, check for any changes. If you suspect there is a problem, inform your insurer and get the property checked out as soon as possible.
  • You should make claims directly to your insurer, in most cases there is no need for using service companies to negotiate on your behalf. Claims management companies will charge you for their service, and if you decide to use them, you should ensure that they are registered by the Financial Services Authority.

If you have to leave your house…

  • Most household insurance policies will cover the cost of alternative accommodation, if the property is uninhabitable. Insurers recognize that customers need regular payments to cover accommodation costs and emergency expenses, so contact your insurer directly and explain the situation.
  • Make sure your insurance company knows where to contact you. If you have a mobile phone, make sure they have the number.
  • Leave your house secure. Lock windows and doors and turn off electricity and other utilities.

Useful contacts:

  • For further flood insurance advice, visit the Association of British Insurers website at www.abi.org.uk
  • For advice on your consumer rights telephone Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit:
  • For advice on what to do if you have experienced flooding and for information on help available, visit Warwickshire County Council’s Emergency Planning Unit website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/epu
  • For advice on repairing and restoring flood damaged property contact the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or visit their website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk
  • If you are in dispute with your insurance company, for example in relation to a claim, your can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service for advice and to make a complaint. Telephone: 0845 080 1800 or visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

Issued by Warwickshire Trading Standards

Jazz in the Garden Memorial Hall

The annual Jazz in the Garden event took place not in the Guild Hall garden but in the Memorial Hall because of the bad weather.

Photos by Tony Capps

Johnsons gearing up for World Scout Jamboree

Johnsons are getting ready to play their part in what has been billed as the biggest scouting event ever, in the UK for the last 100 years. The World Scout Jamboree takes place in Essex from 27th July until 8th August and is a massive celebration of a centenary of scouting. Up to 40,000 visitors from troops all over the world, only six countries are not participating, will be gathering there. Johnsons have been tasked with supplying some 140 vehicles to help transport the scouts, visitors and parents around the site and on excursions during the period of the event.

Pete Johnson, Director of Johnsons Coach & Bus Travel said " this represents a major logistical operation which required meticulous planning over many months, working with the Scouts Association and other coach & bus operators. We will be supplying 22 of our own vehicles and sub contracting the rest, but we have been asked to manage our part of the operation which involves all 140 vehicles and their drivers. This necessitates drivers, vehicles and a management team staying on site for the duration of the Jamboree. We have also set up a special team here in Henley to co-ordinate activities. He went onto say that we are delighted to be working once again with the Scouts Association, they have put their trust in us to look after a major part of the transport arrangements and we were appointed following a detailed assessment of our performance at Eurojam in 2005 when we carried out similar work, but on a smaller scale."

This project represents another significant business gain for Johnsons who have established themselves, over the last few years, as one of the leading independent family owned coach & bus operators in the region.

Planning Watch

There are currently two significant planning proposals, which some residents believe will lead to a considerable change to the character of Henley.

Market Redevelopment

Residents, particularly in the Prince Harry Road area, remain concerned at proposed low cost housing scheme, which was described by one of the developers' staff as a "ghetto". Subsequently, severe criticism was heaped on local residents by our MP and other officials, who did not realise that this inappropriate description was first used by one the developer's staff.

Trevor Hughes, Executive Director of South Warwickshire Housing Association, has provided the following statement to Henley NEWS On-line:

"We will not comment on un-attributed hearsay or wild allegations, particularly when certain opponents to this important development are issuing deliberately misleading information.

We are, of course, keeping residents informed about the plans for the Cattle Market site. That was the purpose of the public consultation events held recently. It provided an opportunity to show local residents prospective designs and schematics and capture their views about them.

Once this feedback – gained from over 200 Henley residents - has been analysed, the plans will be reviewed against it. Any changes then required will be made before Taylor Wimpey, the site developers, submit a planning application to Stratford District Council in September.

Until such time as planning permission has been granted, no building work will take place.”

Warks College's "Sports Shed"

The TIC (Town Improvement Committee) has indicated that it will object to the current proposed new sports hall which is approximately twice the height of a double deck bus. A local architect considers it would be possible to reduce the roof height by about 12 ft without any loss of facilities. The college continues to ignore requests from residents for the promised 2nd meting to review the artist's impressions and to discuss the removal of the existing sports hall once the new building has been completed.

The District Council's website still shows this scheme as "Application Invalid On Receipt".

To Read Previous Editions Back to 29th October 2004       Click Here

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More Tales from The Land Girls

Curtsies and Kisses

Nancy Cooper telling Pam her Land Army Secrets

The second ex-land girls’ reunion at Oldberrow House on 30th June was a wonderful opportunity for the exchange of reminiscences of youth; these came tumbling out in bubbles of laughter and in a jumble of non sequiturs so that it was hard to follow and piece together all the fascinating stories.

Gwen Giles (nee Hughes), of the bull fame, remembers that the land owner of the farm at Clifford Chambers was Colonel Rees- Mogg, whose wife was quite an aristocratic lady, the daughter of Mr. Wills, the Wills Cigarettes manufacturer. She was crippled for she was pushed around in a wheelchair. When either she or her husband appeared all the women had to curtsy and the men had to doff their caps. This was first encountered in church, which everyone had to attend. Being a city girl Gwen had never come across this relic of feudalism, which persisted in the country. A modern 17 year old, if told to curtsy, would be more likely to put out her tongue than to curtsy but girls were relatively less assertive then and anxious to conform.

Pat Dalton (nee Figeon) and Dot Greaves (nee Bevin) heartily concurred with Gwen, but Dot said “Oh! It was the best fun in your life. Mum and dad were strict at home and here we were all girls together; we had a good laugh.” There were dances at Long Marston barracks or at the R.A.F. camp at Little Rissington where there was jiving and jitterbugging, which would have horrified their parents. The girls would be picked up in Army or Air Force trucks to get them there, for they had no other means of transport.

Pat told of one Air man whose line was “Would you like to see my car? It’s outside.” Pat, who was quite naive agreed but, surprise, surprise, found it was just an excuse for a kiss and a cuddle. Someone else interposed “That one gave me a French kiss, at that.” The girls were very innocent, some believing that they could become pregnant from a French kiss. This could be true, I suppose, if you think of the old adage, ‘one thing leads to another’. Pat continued her story, saying that she extricated herself from that car pretty quickly. “The best contraceptive was the word ‘No’, for the worst ignominy was to get pregnant; in fact, it was our biggest fear.” she said.

The girls were keen to keep their pert figures and another commonly held misconception was that they could avoid the downward drift, or ‘the droopings’ by wearing their bras in bed at night. Some of them were certainly doing that in the story of Old Flannel Foot.

The hostel they were in had fire escapes every where. In summer windows would be left open and the girls began to suspect that someone was getting in. Many, who lived locally would go home for the week end and the incidents only seemed to happen at week ends. One night someone’s pyjamas had been cut, another night bra straps were cut and all while the occupants of the beds were sleeping the exhausted sleep, bourn of hard, physical work in the fresh air. There was such a pandemonium in the morning that the police were brought in. On one occasion a police man stayed for the night, sleeping in the sick bay, but no one was ever found. Some of the girls’ boy friends would lurk outside after lights out to try to catch the miscreant, laying themselves open to the possibility of being apprehended as the perpetrator themselves. Margaret said she was sharing a room with another girl when she saw their door open silently. She called to her friend to wake up but the door closed just as silently. “No one ever heard a footfall. It was all very spooky.” she said.

Pat and Dot were at Salford Priors, where they would meet some of the remaining village lads in the Bell Inn for a drink on summer evenings. An orange and soda cost 6d, which sometimes left them short of money for the dance on a Saturday night. If they stayed out late they had to climb in through their dormitory window at night; the problem was that, although there were plenty of fire escapes there wasn’t one to their room. They would climb up the fire escape so far but then inch their way across a drain pipe one at a time. There was one drain pipe above, which they could hold with their hands and one they could shuffle across on their feet. On reaching their window it was a case of throwing yourself in head first. Dot said she hurt her wrist quite badly one night but daren’t get any treatment for fear their strategy would be discovered. She said they had managed to obtain a key to their room but the front door of the house was locked at 10.pm so it’s only purpose was to lock the door on the way out to fool the warden into thinking that they were all safely tucked up and locked in for the night.

Pam Wale, nee Manton, was at Oldberrow in 1947, which, although the war was over, was a time of terrible deprivation and food shortages for the winter of ’47 was the coldest in living memory. The Women’s Land Army was still needed, indeed that year some of them were delivering milk to country areas. Many of the agricultural workers had been killed or wounded during the war and many were still awaiting their demobilisation papers.

Pam said she worked for Clyde Higgs, where she was given tea to drink from a jam jar. She was then moved to a hostel near Henley railway station and later to Snitterfield.

After lunch at Oldberrow House we all went to the Heritage Centre, where Ken and I gave them a guided tour and they were able to read their stories in the archive files. There were twenty people, including some husbands and Elsie Cowley’s son and daughter-in-law, who had driven her from Oxfordshire. They had tea and cake and another good chat, for many had come long distances to get here. Some walked along our historic high street to see the places we’d talked about and to walk down memory lane.

Pam Kearsley

Rotary Club - Shakespeare Express Excursion

Additional Excursion on 2nd September - BOOK NOW

The Rotary Club of Henley-in-Arden is organising a second special excursion on the last Shakespeare Express of the season on 2nd September. This service will depart from either from Henley or Stratford, returning to Henley. The route will be Stratford to Birmingham, via Claverdon and Hatton, returning to either Henley or Stratford.

Sue Dalby Catering is offering passengers High Quality Lunch Boxes for both excursions. Orders for lunch boxes should be made direct with Sue Dalby Catering 01564 793746, email: sue@dalby.net

Please use the form below to reserve your seats for the 2nd September.   © Photo right by Clive Hanley

The High Bailiff, after travelling on the first train, said "If readers have not yet booked to do this trip, they should do so quickly: it is definitely not to be missed."

Download a booking form for the Shakespeare Express

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Grumpy Old Man Comments

What ever would John Reith (founder of the BBC) say?

Just how much has been spent on telephone competitions that were falsely open during many BBC (and other channels). Just how will this affect Children in Need, Comic Relief etc?
Yes staff have been suspended, all competitions have been withdrawn and a major investigation is underway.
But what do we the Great British public get back? So far nothing. So what I suggest is that our wonderful Government should force the Beeb to give something back. So how about the license fee instead of £135.50 how about next year £75? A cool calm 50% reduction for us.
A few staff getting the push will be remembered by them for some time but by the chief’s in the Beeb……maybe not.
But if we had a cheap year by way of an apology, someone at the top will remember for sometime.


Grumpy Old Man

Congratulations Nigel

Dear Editor,

My congratulations to Nigel Hastilow for an excellent column in edition 164, entitled: ‘We won't get fooled again’.

The increasingly embittered expression on the PM-in-waiting’s face in recent years has told its own tale; as the battle for power with his former soul-mate grew ever more poisonous and the PM’s crown remained tantalisingly just beyond his grasp.

One is left now though with the impression that on entering No.10 he happened upon one of TB’s cast-off smiles, tried it on and, like an ill-fitting set of dentures from a cadaver, has been trying to tame the hideous rictus ever since. I refer of course to the apparition of his new assassin’s smile following, we are told, a timely visit to the orthodontist (or Mr. Blair’s dénouement, according to which version you care to believe). What is evident from his actions to date is that behind the new and discordant mask lurks a totally self-absorbed man who cares little for the wellbeing or wishes of the people of the once ‘United’ Kingdom; still less for anyone ‘outwith’ Scotland.

In the coming years I fear that life under Brown’s premiership will be a singularly painful experience for those of us unable to flee the increasing ‘persecution of the majority’ (last one out of the UK please turn the lights off) as we see our livelihoods, savings and any prospects of an inheritance for our children taken from us and squandered on more and more lost causes. Who said that Communism was dead?

However, unless there is a dramatic change in the fortunes of the opposition then, as things stand presently, it would seem that at least another 5 years under the heel of this ruthless autocrat and his servile followers is inevitable.

Why? - because (tragically) the Conservatives seem unable to field a more convincing leader than the has-beens and light-weights they have presented us with in recent years, or to put it another way: Major, Hague, Duncan-Smith, Howard and now …. just what exactly does Cameron stand for? Do these individuals really represent the crème de la crème of the Conservative party - the very best it has to offer? If so, what does it say for the rest? Does the vacuous, self-promoting ‘Dave’ actually have any firm policies? Is there any substance behind the ‘trust-me-because-I’m-slick’ presentation? To date he appears to have had better fortune in ‘mushing’ a pack of huskies across the Arctic tundra than he has had in leading his fellow opposition members; perhaps he found his true metier there as I suspect he could find himself out in the cold for a very long time after the next election.

Doubtless we all remain grateful that he hasn’t thus far resorted to twee photo-shoots in a baseball cap like previous incumbents, or Heaven help us, following his recent embarrassing pronouncements: as an inebriated hoodie awaiting a good hug. Who knows though what desperation might yet drive him to….? If, as anticipated, a snap General Election is called in the near future, the electorate cannot be expected to vote Conservative solely because they are weary of Nu-Lab’s record of broken promises, sleaze and increasingly punitive taxation.

People have a right to know what the Conservatives stand for, to be able to see a genuine alternative; a representative government with a strong but responsive leader, one that will listen and react to the wishes of the majority that voted it into office rather than pandering to the whims of a now emboldened and increasingly vociferous minority. Try as I might though, I can not see that happening under a smoke-and-mirrors Cameron-led party; people are more likely to vote for the devil they know….. and it is easy to see why, when all you have left is a choice between the ‘devil’ and the deep-blue twee!

Sincerely yours,


The Nigel Hastilow Column

Twisting by the pool

Nigel HastilowFrench health and safety laws almost killed me last week. They are supposed to prevent children from drowning in swimming pools; they almost saw me skewered by flying aluminium poles. This is the law of unintended consequences: French legislation to save toddlers from a watery demise nearly resulted in a strange and unusual disaster. At the moment when it seemed briefly possible I was about to breathe my last, my whole life did not flash before my eyes. The only thought to enter my mind was: "Tourist in bizarre holiday tragedy."

In France, every swimming pool, public or private, must be fenced in, covered over or otherwise protected. This is to stop small children drowning. It's happened before. They don't want it to happen again. So the French introduced a law to protect the health and safety of their toddlers. So when we reach our holiday villa in the middle of nowhere in the south of France, we are confronted by a pool covered by a great plastic sheet ribbed at regular intervals by aluminium poles.

To go swimming, we have to uncover the pool. The covering sheet is held down by straps attached to the wooden decking. They resemble nothing so much as the garters which hold up a pair of stockings (or so I am told). To uncover the pool, you have to undo the garters and wind up the plastic sheet and the poles. It's hard work and takes about 20 minutes. It's worth it on a hot day.

The first thing you do when you finally finish is leap into the water to cool down. However, we are in a very windy part of France and, as we all know, the weather this summer is unpredictable. In northern Languedoc, between Narbonne and Carcassonne, it's been warm but cloudy. And very, very windy. It's so windy you don't realise how hot it is. We were in a villa belonging to a friend of a friend. It's at the top of a steep and windy hill overlooking a vast expanse of mountain and rock. It is very windy. So windy the biggest industry in the area seems to be wind farms.

Even so, we didn't realise the wind was scary enough to whip up the plastic sheet over the swimming pool and send the aluminium poles flying into the air. But as we undid the garters prior to uncovering the pool, the entire sheet reared up like some alien monster and started kicking and whipping in the wild wind. The aluminium poles suddenly turned from light, easy-to-lift supports, into airborne spears threatening to nail me to the ground. The sheet and the poles flew towards me on a heavy gust of wind and for a moment I really did think my last sight on earth was a plastic "Jaws" about to devour me.

At the very least, I thought I'll be spending the next few weeks getting an in-depth view of the French health system. Luckily, the wind died as quickly as it came. The dangerous sheet of plastic and the killer aluminium flopped harmlessly into the swimming pool leaving us only with the problem of how to retrieve it again. It turns out that the need to prevent unsupervised toddlers from drowning is taken very seriously by the Government of France but it's not given quite the same priority by the people themselves.

According to a Brit who makes his living looking after swimming pools in the area (the "proper man" my wife insisted on calling in after our calamity), 95 per cent of them stay uncovered day and night. People have to buy the equipment but they can't be bothered with the rigmarole of trying to make it work. Some pools don't need covering. They're protected by sophisticated electronic sensors which raise the alarm if some unauthorised child falls in. Or some unauthorised rodent. Or leaf. Or if there is a power cut. Or for any one of a dozen other reasons.

Which is why everyone who has invested in such a system leaves it turned off in exactly the same way as those who are supposed to leave their pools covered actually keep them uncovered. As for the family which invested in any expensive five-piece domed affair to cover their pool, they never got beyond square one. A gust of wind caught them unawares as they were fitting it for the first time. Bits of heavy plastic flew in all directions, ripping a hole in the roof and smashing into one of their parked cars.

Clearly the law is any ass. If you want to stop children drowning in swimming pools, the simplest solution would be to supervise them properly. Yet in the world of health and safety - in this country as much as in France - politicians seem to think they can save us from ourselves with more rules and regulations.

In truth, all they ever do is allow us to invent new ways of demonstrating our stupidity. Like trying to remove a swimming pool cover in a heavy wind.

Nigel Hastilow      

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Alerts from Trading Standards


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Henley Crime Report
This crime summary is a look at the crimes of public interest that occurred on the Henley, Snitterfield and Tanworth policing area over the last 14 days. We do not as normal practice include crimes of shoplifting, bilking, domestic violence or fraud.

Between 1015 hours and midnight on 18th July 07 unknown offender/s approached a property on Poolhead Lane, Earlswood. They have then smashed a rear window and stolen a quantity of electrical items. They have also used car keys to steal a blue Hyundai Coupe.
Incident number 0003 of 19th July 07 refers.

Between midday and 1920 hours on 20th July 07 unknown offender/s approached a property on Malthouse Lane, Earlswood. They have then forced rear door, conducted an untidy search of the property and stolen an amount of cash.
Incident number 577 of 23rd July 07 refers.

Prior to 1530 hours on 20th July 07 offender/s approached a property on Malthouse Lane, Earlswood. They have then gained access through the back door and stolen a quantity of money. They have also taken a car key and made an unsuccessful attempt to start an Audi motor vehicle. Offenders described as two young males wearing hoodies.
Incident number 462 of 20th July 07 refers.

Prior to 1430 hours on 23rd July 07 unknown offender/s approached a property in Ullenhall. They have then smashed rear patio doors and stolen a laptop computer from within.
Incident number 355 of 23rd July 07 refers.

At approximately 1845 hours on 23rd July 07 unknown offender/s approached a property on Doctors Hill, Tanworth in Arden. They then gained entry by kicking side door off its hinges. Once inside they have attempted to steal two LCD TVs but were unsuccessful as they were disturbed. They have then taken car keys and used them to steal an Audi A3.
Incident number 527 of 23rd July 07 refers.

Between 1900 hours on 12th July and 1830 hours on 17th July 07 unknown offender/s approached a stable block on Star Lane, Claverdon. They have then cut through security chain and stolen a Honda ride on mower.
Incident number 491 of 17th July 07 refers.

Between 1700 hours on 14th July and 0930 hours on 15th July 07 unknown offender/s approached business premises on High Street, Henley in Arden. They have then tried to remove ground floor window by removing the surrounding putty. They also tried to smash window but this had been laminated. Offender/s then reached through and removed several objects which they placed outside. Nothing believed stolen.
Incident number 212 of 15th July 07 refers.

Between 1700 hours on 16th July and 0720 hours on 17th July 07 unknown offender/s approached premises on Station Road, Henley in Arden. They have then used a digger to gain entry to a secure metal container and stolen a Stihl petrol driven disc cutter.
Incident number 129 of 17th July 07 refers.

Between 1700 hours on 23rd July and 0800 hours on 24th July 07 unknown offender/s have approached a school on Arden Road, Henley in Arden. They have then gained entry to a metal shed. Nothing believed stolen.
Incident number 123 of 24th July 07 refers.

Between 2100 hours on 10th July to 0730 hours on 11th July 07 unknown offender/s approached a field at the rear of public house in Bearley Cross, Wootten Wawen. They have then stolen a bale spike from the back of a tractor.
Incident number 218 of 13th July 07 refers.

At approximately 1535 hours on 13th July 07 offender/s approached a motor vehicle parked in layby near to butcher’s shop on The Green, Claverdon. They have then stolen the front registration plate.

Prior to 1540 hours on 13th July 07 two offenders have approached a motor vehicle parked at the surgery, Station Road, Claverdon. They have then stolen the rear registration plate. Possible description of offender – male aged 17-18 years, skinny, blond spiky hair wearing light green hooded jacket, jeans.
Incident number 411 of 13th July 07 refers. Offenders seen to drive off in black Fiat Leon.
Incident number 421 of 13th July 07 refers.

Between 1130 on 14th July and 1900 hours on 15th July 07 unknown offender/s approached a narrow boat moored near to public house in Wootton Wawen. They have then stolen a “Stephill” generator.
Incident number 495 of 15th July 07 refers.

Between 1800 hours on 15th July and 1600 hours on 17th July 07 unknown offender/s approached a property on Wood Lane, Aston Cantlow. They have then removed 2 x 12’ wide galvanised metal 7 bar gates.
Incident number 121 of 18th July 07 refers.

At approximately 1250 hours on 16th July 07 two male offenders approached a shop on Umberslade Road, Earlswood. They have then threatened the shopkeeper and stolen cash from the till. Offenders described as one white male, late 20’s, 5’5” – 6’ tall, lean build, hood covering face and head. Second male is afro Caribbean, 6’3” tall, heavy build, aged around 30 years, wearing black hooded top covering face, black jogging bottoms and gloves. One additional male remained in blue Audi motor vehicle outside premises.
Incident number 269 of 16th July 07 refers.

Between 16th July and 0900 hours on 17th July 07 unknown offender/s approached business premises on Stratford Road, Hockley Heath. They have then gained access via a hedge and stolen a quantity of copper and brass scrap.
Incident number 207 of 17th July 07 refers.

Between 1900 hours on 20th July and 1030 hours on 22nd July 07 unknown offender/s approached a silver Mercedes parked on Vicarage Hill, Tanworth in Arden. They have then stolen front registration plate.
Incident number 510 of 23rd July 07 refers.

Between 1800 hours on 23rd July and 0800 hours on 24th July 07 unknown offender/s
approached business premises on Bear Lane, Henley in Arden. They have then gained entry to the yard and gained access to four lorries by smashing the windows. Once inside they have then stolen a Tom Tom sat nav system, Scania spot lights and a quantity of cash.
Incident number 125 of 24th July 07 refers.

Henley In Arden Police will be holding a ‘drop in’ facility at Henley Police Station for you to come and discuss any issues or problems, within the community, with your local policing team! Please note due to renovation work at Henley Police Station there will be limited ‘police surgeries’. Should any members of the community have issues they wish to raise during this period they can contact PCSO Jelfs on 0771 7236118 or PC Bennett on 07920 531450. Surgeries will be as follows:-

Wednesday    8th Aug between 11 am – 1 pm
Wednesday 22nd Aug between 11 am – 1 pm

If you did have information regarding the displayed incidents, but for whatever reason do not wish to contact the police directly, then you can ring 0800 555 111 and give the information to the Crimestoppers Charity. Crimestoppers will then pass the information to the Police without revealing any details of the caller. You may also receive a reward.

If you have any information or have witnessed the above incidents, please can you contact Alcester Police on 01789 762207.  Thank you.


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Friday 27th July – preparation for Competition Day which is on Saturday 28th July, 2.00 – 5.00 p.m. in the Memorial Hall only £1 admission.

Our Coffee Morning will be on Saturday 4th August, from 10.00 a.m. till noon. Please call in, all are welcome.

Saturday 18th August – day visit by coach to RHS Garden at Wisley – cost only £15.00. Visitors welcome. A few seats still left. Contact 793903 for details.

Sunday 2nd September - details from train@henleynews.co.uk

HENLEY AND BEAUDESERT SOCIETY meets on the third Thursday of the month, 8.00 p.m. at the Baptist Church Hall from September to April. Visitors and new members welcome. Further details from Maggie Twigg 793373.

Next meeting 20th September “The Back to Backs in Birmingham” by Derek Clarke followed by a visit to the Back to Backs on 3rd October.

Saturday 20th October - Information from Marijana or Duncan Bainbridge 793539/794987.

Saturday 3rd November 2007 - Further details from John Johnson 792073.

Open to members (juniors and adults) of any standard. Full time coach. 7 courts open throughout the year mean that there is always a court available. No need to book. Club and American Tournaments held during summer months. League matches summer and winter. For details of membership please contact Judith Mathias 01564 792378
Evergreen ClubMeetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month in the Parish Hall, Beaudesert Lane at 2.15 p.m. The Club has around 80 members and organises a varied programme together with various outings. If you are interested in joining, please contact Gordon Trinder.

Arc you interested in gardening and flowers or just spending a pleasant evening watching a demonstrator arrange foliage and flowers? We meet on the second Tuesday each month at 7.30pm in The Memorial Hal, Station Road, Henley-in-Arden so why not come along and see for yourself. Visitors are always welcome £3.00. You do not have to be an active flower arranger to enjoy watching our demonstrators but if you do feel you would like to 'have a go' we hold occasional workshops. For further information, Contact Secretary - Annette Walker - 01564 792837

Meets Friday and Sunday from September to May in the Memorial Hall. Details contact Alan Barber on 793320. Thursday evenings from 7.30 –9.30 pm at Henley Community Primary School. Details please ring Pauline Barber on 793320.
Henley Cricket Club fields two teams in the Cotswold Hills League on a Saturday, and two teams in friendly fixtures on Sundays, from mid-April to mid-September. We are always on the lookout for new players, irrespective of age or ability. Anyone interested in joining our club should contact Kevin O'Brien on 01564-794903.
meets on Monday evenings from April to September at 6.30pm and plays until it is dark. The club is situated next to the Tennis Courts at the Sports and Social club ground on the A34 just outside Henley. The Club welcome new members, whether beginners or established players. For further information contact John Townson 01564 792407.
There are still vacancies in some areas of Henley-in-Arden for NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH Co-ordinators. If you are aware that  you are not covered in your area or are willing to be a co-ordinator. Please contact Annette Walker on 792837
Holds its monthly lunchtime meeting on third Thursday of each month from 11.30am to 2.15pm at the Henley Golf Club. There is a one hour networking session followed by a quality lunch and a informative speaker on a business topic. Full details at www.swbc.co.uk
Meets at the Golf Club on Monday evenings at 7pm.
New members are always welcome.
Please call: Robin Freeman on 01789 765411 or email robinf@ribi.org
Plays Duplicate Bridge of intermediate standard on Tuesday evenings at the the White Swan Hotel and usually find time for a tipple, which may or may not improve our play!!. Play commences at 7.15 promptly. There are normally 5 - 8 tables and the club does not issue master points.
For further information please contact the Secretary - Christine Whitehouse on 01564 792993.
Please tell all your friends about The Henley Diary. Events for future Henley Diary Dates should be sent to Diane Bayley at 6 St John's Close marked ‘Henley Diary’ email: stjohnnews@btinternet.com

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