HALTON VILLAGE NEWSLETTER
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2019
I hope that you are having a pleasant summer. It was good to see so many visitors enjoying our village gardens on July 21st in glorious sunshine. Hope-fully the remainder of the summer and the autumn will continue to be fine.
As I write this the 50th anniversary of the moon landing is being observed. With this in mind I am reminded of the forthcoming Perseids meteor shower which runs annually from July 17th to August 24th. This year it peaks on the night of August 12th and the morning of August 13th. It is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour. The Perseids are so bright and numerous that it can still be a good show even though the moon will almost be full. Best viewing will be in a dark sky after midnight and can appear anywhere in the sky. I remember witnessing the spectacle several years ago and it was like a fantastic firework display with meteors hurtling across the sky in a flash. Let’s hope that this year the sky will be clear of cloud.
THE PARISH OFFICE
The Parish Office is situated above the Village Hall in Old School Close. There is a supply of stamps in the office and a small letter scale. Parishioners can use the photocopier, 5p for an A4 black and white copy and 10p for colour. A3 is 10p for black and white and 20p for colour. The Parish Office is manned between 9.30am and 12.30pm Mon-Thurs. If there is a faulty street lamp please report it to the clerk, providing an exact location and the number on the lamppost if possible. Mrs Fiona Lippmann, Clerk to the Council can be contacted on 01296 626073 Clerk@haltonpc.org.uk
The Village Hall is available to hire. It can seat 80 people and there is a smaller meeting room for up to 10 people seated. There is free wi-fi and a well equipped kitchen. Please contact Mike Jimson on 01296 622702 or firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
Sunday 21 July saw thirteen village gardeners throwing open their gates to welcome almost 200 visitors from near and far.
After the rain on Friday the skies cleared and the sun made an appearance making the gardens look even more colourful and amazing.
Gardens ranged from small courtyards with beautiful and productive pots, through cottage planting, manicured lawns, garden statues and hard landscaping to a full vegetable patch, via a wide range of water features. The little train and the rabbits were enjoyed by children and adults alike. All rounded off with a cuppa and a piece of delicious home made cake.
Thanks go to everyone who supported the event in any way at all. We raised just over a £1000, a record, which will be divided between several local charities.
Ann, Jane and Nicola
Saturday 18th May was a lovely sunny dry day for the annual village clean up. The Parish Council would like to thank all of the villagers who turned out to tidy the curtilage of their own properties. And a big thank you to those of you who also weeded and cleaned the public areas, which included; the bus shelter, the village hall frontage, the bridge and the main road (it is a long and winding road) through the village. This is a worthwhile annual event, which helps to maintain the beauty of our environment. We know that some people were unaware of the date, or did not have enough notice to take part. We have therefore set next year’s date of Saturday 16th May, 2020.
We will update the online village calendar which can be viewed here: www.haltonvillagenews.co.uk/events. It will also appear in the future dates section of the newsletter. We hope this will encourage more people to get involved in this beneficial village activity.
Following on from Jill Pearce’s item on textiles in the previous edition of the newsletter, Caroline Waddams tells how she became interested in spinning wool and weaving on a peg loom.
When we moved to Halton Village, nearly 40 years ago now, I was asked if I’d like to learn bell ringing. This started my interest in traditional crafts and pastimes and since then I have attended courses on coracle making, spoon carving and three legged stool making!
A couple of years ago my daughter Kate acquired two sheep. When I asked her what she intended doing with the fleeces once the sheep had been shorn she replied that there wasn’t much you could do with just two fleeces. At that point I decided it might be fun to learn how to spin.
I spent the best part of a day with an American lady living in the north of the county who offered spinning courses and returned home with a spinning wheel which I’d bought there and then. I wasn’t sure that spinning was for me but the spinning wheel was a very reasonable price and I decided that if I didn’t buy it then I probably wouldn’t bother to search for one else where.
I discovered a spinning group who meet weekly at Haddenham Library and the organiser seems to be a spinning guru. She knows everything about spinning and even travels to the USA to attend conferences on the subject. She has been an excellent mentor for me and after about six months I found that I had become a reasonably competent spinner.
The two fleeces have taken a year to process. It’s a very labour intensive business. The fleece has to be washed carefully, in small batches and dried. All this is best done on a hot sunny day. It then has to be combed which seems to take forever because the sheep are kept in a paddock with lots of trees and bushes and the fleeces are full of twigs and pine needles! After combing, the wool is spun and once there are two bobbins full of spun yarn the two are plied together. The yarn can be dyed at this point too.
Although I learnt to knit as a brownie back in the mists of time, I’ve never knitted since. So any wool that I’ve spun has had to be given to a knitter. I’ve felt that it’s a bit of a shame that I haven’t seen the complete process through from shearing to knitted garment and wanted to be able to produce something useful myself. At this point a lady at the spinning group sug-gested I use a peg loom and brought one in for me to try. I found that the weaving was much quicker than spinning and I was able to produce some-thing like a cushion cover within a day. So I’ve been weaving for the last few months in order to use up last year’s fleeces in preparation for this year’s. To date I have woven a floor mat, a long seating mat to place along a bench and three cushion covers.
It is satisfying to be able to participate in old traditional crafts like spinning and weaving and, although I am still very much a beginner, I have enjoyed being able to make use of Kate’s fleeces which otherwise would have been put on the compost heap. I’m looking forward to collecting this year’s fleeces and perhaps spending more time experimenting with dyes, especially learning to use local, native plants.
A CHURCHYARD RESIDENT—BY DON KNIGHT
On a hot summer’s day in 1929 an 11 year old Thomas Murray, nicknamed Thos or Tucker, lay on his back in the field that separates the village school from the airfield in Halton. He was watching a biplane performing aerobatics directly above him and suddenly he knew he wanted to be a pilot. He hadn’t been interested in flying before, even though his father had been an officer in the RFC and then the RAF since the first world war and was stationed at Halton at the time. He managed to persuade the flight commander to give him a trip in an Avro biplane. Impressed by the young man’s enthusiasm he agreed to give him a few lessons despite his age. Soon he had six hours in his log book, which was to stand him in good stead when he joined the RAF to be trained as a pilot in the mid thirties. Another six hours tuition saw him go solo at Cranwell.
Just before the outbreak of war, Thos was posted to a squadron flying Handley Page Hampdens. He learnt to fly this light bomber standing be-hind the pilot, looking over his shoulder as there were no two seater versions. After an hour he was deemed fit to go solo. Bombing and navigation courses followed. The Hampden was known as the Flying Suitcase due to its strange shape which had a bulky fuselage to just behind the wing then a slender tail boom. It was pleasant to fly and was to become the mainstay of his early missions, at first as a bomb aimer/navigator. One mission to Nor-way to bomb a battleship almost ended in disaster when the weather closed in. They were one aircraft in a two squadron formation. Flying at around 400 feet their leader realised there was no chance of finding their target and turned for home. Lost and burning too much fuel flying into a strong head-wind they spotted a trawler. The CO decided to fly alongside the trawler and let the tail gunner jump out on a parachute and swim to the ship to ask the way to Scotland!! Luckily he spotted the coast through the murk and the plan was abandoned Their ordeal was far from over as some Spitfires did not recognise the Hampdens and shot down two of them. One landed a Scottish fishing boat and the pilot swam over to be told to “B***** off and go and drown in your own time’’. A hearty fusillade of Anglo Saxon convinced the seaman that he was British.
In May they were tasked with dropping a mine on a ship that was discharging troops onto the dock in Oslo. On the low level run in with Thos sitting in the nose of the aircraft directing the pilot, a tracer bullet came through the Perspex missing him by millimetres. Half blinded and choking on the fumes he still managed to guide the pilot in. Thos was awarded the DFC for this.
By mid 1940 Thos had completed 39 missions and Command decided to give him a rest from ops at a training squadron. He was horrified and ignored the order and managed to do several more missions before the authorities caught up with him.
The toll on the pilots was illustrated when he met his mother in a Liverpool hotel and she didn’t recognise him. Fortunately his sister was there as well and she did and an emotional reunion ensued.
In 1942 the King visited his squadron and asked Thos what he would do after the war. He was completely nonplussed as it didn’t occur to him that he would survive.
After a year on ground duties at Bomber Command HQ he was given command of 138 Squadron at Tempsford which was part of the SOE (Special Operations Executive). Their task was to drop agents and supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe. To fly over enemy territory at low level, whilst being harried by night fighters, and find a clearing in a wood or a field where a few resistance fighters stood waving hand torches, takes flying of the highest order. Although Thos never thought of himself as brave he had the highest respect for the agents he dropped.
Just before the end of the war Thos had a few sorties dropping supplies to the Dutch who were starving. A local truce had been negotiated with the Germans and he said it felt odd to fly slowly at low level over areas where they would have been blasted from the sky just a few weeks before.
The 20th April marked the 76th and last operational mission he flew. He remained in the RAF for a time after the war and eventually got involved in civil aviation.
I find it a nice coincidence that Wing Commander Thomas Murray DSO DFC and Bar should be at rest in our graveyard a few yards from where as a boy in the 1930s he decided to become a pilot. Walk over to the far corner of the new graveyard and pass the time of day with him. We owe him and his fellows a debt.
The Parish Council is looking to recruit some help to maintain the website. This would involve familiarisation with the package we use, uploading material and keeping the site updated. The position would suit someone with a few hours availability each month.
For further details please contact the Parish Office using the contact details on top of the page.
NEIL GURNEY ENTERTAINS
A very enjoyable evening was spent on May 20th. Neil started the evening by playing the organ. He then did his flower arranging whilst keeping all in stitches with his yarns. He had to take five driving tests before he passed. Each one had an amusing story with it.
Our Church Council secretary Barbara Nash ran a raffle assisted by her husband Jim. The six prizes were the flowers that Neil had used.
The band of ladies who made tea and coffee were very good at keeping all supplied. The evening resulted in £528 for much needed church funds. We look forward to another visit from Neil.
Many thanks to all who supported this event.
PROUDLY PRESENT THEIR AUTUMN CONCERT
SEPTEMBER 20th and 21st at 7.30pm
HALTON VILLAGE HALL
Nibbles, Raffle and Bar
Don Knight : 01296 622603 or Kevin Towler : 01296 622390
St Michael and All Angels Halton
Harvest Thanksgiving, Supper and Auction of Produce
Sunday 13th October at 6.30pm
Halton Village Hall
Tickets £4.50 to include a 2 course meal
Bring own cutlery drinks and glasses
Tickets available each Sunday from 2.30pm in the Church
or by contacting the Church Wardens – Don 622603 or Brian 624464
View from the Blue Bridge on a quiet Autumn morning
PREVIOUS WASTE CHANGES
Did you remember that you can now use a variety of bags in
your food waste bin? You can use any of the following plastic bags/liners:
- Plastic bags bought on a roll e.g. pedal bins liners
- Supermarket carrier bags
- Thin plastic bags, such as fridge and freezer storage bags
- Bags that food has come in e.g. bread bags, salad bags, cereal bags
But NOT black bin liners or rubble bags, hard plastic packaging such as for punnets of fruit. However, these can be put in your blue-lidded recycling bin.
You can now recycle unwanted batteries and small electrical items at the kerbside but they need to be no larger than a standard shoe box.
Batteries should be put into a separate carrier bag and placed on top of your recycling or waste bin.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Clerk to the Parish Council – Fiona Lippmann
Village Hall Booking Clerk
Guard Room – Main Point
Wendover Police Office (Wendover Library) Tues &
Police Non-Emergency Number
0800 555 111
0800 316 3105
Fly Tipping Hotline
0845 330 1856
Wendover Health Centre
WHC Friends Desk
Halton Community Combined School-Halton
John Hampden Infant School-Wendover
Wendover CE Junior School
John Colet Secondary School
Halton Singers-Kevin Towler
Church Warden-Don Knight
Every third Thursday in the month the village is invited to spend the evening at the RAFA club to listen to the in-house band, ‘Sound Proof’ and to ‘have a go with the mike’! Please come along.
Teas will continue to be served in the church from 2.30 – 5.00pm until the end of September. Do drop in for a cuppa and a slice of yummy homemade cake!
If you have anything for inclusion in the next Halton Village newsletter please email it to email@example.com or ring 01296 624458 before October 18 2019.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not necessarily the views of The Halton Village Newsletter.