Declarations of Independence, once lost are now found

We’ve all done it, that is filed something away, perhaps incorrectly, and then lost track of it. Well, in the past month two lost Declarations have been found.

Perhaps the more important of the two, certainly for the Lithuanian centenary celebration in 2018, is one of the three missing original copies of the Declaration of Independence of Lithuania in February 1918. The Guardian reports that the document was lost during the turmoil at the end of World War 1. It was found in the German Foreign Ministry archives in Berlin by a Lithuanian professor. Click on the image to link to the article [also, click to expand]

The other lost document is a parchment copy of the American Declaration of Independence dated around 1780. The document was found in the West Sussex County Archives by two researchers from Harvard University. Again The Guardian has a report on the finding. Click on the image to link to the article [also, click to expand]

As I said at the start, things are easily lost, yet take years to find them again.

More memories of school in 1950/60s Lightwater

Thank you Rosemarie Mann for this article. How lovely that you speak so warmly of your early life in Lightwater. Last year another past Lightwater resident – Yvette Thomson – recounted her early life in Lightwater in the 1960’s.  Your reminiscences add to hers. I’ve added a photo of Lightwater in the 1960’s to Rosemarie’s story – [click to enlarge].

My family moved to Lightwater in 1956. I attended the primary/junior school at Catena Rise, from then, till 1959, when I transferred to Frimley & Camberley County Grammar School (FCCGS). I remember Mr Hancock, the gentle art, crafts and history teacher. And Mr. Clarke, the music teacher: he tutored us for a music festival/competition at Camberley (the Drill Hall); we sang, “Inch Worm”, Surrey With The Fringe On Top”, plus or minus something else….We didn’t win, but word came back later that the judges thought we were “the only choir in tune” (so why didn’t we win? We were word perfect, as I recall! Ah well. I remember before we went ‘on’, I sat reading a comic…not nervous, as we knew the songs well.

I went in for handwriting and art competitions, winning a first (writing) and something else…I think it was a large box of Fry’s Choc’s… painting was of a jungle scene…funny what things you remember, isn’t it.

Our headmaster was Mr. Scan, who lived just up the road from our bungalow where Curley Hill Rd, and High View Rd met, who was stern, (he used to humiliate little Wally, by standing him on a desk, and saying, “be careful you don’t fall in the inkwell” (I thought that unnecessarily cruel…), but I have to thank him for selecting a few of us to receive extra tuition, prior to the 11 Plus in 1959. I might not have succeeded in the 11 Plus if it hadn’t been for the extra tuition. I’d never seen an intelligence test before, and coming to them with a little experience helped a lot. I eventually got through on interview. The 3 (?) interviewers devised a trick question, I suspect, to see if I was well-mannered ?! They said, “Can you read ?” I felt like saying, “Well how do you think I got this far?!”, but answered meekly, “Yes, sir.” (not worth looking sassy at that stage !).

Anyway, 2 of us went off to Camberley. It would have been a much less tiring day to attend Bagshot Secondary, but that school had a bit of an air of…….(ummm…..) : my father took my brother out of there and got him into a good school at West Byfleet ). I felt sad that Sylvia Adams didn’t pass, as I thought she was very bright, and would have done well…..Muriel Reaper and I trundled to and fro, (best part of an hour each way, since we had to walk nearly a mile to the bus stops; one by the Off Licence, and the other by The Corner Stores, by The Avenue. on the bus for years after, and I left in 1964, having rather ‘had enough’….I don’t know where Muriel went after that, we weren’t proper friends to be honest.

Sylvia’s Mother used to run ‘The Powder Box’, along the Guildford Road, and put on enjoyable parties. I was ‘Queen of The May’ one year…a very sweet experience, never to be known again ! I still have the photo…..the event was held in a field (?) behind ‘The Powder Box’. In those days, the village was not much developed, but then the M3 came along, and we knew it because my father’s new white Ford Cortina used to get black dust floating down from the motorway : cars’ emissions etc. were not as clean as they are now….
Well, enough for now !
If anyone from that time would like to share a few more memories, please write.
Crumbs ! It’s 61 years now since we went to Lightwater…..
Best Wishes,
Rosemarie Mann

Nnow at Chandlers Ford, near Southampton –

Photo of the Week No.25: The Mountbatten’s and Nehru by Cartier-Bresson

Photographed on the steps of Government House in Delhi by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1948 are, Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma; Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India; and Edwina Cynthia Annette, Countess Mountbatten.

Like most of us, I imagine, we appreciate a good news photograph that captures something of the situation of the people included in the photo. This is so in this photo. Widely acknowledged that Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten had a very close friendship, even speculated having an affair. It’s a very good photo from a master of photography, Cartier-Bresson, a believer in capturing the ‘decisive moment‘.

Tea and cake inside the Kempton Engine House

Just prior to the A316 becoming the M3 motorway between Sunbury-on-Thames and Hanworth you pass by the Thames Water Kempton Park Water Treatment Works.

Among the works buildings is a large one near the elevated road with two tall chimneys behind it, on which it says Metropolitan Water Board. How many people passing by have wondered what is housed in the building? I did for one, when working nearby in Feltham. The building was in a sorry condition when I passed by in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, all boarded and looking neglected.

The building and contents were given National Monument status and Grade II* listing by English Heritage, and it wasn’t until 1995 that the the Kempton Great Engines Trust was formed to restore the building and contents, and not until 2004 that the building was opened to the public.

What surprises is that the building – now known as the Kempton Steam Museum – houses two huge triple-expansion steam engines. At 62 feet/19 metres in height and weighing over a 1000 tons the engines are colossal. They were installed in the Art Deco building in 1928, and were in constant use until 1980, when the engine house closed.

The building is open every Tuesday and Thursday, though the No 6 engine is in steam only on THESE DAYS. We stopped by for tea and cake last Saturday. Here are my photos of our visit.

Camberley Milestone replica installed with due ceremony

I the previous article I apologised for my embarrassing incompetence with technology. The short video below hopefully recovers some credibility. I was so lucky that Gillian Barnes-Riding spoke clearly, and the traffic noise while she spoke was not as intrusive as when the Mayor spoke. Had my audio been successful this would’ve been no problem. Ah, well. At least you’ve Gillian’s heartfelt thanks for those involved in the restoration. Below the video, I’ve posted the Mayor’s address.


Cllr John Winterton, Mayor of Surrey Heath, – address at the unveiling of the renovated milestone.

Thank you all for coming here today to celebrate the restoration of the London Road milestone. The original stone was removed for structural reasons in 2015. After much public support and funding from the Milestone Society, Surrey Heath Local History Club, Surrey Built Heritage Trust, Camberley Glass, and some private donors, we are able to be here today and acknowledge this ‘past signpost to the past.

The original milestone stood here from the mid 1700’s, when a ‘mile stone’ indicated to passing stagecoaches how many miles there were left to Bagshot of Hartford Bridge, depending on which direction they were travelling. Both places have changed significantly since that time, one has grown immensely, while the other has an airport. The road – now the A30 – was a toll road of the Great West Turnpike Road running from London to Exeter. People paid a fee to travel along the road. The Toll House – where you paid your fee – was near the entrance to Laundry Lane on the other side of London Road,

Behind this milestone a time capsule has been inserted into one of the bricks with information on the stagecoach industry locally, a new style £5 note, historic photos of York Town, a memory sticks of the journals offrom the Surrey Heath Local History Society, and press coverage of the removal of the stone, and the successful ‘hug-a-milestone campaign run by Surrey Heath Museum last year. There is also information on Camberley Glass and Windows, and Alfred Elliott, greengrocer, fruiterer and florist who ran a shop on the other side of the entrance to Camberley Glass from 1920s to 1980s.

Thank you all who have been involved in the milestone re-creation, including Rob Predgen from Camberley Glass, Peter Greatbatch, Tim Steggles, and Haven memorials.

Camberley Glass have kindly organised light refreshments in their showroom, following the blessing by the Vicar of St Michael’s Church, the Rev Bruce Nicole.

Answer to Photo Quiz No.43: Queen’s Avenue Bridge over the Basingstoke Canal in Aldershot

David Parsons knew the answer. Good on him. It’s one of the lamp posts on the bridge over the Basingstoke Canal on Queen’s Avenue in Aldershot.

Queen’s Avenue is a long straight road, on which are many things to interest the passer by, with historic Army barracks, monuments, a museum, churches, and Army sporting facilities, including the bridge.

The bridge was in a very poor state of repair in the 1990’s, with rusting deck supports. The Ministry of Defence funded its restoration to enable the bridge to carry traffic up to 40 tons. The Basingstoke Canal Society website describes the history of the bridge, along with many photos of it. Here are my photos, click on images to expand.

Restored London Road milestone to be unvieled

Surrey Heath Borough Council announce the unveiling of the restored London Road milestone. See press release below. Yesterday I joined Mike Hillman, photographer and Friend of Surrey Heath Museum, and Alan Meeks to witness the restoration of the milestone. Sadly, I had to leave before the restorers arrived. Mike Hillman was around to capture the event. Below are three of his photos – click to expand.

A new milestone along the A30 in Camberley is to be officially unveiled at a blessing ceremony later this month.

The original milestone, located outside Camberley Glass and Windows on London Road, was taken down last year due to structural reasons. A campaign was launched to raise the £1,800 required to replace the historic landmark, one of seven milestones across the borough to still survive from the 1700s.

This campaign raised public awareness of the milestones, helped by Surrey Heath Museum’s #hugamilestone social media campaign, which was featured in the national and local media, print, broadcast and online.

The commitment and dedication of individuals and local societies,  including the Surrey Heath Local History Group, The Milestone Society and Surrey Historic Buildings Trust has meant the fundraising campaign was successful, and a replacement milestone is due to reinstated at the site on 31 March.

To mark the importance of the area’s milestone heritage, and acknowledge local support, the vicar of St Michael’s Church, Camberley, Rev. Bruce Nicole, will bless the stone at the ceremony, and the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr John Winterton, will officially unveil it.

The new milestone shows the distance to London, Hartford Bridge and Bagshot from its location – as did the original.

The milestone is a legacy from the 1700s, when two busy stagecoach routes passed through the area we now know as Surrey Heath. The Portsmouth Road and London Road routes were each managed by a Turnpike Trust who maintained the road and charged a toll for its use. One such Trust was the Bedford and Bagshot Turnpike Trust, managing the London Road, who placed milestones along its route.

For more information go to