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The History of Grateley

Part fifteen: New Elizabethan Period (2/2) 

The Parish Tithe Map had been found and was deposited in the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester after a 'photo-static' copy was deposited with the Parish Council. The original is still held in the record office in very good condition.

The major activity of the parish seems to have been in provision of more housing, road maintenance and provision of pathways. The latter being requested for Cholderton Road (B3084) and Station Road from the junction with Cholderton Road and Berry Lane. Most of this was put off to a later date by the Rural District Council.

A request for a way-leave over the Lawrence Houses Estate, under the Bye-laws and Planning Authority, to provide access to the proposed new building of a County Primary School. Consideration was given to the possible invasion of privacy to occupants of the 'Aged Peoples' Bungalows' by the children. The request was acceded to but, as we all know, the school was never built and still remains the remote playing field of the existing Primary School.

More new Council Houses were built but it now seems that the Parish Council had no influence in the allocation of these houses as the decision was vested in the RDC.

1965 sees the first complaint of low flying helicopters " -belonging to the Army Air Corps located at Middle Wallop." disturbing the village. The Chairman required more information before action was to be taken. It was suggested that, if it was a particular aircraft the time of the incident, the locality and the registration number of the craft should be taken with which a complaint might be lodged of which notice may be taken.

Mr WT Crook gave up the Chairmanship of the Parish Council after 12 years of service and Mr WJ Loader then took on the responsibilities of the post.

Bus shelters, which had been a bone of contention for some time seemed to be resolved by siting them at the entrance to the Council's Housing Estate and in a position that would be suitable for the residents of Palestine. The shelters were to be constructed of concrete blocks and galvanised steel and accommodate eight to twelve people. This specification was submitted to Astolat Ltd of Peasmarsh, Guildford.

New litter bins were required and it was suggested that Mylen Taxis may be interested in advertising by having their name on them. Is this the first example of sponsorship in Grateley?

The bus shelters were still being discussed at the meeting of March 1967 when the quotes for their provision ranged from £70 to £270 which was more than the Council could afford at the time. It was suggested that quotations for a more modest shelter be obtained from local people such as Mr VW Morley and Mr Jim Glover.

At the same time the Station Council Housing Site was first mentioned.

The proposed closure of Grateley Railway Station by British Rail was objected to by letter from the Chairman of the Council. This letter had been supported by many other letters from individuals of the parish.

I was interested to see that the total rateable value of the parish in 1968 was a mere £14,663. Thus the cost of the bus shelter (still not built) of about £80 would add between one penny and two pence in the pound to the rates. The councillors only agreed to the funding of the bus shelter on the condition that the imposition of the rate would be for only one year.

Having agreed, it was found that the site did not comply with road safety regulations. A new site was chosen on British Rail land but the owner of a house opposite felt that it would obstruct his view and the shelter would be misused causing annoyance to the residents of Station Road. Back to the drawing board.

It was finally decided to site the shelter on the Station Council House Estate. This site was then objected to by the Wilts & Dorset Bus Company because there was not enough turning space and regulations did not permit buses reversing into an estate where children were waiting. Attempts at rerouting the school bus were not successful and the Council were not prepared to pay the £10 annual rent required by British Rail to place the shelter on their land. The project was therefore abandoned and the money raised for the shelter used for repair of the Memorial Hall. Alas, the cost of repairs to the hall came to £135 which was more than the yield of a penny rate. All of this took over three years!

At least the station was not closed under the 'Beeching' recommendations.

Monxton Road was at last straightened and widened in 1966 but those who had complained about the dangerous, narrow bends were now complaining about the excessive speeds of vehicles since widening; creating a dangerous situation.

Residents of Lawrence Houses were still having trouble. Mrs Pilkington raised a problem of cars driving over the verges and grassed areas and turning the area into a 'quagmire'. Cars were also parked on the grassed areas, verges and the bit of hard road overnight with no lights. As a consequence people were ' walking into them' all the time. Advice from the local police was sought and the RDC was asked to construct a road to the bungalows. We forget now that there were quite strict laws on lights on parked vehicles. Side lights had to be left on during the hours of darkness when parked on the road. Some people used to resort to the old paraffin 'bull's-eye' lamp placed on the road by the car to save battery. Good old days. The complaints about the sate of the verges and grassed areas were still being made 12 years later.

There was now a resurgence of effort in the definition and opening of public footpaths within the parish. Styles were to be reinstated and the paths across fields were to be cleared and not ploughed. The lack of access to these paths had resulted in the use of Mrs Jewell's lawn to bypass the obstruction on the footpath beside her property. Eventually (after about two years) all of the public footpaths and bridle ways were sign posted. It is interesting that the County Land Agent stated that the footpaths should be rolled flat after ploughing and that footpaths should remain open with a public right of way "even when seeding had taken place and crops were growing".

The village hall was now being considered as a parish asset for meetings of organisations such as the Women's Institute, Youth Club. Church, Guides and Brownies. The charges for the hire of the hall were set at £1 for the first three hours and 7/6d (35p) for each hour thereafter with a charge of 5/- (25p) per hour if the fire was used.

A group of musicians (of what type I know not) applied to hire the hall for practice on 4 days each week and were prepared to pay 10/- (50p) for each hiring and would not require the fire. The council felt, from previous experience, that the noise generated by these musicians was such that it caused disturbance as far away as the village. The council felt that it would be unwise to accommodate these musicians even at the full scale of charges. Does any body who reads this know who the musicians were? A Skiffle Group or Rock Band perhaps?

The committee for running the hall was now Mr New, representing the Youth Club, Mrs North, representing the Guides, Brownies and Chapel functions and Mrs Jeayes and Glynn.

In 1969 the Women's Institute presented the Hall Committee with a cheque for £65. This money was then used to pay for the installation of the gas-fired central heating and a further supply of gas.

This seems to be a time when some people wanted to change the names of lanes and streets in the parish. Mrs Jeayes wanted Chapel Lane to be renamed Queen Anne Street as she thought that this was the original name and also thought that the other residents "might like the change". This set in motion investigation as to whether the lane had ever had the suggested name. The RDC and Post Office were involved but could not come up with any other name in their records. This does not give one much confidence in their records as it was known for many years as Georgia Lane up until about 1896 when the chapel was built. Chapel Lane became the name due to common usage as quite a few attended chapel and a Sunday school was held there until about 1970. Even in the year 2000 it was known as Georgia Lane on the computer program Autoroute 2000!. The road to Andover gradually became Monxton Road with common usage.

The council houses were now built at the station end of the parish but the parish council seemed to have little to do with the siting, construction or choice of occupants. The first reference in the minutes refers to sewage overflowing from a cess pit adjacent to the "Station Council Houses". As yet the area was not named.

Mrs Warren retired as postmistress after 21 years of running the post office in Wheeler's Cottage (presently Peter's Orchard) and No 1 the High Street.

It was in 1969 that the HCC surveyor informed the Parish Council that "each village in the county is to be examined for speed limits and a decision would be taken". The speed limits in the parish were eventually agreed and imposed in the early 1990's.

The 'Radcliffe - Maud' report on the reorganisation of councils was rejected by Grateley Parish as it was felt that any governing body remote from the parish, controlling local actions, would be out of touch with rural areas or, indeed, any part of the unit outside the central administrative area. Things don't change much.

A petition was received from the residents of the Council House Estate at the station end of the village for the naming of the estate. The names put forward with this petition were: Woodward Close, Apollo Close and Campbell Close. As most of the residents were in favour of Campbell Close the council agreed to the naming and requested that a sign be erected. I am unable to establish the reasons for the suggested names but feel that Apollo Close was associated with the Apollo space mission at that time rather than the Greek Sun God or a man of great beauty! There was a Mr. Woodard associated with the parish and Campbell was the maiden name of Lord John Lawrence's wife.

Later, in 1974, there was a request to change the postal address of the station end of the parish to 'Grateley West'. Nothing came of it.

It is (slightly) interesting that the mobile library calling at the Plough Inn was from Basingstoke and the one calling at the Station Inn came from Romsey.

The subject of street lighting came up in 1971. A survey was carried out and a request for an estimate for lighting at bus stops, entrances to housing estates and the school was placed with the Southern Electricity Board. The cost for the installation of one electronically controlled street light was approximately £100. This cost and the running cost put people off and a proposal carried that "The need for lamps in Grateley did not warrant the outlay and yearly charges at the moment". This has to be seen in the light of the yearly parish precept for 1971 totalled £25. By January 1974 the question of street lighting was once again put back "In view of the present fuel crisis this will be discussed at a more appropriate time". This fuel crisis applied to refuse collection as the parish was informed that the service could be curtailed to remote (that's us) areas. I believe the fuel restrictions were due to the political unrest in the oil producing countries in the Middle East, such as Iraq and Iran.

From about 1971 the parish council meetings winter meetings were held in the Grange in Grateley. Presumably the War memorial Hall was getting more uncomfortable. Later meetings were held in the Primary School.

The National By-products company operating at the station end of the parish was being called to account for the noxious smells that emanated from it. It was explained that the smells were due to the boiling of animal carcasses. An experiment was in progress to eliminate or, at least reduce, the smell by the addition of small plastic balls to the surface of the open vats to reduce evaporation and thence smell. They agreed that there would be no boiling of carcasses on Sundays. The parish councillors were invited to visit the factory. There is no record of such a visit.

This was the time of the 'Dutch Elm' disease which decimated the large number of elm trees in Grateley. Elms were to be found in all areas of the village and in certain areas the railway line was hidden by lines of elm trees. The elms in the parish have never recovered fully from this beetle borne disease. This decimation resulted in tree planting schemes that were joint ventures with local businesses, individuals and councils. National By-products offered to contribute 50% of the cost of planting 100 trees; Ross Poultry Ltd, Stopes Poultry Farm, Shearing Garage and British Rail also agreed to contribute or were to be approached. Finally trees were bought to a value of £300 (an appreciable sum then) and volunteers were required for the planting.

The replacement tree planting could not be completed in 1974 due to the nurseries having difficulty in lifting. One can assume that the winter of 73/74 must have been cold or very wet. Eventually all of the trees had been planted by April 1974 and the bill of £533.76p was paid to the supplier, Messrs T Hilling & Co.

Plans that affected the parish were now to be submitted to the parish council for comment. Prior to this the parish had little say on the development of the parish. The provision of mains sewage was first submitted in 1973.

A major development within the village was the proposed development of Home Farm, ARDC Planning Application 5737. This proposed development gave rise to several meetings culminating in a meeting of parishioners held in the school. The meeting was reminded that Andover RDC submitted the plans to the Parish Council out of courtesy as it was not mandatory until 1st April 1974. An increase from the original 5 to 7 houses were allowed by the RDC as a wider access was made available. If the parish complained it was suggested that the Housing Minister might increase the density of housing on this site. The result was that an outline planning permission was granted for 7 houses of which one to be of "cottage" proportion, one semi-detached and one bungalow restricted in design to avoid overlooking adjacent property.

It would seem that the first domestic planning application scrutinised by the parish council under the regulations applied from 1st April 1974 was in Chapel Lane. The application was by Les Lawes for a garage and sun lounge extension to his bungalow, Donjon.

Further developments were fought off because of the possible impact on the parish. One such proposed development submitted at the parish council meeting by a representative of Ken Wilson (Wessex) for 12 silos with a possible height of 100 ft. The development would have required the passage of lorries at ten minute intervals passing through the village during the peak months: and estimated total of 60,000 transits per year. An open meeting was held at the Plough Inn to discuss the development and as a result 254 objections were received from the residents. The disquiet of the parishioners was presented to the Test Valley Council by Brigadier Olivier. The Council for the Protection of Rural England were prepared to enter the fray on behalf of the parish.

The gales of the winter of 73/74 had caused extensive damage such that the village hall was now in such a dangerous condition that it was recommended that it should be closed. As there was no place for youth or entertainment it was suggested that use could be made of the church if pews were replaced with chairs and the altar screened. The Vicar was to be asked for his opinion. There is no record of the Vicar's response!.

Eventually the hall was pulled (literally) down by volunteers. The Grateley Residents Association was thanked by the council for the demolition of the hall. Some wood from the site had been sold and the rest burned. Equipment considered to be of value was stored by Mr W Boutcher-West for 6 months. This consisted of chairs, cooker, crockery, heater, tables, curtains, kettles and an Elsan. For those who do not know an Elsan was a chemical toilet. There was now a possibility of building a new hall on the same site. This was facilitated by the offer of land adjacent to the existing site for a car park by the trustees of the late Mrs Boutcher's estate. This overcame the District Council's objection and refusal for planning permission of a new hall without parking facilities.

Having had mains water installed in the 1950s it was now considered to be appropriate to have the facility of mains sewage installed some 20 years later. There was some concern that the RDC would start digging without notice in the village and cause unnecessary disruption. No response was forthcoming but it was rumoured that February was the likeliest time. Still no mains sewage in 1975 and ratepayers were advised to demand a reduction in rates as the connection to mains had not yet been made.

Eventually mains sewerage was available and most properties made their own arrangements for connection. Not long after installation there was bad weather with heavy rainfall which had the effect of roads sinking where the sewerage pipes had been laid. This sinking created holes and ditches up to three feet deep on many of the local roads.

In 1977 the Silver Jubilee was celebrated with a sports afternoon in the Grateley Primary School playing field and, if I remember correctly, beer sold at the Plough at 1952 prices for a very short period. The sports included various teams from all of the parish playing games such as softball or rounders etc. Later there was a bonfire at the Plough and a barbecue. The village was flag bedecked if I remember correctly.

 

Soon after, the local sport of 'Nurdling' was reintroduced, reinvented or just created out of the blue. Was the sports day the forerunner of the sport of 'Nurdling ' started in 1978.
 
This was a charitable event involving teams from the village and, often, a celebrity team competing over an obstacle course. It was held in various fields in the parish and attended by numerous spectators from far and wide who all contributed to the fun and charity.

Some celebrities involved were: Robin Asquith, Mickey Dolenz and Keith Chegwin among many others. Most of the locals preferred to compete under pseudonyms.

So ended the first 25 years of the reign of our Gracious Queen Elizabeth II in the Parish of Grateley.

 Photo: by kind permission of Urpen Caller

All text and images©Grateley Parish Council

 

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