Mrs Rosette Savill’s story told in the Camberley News

Pippa Anderson continues to do her ‘Woodies’ proud. ‘Woodies’ being girls who attended Paddock Wood Finishing School in Lightwater, of which she is one. Pippa is the instigator, along with Gillian Riding of Surrey Heath Museum of the Blue Plaque recently unveiled, on the remaining building of the now closed school.

I feel sure that its Pippa wanting the story behind the blue plaque, commemorating the work of Mrs Rosette Savill, to be told for everyone to read, and ensured the Camberley News & Mail covered the story, see copy of the article below. [Click on image to expand]

The Frith Hill Trench Walk led by Roy Sellstrom BEM

The walking group for the Frith Hill Trench Walk, organised by Surrey Heath Museum for Heritage Open Days, met at Tomlinscote School in Frimley,

Led by Roy Sellstrom BEM, the walk revealed the earth movements and visual signs of the use of the area as a military training area. Frith Hill was a practice area for trench warfare, and the site of a German Prisoner of War camp during the First World War.

In his researches Roy discovered a map of the trenches in Frith Hill. These have now mostly be filled in. It’s fascinating to realise that of the paths in the area, though difficult to recognise, many are on the filled in trenches.

Roy pointed to post World War II trenches, some small and for only two soldiers. He also pointed out a mine crater [see photo below], previously thought be elsewhere, see Remains of Mine Explosions, and read the following report of the event at the time.

“Blackdown Camp, October 1916, Wessex Field Company Royal Engineers: The company moved into an excellent hut-camp, … leaving No.4 section to complete Claycart Bridge. The chief interest at first was the mine that had been made on Frith Hill, some of our men assisting in the tunnelling. It was to be blown up by 5,000lbs of gun cotton, and was the first of three that were to be blown for experiment and training. To make the affair more like an operation at our front line, our company made wire entanglements all about the imaginary ‘No man’s land’ above the charge, and practised the consolidation of the mine craters after seizure by infantry.”

“On the great day , VIP’s arrived, the Sandhurst cadets came over and were shown by us how to consolidate a crater. All the windows for miles around were left open, so as not to be blown in by concussion of the explosion. At the last moment the spectators, numbering several thousand, were moved from ½ to ¾ of a mile away. The guns and trench mortars began to fire blank, machine guns and rifles the same, up went the mine, and attacking parties seized the craters with much cheering and throwing of dummy hand-grenades and bombs, while our Sapper party, under Lt Davidson, started entrenching in the lip of the craters.”

“The actual explosion and upheaval of the mines was most disappointing. The charge had been divided, by order from above, so that two little craters were made instead of one large one. We hardly felt any concussion, heard no noise, and the spectacle was far from alarming. The soil was thrown up about thirty feet, in the form of a plum-pudding, then it subsided through a dense volumes of smoke. So slight was the effect that it was said that parties in a dug-out 300 yards away did not know the charge had been blown under they were told of it by a runner.”

Here are the photos from the walk,

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.

Take Ten – new Surrey Heath Museum exhibition celebrates borough’s rich cultural make-up

Surrey Heath Bough Council announce, Take Ten – an exhibition celebrating the rich cultural make-up of the Surrey Heath area. [Click on image to expand]

The upcoming exhibition at Surrey Heath Museum features 10 people who originate from different countries and have made Surrey Heath their home. Our area has long attracted people to the area for work and family reasons, many of whom have come from abroad.

Settling into a different culture, climate and community is difficult.  However, the people featured have well and truly made the area their home.  The countries covered are Switzerland, Spain, Japan, France, India, Nepal, Barbados, New Zealand and Portugal.  Not forgetting two people who come from other areas in the UK and have settled here!

We look into where people grew up, why they moved here, what they miss and how the area has become their home. The exhibition features objects from their country, food, craft and cultural differences.  It is a true celebration of the area’s rich cultural make-up.

We are holding a special viewing on Saturday 24 May for all those who have taken part.  Members of the press are welcome to attend.

The exhibition runs from 20 May until 2 September 2017.  For more info email museum@surreyheath.gov.uk/ Gillian.Barnes-riding@surreyheath.gov.uk