Bulletin 405

October, 2016

Norman Allum 1929–2016

Norman and Mary joined the Society in 1978, soon after its inception. It was not known then that this was to be a red-letter day for the KHS. Within weeks, Mary was Treasurer and Norman was on the committee. He and Mary had taken over the running of The Burton, which made their lives very full, but they did not let this stand in the way of their commitments. Norman became chairman twice, and was several times offered the post again, but had to decline.

In 1994, Norman came along to the library in order to assist in the running of the History Room. This was part of the contract; free rent for manning the library. All the people of the world seemed to be in pursuit of their ancestry at this time, probably because of the spread of computer communication. The task became burdensome for the librarians who had enough to do without the extra work of finding their clients’ forebears. So everyone was happy, the librarians at the front and the History Society in the back room.   It was at this time that Norman began the masterwork of compiling our database, the most comprehensive programme regarding the people of Kington ever to be attempted. It took him some ten years before nearing completion.

Norman was exceptionally intelligent and dogged. He began this monumental task by reading and recording every name and event from 1907 to 1964 which has appeared in the Kington Times. He followed this with the census records, the births, marriages and deaths, and every mention of Kington and Kingtonians which appeared in journals, books, vestry minutes and directories. He left nothing unresearched and then managed, by some technical wizardry, to transfer this information into the genealogy of the named recipient. Prior to this, he had sought the knowledge gained by the once local boy Ffrancis Payne (d. 1992), to assist in building up a picture of early High Street residents and shop-owners. Some of these memories are very amusing. Of course, all this went into the budding database.

When Mary died, Norman was distraught. He tried to keep going, but was never the same. He sold his house on Gravel Hill and eventually went into care at The Garth, where he passed away on September 1st.

This dedicated historian has gone, but his database and all his efforts for the Society will live on for many years to come. Vera Harrison

Some Dates and Events for Your Diary.

Friday 21st October 7-30pm

Kington History Society AGM & Cheese & Wine evening with a Clay pipe display from John Potts and the Kington Times open at a page from the same date over 60 yrs ago.

We hope to see some new faces and certainly as many members as possible as subs will be due, £10 single £15 joint membership.

We also have some vacancies on the committee, one of which is owing to the retirement of Dr. John Rerrie who is stepping down after twelve years. We hope you can come along and support us and, hopefully, one or two of you may wish to join our busy committee. Please leave your names with our secretary, Julia Reid, 01544 231663.

The programme group also need some new faces too as it is a committed task setting up the programme one year in advance and checking it through the year to ensure that all goes to plan on the day. If you have any ideas, or feel that you can contribute to our programme then please get in touch with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691. Thank you for your support to date and we hope to see you all again over the next years programme. Nancy Wheatland

Dr. Rerrie’s interesting review of Kington’s Old Picture House will appear in the next Bulletin.


Bulletin 404

August-September 2016

KHS day out in Brecon, Friday June 17th
The weather was eventually very good to the few of us who took time out to spend a very pleasant half-day in Brecon. The day started with a tour around the Cathedra, which I am sure many of us have been to before, but perhaps had not looked at things with the experienced eye of our guide, who was able to point out certain points which could have been missed when wandering around unescorted. The Cathedral is a splendid example of restoration especially with the High Altarreredos which was rebuilt as recently as 1930. After the tour, most of us took an opportunity to have lunch at the Pilgrim`s tea rooms before we all met up again at Brecon canal side to cruise down the Brecon canal as far as the Aqueduct over the River Usk, which is where we all got off the barge and stretched our legs in glorious sunshine. The crew, Dave and his daughter Bethan, were delightful and made our day with their banter and chats as one by one we took turns to stand at the helm with Dave. Cream tea was served on the return journey and was a delight to savour on the way back. If any of you have not been on the canal I can definitely recommend going with Dragonfly cruises, either on the tour barge or hiring a picnic launch for yourself. A very relaxing day was had by all and it is regretted that not more members were able to attend.

Bradnor Hill Map Overview and Picnic, Saturday23rd July 2016
This was our last summer outing for this year and we were blessed with a superb day. We had 13 members join us on the hill overlooking Kington and our beautiful old maps interested everyone as they examined an old tithe map, a hand sketched map by Beryl Lewis and several larger maps from 1800. The comparisons were very clear and as any town evolves you could see where the town planners got it wrong and right. The afternoon was full of sharing old stories, especially from our locals present, but everyone contributed a piece of the history of Kington. Our Chairman, Dr John Rerrie was very helpful and was able to explain a lot of the surrounding history to new members. As the afternoon drew on we all got peckish so sat down in selected areas to start our picnic but it was not long before we all gathered in a group sharing our food and drinks with a sense of belonging , friendship and general satisfaction that only good company and good food gives you. On the whole a super afternoon.   Thank you to all who attended and supported the Programme Committee.   Review: Nancy Wheatland

If you have any ideas for future outings or talks please do not hesitate to contact us via the website or by email or call into our new office in the Museum. If we are not there please leave a message on the notepaper provided. Next term starts on Friday 16th September, 7-30pm at Kington Primary school with a very local topic presented by Roger Curtis “The Old Picture House” How many of you have been to see a film show at this iconic building? Come along and find more out about this delightful place. Non members welcome, £2 entrance. Free refreshments served after the talk.
Thank you again for all your support over the year to our programme and the society.   Nancy Wheatland.

Resignation of Mick Turner. We are all very sad to announce that after many, many years our beloved and knowledgeable friend is leaving the committee. Thank you, Mick, for your long and faithful service. We now have a vacancy on the committee and we should be grateful to hear from any interested person at the AGM in October.

Irene Smith We are sorry to announce that Irene has died at the age of 95.   She gave a spirited lecture to us about her life in the ATS as recently as last October. We shall remember her with affection.

Bulletins 403, 404 and Papers 2014-2015. Owing to circumstances beyond my photocopier’s control, I have had to delay the printing of the last issue of Bulletin and have agreed with the committee to send them together. Those wonderful members who receive their Bulletins by email will still do so; their Papers will arrive by post. I hope so much that you enjoy the Papers. Please let me know of your interests in our locality and, if possible, furnish details for the next issue. Vera Harrison.

Bulletin 402

May, 2016

The Importance of Water by Dr. Noel Meeke, of Hereford Waterworks Museum

The Museum opened in 1974, at the former Hereford Waterworks Pumping Station, near the Wye, and has acquired redundant machinery of every type as they became superannuated, and has maintained much of them in working order, and regularly demonstrate their activity with frequent “steam days” and such like.

It is a fallacy that water for domestic and commercial use is superabundant – it may be “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” in the middle of a salty ocean, but ? on not so dry land, – but a lot of global water is secluded in icebergs etc., or in the depth of the earth, and recovering useable water from local rivers requires considerable expense and expertise. It is worth remembering that the colossal infant mortality rate in some overseas countries is mainly due to contaminated water supplies, and that as little as 3% of available water is fit for drinking on its own. Sorting this problem out is likely to prove more of a challenge in the future, than maintaining fuel supplies, and efforts are being made all over to use desalination as a constant source of potable water. It is no surprise, that in areas like London, it is reckoned that the water just drawn from your tap there, has been “round the houses”, more than a dozen times previously – which could be a commendation for the effort of recycling water locally.

Ancient civilizations in the Middle East clustered around important rivers, the supply from which could be used as a bargaining power – or at worst, suffer a division. So we see most towns in this country develop next to rivers, where an available crossing is of more importance than a clean supply of water, and water borne bacterial disease came to the fore in the crowded 1800s. However there was a reversal of the usual problem in Leominster in the 1850s, when the wells of the “well off” became contaminated by sewage from cesspits, and the river water from the Pinsley Brook afforded the poorer households reliant on it – freedom from the typhoid epidemic.

So regulation, and ‘Water Boards’ came in to remedy the situation where possible, drawing water from the rivers, and also pumping out aquifers beneath the clay basin widely spread beneath the County. However the relatively clean water from the aquifers was soon monopolized by the breweries, strategically sited.

So, we see in Hereford, and in Kington, water from the local rivers being abstracted, and when settled, pumped up to a reservoir or tank, as in Kington, near the Church. Hereford had their own challenge comparable to Church Bank, when the ‘better off’ started building on Aylestone Hill, across the Town, in the late 1800s, when habits were changing, and a copious supply of clean water was required, and this meant extra machinery needed just to push the water up a hill, to a tall water tower on site. (Fifty years after Kington!)

The energy required can be supplied by water operated turbines – as at first in Kington, steam engines of various sophistication, horse power, wind powered pumps, and more recently, internal combustion engines and electricity.

So the Museum in Hereford demonstrates all of these, with machinery rescued, initially from Cardiff, (the huge beam engine), supplemented by examples from Kington and Leominster, and in order to engage the next generation – examples of hand operated pumps and such like, with buckets and small tanks that need filling, demonstrating that both effort and ingenuity are needed to produce that glass of water on your table. Review JR.

Dates for your Diary. 

If you have not done so yet please put your names down for our May and June visits.
Sunday May 1st 3pm Tour of Dunfield House & grounds £5 includes afternoon tea.
Friday June 17th 12.30 Tour of Brecon Cathedral Donations please 3pm Cruise on the Brecon canal £6.80 Cream tea extra at £3.70. Booking for both outings is essential so please contact Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691.

We now have a date for our July venture which is a Picnic and map display up on Bradnor hill, Kington Saturday 23rd July 3pm No charge open to all. If you wish to come along please let us know in advance so   we have an idea of numbers. Hope to see you all in the Summer. Best wishes from the Programme committee and thank you for your support.

We return for our indoor talks on Fri 16th Sept. with a fascinating talk by Roger Curtis about “The old picture house” in Kington.

Editor: Vera Harrison

Bulletin 401

April, 2016, Collection of Mystery Items  presented by Alan Stoyel

This was really an archaeological ramble – examples ranging from Mediaeval China – a Ming jar, to Canon Pyon – an animal pound, via Spain, and from Roman times up to yesterday.

First off was a French acorn grinder, to produce a type of flour, with the Ming jar for ginger, then a picture of a series of spaces in a brick wall for skeps for honey bees, and a North Country barn next to a horse drawn threshing mill for grain, and for those reaping the grain with a sickle – a pair of protection sheaths (wooden) for the vulnerable left-hand.

For building purposes, we saw a triple brick mould for hand prepared bricks, and a neat mortar flasher for use later on, and a picture of a factory site in Cornwall – not for tin mining, but for brick making, and then even a lime kiln – in Pembrokeshire. On a more homely scale, we saw a tinplate candle mould, for making a series of tallow candles (with wicks).

Various weaving activities were demonstrated by an actual Roman loom weight, a set of tenterhooks for stretching newly prepared cloth, and a picture of the large upstairs windows needed by cloth workers, for their activities. Of similar interest, was a Spanish grass (esparto) crusher – as the flattened grass was used for woven productions.

Industry through the ages, was demonstrated by showing a North Spanish site of an extensive gold mine, where material was washed out by water brought to the site by a leat of c. 50 mile long – built by the Romans. Underground work was shown by a drill bit used in a tin mine, and a neat instrument for measuring angles in the depths of the mine, and of our own times now – a pressure gauge for a steam engine, and another for measuring hydraulic pressure, when water was being supplied over an area under high pressure, some being used to operate machinery. Very decorative, was a large square tile, neatly perforated all over, to allow drying of newly made malt in a kiln.

Pictorial reminders of British history, were demonstrated by one of a large Georgian naval victualling depot, in Plymouth dockyard, and by another of a Victorian fort casemate, as part of the proposed defence around Plymouth, provoked by the arrival of another Napoleon across the Channel! Review JR.

Programme Dates from Nancy

Friday 15th April 7-30pm at Kington Primary school “Water! the most precious substance on earth” talk by Dr Noel Meeke from the Hereford waterworks Museum. This should be a fascinating and inspiring talk about something we all take for granted. All welcome Non members £2 with free refreshments afterwards.
This is our last indoor meeting before we break for the Summer recess So if you have not done so yet please put your names down for our May and June visits.
Sunday May 1st 3pm Tour of Dunfield House & grounds £5 includes afternoon tea
Friday June 17th 12.30 Tour of Brecon Cathedral Donations please 3pm Cruise on the Brecon canal £6.80 Cream tea extra at £3.70   Booking for both outings is essential so please contact Nancy Wheatland.

We now have a date for our July venture which is a Picnic and map display up on Bradnor hill, Kington
Saturday 23rd July 3pm   No charge open to all. If you wish to come along please let us know in advance so   we have an idea of numbers. Hope to see you all in the Summer.   Best wishes from the Programme committee and thank you for your support.

We return for our indoor talks on Fri 16th Sept. with a fascinating talk by Roger Curtis about “The old picture house” in Kington.


The Kington History Society will be moving from the library very soon and will be taking up quarters at the Kington Museum.  We are most grateful to the staff there for their good endeavours on our behalf.

The Museum staff are always looking for good friends who will assist with the manning of the Museum.   Please help if you can; the job is not onerous and you will soon fit into it perfectly.

Editor V. Harrison

Bulletin 400

March, 2016

The Old Buildings of Kington by Duncan James

Duncan James required no introduction as his work is known and respected throughout this area. His reputation as a speaker meant that the Primary School hall was packed to capacity on Friday February 19th for his talk on “The Old Buildings of Kington”.

Beginning in Old Kington, by the church, and moving down through the town, Duncan took us on a ‘photographic stroll’, looking in general at the exteriors of buildings and pointing out features of interest. Explaining that he had not been inside many of the buildings, he showed various attractive details and features which help to date them.

The first building seen was a cottage on Campion Lane, behind the church. This has timber framing and, from internal features, was shown to be the wing of a medieval hall house. Despite its later appearance, could the adjoining stone part of the range still contain evidence of its medieval origins?

John Abel, ‘the King’s Carpenter’ built Lady Hawkins Grammar School in the 17th century, and Duncan believes Abel may well have had a hand in other Kington buildings. Just below the church, at the top of the hill, our attention was drawn to ‘Porch House’, a 16th century timber-framed building which was moved from Bridge Street and re-erected.

Two gracious houses just off The Square had caught Duncan’s eye and he was particularly delighted by the elegant stable block in the garden of one of them. He confessed that the 1885 brick Market Hall, with its later 1897 clock-tower, is a particular favourite of his, and he drew our attention to the brickwork ornamentation and remarked on the obvious pride the builders had in their work.

Some of the pictures we saw were of the backs and roofs of buildings with which we are all familiar. There are strange juxtapositions and structures, such as loading-doors and blocked windows, which many of us had not noticed previously. He also took us inside one or two buildings in the town centre and showed some mouth-watering medieval features which have survived. Shop fronts and mosaic doorsteps were noted, and a particular feature of town houses in Kington was demonstrated – little windows in gables or pediments at the top of the main elevations.

Accompanied by Duncan’s lovely photographs and his consummate skill with Powerpoint presentations, this was a most enjoyable and informative talk. The appreciative audience came up with interesting questions and we all felt we would like more. Perhaps Duncan will now be inspired to carry out further investigations in Kington and, hopefully, will return at a future date to show us more discoveries inside and outside the buildings of our fascinating little town.

Review by Alan & Critchell Stoyel


Forthcoming Events

Friday 18th March 7-30pm at Kington primary school. “Mystery objects” presented by our Vice Chairman Alan Stoyel.   All welcome Non members usual £2 entrance fee. Come along and be amused, challenged and entertained with numerous items that baffle even the cleverest of us.

Friday 15th April 7-30pm at   Kington primary school

“Water! The most precious substance on Earth” Presented by Dr Noel Meeke from the waterworks Museum in Hereford. This talk will inform you of many stories and innovations in the 19th century including why Kington earned the reference “The Kington Stench” and how Leominster nearly lost all its population through dirty water. How the installation of clean running water in the later 1800s made such a difference to people’s lives and health. So bring your “bucket” and get filled up with clean watery information that changed the future for us all.

The above is our last indoor meeting before we break up for the Summer Recess and have our outings/visits. If you wish to come along to the outings in May & June please make sure your names are put forward. Details will be at the next two meetings but if you are unable to attend then please book with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691

Sunday May 1st 3pm Tour of Dunfield House & Grounds with afternoon tea £5 all welcome, booking essential. This is a unique opportunity to see a superb example of Victorian splendour, both indoors and outside. Please be aware that steep steps are to be negotiated outside and water to cross, so sensible footwear essential.

Friday 17th June 12.30 Tour of Brecon Cathedral (Donations) 3pm Cruise on the Brecon canal with Dragonfly Cruises £6.80 Cream tea at £3.70 each Booking essential Standard car parking fees to be paid by members. Car sharing available just ask or put your need to have a lift on the appropriate form at our meetings.

Thank you for your support Hope to see you all at our forthcoming events. Programme Committee

Bulletin 399

February, 2016

Talk and Demonstration by Barry Evans

Our speaker is a local lad from Hergest, and although originally fascinated by a Fordson tractor from a nearby farm – became enraptured by horse drawn farm vehicles from Hergest Court, and was soon familiar and friendly with the massive horses and teams used with them. Living locally he became familiar with the tremendous varieties of vehicles used in farming, and their transport needs, and began to acquire skills and equipment which allowed him to build scale models – of ploughs, carts, waggons, mobile cider presses, and even a recreation of a Napoleonic era field piece complete with limbers and tender. Problems mainly existed in trying to match available model horses to the precise scale of the recreation, so some allowances were appreciated.

The single wheel barrows, all in wood, were usually made by apprentices as their passing out job – and as such, were nicely finished and very durable, wooden wheels included. Two wheeled affairs were hand guided ploughs, horse drawn – two to four per team depending on the soil conditions. The all metal Ransomes plough marked the epitome of that era. Also on two wheels were carts, either flat bedded, or with a loading space, and probably within recent memory, such as milk carts and bread vans, drawn by a single horse, who usually knew the route better than the drivers, and was also susceptible to ‘remote control’. (i.e. “walk on”)

For lowland areas – two wheeled farm carts were O.K., but among proper hills, wheels could be replaced by skids or a sledge – no brakes needed.

A possible curiosity was the ‘hermaphrodite’, a vehicle originating with two wheels under a tipper body, but expands to 4 wheels by the addition of a flat deck in front for harvest time, with a neat arrangement allowing the shafts etc. to be replaced.

With four wheelers, we are into waggons proper, and eventually even coaches!

Waggon wheels were ‘dished’, to spread the load evenly, and to keep them close to the chassis, and tyre treads varied with road conditions and soil types, and being iron or steel, required close collaboration between wheelwrights and smiths – neighbours often by necessity. Apart from the tyre, the wooden wheel had an elm hub, oak spokes, and ash felloes for the circle – all chamfered not for decoration but for weight control.

The moveable front axle allowed steering – a quarter lock for a farm waggon being sufficient to get it through a field gateway, but delivery vans needing U turns in town streets, had small front wheels, which could turn under the chassis.

The one vehicle with which we are all still familiar is Turners Baker’s waggon, from the mill, said to be due for some attention. This could manage a considerable load, and following closure of the Kington Tramway, Turners had to get flour and malt etc. to Brecon with a four horse team, sufficient for that journey, all securely tethered to the shafts and whipple trees etc.

And so into the realm of romance – with the Mail Coaches – designed for speed and long distances, light in weight, hung on bouncy elliptic springs, and with 1½ minute change over times every 11 to 15 mile – managed by having the animals all harnessed to a single pole by traces, which could be quickly unhitched from just under the drivers’ seat, and replaced by those prepared and on stand by in the yard – and off they went.

So what about the Napoleonic era cannon? – all beautifully detailed – well I have put that down for use as a bird scarer – until sufficient small children were about for such purposes.


Next talk on Friday 19th Feb 7-30 pm at Kington primary School
We have the delight of Duncan James attending our Society and talking about our Historic market town of Kington. He has been looking at Historic houses in Kington and the way they have evolved in time So please come along and be enlightened by his words of wisdom. Not to be missed especially if you live in Kington, your house maybe one he has illustrated.

Summer outings

May 1st Sunday 3pm Tour of Dunfield House and grounds with afternoon tea £5 each Open to non members. Be aware there are steep steps to negotiate and water to cross in the grounds so sensible foot wear to be worn. If you feel you cannot explore the grounds do not be put of attending, there is still plenty to see on level ground and the panoramic view form the front of the house is breathtaking. So hopefully see you all on the day

Friday 17th June 1230 Tour of Brecon cathedral {Donations) 3pm Cruise on the Brecon canal with Dragon fly cruises £6.80 Cream tea £3.70
Parking charges apply in the town Bring a picnic or use one the many delightful tea rooms in Brecon including the Cathedral and the frontage on the canal.

If you are wishing to attend any of the above please book with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691
Look out for a date for our July outing which will be in the form of a picnic up on Bradnor hill with an overview and display of some of the old maps that we have in our possession A super opportunity to compare the old and new of Kington with maps to see the town in a different perspective

Editor: Vera Harrison

Bulletin 398

A.T.S. Stories

by Irene Smith

(A talk on October 16th after the A.G.M.)

The Auxiliary Territorial Service started in 1934 as a group of women Volunteers, allied to the British Army. There has always been some association between the Regular Army and the women – originally quite informally – “camp followers” was one description – but a precedent was set in the early 1900s when a proper nursing service was founded – the Q.As, and the A.T.S. itself was formally so named in 1938. During the Second World War, conscription began for this service, and also involved the WRENS and WAAFS for the other services.

Obviously what began with a group of likeminded women, created the situation for forming strong friendships, which endured, and survived considerable trials caused by the endless parades and formal drilling on parade grounds and elsewhere, often under the gaze of Sergeant Majors schooled in drilling unruly or unwilling males.

Camp was obviously that of huts (very basic) equipped with straw mattresses on bunks, separated by lockers, in which one could store ones attire – the khaki knickers included.

Jobs required were those of carpentry, clerks, mechanics, and welders, all rather ‘ordinary’ sounding, but quite basic, and for real specialization, gun sight duties on anti aircraft batteries were vital. Inactivity lead to attendance at lectures, spiced with inspections for head lice.

All this activity was confined to Britain during the most of the war, but after V.E. day – services were required in Europe – some routine, but some labelled “hush- hush”.

However our lecturer found herself posted across the Atlantic, and was on the great ocean liner “Ile de France”, acting as a Troopship, returning soldiers to North America, and landed in Halifax, from where she eventually wended her way to Washington, to get sorted out, only to be told that she was to go to Jamaica – via Miami, and eventually succeeded. However with the shortage of sea passages back to the U.K., it was some time before she was able to return home, to a more conventional existence, and pick up on her old friendships. Review JR.

Social & Quiz; the annual rave-up.

Our Chairman was unable to be with us for this event and his Deputy, Alan Stoyel, opened the proceedings, followed by a few words from the President, who was responsible for compiling and presenting the Quiz.

This year, the quiz of forty questions had a very respectable response, the winner, Julia Reid, achieving thirty-five and a half points. The raffle was so generously supplied by members that many ticket-holders won more than one prize, which again, generously, they requested that the subsequent wins were to be “put back in the bag”.

There was a wonderfully tasty array of things to eat, which were plentiful and a joy to the palate. The display of the Christmas fare was tastefully arranged by the ever willing Nancy Wheatland. How ever did we manage before Nancy and Mark moved the Kington?

It was great to see our old friend John Potts on duty at the door, assisted, as always by dear Thelma. Our usual trusty members were quick to clear up and everything was put in order by ten o’clock.

Our thanks to all who participated in making this event such a happy one.   Vera Harrison


Dates for your Diary

January 15th 2016 7.30pm Kington Primary School “Agricultural equipment from a by-gone era”
Barry Evans has a unique hobby of making models of by-gone agricultural equipment, he has accumulated quite a collection some of which you may have seen at other exhibitions in Kington town. He will not only display these models but talk about them and how they worked from the mid 18th century to mid 19th century. This collection is a prime example of how things were done long ago, how men and machines worked together using animal and man power only to perform tasks around the farm and small industrial areas. So come along and be transported to a time forgotten with no Diesel fumes or “cyber” technology of today.

Friday Feb 19th 7.30pm Kington primary School “Kington Houses” talk by Duncan James
Duncan James is a popular speaker and an expert on black & white houses so we have invited him back to give us an insight on the houses in Kington.   He will be viewing a wide range of houses in Kington to see what they can tell us now & what they might be able to tell us in the future through a closer, more detailed study.

A few interiors will be shown to illustrate how historic interest & importance maybe hidden in the town. Not to be missed if you want to learn more about our Market town of Kington!
Just enough space to wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Editor:   V. Harrison

Bulletin 397

Remembering the Fallen, Commemorating the First World War

by Lt. General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A Joint meeting with Kington Remembers

An attempt at proper commemoration of those who died as a result of war are, from wounds or disease, in the service of this Country, or those of the Commonwealth only began in the early days of WWI, when a Red Cross Unit came across a recent ‘cemetery’, with at least plain crosses there, but no details, or any registration of the site or burials. They decided that those who lay there should be properly identified, and that the details should be recorded and available. This has lead to the subsequent efforts to properly record and identify every casualty in any part of the World, from the Commonwealth, so that their sacrifice is noted and acknowledged, and also for the benefit of their families, who often suffered multiple losses.

This was a complete change from previous occasions, where mass communal graves, if any, were denoted perhaps by a solitary boulder, one for each ‘side’ possibly, as at Culloden in 1745. Waterloo was no different – but in 1861, an elaborate memorial was concocted in Brussels. Cemeteries from the Crimea and Scutari were mostly unmarked, and in South Africa, plain cairns marked the resting places of combatants from both sides, with a few actual monuments for individuals. In the Egyptian campaign, all were buried together – whether wounded or Cholera victims, and there was no follow up.

So, in 1915, a Graves Registration Committee commenced accurate recording, and had to cope with 50,000 cases that year. Choices began to be made about permanent sites, and in 1917, it was decided that all casualties of the war from land or sea action should be dealt with (‘air casualties’ came later).

Most of the action was in France or Belgium at first, but later became more or less world wide, and also those who died back at home were included, with a number of cemeteries, the largest being at Brookwood, near London. There were some memorials that were not actual grave sites, and also Germans and Poles might be noted.

So this organization required a huge disparate, but dedicated staff, and funding is from the War Office budget, and Commonwealth countries contribute ‘pro rata’, according to the numbers involved. Most staff are gardeners and stonemasons, and fairly early on, a standard headstone was chosen, of appropriate or local material, with room for an inscription, with a name if known, and a plain religious symbol. Monuments for multiple memorials – which may include names of those whose grave is unknown, early on involved Lutyens, and Gertrude Jekyll became an advisor for the choice of floral accompaniments – to emphasize, rather than distract attention from the memorials. The inscription “Their name liveth for evermore” was suggested by Kipling, who had suffered a loss himself, and the lettering was in up to date Gill typeface.

Lutyens was concerned with the huge memorials for those with no known grave, with adequate space left for additions, as they are constantly turned up. The best known are those at Menin and Thiepval.. The sites are carefully managed, with the vegetation tending to frame, rather than to overshadow the memorials, and all contribute to a sense of peace, all very different from the turmoil with which it all began. Review JR.


Bulletin 396

 November, 2015

October Talk: The Weobley Ash Story by Dave Pickersgill

Few people give a thought to the small farm at Weobley Ash as they speed along the Turnpike towards Presteigne – a small outpost of Staunton on Arrow Parish, with an interesting and significant history.

It was thought that the little farm was started as a squatter’s cottage in the early 1600s. However, as the cottage was a fairly substantial building, next to the old main road between Pembridge and Presteigne, running from the Broadford towards the Rodd (and now only a footpath), and is neatly tucked into the corner of a planned field, which in Herefordshire, where enclosures of the common field started in the early 1600s, by consent, it is more likely that it was the basis of a proper agricultural building, as landholders started to move out and occupy areas nearer to the land which they worked, and for which they were responsible, and this is also very obvious in other Midland Counties when field enclosure took place in the 1700s and later, by consent or from Parliamentary Acts.

The name however is ancient – “Weobley” is a later corruption of “Whitty Tree” – the Mountain Ash, and a nearby field is labelled “Whetly field” in 1842.

Strangely, in the 1700s, during Harley ownership times, there was a Court Case as an ash tree locally was cut down without authority.

So the development of the site demonstrated the progress of rural history in the area – prosperity in Georgian farming led to an extensive, and in the 1800s with the arrival of the Railway – the branch line from Titley Junction to Presteigne, there is a further extension, and Railway cottages appeared to house permanent way workers, and a loading bay is placed next to the line to allow milk churns and other local produce to be dispatched – as much of Herefordshire farming was aimed at consumption in Midland towns and cities.

Otherwise, it was also a busy time, with a cobbler present, and also a laundry, able to make use of a well, over 100 feet down through the alluvial clay of the valley.

Unhappily there was a fire in 1960, and withdrawal of Railway services meant that activities now became focused on farming and food products prepared on site, to be delivered by the nearby main road, and the ancient building, now part of the Rodd Estate from 1967, acquired extensive timber cladding, to bring it right up to date, and our speaker may occasionally be seen behind a stall in a local market with his local ware on offer. Review by JR.

This talk was given at the AGM, the second talk we had that evening by Irene Smith will be reviewed in our December Bulletin. Many thanks to both speakers for an excellent evening.


Our November meeting is a joint affair with Kington Remembers WW1. There will be an entrance fee for non society members so all our members will have a free pass as this talk is not at the school but at The Burton Hotel Nov 20th 7-30pm and is a splendid talk on the Commonwealth war Graves by Lt Gen Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE. Your passes will have been available at our AGM or you can apply for one with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691 or Julia Reid 01544 231663. Please be aware if you do not have a pass then you will have to pay entrance as the people on the desk will not know if you are a KHS member. Thank you again in advance for your support on this evening. Hope you all like the look of the next year’s programme and if you have any ideas for talks or visits then please approach a KHS committee member.Nancy Wheatland .

(Please remember the Social & Quiz next month, December 4th. Details in next Bulletin).

Editor: V. Harrison

Bulletin 395

October, 2015

Kington History Society visit to The Kingfisher Line at Titley Junction

Titley Junction was the hub of a small network of lines in the north-west of Herefordshire and into Radnorshire. It was the junction of four minor rail lines from New Radnor, Presteigne, Leominster and Eardisley. Despite its relative isolation, the junction enabled travellers to connect up to all areas of the United Kingdom. There could be up to 32 trains a day using the junction. Titley Junction finally closed to freight traffic in September 1964, (the passenger traffic having finished in 1955.) The present owners took over in 2001.

On Friday, August 28th. at 5.30 p.m., members of the Society and visitors assembled at Titley Junction. We had a warm welcome from Bob and Lesley Hunt and their volunteers. Waiting on the platform was Peckett tank engine no. 1738 (built in 1926) in the guise of Percy the green engine. The weather was kind to us with sunshine and only the threat of a shower. Our driver was to be Bob Hunt, our fireman, Mike Haines and our guard, Harvey Jones.

I, for one, felt an air of excitement as we boarded the train for our first trip. Like many members I have fond memories of travelling by steam train, I particularly remember a trip north from Hereford to Morecambe and back in the 1950s. You never forget the sound and the smell of a steam engine. In total, we enjoyed six journeys up and down the track and a great time was had by all. The children who joined us had great fun waving the guard’s flag and blowing the whistle.

The restored line runs for a mile through the woods westward towards Kington but unfortunately can never be extended due to missing bridges etc! We are very fortunate that Bob and Lesley, helped by their band of volunteers, have committed so much time, energy and money to keeping Titley Junction in a good state of repair.

There are other things to see there, including a wonderful working signal box complete with easy chair and stove. Also a super ‘holiday cottage’ consisting of a carriage with beautiful views across the countryside. A large engine shed has recently been erected which should make winter maintenance a little easier.

During our visit we were all treated to refreshments which were much appreciated and in return for them and our unforgettable visit, we were delighted to make a donation to help with the expense of keeping Titley Junction ‘in steam’.   Review by Julia Reid

Next meeting AGM, Friday October 16th, 7.30pm at the Kington Primary School.

Subs due so please remember to renew your membership We have lost a lot of members this past year and so we are needing your support. Thank you in advance for this.

John Potts will be back on the front desk and we wish him well as he makes very good progress from his stroke almost a year ago. We have two speakers for the night, Dave Pickersgill from Weobley Ash and Irene Smith, so come along and be well entertained. Our November meeting is a joint affair with Kington Remembers WW1. There will be an entrance fee for non society members so all our members will have a free pass as this talk is not at the school but at The Burton Hotel Nov 20th 7-30pm and is a splendid talk on the Commonwealth war Graves by Lt Gen Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE. Your passes will be available at our AGM or you can apply for one with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691 or Julia Reid 01544 231663 Please be aware if you do not have a pass then you will have to pay entrance as the people on the desk will not know if you are a KHS member. Thank you again in advance for your support on this evening.   Hope you all like the look of the next years programme and if you have any ideas for talks or visits then please approach a KHS committee member Look forward to seeing you all at the AGM. Best wishes, Nancy Wheatland (Programme sub-committee)

Brian Hatton and the Changing Landscape Illustrated talk by Robin Holloway

It was interesting to have a talk on Herefordshire’s best known artist during Hereford’s Art Week, but it seems sad that most of his output from a relatively short life is hardly to be seen with any ease or convenience, and this illustrated talk highlighted our loss, and demonstrated one facet of his considerable talent.

Brian was born into a close knit family in Hereford, and he was always encouraged from every side – parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and eventually friends and far off contacts with helpful connections and interests. He was using pencil and paper from the age of two years, drawing animals, especially in motion, and quickly graduated to sketches of people of all sorts, which showed their nature and attitude quite remarkably. He had such an interest in horses, that it was not surprising that he soon acquired one for himself, and became a skilled rider – often leaping onto an unsaddled animal for a quick canter.

As his horizons expanded, he began to explore the countryside to the west of their home in Broomy Hill, and graduated from pencil sketches to pen and ink, pastel and charcoal, and especially water colours, and eventually he began to master oils, but that medium was never his favourite. So it was his water colours that we liked best, and he seemed to have a particular skill in making what might just have been a pretty landscape, develop before your eyes with subtle use of highlights, and careful emphasis of any shadows to frame ‘the action’.

As part of the demonstration contained colour photos of the sites of the original paintings, still largely recognisable – it was obvious that some ‘life’ was missing from the modern medium, and although colourful, they seemed a little flat by comparison.

As a youngster, Brian had been a bit chesty, and so (happily) spent much of his early school years – terms and hols – in Swansea at the seaside, and if ever there was a ‘scape’ in motion, this was it, and perhaps the sense of restlessness was transferred in time landwards.

So in his drawings and paintings of animals, especially working horses (common enough in those days) there is always an appreciation of the effort that the animals are using, and any humans are used to denote the scale and attraction of the animal subjects (extras in the cast you might say).

Hatton also became a superb portrait and figure painter, with very sensitive depictions of his subjects (so far as we can tell now). Unhappily he was a casualty of World War I, but had he survived, there is no doubt that he would have been recognized nowadays as among the greats in that respect also, and it is our loss that there is such a poor exposure of his art in his home county.   Review JR.

Our own dear Duncan Noble has issued a new book: Dawn of the Horse Warriors: Chariot and Cavalry Warfare, 3000 to 600 BC.

Those members who have heard Duncan speak will remember how vivid and interesting his researches have been.   We are delighted to mention this new work in our Bulletin as being an excellent read.   Copies may be obtained from Amazon Price: £19.99 The book signing at the museum went well, selling 14 copies.

Annual Subscriptions

It is that time of year again when subscriptions are due. We are giving our Bank Account details so that anyone wishing to pay by Standing Order may do so. It is very quick and easy to set one up and saves you having to remind yourself if and when to pay your subscription. Please ask for details.

Many Thanks, John Potts, Treasurer