Archives – January, 2018

Special Abingdon Parish Meeting to discuss the Guildhall

Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
11 residents had requested a special Parish meeting to discuss the Guildhall, and the meeting took place this evening at the Roysse Room. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the usage of the much larger Abbey Hall, the only civic space in Abingdon large enough to hold such public meetings, and to discuss accessibility plans for the older part of the Guildhall.

The large Abbey Hall has been closed for about three years. It was initially closed while the Town Council considered tenders for its redevelopment. The assumption was that the redevelopment would go ahead that year. However an election happened at that point, and the council membership changed. We heard for the first time this evening that one tender came in at £3m and another  $4m. And so the Town Council looked at ways to reduce the scope of the project, and the Abbey Hall remained closed while that happened. There followed another round of consultants and architects and planning under a new Guildhall Chairman.

The council then gave up on that plan, about the time the Town Council leader changed. It cost an annual subsidy of £200k to keep the Guildhall complex open. They than began speaking to Oxfordshire County Council about putting the Abbey Hall into the review of County Council public places, and now expect something exciting to come out of that review for Abingdon.

So the town council are now concentrating on the older part of the building, and using the £1.2m legacy, given by the District Council with the Guildhall, on just the old rooms.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
This evening the Roysse room was not large enough for the number of people who came.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
About 60 people were not allowed in. That included some of the 11 who had requested the meeting.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
So there will be a second meeting next Monday for anybody who could not get in.

During the meeting, The Mayor, Councillor Jan Morter, read out a release from the Town Council, prepared for the meeting, that you can read here. She then added that Evesham Regal are looking to negotiate terms to run a cinema in the Abbey Hall, and manage other events people want holding there, and help the council finances at the same time. That would be until Oxfordshire County Council want to use it for whatever exciting plans they have after their review of places. The Town Council have not had the chance to discuss that offer yet but it was interesting news.

Then people were allowed to ask questions or make statements, first about the Abbey Hall, then on accessibility plans for the old part. However the Town Council could give no answers to the meeting. They needed to give the answers full consideration in council before giving answers.

Many points were made but it was news to hear that The Regal, Evesham, think they can run a cinema and re-open the Abbey Hall and help the council finances.

The pictures above do make the point that Abingdon does needs a public room for civic events to hold more than 80 people.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
Another point made by a number of people was that splitting the Guildhall into the old and the new part created accessibility problems in the old part. The Abbey Hall did have 2 ramps and 2 lifts to try to make it accessible. The last person to speak said ‘The Abbey Hall may be a 1960’s carbuncle but we still want to use it!’

11 Comments January 15, 2018

Myth, Mystery and Music – Art Exhibition

Myth Mystery Music
The 2018 Abingdon County Hall Musuem Guide is now available, and makes a very colourful and handy guide to the coming year.
Myth Mystery Music
The first new exhibition of 2018 opened yesterday, Saturday 13th January, and runs until 18th March, and is called Myth, Mystery and Music.
Myth Mystery Music
Local artist Caroline Ritson goes in search of sightings of the Green Man in hedges, flowers and foliage, and when she has found an eye or face, she paints it in great detail. It is fun to try to find the Green Man in her pictures. Caroline also has pictures of Morris Dancing and Music Festivals.
Myth Mystery Music
Alongside these are paintings by another local artist, Barbara Payne. Some of her paintings portray the mysteries to be seen near The Oldest Road (The Ridgeway), including the White Horse, Wayland Smithy, and Blowing Stone. She also has paintings of musicians, and produces ceramics, prints, and books of poetry.

The Magical MG, seen here, is always there in the museum gallery.

2 Comments January 14, 2018

Final catch-up collection after Christmas

catch-up collection
This Saturday was the final catch-up collection for the waste and recycling service after Christmas. From next week bins and bags will be put out on the standard day, of Thursday for north Abingdon and Friday for south Abingdon.
catch-up collection
There is usually a bit of a holdup to traffic as the waste and recycle lorries make their way up West St Helen Street. There is less of a holdup along Lombard Street.
catch-up collection
In the autumn of 2017 Biffa, the current contractor for South and Vale, bought a new fleet of trucks to replace the previous fleet at a cost of £6.5m. The new purple livery shows that 80% of waste can be recycled.

In the Vale of White Horse District, where we live, the council reports that 64% of our waste was recycled in 2017.

14 Comments January 13, 2018

Plastic Bottle at St Helen’s Wharf

Single-use Plastic Container
When I was young I remember writing a message in a glass bottle and throwing it into the sea. Nowadays most of the bottles are plastic, like this one off St Helen’s Wharf.

The Prime Minister declared today she wants to outlaw single-use plastic containers.

Leave a Comment January 11, 2018

High Treason

What might make a good film is this real life event from 1832 that was tried at Abingdon …
High Treason
Dennis Collins was convicted of High Treason, at Abingdon County Hall in 1832. Collins threw two stones at the King at Ascot Races. The first stone missed, and the second grazed King William IV, after hitting his hat. The King retreated to safety for a short while before re-appearing to show all was well to the crowd at Ascot .

In the mean time Dennis Collins was apprehended and beaten up and taken to Reading Gaol, and then later to Abingdon Gaol for the trial.

The jury at the County Court at Abingdon decided that he was guilty but at the same time petitioned the King for clemency.

Collins had served in the Royal Navy. He lost his leg on active service and was pensioned off – valiantly. He exchanged his pension to become an in-pensioner at a home for ex servicemen. He did have a bit of a temper, and one day lost his temper over a small matter. The home was swept too often and that disturbed his peace, and he asked that it be swept only once a day. This led to an altercation, and Collins was thrown out and then lost his pension.

For six months he lived as best he could with little money. He was more miserable than he had ever been in his life, and wrote to the King asking that his pension be re-instated. The letter was sent to the admiralty to decide and they decided he could NOT have his pension back.

It was for that reason he threw the two stones at Ascot Race Course. He had done it as a protest to get his pension back, not to hurt the King. He was very sorry afterwards that one stone had hit the King.

A print of Collins exists and shows him with a wooden leg. A kind lady exchanged his old wooden leg and ex-sailor’s garb, for a new leg and more respectable attire.

The King was merciful, and the initial mandatory sentence for such treason (hanging and quartering) was changed to transportation for life, and so Collins was sent to Van Diemen’s Land at 70 years of age. A short residence in that colony ended his days when he died in the spring of the year 1834.

9 Comments January 11, 2018

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