Boarded-up this Halloween

October 31, 2018

Buildings Boarded up
Old Abbey House has been boarded-up in the last week to avoid further vandalism and attempts to break in. The building has been little used since Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council and the Citizens Advice moved out in May 2014. Old Abbey House is now part of the bigger ‘one public estate’ review of council buildings in the town centre being carried out by Oxfordshire County Council and partners. A year ago it was suggested the building could be used as the start of new Council housing but that is now subject to the bigger review.
Buildings Boarded up
The boarding at the upper reaches hotel is a longer term measure while the hotel leaseholder reviews opportunities for future development which the owner of the buildings, the Vale of White Horse District Council, will allow.
Buildings Boarded up
I have heard no reports of haunting at these two buildings.

Filed under: heritage

26 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Badger  |  November 1, 2018 at 12:22 am

    There seems to be quite a bit of visible damage being done in and around the town, windows being broken, graffiti, etc. With no visible police presence it will only get worse, I know they can’t be everywhere all the time especially given their budgetary cuts but some places some of the time would be a start.

  • 2. David Wilsden  |  November 1, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Sad to see Old Abbey House boarded up; it seemed a lovely building for the town council.

  • 3. Iain  |  November 1, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Yes, it’s very concerning that these two buildings have been unoccupied so long and are being allowed to fall into decay.

    They really should be returned to public use.

  • 4. ppjs  |  November 2, 2018 at 6:07 am

    When we arrived in Abingdon in July 2009, I thought that Abbey House was a miracle. While it might not have been practical any longer for the Council offices, the reckless abandonment of the building is a terrible sign of civic irresponsibility. Along with the Upper Reaches, it should be a glory of the town. Now these places are wrecks.

    If the Council cannot take care of its own property – and I do appreciate that funds are cut to the bone – then the inevitable result is that the town feels down at heel.

  • 5. newcomer  |  November 2, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Both buildings are now the responsibility of The Vale though the hotel is tied up in a lease with the leaseholder probably leaving the building to rot in a stand-off (vis future usage) with The Vale. One would have hoped that the original lease would have contained reversion rights were the leaseholder to let the site go into decay.

    The Vale took over total irresponsibility for Abbey House as part of the deal when they conned the TC into taking over the Guildhall. If The Vale could unload Abbey House for a nice juicy amount that would greatly reduce the apparent ‘generosity’ of the £1 million plus they gave TC to defray the development of The Guildhall. Unfortunately, The Vale has been unable to capitalize ownership of Abbey House and is now scraping the bottom of the barrel of unacceptable options.

  • 6. the Lady  |  November 2, 2018 at 8:12 am

    The town is very rapidly becoming delapatated ..there are far too many places looking dreadful in the whole town

  • 7. Horsesmouth  |  November 2, 2018 at 9:05 am

    We’ve been led to believe the Vale own the upper reaches site, not so, go on the land registry site and pay your £3.50 ( as I did) and you’ll find the old, restaurant building including the mill was sold by the Vale to contemporary hotels ( aka caparo/ Tara steal) in, from memory, 2004 for, again from memory £1.4 million pound, the Vale does however still own the carbuncle of a building next to the river and the main car park !
    Old Abbey House is an odd situation? The Vale couldn’t wait to ivict the town council saying they needed the money by selling it, has anyone seen it in any of our estate agents window? Nope! Instead it was offered for sale by some in heard of outfit from reading, and not for very long either! Of course there is/was a hidden agenda here and that was Matthew barbers plan to bulldoze it to make was for social housing, but now he’s gone perhaps something positive may happen, the Vale could offer it for sale by all Abingdon’s estate agents ?
    Yes the town is falling to bits, especially Bath st!

  • 8. Iain  |  November 2, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I believe New Abbey House is now part of a ongoing property review which means they are not actively working on sale. This is worst of all worlds as not even any propsect of being sorted soon.

    Agree Upper Reaches situation is more complicated due to Caparo lease, but there must be some terms that Vale can use to ensure the building is maintained in a decent standard.

    It does feel that these sites are out of sight, out of mind. Maybe one of oyur Vale Councillors can tell us what they are doing to address these situations.

  • 9. Julian Annells  |  November 2, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Don’t hold your breath on these ‘out of sight’ projects! Even the ‘in plain sight/in yer face’ Charter area /toilets/ car park are disgusting, and probably the first thing that visitors to the town see! And there doesn’t seem to be any forward planning on smartening those up..let alone flattening them and starting again as was promised!

  • 10. Daniel  |  November 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    …time to call in “The Consultants”….

  • 11. Horsesmouth  |  November 2, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Ha ha Daniel-taking of which I see the Friends of Abingdon have spent £74k on consultants to tell them what to do with the buildings under their control. In other words they haven’t a clue what to do so best hand it over to those who do ( and I don’t mean more consultants) According to the oxford times OCC have just spent £75k on local consultants to advise them on city centre traffic!
    What a joke !

  • 12. Daniel  |  November 2, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    The laugh is on you and me horsesmouth. We’re the ones paying for it.

    Fortunately it doesn’t matter.

  • 13. Iain  |  November 2, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    I went to see the plans the Friends of Abingdon are working on for the Abbey Buildings at their recent exhibition.

    They look well thought through and will protect these historic buildings for futire generations. They’ve already won some initial funding from the Heitage Lottery Fund to do the detailed planning work necessary to submit a larger bid for funds to complete the main project. This funds the consultancy work Steve refers to above. Personally I glad they’re taking advice from Architects and conservation specialists.

  • 14. Horsesmouth  |  November 2, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Iain, i think you have to look at the fundamental problem with this and “authority” in general? The mass elect individuals to not only represent them, but to also do a job, the job being to steer and guide the machine to best provide services and an environment that best suite, within that remit it’s perfectly reasonable for the mass to expect their representatives to be capable of the job they’re expected to do? £74k the Friends have “so far” spent on consulting is obscene, for a good many of the masses that’s a life changing figure, yet these un-elected people dare to assume positions of significance when in reality they haven’t got a clue!
    Same criticism can be levelled at the old gaol, Old Abbey house, upper reaches, guild hall etc etc, here’s another classic for you?
    The railway bridge in Steventon is falling to bits, apart from that network rail want to replace it with a new bridge to cater for electrification of the main line, irrespective of common sense local councillor Mathew barber has objected/refused permission, he done this to gain kudos from his electorate, in reality his decision had put steventon parish council and the Vale on a collision course with network rail from which there will be only one winner, problem is his decision will cost us thousands of pounds to defend his stance which he/we will loose !

  • 15. Iain  |  November 2, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    You do talk a load of rubbish at times Steve.

  • 16. Daniel  |  November 2, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    I wonder, if consultants were paid half as much, would they be half as good, or half as bad?

  • 17. hester  |  November 2, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    The Friends of Abingdon own the Abbey Buildings – their founding members – people you would lambast as “do-gooders” – raised the money to buy them in the 1940s when the then Borough Council were going to demolish them. Over the intervening 75 years or so they have cared for them and brought them back into community use, using volunteer effort and fundraising – with only minimal financial support from local authorities.

    If the 1940s council had had their way the Buildings would have been long gone; clearly, as can be seen from elsewhere in this thread, the current LAs dont have the resources to look after them, so I find it somewhat strange (or, to be honest, downright offensive) that, given the evident success of the Friends in looking after them so far you say “un-elected people dare to assume positions of significance when in reality they haven’t got a clue”.

  • 18. Hester  |  November 3, 2018 at 8:34 am

    PS in post 11, Steve said the Friends should hand the Abbey Buildings over to “those who do” know how to look after them. Who do you have in mind, Steve? I am sure the Friends would be absolutely delighted to hear from anyone with relevant expertise willing to help with the task of conserving and regenerating this precious asset for Abingdon. We haven’t exactly been inundated with offers so far!

  • 19. Horsesmouth  |  November 3, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Iain I knew you would say that because I used the word accountable and that’s something a good deal of those who take office of one type or another believe they are not and I give the same reply to Hester who said my comments re the F of A were offensive, why? Because I dare question the unquestionable, or hint the do gooders are actually do baders, Hester, back in the real world have you any idea how much the Seventy Five Thousand pounds you blew on consultants actually amounts to? What it would buy?
    6 brand new family saloons, two tickets in the owners suite of an all expenses paid world cruise, 20 years worth of holidays for a family of four, almost four years worth of private education, clear the loans of three typical students, it’s a staggering amount of money Hester and you lambast me for questioning that amount of spending.
    Let me give you another example of do gooders doing badly, the same protagonists were in charge of finance of the Abingdon BID, in just two years they list control of over £200k that was compulsory collected from town businesses, they handed every brass penny over to “consultants” who laughed all the way to the bank then withdrew their services, accounting within the BUD was so bad the vales finance auditors were brought in and concluded it a financial mess and shut the thing down, Hester that was only £200k – what’s going to happen to the millions of lottery money the same people are hoping to get their hands on?
    You have to be accountable Hester and no one is above criticism !

  • 20. Daniel  |  November 3, 2018 at 11:42 am

    As it happens, believe it or not, I wouldn’t have any truck with consultants if their offerings were backed up by some sort of ” if you do this, these are the benefits, don’t pay us until you see those benefits” type gaurantee.

    What I can’t stand is the ” here’s some advice. It might work, it might not, I don’t really care, pay me either way, as I’m totally unaccountable” situation we have now.

    You pay for a meal after it was had. You pay a builder when you are happy. You pay a male escort the morning after… Why are consultants any different?

    I have no issue with The Abbey buildings.

    I want my cash strapped council to chase down the consultants who advised on the double roundabout fiasco. I want my cash strapped council to chase down the consultants who gave us AbITS.

  • 21. ppjs  |  November 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Steve; you had a point originally, but now you’re ranting. £74,000 represents about £2.50 per person in Abingdon. Of course, £74K could buy the things you mention for individuals, but not for the whole town – which was presumably FofA’s purpose in its expenditure. I think you would have every right to be outraged if FoA had spent £74K on six cars!

    Daniel: we do pay for some things up front. We buy rail and airline tickets before we board, we pay for adult education classes before we join the course.

    In other words (broadly speaking), we pay for goods after we have received them; we pay for services before we receive them. That doesn’t cover the question of the quality of goods and services we receive, but that is a slightly different matter.

  • 22. Hester  |  November 3, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Just a couple more points of clarification: the money FoA spent was not raised locally, it was a Heritage Lottery Fund grant – and yes I know that is still public contributions, but of a different sort.
    Secondly, to take Daniel’s point, we did have some very specific outputs from the consultants’ work, which are going to be extremely helpful to this exciting project. They were given detailed briefs and delivered on them – then they were paid.
    And finally, Steve, I did not “lambast” you for questioning -the amount of money spent – it is a free country and you are entitled to express an opinion. What I found offensive was your statement that all the work that has gone into looking after these Buildings over the last 75 years represents “unelected people assuming positions of significance”. As I said, we look forward to hearing from the people you think could do better – if they have the expertise – and energy – needed, they will be welcomed with open arms!
    Off back to do some do-gooding now!

  • 23. Helen Flynn  |  November 7, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Those residents who feel strongly about the boarded up Old Abbey House should write to their local councillors so that the District Council get wind of how strongly people feel about seeing boarded up buildings around Abingdon. They won’t take any notice of what is said on here.

  • 24. Badger  |  November 7, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I notice yet more vandalism in the town, shop windows broken in what was Smiths Chemists in High St and Clockwork Dragon in Lower Bath St… were the community cctv operators asleep while these acts were happening? Surely the recorded footage will provide a clue as to who the perpetrators of these mindless acts are so they can be caught and dealt with before they strike again.

  • 25. Daniel  |  November 7, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Helen, I don’t see the point of writing Helen. What would that do? Surely….either…

    Our councillor’s aren’t aware that boarded up premises doesn’t look good, is poor, etc in which case they are so inept then writing a letter to point out the obvious will be equally fruitless


    They are already aware of how bad it is yet fail to do anything about , because, well, see above.


    They are aware of it ,want to do something about it , but their hands are tied.

    The situation is one of those options. I don’t see how writing a letter will help? But, if it does, I would dearly love to know their response!

    “Oh, thank you for your letter, I didn’t realise that borded up premises was bad for the town, thank you for bringing it to my attention”. See point one above.

    Or…some other response…I wonder?

  • 26. Hester  |  November 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Yes of course one must assume that the District Councillors for Abingdon are aware of the state of OAH and unhappy about it, but remember that they are all up for re-election in May. If they see that MANY of their constituents are unhappy about it, then they will be able to tell their leaders (who make the decisions, but are not from Abingdon) that this really is a problem and they need to do something about it or risk suffering at the ballot box.
    So, while their hands may be tied at present, lots of letters might untie them a bit…

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