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A very different use for Newbury Racecourse in 1914 and Turnpike turmoil 25 years ago

Old Memories Revived: A look back at the NWN archives

Sarah Bosley


01635 886655

A very different use for Newbury Racecourse in 1914 and Turnpike turmoil 25 years ago

Newbury Racecourse was requisitioned by the War Office in August 1914 and turned into a prisoner-of-war camp.
Civilians from enemy nations, known as ‘aliens’, were billeted in the stables alongside wounded German officers.
Internees were considered low risk and, therefore, granted more freedom and privileges within the camp.
More than 3,000 men were guarded by the National Reserve, until they were moved on to the Isle of Man or ships stationed off the south coast. The camp closed completely in December 1914.

150 years ago - April 8, 1869

During Friday night a daring burglary was committed upon the premises of Mr G Drinkwater, of Cold Ash.
The burglars obtained admission through the cellar, and abstracted about £10 in cash, and a ham, cheese, and other provisions were stolen.
On the same evening the “Castle” public house was also broken into, and money and goods stolen therefrom.
A rumour is in circulation to the effect that the residence of the Rev WM Pickthall was visited (though without success), but we believe this is not correct.
The burglars have not been taken, but the police are not without some clue, which it is hoped may prove effectual in apprehending the depredators.

125 years ago - April 5, 1894

For some time past there has been a feeling among some of our townsmen that a Quoit Club was desirable in Kingsclere, accordingly a Public Meeting was called, when a large number attended.
A club was formed with 28 members. Mr F Lewis was appointed captain Mr A North, sub-captain and Mr W Lambourne, hon sec and treasurer.
Rules were also adopted and the rate of subscription agreed upon. The practices, which start this week, are fixed for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

100 years ago - April 3, 1919

There was a good deal of valedictory oratory at the local police courts during the week-end consequent upon the leave-taking of the superintendent, the inspector and a sergeant, who are retiring from the force.
They all had long and honourable records of service, and justified the kind things said about them by the magistrates, chief constable, the clerks, the legal profession and the press.
The spokesman for the latter indulged in a little homily on the advantage of co-operation between the two bodies who had important duties to perform, one to prevent and punish crime, the other to give publicity to their efforts in doing so.
The flood of good wishes quite overpowered the recipients, who were unable to give full
expression to their feelings of appreciation.
All will wish the retiring officers health and happiness in their retirement.

75 years ago - April 6, 1944

Leckhampstead Sunflower day resulted in the sum of £12 8s 2d being collected in this parish for the Waifs and Strays Society.
As the society is caring for well over 6,000 children, more than 1,000 being war cases, they are very grateful for this response.

50 years ago - April 10, 1969

Newbury seemed to be blowing hot and cold over Easter.
Temperatures on Easter Monday and Tuesday spiralled to 72 degrees F, but during Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights the mercury dropped to below freezing point.
The highest temperature recorded on Sunday was 61 degrees F, with the lowest 30. Monday and Tuesday saw people sweltering in 72 degrees of heat, and shivering at night in temperatures of 30 and 29 respectively.
Newbury is also experiencing a mini-drought. There has been no rain recorded at the pumping station since March 30.
Traffic was heavy around Newbury over the Easter period, but there were no major hold ups on the roads – with the exception of Saturday, when it seemed as if the whole of Newbury’s car owners had decided to go shopping at the same time.
Many people took over an hour to pass through Newbury with traffic jammed solid between the Clock Tower and the Robin Hood roundabout at about noon.
At one time there was a queue over 100 yards long waiting to turn right into Parkway from London Road.
Not surprisingly, ice cream sales soared with the heat.
Many shops were caught on the hop by the weather, and did not have enough ice cream in stock to cope with the demand.
With the swimming pool not open until May, many youngsters sought the cool waters of the Kennet over Easter, while more crowds gathered at every bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal on Good Friday to watch the canoeists taking part in the Devizes to Westminster race.

25 years ago - April 7, 1994

Two former political colleagues clashed over the future of Turnpike School on Tuesday evening.
Paul Hannon and Alan Thorpe, both members of the Liberal Democrat team which swept to control Newbury District Council in 1991, were on different sides as Mr Hannon introduced a motion condemning a county council decision to close the school.
Mr Hannon (St John’s), who has left the Liberal Democrats and is seeking to join Labour, proposed a motion urging the county council to suspend the decision and hold a full public examination of the school’s future.
Mr Hannon said the county council have never revealed the financial information on which the decision was based.
With an unlikely combination of Conservatives and some Liberal Democrats backing him, Mr Hannon’s motion was passed by the council’s policy and resources committee meeting.
Mr Hannon’s motion now goes before the full council meeting next week.
However, council leaders, reluctant to be in conflict with their Liberal Democrat counterparts on the county council, may propose a less strongly-worded motion as an alternative.
Mr Thorpe said the alternative motion recognised the county council’s problems in providing the National Curriculum, while financially constrained by pupil numbers.
The motion will blame the effect of government legislation for the closure of Turnpike.
After the meeting, he admitted that senior Liberal Democrats on the district council wished that Mr Hannon had not raised his motion in the first place.
He said “Obviously, we would not wish to be seen in conflict with our colleagues at county, because we understand the decision they took.”
Mr Hannon replied “At the public meeting at Turnpike, nobody really felt the government was to blame for this.
“I think it’s playing games to pretend that it is. What seems to be happening is nobody is prepared to take responsibility for this particular decision.”

10 years ago - April 2, 2009

Speak to anyone dealing with the victims of the recession in West Berkshire, and they tell you one thing: it’s still getting worse.
Young people are unable to get jobs, families are struggling for money and experienced professionals have been hit with unexpected redundancy.
The most obvious indicator of the downturn’s local effect has been the rising numbers of people drawing the dole.
The most recent figures, measured two weeks before Vodafone axed some 170 jobs at its Newbury headquarters, show that on February 12, there were 2,042 claimants in West Berks.
More than 500 people had lost their jobs since the previous month, while a year earlier, in February 2008, just 795 people were drawing Jobseekers Allowance in the district.
And the numbers of people claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit is now 38 per cent higher than last year, according to West Berkshire Council.
However, beyond the headline figure, which everyone expects will soon indicate further job losses in March, dozens of companies have imposed pay freezes, wage cuts or cut back workers’ hours.
Newbury Citizens Advice Bureau has found itself inundated with people seeking help.
Since Christmas, it has received an average of 220 enquiries a month about employment, up from 138 just a year ago.

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