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.

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

Does Surrey Heath Council value its Museum?

Surrey Heath Museum is under threat. Sad but true. Click on image to find out more.

At the recent Camberley Society meeting in the Surrey Heath Council Chamber in June, ably reported on by David Chesneau in The Camberley Eye blog articles, Camberley Regeneration, and Monday’s Meeting Part II where David wrote,

What is the future of the museum? Answer – a museum service will be maintained for the foreseeable future, though the nature of this service has not been decided. The council’s wish, though, is for a “more modern facing” museum.  The council executive will be considering whether to carry out a consultation on the subject  next month.

There’s a strong belief in the value of heritage and history in Surrey Heath, evidenced by the Surrey Heath Museum and its support groups, the Heritage Gallery in the Camberley Mall, Chobham Museum, Windlesham and Camberley Camera Club, Camberley Natural History Society, and numerous other groups,

An issue that concerns the Council is Surrey Heath Museum’s low visitors numbers. Many factors contribute to this, its location in the Council Offices along with it’s difficult access, long term lack of council investment or interest in the museum.

At the Council’s Executive Meeting on 11th July the following paper was presented, and agreed. One thing to notice in the paper, is that the word MUSEUM isn’t mentioned.  A sure sign of the Council’s focus. I’ll write more in the coming days on this topic.

June events: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Open Day – Sunday 18th June, 2017

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Open Day is a not to be missed local event – lots to see and do, not forgetting the cream teas by the lake. We always look forward to the demonstration of pace sticking by the senior NCO’s – wonderful marching precision, and immaculate uniforms.

Haven’t managed to locate the official poster, so here’s the webpage of a Open Day event provider. [Click on image to expand and to link to the website].

 

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.