Pedal Power at 40 years and 2 months

Pedal Power at 40
Pedal Power have a window painting that celebrates 40 years as a cycle and cycle repair shop. The painting has been up since November and so the business is probably 40 years and 2 months by now.

Pedal Power is a family business and the grand children of the founder work there. They are always helpful.
Pedal Power at 40
This picture shows the sun setting over the Vineyard in Abingdon where you can find Pedal Power and Mr Lee (hairdressing) next door. Mr Lee has been there nearly as long as the cycle shop.
Pedal Power at 40
Those pictures were taken last week. On the same day Tony sent me a picture of the full moon somewhere in Abingdon. Thankyou to him.

25 Comments January 15, 2020

Mr Hemmings’ Hat & Other Curiosities

Mr Hemmings’ Hat
At Abingdon County Hall Museum there is a new temporary exhibition, made of artifacts from the museum collection,  called Mr Hemmings’ Hat & Other Curiosities. (running from 11th January to the 29th March 2020). 2020 is the centenary of the creation of the museum.
Mr Hemmings’ Hat
A display board at the exhibition tells of the history of the museum. Abingdon Town Council established a museum committee in February 1920 and the committee first met in March 1920. The earliest collection were Natural History for education. In the 1930s fossils, shells and corals still dominated with a few antiquities. Then about 1935 more antiquities arrived including stone weapons and tools, Roman coins, a model of St. Nicolas Church and some of the Saxon artifacts dug up in 1934 from the Saxton Road development. In the 1970s Mieneke Cox took over and deplored the lack of visitor numbers. People from the town might visit once and not come again. There were more tourists than town visitors in those days. She set about making the museum more interesting with displays and exhibitions to interest local people. There was another revamp in the 1990s and more recently a major refurbishment in 2012.
Mr Hemmings’ Hat
Among the curiosities on display are Mr Tom Hemmings’ Hat and his Morris Dancing jacket and leg bells. After his death his wife donated them to the museum in 1960. They are in a cabinet with a pair of shoes that had been thrown out into a skip with building rubble in East St Helen Street. Shoes discovered inside strange places in old buildings could have been put there by builders for good luck, or the family as a fertility aid.
Mr Hemmings’ Hat
There is a Erik de Graaff chair – added to the museum as part of the 1994 refurbishment when it was decided that as well as exhibitions there would be concerts. These fold-up triangular-chairs were the resulting design.
Mr Hemmings’ Hat
The Sergeant at Mace’s uniform is displayed; and a portrait of Sir Thomas Fleming, the judge who tried Guy Fawkes. He is not known to have any Abingdon connection so the curiosity is what is he doing there. There are also buns and china commemorating royal occasions, and some artifacts from the Abbey Lodge Free Masons. In another case are some dog collars from the 1700s – one belonging to Mr Morland’s dog.

Fossils still feature in the attic where you can see The Abingdon Fossil Collection. They date from around 153 million years ago when a warm sea covered the Abingdon area. They were preserved in the Kimmeridge clay. There you will find the Abingdon Ichthyosaurus. The oldest objects in the museum are the fossils. The newest exhibit could be the Geiger Counter from the Jet Project at Harwell.

The museum gets busier during half term and weekends. Tuesday in January can be quiet if there is not a school or coach party passing through. The staff were very friendly. There is one member of staff in the sessions hall on the first floor, and another in the attic to tell you about the exhibitions.
Mr Hemmings’ Hat
In the basement from 10 am to 2 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, you can visit The Mousehole Cafe. The name was originally used for the basement cafe when it was a popular teenage hangout from 1958. Back then teenagers drank coffee, and soft drinks – including hot orange squash in the winter. The coffee in those days was just coffee. Nowadays you can get Americano, Cafe latte, Cappuccino, Café Mocha etc. The new Mouse Hole cafe is warm on a Winter’s day and only £1 for a hot drink.

Leave a Comment January 14, 2020

Animals on the Move and Barton Fields in January

Animals on the Move
A family friendly multimedia exhibition called Animals on the Move will be at St Swithun’s Church Hall in Kennington next weekend:
Saturday 18th January 10:30 – 16:30
Sunday 19th January 11:30 – 16:30
Animals on the Move
The exhibition brings together local artists, conservation organisations and scientific researchers to show the journeys made by our migratory animals.
Animals on the Move
I saw the posters and the bird box at the Barton Fields Nature Reserve in Abingdon.
Animals on the Move
The reserve contains meadow and woodland. Lots of catkins on this tree / bush in Barton Fields.
Animals on the Move
There is also scrub and marsh with a number of ponds.

On one side runs the Sustrans cycle path and Abingdon Science Park. On the other side is the Thames Path alongside a stream, separated from the River Thames by a narrow strip of land.

I will return every month in 2020 and see what I can see and capture with the camera.

26 Comments January 13, 2020

33 Squadron raising £33,000 for charity

33 Squadron
On Abingdon Market Place there were soldiers from Squadron 33 of the 4th Regiment of Royal Logistic Corps, based at Dalton Barracks near Abingdon. They had come along with a heavily armoured vehicle which people could have a look around.
33 Squadron
33 Squadron have been challenged by their commanding officer to raise £33,000 over ten months for two charities: the Anthony Nolan charity that seeks to save the lives of people with blood cancer; and ABF – the Soldiers Charity. They were cycling on static bikes the equivalent of the distance between Abingdon and Inverness, where the Royal Logistic Corps are also based.
33 Squadron
Also on the Market Place were Abinit! litter picking volunteers. Some of the soldiers helped them too, as well as taking part in various other energetic activities.
33 Squadron
The 33 Squadron fund raising will culminate in a cycle ride round all the Royal Logistic Corps bases in the UK.

4 Comments January 12, 2020

11th January 1645 – Civil War – Abingdon

Thank you to Mark Turnbull for this piece. All Rights Reserved. Three of the pictures were taken in 2019 at an English Civil War Society re-enactment in Gloucester. The last picture was taken during Abingdon Heritage Open Day 2013 at Culham Bridge.
Civil War - Abingdon
On 11th January 1645 troops commanded by King Charles I’s nephew, Rupert of the Rhine, appeared before Abingdon intent upon seizing it. During the endgame of the British Civil War, the fate of the town was the focus of a desperate and most remarkable struggle that is preserved in a series of letters. Abingdon’s fate caused royalist in-fighting that succeeded only in wounding the King’s cause.

Four months earlier on 14th September 1644, Rupert’s bitter rival, Lord George Digby opened rapid fire correspondence with Parliament’s governor of Abingdon, Major-General Richard Browne. The toxic Digby may have had golden curls and a politician’s silver tongue, but he certainly didn’t have the Midas touch. Considering Abingdon’s garrison were mutinous over pay, he’d assumed it to be ripe for the picking and coaxed Browne to turn coat.

Lord Digby’s courting quill flattered, fawned and offered rewards a-plenty. There was a baronetcy, continued governorship of Abingdon once in royalist hands, and command of a brigade in the King’s army. Digby even offered Browne, “what other reward you shall desire within His Majesty’s power to grant.” Notwithstanding this bait, Browne stood firm, but cunningly offered lip service to the plot. Rupert, meanwhile, advocated an attack but was muzzled by the royalist council. All that marched forth was time itself.
Civil War - Abingdon
Digby resorted to tittle tattle in an effort to alienate Browne from his colleagues; Sir William Waller had supposedly spoken to the Countess of Brentford of the, “rogue Browne, who would use her like a clown.” Digby also promised to send on, “Lord Saye’s letter written with his own hand, whereby you may guess at your future respects with [Parliament].”

The end of November marked ten fruitless weeks, yet still Digby reloaded his ink time and again. On 1st December he pushed for action with an idle threat, “it would be an extreme grief to me, to be an occasion of misfortune to you.”

Having staked his reputation and assured the King of his success, the deluded Digby couldn’t contemplate failure. He even betrayed the intentions of the King’s army. “The pressures of our military men here for some enterprise, either for the taking or blocking up of [Abingdon], are daily such as I suffer much by opposing them.”

Communications between the two pen-pals was to get more explosive. Warning signs such as Parliament sending fifteen-hundred reinforcements to Abingdon failed to dim the blue skies of Digby’s world. Only on 19th December did Browne admit that his, “design was to play with you at your own game, till our works … were strengthened and accommodated with men and provisions …”
Civil War - Abingdon
Digby threatened to publish the letters to prove Browne’s prostitution of himself. Unbelievably, he also persisted and suggested Browne might follow through once royalist troops approach the town. But Browne, acting fast and acting first, published all of these fascinating and insightful letters and saved this chapter in Abingdon’s history for posterity.

One of Browne’s last letters must have galled Digby. “I find you are swelled, and the poison you vent is worse than spiders; but your web is so thin, that the readers will guess by the ridiculousness of your plot.” Browne continued, “If I were a prostitute, my lord, as you call me, why did your honour act the pimp, and offer me a reward with such solicitations so frequently, so hotly, so long a while?”

At this juncture, Rupert and the army were finally let loose upon the by now strengthened defences of Abingdon, and the reinforced Parliamentarians manning them. In the early hours of 11th January 1645, three-thousand royalists were on Culham Hill. An attack was made at Culham Bridge and all went well until Browne’s men waded through waterlogged meadows and outflanked Rupert’s. The Parliamentarians attacked the royalist rear and forced them to withdraw, trapping some on the bridge. Sir Henry Gage, one of the King’s most able commanders, was killed and in obeyance of Parliament’s orders, Browne mercilessly hung all Irish prisoners. The royalist humiliation over Abingdon was an open wound. After only two months as General of the King’s armies, Rupert’s command had been neutered by politicians playing at toy soldiers.
Civil War - Abingdon
Mark Turnbull is the author of an award-winning civil war novel called Allegiance of Blood, set in 1642-43. More information can be found at www.allegianceofblood.com

3 Comments January 11, 2020

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