Police visit us while we’re cleaning milestones

Yesterday morning was the second morning this week that Reg Davis and I have been cleaning milestones in Surrey Heath.

We cleaned three, and we thought we’d done well. While brushing of the dirt and lichen of the milestone just prior to the traffic lights by the BP petrol station, a police car stopped by us. The policeman put on his hi-viz jacket and cap and came over to us. He said,

Gentlemen, we’ve had reports of people attempting to steal a milestone.

Oh, how we chuckled, and me then wittering about the history of the milestones and the Bedfont to Bagshot Turnpike Trust. Many thanks to the Surrey Policeman for joining the photo with Reg Davis.

Fully kitted out in Hi-Viz wear for milestone cleaning

I think I may have mentioned, in the past, that I’m a member of the Milestone Society – dedicated to researching and preserving milestones.

At the instigation of Reg Davis, a friend of Surrey Heath Museum, he and I have committed to clean all of the milestones in Surrey Heath. After our vigorous cleaning with a brush and soap and water, we’ll apply a coat of paint, pick out the letters in black paint, and surrounding the base of the milestone with a small amount of gravel/white stones.

When finished, they’ll look splendid. Amazingly, none of the milestones in Surrey Heath are listed, and look what happened to the one by Camberley Glass on the A30. So, think I’ll ask a question at the next Surrey Heath Council meeting to seek their commitment to acquire it for them. Neighbouring County Councils have listed the majority of their milestones.

Reg and I cleaned two milestones yesterday, this morning we’ll be out again, hoping to clean two more. Here’s the before and after photos of our work yesterday.

Photo of the week No.26: In Silvertown, 1964 by John Claridge

As a boy growing up in the docklands in the East End of London, John Claridge used his camera to capture the soul of the docks. His story is eloquently told in Along the Thames with John Claridge in the Spitalfields Life blog article of May 2, 2012.

Hatip: Spitalfields Life for photo

Surrey Heath Museum Exhibition: Don’t Take Chances – Go to Francis

Surrey Heath Borough Council announced, yesterday, that the latest exhibition at Surrey Heath Museum is an insight into the work of celebrated local photographer Ron Francis.

This is the last exhibition in Surrey Heath Museum until March 2018. So it’s your opportunity to show support for the museum.

Surrey Heath Museum Issues No1: Council fail to offer a sensible vision for its future

Surrey Heath Borough Council seem fully prepared to invest over a £100 million in Camberley town centre regeneration. In a press release about the acquisition of 45-51 Park Street, the leader of the Council said,

Cllr Moira Gibson, Leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council, said: “This latest purchase is further evidence of the Council’s commitment to invest in Camberley, and gain control of strategically important assets to drive regeneration of the town centre.”

A fine statement indeed. The Council’s vision for Camberley town centre is public and openly discussed, and to the extent that regeneration work has begun. The vision for Camberley town centre is about maintaining retail vitality and additional town centre housing. The vision fails to recognise the cultural aspects of the Borough.

I encourage you to read the council paper on the future of the museum, entitled Surrey Heath Heritage Service.  It was approved by the Council Executive Committee in July. The word museum doesn’t appear in the paper, surely a sign of intent. The Council announced the changes in March, Here’s a summary of what is proposed, and that the museum will host no exhibitions from September 2nd onwards,

The purpose of the review is to make heritage artefacts and services more accessible to the community. The re-focus therefore includes options around:

  • Hidden Histories – placing info boards at suitable locations for people to understand local history
  • Places to Pause – place displays at locations where people naturally wait
  • Pop-Up locations – identify locations where pop-up exhibitions can roll around the borough.
  • On-line accessibility – the collection will be documented, photographed and put on line
  • Service review – working with the contact centre on research appointments

Next, I’ll give my views, and those of some councillors, and I’ll end with my proposals for the museum

Trying for some eclectic summer reading

My relaxation comes from reading crime fiction. I know the character’s in fine detail of a number of fictional policemen, such as,

  • H. R. F. Keating’s, much put upon, Inspector Ghote of the Bombay Police Department. A wonderful fictional creation, who struggles to meet the unreasonable demands of his superior. Think I’ve only a couple of the 26 stories to read.
  • Donna Leon’s sophisticated Commissario Bendetti of the Venice Police, with powerful connections that he puts to good use to his superior’s annoyance. Again, there are 26 volumes, of which I’ve only read less than a third. I need breaks from Leon’s books, as, for me, there’s a touch too much dense detail of Venice streets.
  • Chief Inspector Wexford, the irascible, tenacious, magnificent creation of Ruth Rendell, who is chief inspector of the fictional Kingsmarkham in Sussex. Rendell’s writing is taut, with imaginative plots. Truly the Queen of the genre.
  • I’ve tried many other crime writers, such as Ngaio Marsh, whose stories are set in the 1930’s to 1970’s, though I’m yet to warm to her central character. I’m about to start my first Patricia Highsmith crime novel – yes, yes, I know I should’ve been reading her before.

I’m having a burst of reading a wider choice this summer than is my normal crime fiction reading habit. To date I’ve read Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner, one of life’s must reads, and now I’ve her Brief Lives by my bedside. This was followed by something completely different – Kim by Rudyard Kipling. One of the all time great adventure books. Feeling enriched from having read both books.

There have been other many books, of course, many on local history, and such as the truly scrumptious, for the steam train buff, Great Railway Photographs by Eric Treacy [Rather than it being a library book, I bought a copy at a heritage railway book stall]

In addition to the Anita Brookner and Patricia Highsmith, I’ve a Stella Rimington spy fiction novel about exploits of her main character Liz Carlyle.

When a book ‘grabs me’, then it’s all consuming, when not, such as the Len Deighton I’m currently ploughing through it’s not as much fun. Ah well, I’ve got some ‘page turners’ by my bed.

Lightwater Men’s Group – a new place for men to meet

Founder of the Lightwater Men’s Group, Windsor Rackham, reports, [Challen Room photo, courtesy of All Saints’]

The inaugural meeting was held in July and the response was great. Many ideas for group activities were discussed involving trips-out, establishing discussion groups, local volunteering and developing new hobbies and interests and the organisation of these by the members is now taking shape.

You would be most welcome to join us at our next meetings in All Saints’ Church Hall, Lightwater (the Challen Room) between 10.0 am and 12 noon on the following Saturdays:

  • 12th August,
  • 2nd September
  • 30th September

All men of all ages are welcome and you don’t have to live in the Village. For more information email Steve Bowman on: steviebowman@hotmail.com