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ISSUE 5 – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 – FREE

Acting the part with Rooftop Theatre Behind the scenes of Ludlow’s Museum Resource Centre Dinham Green team Winning at Ludlow Racecourse Lost & found: Nag’s Head pub sign Tapestry talent of Sandpit Jack Train line facts

“You have to admire the dedication of someone who’s prepared to blow out the internal organs of a caterpillar, stuff and then hand-paint it in the name of science” IN the midst of Ludlow, hidden behind the innocuous shiny façade of the Library, lies a secret treasure trove of goodies. There’s gold and silver, an art collection that would be envied by any gallery, an extensive photo library of Ludlow life over the years, beautiful clothes from past eras, fossils, minerals, stuffed birds and, best of all, woolly mammoths. Yup, there really are mammoths in these here hills. Preserved only as bones (minus the famous wooliness), the mammoths sit behind closed doors in the wonderful Ludlow Museum Resource Centre, a star attraction among (deep breath) over 150,000 exhibits held there. And best of all, it’s open to everyone – just as long as you book your tour in advance. The charismatic (and frighteningly knowledgeable) Jackie Tweddle and Daniel Lockett, both of whom look after the collections, offered to take me on my very own behind the scenes tour. From geography

and natural history to archaeology and social history, the sheer number of items in the collection is mindboggling – it’s hard to know where to start, until I remember a friend’s comment about mammoths (made, I thought, in jest). Daniel and Jackie’s eyes light up and we’re off at breakneck speed through secret locked doors into an Indiana Jonesesque world full of huge rooms, thousands of boxes, shelving units and display cases galore. Purposebuilt from National Lottery and Council money, specifically to house the county’s rich collection of goodies, each of the Collections’ temperature-controlled storerooms house literally thousands of pieces essential to preserving and telling Shropshire’s story. In 1986, the bones of four mammoths – one male and three juveniles – were unearthed at a sand and gravel pit in Condover in Shropshire. Over 200 bones were discovered including the most

complete male mammoth skeleton ever found in Britain. Standing eleven foot tall and weighing over five tons, the male was an important discovery but the find became even more important when it rewrote the scientific perception of when mammoths died out – the bones dated back just 14,000 years, not 18,000. Daniel reveals that, as a schoolboy, he helped out on the dig during the holidays. Now the custodian of the majority of the find (Cardiff Museum have one of the juvenile jaws on loan), surely the dig inspired him to go into the museum business? He grins and shakes his head. “Oh no, I already knew I wanted to be a palaeontologist.” Jackie is also Shropshire born and bred, originally from Dorrington but now based in Pulverbatch. The duo’s enthusiasm for the collection is evident as they wheel back heavy shelving units to reveal drawers full of thousands of fossils, from beautiful 300-million-year-

– www.ludlowledger.co.uk –

old ferns to ammonites, trilobites and the skull of a rather rare two foot long herbivorous reptile, the wonderfully named rhynchosaur. “Most of the fossils are local finds,” says Daniel, “around 75% probably.” Some of the trilobites are from Wenlock Edge and there are other fossils from Ludlow’s own Whitcliffe and Mortimer Forest. Both Jackie and Daniel confess, like many of us, that they collected fossils and rocks as children and Jackie, rather sweetly, reveals that her own shell collection from home is now the museum’s handling collection for visitors. The range of people that use and access these archives is remarkable. There are children’s workshops, adults’ workshops, researchers from all over the world, school groups and artists. Researchers visiting the collections sometimes even make exciting new discoveries.

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CONTENTS 4 Stories from the other side of the bar: we talk shop with Charlton Arms’ Kev MY STORY 5 Mike Sargent’s short history of beer told from his Church Street pub cellar PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE 6-7 Doors close on the British Legion building Victory House and the Blue Boar pub LETTERS 8 Town Wall cartoon strip, a crossword, and an open letter to Ludlow shopkeepers OBSERVATIONS 9 Simon Pease tackles Ludlow’s immigration problem CHANGES 10 1850 to 2014: Victorian cast iron train bridge replaced with steel and concrete MEET AND GREET 11 Not just a cut and blow: The healing qualities of Mill Street’s Reflections COVER STORY... CONTINUED 12-14 Social and natural history, geology, and a dead woodpecker in a chest freezer COMMUNITY 15 Looking back at achievement, with Dinham Millennium Green’s Paul Nicholls HOME BREW 17 We enjoy a cup of tea, and chat tapestry and every illness under the sun, with Jack PROFILE 18-20 When a model train maker meets a law editor: Rooftop Theatre Company THIS ISSUE IN FACTS 21 14th century soldiers, dirty glasses and an exploding lobster FINDING LUDLOW 21 PUB CHAT

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“Occasionally you may see Housman himself referred to as ‘that Shropshire lad’, but he wasn’t born in Shropshire and never lived here”

22 Local author Sarah Vincent offers a snippet of The Testament of Vida Tremayne FACTS AND FIGURES 23 We discover that there have been three reported train accidents at Ludlow SPORT 24 FICTION

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With binoculars in hand, wild hat on head, and a tenner apiece in their pockets from the Ledger petty cash, Liz Hyder heads off to her first ever day at Ludlow races, with photographer Richard in tow

Editor’s notes, hello again SOME noticed. Some didn’t. Some cared enough to comment... others, seemingly, didn’t care whether it went longer, narrower, or indeed from fullcolour to entirely black and white. I am of course talking about the switch in format for Ludlow Ledger (from Tabloid to Berliner) from last issue. Marginal as the move was (gaining 40mm in the waist and 35mm in height), and not forgetting the more relaxed reading format it permits, one reader complained that his ‘complete set’ now looks out of sorts on the bookshelf; another announced it more difficult to read in bed. But things need to move about a bit, for the right reason of course, and it is entirely to be expected that any fledging project needs to try on new shoes in a bid to find its feet. Quite a bit of trial and error has, therefore, come the paper’s way – with some ideas falling by the wayside whilst up has sprung a comic strip and, in this issue, a crossword (both to be found on p8). By the time the paper reaches one year old (which will be May of this

year, by the way), I hope to have relocated the editorial office from a back bedroom over-looking the train track, to somewhere more visible and accessible, in the centre of town. There are a number of reasons for this: beyond the obvious of being nearer to Market Street jam doughnuts, Broad Street coffee and a Church Street pint, it will be more economical (in terms of time spent and fuel used) distributing bundles of paper around town – in some cases every other day. Having a central point will help by not only allowing me to top up the paper’s loyal outlets, but also presenting a space accessible to anyone who wants to pop in for a back copy, to discuss advertising and editorial stories, or to arrange the collection of mass copies to distribute to elderly neighbours and communities beyond the reach of me and my van. Many of you know that you can already do all of the above, by popping down to my house (and putting up with the greet of the resident doorbell/security dog that commands the porch sofa).

Dedicated commercial premises also sings that Ludlow Ledger is committed to continue its frequency and editorial for the immediate community and the loyal subscribers from as far afield as Norfolk, London and Liverpool, who take this hyper-local paper by post. It also shows a dedication to scale up proceedings that will, in turn, allow a deserved wage or two... to compensate the concentrated time invested and, ultimately, to guarantee the paper’s survival. But where is best for Ludlow Ledger? After a tour of Mill Street’s Victory House (more on p6) I tried my luck with British Legion HQ to help secure the building, but that fell on deaf ears. If you can think of anywhere else, with ground floor space, storage areas, and a flexible/forward-thinking landlord, then please do let me know.

Cheers, Jon Saxon editor@ludlowledger.co.uk 07795 244060

Front cover & Editor’s notes image} Richard Stanton | Print} Guardian Print Centre, Manchester | Letterpress printed masthead} Dulcie Fulton: mostlyflat.co.uk


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Auction additions text} Jon Saxon

From Ludlow to Benidorm, and back again

A hole in one for well-heeled Kev interviewed by} Jon Saxon | image} Richard Stanton – PUB CHAT – WHEN I got to 30 I arranged to rent my house out and sold everything else; got a tent, sleeping bag, rucksack and said: “right, I’m off.” This was in August 1999, I got to Bordeaux (walking around all the châteaux with a phrasebook) but they didn’t have enough sun and instead of the nice, big, juicy grapefruits I thought I’d be picking, there were farty little sultanas. They kept saying: “more sun, more sun” and, after three or four days of it, I thought “I can’t stay here for another week, there’s no money – I’ll try some bar work.” So I travelled on the train from Bordeaux to Benidorm – it took 24 hours, three or four different stops and included a night train through Madrid. In Benidorm I shared this one small apartment with a lad and the landlord had the hots for him. In the end he kicked us out: “if you don’t want me, you don’t want my apartment.” So

we took the double bed out – walked round the town with it asking if anyone wanted a double bed. We flogged it. The fridge freezer too – we took it to the bar I was working at and sold it. We literally emptied the place, and what was left we turned upside down, left the key under the door and we legged it. Eventually settling down, I worked for a chap called Dave at The Stretford End; it was a Man-United bar which was fantastic for me, being a fan, and they were doing well then, in the Champions League every other week. We used to travel to all the big games in Spain... then we went to Italy, Portugal, here there and everywhere, watching Champions League football: Man U vs. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Ajax, Lisbon – you name it. I went to 14 different away matches in the end. It was like a dream for me, I absolutely loved it. We were in Portugal, in Lisbon, to watch Man U vs. Benfica. Before the match day what we used to do

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was a trial run, so we’d know how to get to the ground, find the bars – so we went to Befica’s ground, a nice new stadium, and we even found the proper Benfica’s supporters’ bar. It was really posh: big trophies in there, the pitch below you, a match ball from when England and Portugal played – a really smart place. Earlier on, for breakfast in our hotel we’d had these boiled eggs – all with numbers written on them. This one bloke, John, put one in his coat pocket for later, knowing he’d be hungry after a few beers. So there we were, sat in that posh bar, with Portuguese fans everywhere, and John got the egg out of his pocket and tapped it on the big wood and leather bar, thinking it was boiled like – raw egg went everywhere. That was pretty funny. A couple of times in Benidorm, I got dressed up as a woman and one time I decided to do it for a Christmas do (they said I looked like Becky out of Coronation Street) it wasn’t pretty. I was just getting into the lift to go out, when this Spanish guy got in with me. So there was me with the full works: wig, boobs, make-up, high-heels, everything, and he started chatting me up. I was glad to get out of that lift. Before my 10 or so years in Benidorm I worked at McConnels for 14 years. I used to work on ‘Goods Inwards’ and, one day, a farmer sent in a repair job (wrapped up in a tatty old box with thick string around it). I had this old blunt knife and I was trying to cut

through this string, but I couldn’t get into it so I picked up the string, got the knife behind it and was hoping to yank it straight through. As I went through the string, I carried on and the point of the knife went straight into my eyeball. I never felt a thing. Then all of sudden everything went all runny and blurred – it happened so quickly I didn’t really know what I’d done. I asked my mate if there was anything wrong with my eye. He said “there’s a hole in your eye, quick cover it up,” they didn’t want the light getting into the back of my eye. They rushed me down to the first aid room where they put a big black pad over it and then rushed me off to Shrewsbury. They had to take my eyeball out, put some stitches in the back of my eye and put it back. Even now I still have to go and get it checked out once a year. If it had been any further to the right that would have been it.

BY attending the last two McCartneys Antique & Collectables auctions of 2014 (both in November), I walked away with a combined bounty of 12 items – including four oak wheelback chairs, two Victorian display cabinets, a kitchen stool and an early 20th century Big-Ben clock in giltwood frame. The hammer dropped at the lower end of the auction-house estimate for this German-built clock (£25 plus the usual premium tax and VAT). It needs a bit of a spruce up to re-set the clock face, replace a couple of broken hinges and give the mechanism the once over as the winder seems a little stiff but, once restored, it will take pride of place (along with the other 11 recent buys, and many more elderly office fittings and fixtures acquired over the last six or so months) in the Ledger’s proposed new office – up in town, somewhere...

When my daughter Lexi was born, she got rushed straight in for an emergency birth. In the hurry I forgot to take her first clothes in with us so, once she was born, I thought I’d pop back to the labour room where I’d left her clothes, get them and run straight back. So I was walking down the corridors with the full theatre gown on, the shoes and the mask and everything, and two people stopped me and asked me about their patient – wondering when I was going to operate. WHEN I delivered issue 4 of Ludlow Ledger to Leominster’s Brightwells Auction House, it happened to be ‘preview day’ for their end-of-year classic car auction. Though no bids were later placed by myself, I did have a keen eye on both LOT 52: a delightful metallic grey Maserati Ghibli 2.8 Biturbo of 1995 vintage, and LOT 91: a rare RHD Citroen Tangara Teilhol with only 40,000 miles on the clock. Neither reached their reserves – quite possibly highlighting my lack of taste, or more likely the fact that I’d looked a gift horse in the mouth by not making myself present at the following day’s session. The next classic car auction at Brightwells is to be held Thursday March 5th, which could well see both of these examples (from Italy and France) back on the rostrum, hoping to reach their estimated targets of £9,500 and £5,000 respectively. If you are interested in placing your own classic into this auction, please contact James Dennison or Matthew Parkin on 01568 611122 or via email: classiccars@brightwells.com


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Ducking stools, hogsheads and hop buds

Sarge’s short history of beer text} Mike Sargent | image} Richard Stanton – MY STORY – FOR the past seven years, since I’ve retired, I have been working in a pub cellar – and it’s a true love story. I am pretty much the nearest thing there is, in Ludlow, to an Ale Conner. Shakespeare’s father was an Ale Conner. What an Ale Conner did was to test ale. When the Brewster decided her ale was ready an ale stake was displayed outside her tavern... the forerunner of the pub sign. When this stake went up the Ale Conner entered and ordered a sample of ale. He then poured half of it on to a stool or bench and sat on the puddle of ale for a quarter of an hour without moving, after which he would stand. If his leather breeches stuck to the stool then there was too much residual sugar and the ale was deemed unfit to drink. If it passed the breeches test the Ale Conner would taste it, in order to see what quality it was and therefore price it accordingly. The nearest thing to an Ale Conner in our day and age is a cellar man. What I do every morning is peg and tap barrels of beer in order to bring the beer inside them into a condition fit to be supped and enjoyed by those who know their way around a pint. I’ve got ten real ales to look after and they each have a personality of their own. You have to know what will happen to each barrel when you place it on stillage – which, in the case of The Church Inn, are in two rows (one on top of the other) directly below the bar, eight feet or so down, in our vaulted cellar. Some ales are easy to look after: Ludlow Gold, Wye Valley, Hobsons and any beer from the Three Tuns are quite easy to prepare. They will all be ready to run in less than 24 hours. Others can take longer. You can always tell a good beer from the very moment you put a peg in it; if it spouts a fountain like a whale, after a day resting on stillage, then you’ve got problems. That beer is going to take its time and there is nothing you can do about it. One of the most pleasant experiences is the drawing of the first glass directly from the barrel. I have a special light in my cellar – when I hold that first glass up to my little 40 watt light I am filled with anticipation. I want it to be clear; I want the fresh beer to start clearing from the bottom of the glass; I want it to make bubbles right up to the head, which should look like a parson’s collar, then magic flows out of me as I sip it like a delicate liqueur. I nod my head as the beer infuses my brain.

Until Louis Pasteur discovered that micro-organisms caused fermentation, no one really understood how a gloopy slop of grain turned into a potent pint. They thought it was magic, and so the ale wife or brewster always kept ale from the first brew and added it to the fresh brew. It was called Godisgoode. The Frenchman also found out that yeast was the key thing that made alcohol and that beer was no good without it. Gary Walters (the brewer at Ludlow Brewing Co) will tell you that yeast is a type of single-celled fungus, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. He will also tell you that it takes 36 millions of these cells to produce just one pint of beer. The starting point for beer is barley – the grains are soaked and then left to germinate. To prevent them from turning into mini barley plants, the grains are heated and crushed. This malted barley smells of toasted granary bread. If you roast it at a higher temperature it will look and smell like ground coffee... with well-toasted barley used to make stout. Normal malted barley is heated with water in order to release enzymes that break the complex starches into simple sugars called glucose and maltose. This is called the wort. The wort is then pumped into a brewing kettle where it is boiled with hops. Ale, however, is not made from hops – hops clear ale, which then becomes a drink called beer and is bitter. Trappist monks were the first to experiment with herbs added to ale – glass had become easier and cheaper to make and the drinker could see what he was drinking, which is when we started to drink with our eyes. That was why over 500 years ago the Belgian monks added all kinds of herbs in order to improve the flavour and clear their ale – juniper berries, bog myrtle, henbane, even cannabis. The use of cannabis caused them to hallucinate and, because they saw God, the bishops banned cannabis. But the bishops wanted clear ale so the monks turned to hops – a near relation to cannabis, as is flax and hemp. Look at a female hop bud and you will see that it is the same shape as a cannabis bud, only ten times larger. It was the perfect solution. There have been few plants that have been as useful as the hop. Its sap has been used as a dye, its roots can be used to make sugar or alcohol. It has been used in medicine as a herbal remedy and a sedative, its fibrous stems can be turned into hemp or pulped into paper. Strangely, in this country the hop was despised and prohibited. Right down through the

15th century the use of anything other than water, malt and yeast to make ale was regarded as adulteration. Henry VIII ordered the Royal Brewer at Eltham to put neither hops nor brimstone in his ale. For years beer had the same effect as lager does today on a real-ale drinker. Had CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) existed back then they would have regarded beer as poison. In AD 975 King Edgar invented the pint. A four-pint wooden container, called a ‘pottle,’ was subdivided into eight parts by means of pegs set inside the vessel. It was passed around to each drinker and no one was supposed to drink down further than the peg below, before passing the vessel to the next drinker. Owing to the fact that the only light in the ale house was an oil taper or tallow candle, it was not an easy task to gauge the peg and manners decreed that if you overshot the mark you had to go down to the next peg least you short measure the next drinker. Drinking therefore became a very serious matter: Englishmen everywhere were in danger of taking each other down a peg or two... Up here in the Marches drinking beer was and still is a serious occupation. Get it wrong or give short measure and the brewster could end up on the seat of a ducking stool or, like the ale wife depicted on the

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misericords in our parish church, punished by eternal damnation with plenty of fire and brimstone to boot. There is, in St Mary Magdalene Church in Leintwardine, a brand new misericord carved just a couple of years ago celebrating the life of landlady Flossy Lane from the Sun Inn. She was as near as damn it to an ale wife – she kept the last real parlour pub in Britain. Virtually all beer comes in steel barrels – the occasional show up in a plastic version; most are firkins, which hold nine gallons. We used to have kilderkins, weighing in at eighteen gallons, but if there’s a thunderstorm or it’s slow moving, then the beer will drop out of condition and turn sour before it’s finished. Fifty years ago, Ted Barrett in the Wheatsheaf Inn used to have mild ale delivered in hogsheads (54 gallons) but back then there were 36 pubs in our town. Just imagine a town of only 9,000 souls and 36 taverns – mind you, all work back then was done by hand and, because of that, people had massive appetites and thirsts; they were real beer drinkers, able to drink 10 or 12 pints during a session. They always drank in even numbers because, like birds, they were unable to fly on one wing; no matter how drunk they got they always remembered even numbers. In France they use massive barrels to mature their wine – we call them butts

(108 gallons) or tuns (which contain 216 gallons). On the road opposite the Church Inn there is a round ring about six inches in diameter through which draymen used to thread a rope in order to lower butts and tuns into the pub’s cellar. It is 99 percent sure that if butts and tuns were used today then the Health and Safety mob and the NHS would ban them. The former because of their weight and the later because they would consider that there would be too many units of alcohol in one container. I mean, just imagine two tuns and a butt in a pub cellar giving you more than five hundred gallons of booze? That’s more than four thousand units which, after preparation, would have to be prevented from going sour and the only solution would be to drink it quickly – a very sensible and practical solution but not one our nanny state would tolerate. The first historical evidence of binge drinking was in 1066 – the English having just defeated the Vikings at Stamford Bridge celebrated to such an extent that they were no better than drunk the morning before they fought William the Bastard. Having lost the battle of Hastings they won the war and the English have largely ignored the laws of temperance ever since. Cheers!

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Auction addition images, p4} Editor (clock); Brightwells (cars)


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Victory House, Blue Boar & Museum: dead or alive?

Since issue 4 of Ludlow Ledger text} Jon Saxon – PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE – MY own past caught up with me, in the months between this and the last issue... being reminded of a rather hectic encounter with two policemen with semi-automatic handguns and the owners of a 1Castrol-sponsored race buggy – that required me to flee the scene, on what is known as Beach Road, in Dubai – a couple of blocks away from the Burj Al Arab hotel. I shall indeed expand on this story, all being well, in the next issue. But in a nutshell: seven years on from this incident, when I stood as the Editorin-Chief for the Middle East licence of evo magazine (owned by Dennis Publishing) I receive an email with the subject line: ‘Small world’. ‘Hi Jon,’ it continued – ‘Here was I enjoying a couple of pints of Ludlow Gold and a Ludlow Blue Bull pie at the Church Inn this afternoon, perusing the Ludlow Ledger and noticed the article on Aubrey Weller, who I had seen on a number of occasions in the pub. Then I noticed that a certain

Jon Saxon was the editor and that name rang a bell from the dim, distant past... After a quick Google check: I knew I recognised the name from when you tested our Dakar rally buggy in Dubai, and then escaped when we got our buggy confiscated by the authorities. Well, retribution is here and I’ll let you buy me a pint to make up for it.’ In fact I owed the gentleman more than one pint, after he spent most of that day being questioned in a police station and, at the end of it, £500 to retrieve his Saluki Motorsport buggy from the police compound – all of this being a week or so ahead of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. And there was no getting away from these pints either – he now lives on Lower Raven Lane. I emailed him back immediately and arranged to meet for one or two of those many pay-back pints that very evening, and – unlike the last time we met – was able to explain my side of the story, shake hands, make friends, and – most remarkably – have a laugh

about it all. I feel I owe Ludlow a huge thank you, for not only drawing me back from abroad to live again in this neck of the woods, but also to reel in Mark and his wife... whom it is said landed here by pure chance. Always grand to tell your side of a story and put a slight guilt to bed. In other police-related news, how could I possibly recap on the last eight or so weeks without mentioning the 2Blue Boar. Also as the editor of Doghouse – the British pub magazine, I spend a great deal of time talking about pubs; in the case of Ludlow I like to imagine what this town’s pubs could be like if they did things a little differently, a little better, and a little more inkeeping. It’s a pointess conversation, but one I am nevertheless willing to wheel it out as and when. I particularly enjoy this type of chat with older folks who remember the likes of the Three Horse Shoes and the New Inn, both of Upper Galdeford (the latter now the Ludlow Fish Bar, the former demolished to entertain the building of a road that leads to the Co-Op car park on the other side of the road), and also talking to these people about places that are still alive but no longer the heaving establishments that they were when in their prime. One that I include in my soap boxing is the Blue Boar, which I’d love to see reunited with its original internal structure, and style of service – what a jewel in the town’s crown it could be. But, as it stands, the Blue Boar has seemingly gone from bad to worse, with recent TripAdvisor comments

of: “Stay away” – “Sad” – “What a dump!” – “Worst place in Ludlow” – “Appalling!!!” – “Football great, beer rubbish” – “Avoid... terrible.” Add this to a number of altercations, observed both inside and out, and it’s no wonder that the police rolled in requesting the Council suspend Alan Ebbon, in November, as the Designated Premises Supervisor. The subsequent hearing, in December, was attended by Ludlow and County councillors, Mill Street residents and an executive from Punch Taverns, who I was told openly apologised, saying: “We are not impressed. We are not impressed with ourselves either.” All being well, this marks the start of another worthy drinking hole on Ludlow’s pub map, with Adam Tutt (who runs the Punch-owned Globe of Market Street) showing interest in becoming the new landlord. All being well, a new leaf will be turned sometime this January – which is great news for locals and visitors alike. Whilst all of this was going on, under the spot-lamp of police surveillance and press assumptions, a couple of doors down on Mill Street another critical situation was being lived out very quietly. Where, I wonder, was the same residential group when doubt was cast over the future of 3Victory House – the Royal British Legion’s home since the mid Forties? Apparently, it was of the utmost importance to get the neighbouring Blue Boar’s doors back open, as soon as possible, with a new landlord behind the scenes and

a fresh approach to staff training in place, yet what about the building within eye-shot that is equally as integral to this town’s fabric – and the only one of its kind, compared to the 14 pubs to our town’s name. You’ll not hear me say this often, I promise you, but why have residents, councillors and business folk of Ludlow shown so much solidarity and strength in a bid to save a pub which has failed its neighbours, caused customers concern, and become an embarrassment and danger to the town, yet turned a blind eye to a huge asset... a building bought in 1946 for the benefit of soldiers returning from the Second World War? I may be talking out of turn, perhaps not knowing the full scale of the story but, as I see it, Ludlow has failed Victory House, the Royal British Legion as a national entity, and our local members. As is sometimes the case, it is hard to decide whom, if anyone, is to really blame, but British Legion HQ say that they have continually encouraged the residents of Ludlow to use the building or face losing it. Of course nobody listened and wheels are now in motion to sell it off – with an agent being appointed as we speak. I learnt this from Treasurer Bryan Martin, whom I contacted to chat about hiring the space for a Ludlow Ledger initiative. As I was shown around what I remember being three floors, plus a cellar, I observed a monumental function room, historical fixtures and fittings, all pivoting around a central stairwell feeding up to a first


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Public notices, launches and events

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1 floor of abandoned offices (in and out trays full of envelopes and paperwork) and a once-grand snooker hall. Bryan pointed at the carpet imprints, explaining to me that there stood a snooker table identical the one that stood to my right just a couple of days before. It cost the club of £9,000 when new – they’d been picked up for £300 for the pair. Bit-picked wherever I wandered, I witnessed outlines of dust suggesting objects of value long-gone, whilst cobwebs hung tight to everything else. Interestingly they can’t find anyone to help them lug out what’s left, but a 1-ton snooker table is taken with promptness and with ease. Yes it needs a lick of paint here and there, some regular warmth put back under its feet, and a concerted effort to address the leaking flat roof over the somewhat dated function room – but get this sorted and you’ve got a prime space where the young and old members of the Royal British Legion can still meet, where history and heritage can continue – without disturbance or development – and a much-needed venue for the wider community to use for affordable club meetings, special events, and tutorials. I do believe a valued use for this Grade II-listed Georgian building can be demonstrated, one that will maximise the many spaces, without intruding on what the building is in fact designed for. But, as local Legion members trawl the estate agents for a possible new headquarters for their regular meetings, silly offers are being thrown on the table for what will amount to nothing better

than a residential home or something unsympathetically commercial. Futile, I suppose, but I have since been in contact with the Royal British Legion in London – first speaking with Hugh Phillips (Head of Trust Property Governance) about my plans and, a little later, Samantha Edmunds (RBL Property Surveyor) who said: “As you are aware, the Ludlow Branch has been attempting to run the building for several months. Unfortunately they have now decided that this is uneconomical and they wish to sell the building. We are bound by the Charity Act to get the best value for the ex-service people of Ludlow and the surrounding district who are the beneficiaries of the trust under which it is held, and therefore the building will be placed on the market, for sale or for rent, once permission from the board of trustees has been granted. I will of course pass your details to the agents once they have been appointed.” I imagine the first floor office space becoming the new home for Ludlow Ledger, with the downstairs doors open daily – and of course the function room being better promoted and utilised. It is interesting to learn that Victory House was initially bought after the War with £1,600 raised by the town’s residents. Could the same happen a second time around? Anyone interested in sticking their oar in can reach me via: 07795 244060 or jon@ludlowledger.co.uk Just as we were tying up the loose ends of this paper, I received the shock news that Avril, Daniel and Jackie of the 4Ludlow Museum Resource Centre

have been handed their redundancy – to be replaced with a part time role at the Buttercross site. It’s absurd... first you take a collection from a prominent central venue (a room away from the Tourist Information) when the decision was made to relocate the Tourist Information around the corner, up two flights of steps, in a back-room cupboard. These days it appears we need a ‘How to Get to the Tourist Information, Information Building’ – which slightly defeats its purpose. The museum collection was then trundled back to the library’s storage facility, which houses pretty much all of the dissolved Shrewsbury collection too. A far larger building is needed than before, so the Council in its wisdom, instead of finding suitable premises, are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring a relatively inaccessible building of proportions no bigger than the albatross recently donated to Ludlow’s collection. Aside from the big donated sea bird, what of the remaining sprawling anthology of local artefacts – which on our visit for this cover’s story took over three floors and I seriously can’t remember how many rooms? Well, from what I hear, soon to be closed and parts of the archive potentially farmed out elsewhere. Shameful, stupid, and incredibly short-sighted. And what’s going on with La Becasse? A quick peak on TripAdvisor flagged up the following reports... Rhenken123 wrote: “When we arrived... the door was locked and it was dark inside. I telephoned and knocked the door

but to no avail. We left bitterly disappointed. The least the restaurant could have done was give me a call to let me know what was happening and spare us a three-hour train journey.” This was followed up by Kuishimbo72’s experience: “We travelled over 3 hours to experience this – I only wish that like Rhenken123 the restaurant had been closed when we arrived so that we could have gone and eaten good food elsewhere.” From what little I know, the likely cause of these issues is chef Chris O’Halloran working to secure the future of this famed restaurant by investing his time and (according to unconfirmed report) his own money, in a bid to revive the Corve Street ‘finedining’ experience. Geoffrey Adams (of 5Woodyard Gallery, just off Corve Street) recently held an exhibition of his work within the Beacon Room of Ludlow Castle. As well as selling a fair few pictures, Geoffrey also supported local charity ‘Home-Start’ by suggesting a £2.00 donation for a glass of wine. For those of you unfamiliar with this charity, Home-Start is one of the UK’s leading family-support charities – formed in Leicester in 1973 and now operating in 22 countries across the world (with nearly 16,000 family-support volunteers helping more than 32,000 families every year). Shropshire South’s base is located at the Ludlow Mascall Centre, and can be reached on: 01584 878532 or via: homestartshropshire.org.uk

LUDLOW BREWING ARE RECRUITING Visitor Centre, Bar and Venue – job opportunity. The opportunity involves working with the established team running our visitor centre, bar and venue. Duties are wide ranging, often needing to be carried out under time pressures. The opportunity would suit a hard-working individual who has a positive attitude, is personable, well presented and has a belief in providing excellent service to customers in all aspects of the role. Good time keeping and reliability in attendance are other important characteristics. Previous experience within a similar environment is not essential but may be of benefit. The position will include weekend working and flexibility will be important. If interested, please forward a brief CV to Peter England at Ludlow Brewery, Station Drive, Ludlow. ------------------------------------------------MEALS ON WHEELS: YOUR VIEW? Hands Together Ludlow are seeking the views of Ludlow residents regarding the demand for Meals on Wheels around the town. We would like to know if you, a relative or someone you know would be interested in receiving Meals on Wheels. If so, how many days per week? What would you be prepared to pay for a two-course hot meal delivered by volunteers to your door? Before we proceed with the Meals-on-Wheels project around the town, we really need the views of potential users, so please call David Harlington on 01584 879614 or email handstogetherludlow@gmail.com with your views. ------------------------------------------------LUDLOW TALK: PATH TO HUMANISM Whilst issue 4 of Ludlow Ledger was doing the rounds, Tony Akkermans (who grew up in Holland but now lives in Shropshire) gave a talk to the Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group about his recently published book Happily Godless – My Path to Humanism, which he would like people to know is now available to purchase on Amazon. ------------------------------------------------LUDLOW MALE VOICE CHOIR After ten years of dedicated service Margaret Davies wishes to retire as Musical Director of Ludlow Male Voice Choir in September 2015. We are some 20 strong and meet in Ludlow, weekly on a school term time basis. Concerts are given in aid of charities locally and further afield. If you are interested in this post a detailed job description is available from the Hon. Secretary to whom applications should be sent: David Trotter Hon. Secretary, Ludlow Male Voice Choir, 1 Coach House Field, Livesey Road, Ludlow, SY8 1EZ ------------------------------------------------LUDLOW LEDGER: ADVERTISING Issue 6 will be out and about in the first week of March, with an advertising deadline of February 1st. If you would like to reach our audience through 10,000 newspapers, please do get in touch by calling Jon on 07795 244060 or by email or post (please use postal and email address as listed below). Example advertising rates: £63 (Perfect Arc – p9) £144 (Mod Lang – p2) £158 (Charlton Arms – p4) £190 (Rooftop Theatre Co – p10) £261 (Ludlow Inns – p2) ----------------------

36p per word (inc VAT). Please email your public announcements to: editor@ludlowledger.co.uk or post to: Ludlow Ledger, Hillkroft, Bromfield Road, Ludlow, SY8 1DW * Son of Saxon, the publisher of Ludlow Ledger, has the right to refuse submitted announcements

Images on p6 and 7} Alejandro Rodriguez for evo magazine (1); Richard Stanton (2, 3 and 4); Geoffrey Adams (5)


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A small selection of your emails, letters, postcards and social posts from Facebook and Twitter

Letters to the Ledger We’d love to hear from you – editor@ludlowledger.co.uk

– VIEWS & COMMENTS – ONE of the things I absolutely love about coming to towns like Ludlow is the local newspaper. That might sound daft, but it’s one of the few news sources about that actually has stories that make you smile or laugh..... It’s not all doom and gloom. Written in the guest book of Ludlow Holiday Home ------------------------------------------------I’M genuinely impressed with the Ludlow Ledger. It looks good and has interesting content. The good thing is that it’s individual and not one of the clones that fill our newsstands. I wish you all the best. It’s a long time since I’ve been to Ludlow alas. Anthony Clay Rotherham Advertiser ------------------------------------------------THIS is the most outstandingly readable, interesting, informative, non-commercially based, goodhumoured paper I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. Don’t ever stop printing. You all deserve an award. A J Bain Lyonshall, Kington ------------------------------------------------HAVING a letter printed in Ludlow Ledger is as good as almost any byline I’ve had. Graeme Anderson Sunderland Echo ------------------------------------------------THANK you for the follow on Twitter Ludlow Ledger. Your latest issue (No4) is the best yet. Classy journalism with an edge. Sarah Vincent Via Twitter ------------------------------------------------I PICKED up the Nov/Dec issue of Ludlow Ledger when we were in the town a couple of weeks ago. A very pleasant change from the usual local papers. Interesting articles – and NO adverts for tattoo parlours or the like. Best wishes for a long and bright future for the publication. David Morgan King’s Lynn ------------------------------------------------SERIOUSLY, the torn & tattered Arts Festival poster on the A49 opposite Burway Lane (as featured on p4 of Ledger No4) does NOT give a good impression. Who’s baby? John Challis Via Twitter It may be fair to assume that the last team in charge of Ludlow’s Art Festival

are the ones most responsible, under the wing of Chris Davies. If you get no joy from ringing the known number for Ludlow Arts Festival Ltd (01584 819005) then why not ask a few of the event’s sponsors who may offer a better suggestion: Sunshine Radio, S&B Photography or Nock Deighton.

I WAS wondering if you might like to use this cryptic crossword, which I have created especially for the Ledger? Perhaps this could be a regular feature?

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Thank you John. I really appreciate you taking the time to produce this exclusive crossword for Ludlow Ledger. I never imagined a regular Ledger crossword, but there again I didn’t know someone able to create one, so I shall pass this on to the readers: “If you’ve enjoyed John’s crossword, and feel this adds another level to Ludlow Ledger, then please let me know by emailing your thoughts to editor@ludlowledger.co.uk.” --------------------------------------------------

ACROSS 7 Bells entertain royal – precious thing (5) 8 Old lady in papers maybe first from Ludlow (9) 10 Greens cook or boil using twice carbon (8) 11 Europeans about to get Ford model – Discovery? (6) 12 Earl observed mainly in King Street after holding country fair? (7,6) 13 Long time crossing red line in formation (7) 15 Call message ends with small sound (7) 19 Love mossy rambles out and dance hall (8,5) 22 Pattern to Arabic cunning, we hear (6) 23 Nicola about to take sides with bell ringer (8) 24 Flyers show leftists with loose women (9) 25 Moral danger in backing former answer (5)

of “At the risk a e sounding lik an wom grumpy old ise I want to ra ll a an issue with in shopkeepers Ludlow”

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DOWN 1 Dreadful fire trick endlessly reworked (8) 2 Half of land by castle walls right for Waitrose perhaps (6) 3 Mill Street mainly that’s most strange (7) 4 Pictures of mice and mostly nonsense (6) 5 Runner maybe taking on runs with another runner’s hat (8) 6 Container for Baron’s grilled steak (6) 9 Piece of jacket and hat (6) 14 Writer’s attempt is in German (8)

16 City excavated from Sahara recently (6) 17 State of motorway bad in South Island (8) 18 Mollify by putting dish on account (7) 19 Elderly take on board about Roger (6) 20 Complain about Queen’s composer (6) 21 Outside broadcast getting extended in square? No! (6)

AT the risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman I want to raise an issue with all shopkeepers in Ludlow. Although an increasing rarity these days, I occasionally wish to purchase goods using cash. When I hand over, let’s say, a £10 note, the assistant will take the change out of the till and hand me a note plus small change scrunched up all together. I am standing there with a purse in one hand. How am I supposed to separate the coins from the note, open up the appropriate section of my purse and stow away the money using one hand? My father was a shopkeeper and from an early age I used to help him behind the counter serving customers. I was always taught to count back the change into the customers’ hands giving them the chance to store away the coins first and then the note. Not only does this help the customer but enables them to check that the correct change is being given. This, I might add, is in the days of £sd with complicated units of halfpennies and farthings. We had no scanners or cash machines, which calculate the change accurately. Mostly we used mental arithmetic, occasionally adding up the cost of the goods on paper. Please don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not a technophobe and I do embrace all the labour-saving devices

we enjoy today. I also acknowledge that the pace of life has speeded up so that we now expect everything to be instant. However, a few moments taken to give care and attention to another human being is invaluable, especially to the lonely, elderly or infirm who maybe cherish these small moments of human contact perhaps with a word or two to accompany the gesture. Ok, rant over, but may I make a plea to those traders taking on new staff to take a moment or two to train them in proper customer service. I am sure it would be much appreciated.

-------------------------------------------------Answers to this crossword are available from: editor@ludlowledger.co.uk

Paula Spencer Caynham -------------------------------------------------JUST a quick note to say we wish you all the best in your venture. We started our local weekly last year and it has gone from strength-to-strength, which proves it can be done with the right team and people who care about the area. We have had great support and print 22,000 copies of an 80-pager each week. Local news is precious and there is still a market for it – our readers and, I’m sure, your readers, will prove how much it is valued if done properly. Have fun and all of us at Your Local Paper in King’s Lynn wish you luck. Donna Semmens King’s Lynn


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Who helped make this issue possible?

“we are immigrants”

New and old of Ludlow

– CONTRIBUTORS –

text} Simon Pease

GOING behind the scenes is always a privileged experience – issue 5’s headlong dive into Ludlow’s museum archives was gifted to LIZ (HUNTER) HYDER. Starting on the front page, and continuing on pages 12, 13 and 14, Liz takes us through taxidermy, tasselled dresses and a travelling dentist’s chair. Liz also met up with the Rooftop Theatre duo (p18) and spent a day at Ludlow races (p24). If you ever need a PR professional – with over 10 years’ experience in arts, broadcast and events – why not try: liz@lizhyder.co.uk

– OBSERVATIONS – I RECENTLY heard that one of my neighbours referred to another in our lane as a ‘newcomer’. Given that the person referred to is Ludlow born and bred, and has lived in the area all their life, the description at first surprised me, but the neighbour who made the comment has lived in the lane all his life, whereas the other only arrived a few years previously; rather more years previously, in truth, than we did. My wife and I are immigrants – I confess it – having moved to the area in 2008. Although we think of this place as home, I started thinking about how others might see us ... and thoughts like this have a habit of sticking in my mind, niggling away in the background, until something or someone helps me resolve them. In this case it was a walk around Ludlow on a Friday, and a series of conversations with people I have got to know that helped me move my thought process forward a couple steps. I began to count off in my mind how many of those I spoke to were originally from Ludlow, or even Shropshire, and how many were from outside. Not a true random sample perhaps (my method would certainly be rejected by a professional pollster) but, even allowing for a significant margin of error, the exercise brought home to me what, intellectually, I already knew – Ludlow has a high proportion of immigrants like my wife and I. This, in turn, made me think about our decision to move to the Ludlow area, seven or so years ago, ‘for a better life’. Not that our life before that point had been bad (on the contrary, by any standard we would have been considered quite fortunate) but there were elements of where we lived that didn’t provide the balance of life we wanted; moving here has definitely given us more of that balance. Then I was struck by recent stories in the Press about immigration; the subject comes up often, but recently there has been more than the usual frenzy, with politicians on all sides parading their views and, as usual, blaming each other for mistakes when they were in power. I heard a radio interview with a young man somewhere in North Africa waiting to make a perilous journey that he hoped would land him in Europe. He was educated and spoke good English, but he wasn’t heading for Britain – he had a brother in Sweden and he wanted to join him there. Why was he risking his life to do this? He was risking his life because he came from a country where people belonging to his minority live under threat of death every day; in other words, he wanted a ‘better life’ (though clearly what drove him was rather stronger than what led us to move here). Whatever your opinion on the immigration issue, on a simple human level you can appreciate why he was on his journey, and that we have something in common. If he made it, I hope he finds as warm a welcome in Sweden as we have found here. ------------------------------------------------If you would like to express your own views, or simply comment on one of our featured columns, why not email: editor@ludlowledger.co.uk

Hot on the heels of Miss Hyder’s antics this month has been Ludlow-based photographer RICHARD STANTON who has – once again – pretty much taken every single photograph in Ludlow Ledger, bar one or two. When not documenting old pubs signs (p15), drinking tea with Jack (p17) and beer with barman Kev at The Charlton Arms (p4), Richard has been up and down the country shooting for the national papers: stantonphotographic.com This issue MIA (DIVERSE) DAVIS has been talking to the man behind the Millennium Green project (p11) and sat in front of the mirror with Sam at Mill Street’s Reflections (p15). If you don’t already know... Mia is a copywriting expert, who is best reached by calling 01584 877624 or via email: miadavis37@googlemail.com

TOWERING OVER TOWN – Those of you familiar with issue 1 of Ludlow Ledger will recognise the view depicted in the lower of these two images (we used it on the front cover) being captured from the same vantage of St Laurence’s tower (no finer spot to take a photo from in this market town, and for just £3) though this time taken by local amateur-photographer Carl Hannam – who, when not touring around town with his Nikon, is found cheffing away at Aragons, the cafe and restaurant in Church Street. You can enjoy more fine landscapes by following Carl on Twitter: @lifephoto83

This issue we have a book excerpt – found on p22... courtesy of local author SARAH VINCENT. You can find out more about the book and writer by visiting: sarahkvincent.co.uk. Last issue we feature one of his letters regarding the Town Council; this issue MIKE SARGENT gives us a nutshell guide through the history of beer on p5. For those of you who may not know, ‘Sarge’ is the dedicated cellar man for the Church Inn and a prolific writer of novels and poetry. We must also thank those interviewees subjected to your voice recorder, and whose words are featured word-forword in this issue: CHARLTON KEV p4 and JACK AHERN p17. SALLY (SUB) NEWMAN-KIDD is a little nervous that Ludlow Ledger may one day go monthly, considering the little time that is left in her life after a day at the proverbial coalface, and the night spent ironing out grammatical glitches that creep on to the page from time to time. If you need to get hold of our Sally-Sub, for some word-ironing of your own, I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to chat via: sally@nka.co.uk

Hand printed letterpress cards & posters Hand bound diaries, notebooks & albums Wrapping paper & bookbinding kits ( personalisation available ) 5 Bull Ring • Ludlow • SY8 1AD

Thanks must also be extended to Ludlow Ledger’s cartoonist ROGER PENWILL from Brimfield (whose work features to your left on p8). For Roger’s other work, please check: penwill.com Appreciation is also extended to DAVID HARLEY for his piece on Housman (p21) and SIMON PEASE who, on this page, investigates the sensitive issues of Ludlow immigration.

O 5XL SMALL T

£12.50 Including

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Order details found on p23 ad

And last, but not least, a big thank you to the paper’s loyal ADVERTISERS and STOCKISTS who really make this whole paper a reality: please support where you can. -----------------------------------------------If you would like to become a contributor to Ludlow Ledger, whether as a feature’s writer or columnist, please forward examples of your work to: editor@ludlowledger.co.uk

Images on p8} Richard Stanton (festival sign); Editor (money)


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SALTMOOR BRIDGE – Considering the operational scale that unfolded on the outskirts of Ludlow, alongside the A49, leading up to Christmas, I’m surprised how little we all talked about it. Nothing was flagged up or discussed online, nor anything (as far as I can remember) was mentioned in any of the regional papers. Essentially, a 1,200 tonne Sarens crane (quite possibly the UK’s largest mobile crane) and an army of excavators, flood lights, and a major workforce gathered in preparation to evict the cast-iron Victorian train bridge which had spanned the River Teme since 1850. It is said that only one train at a time, and at a snail’s pace, has been recently allowed over this old structure thus the £7.7m project – under the guidance of Balfour Beatty Rail – that, sadly, saw no other way but to replace the old with something new, to speed up future passenger and freight services over this section. To enable this to happen the Hereford and Shrewsbury train service was halted from the tail-end of Christmas Eve until the afternoon of the 29th, in which time they divided the bridge in two and craned the pieces to the road side (December 26th for the first section and 27th for the second) where they sat divided, observing their modern replacement worked into position. Long gone, of course, are the under-bridge planked platforms and the rope swings that once hung above, taking with them too many a local memory. Perhaps there was no other option, but another physical link to our past has been quite literally cut out of our landscape, with seemingly very little done to celebrate its life in service as both a carrier of commuters and commercial goods (powered by coal, diesel and electric). If I heard it right, this was the last of the original bridges along our line left in service. Does anyone have any stories connected to the old Saltmoor Bridge – perhaps with photos? And does anyone know what has become of the retired span – hacked up further and scrapped, or saved in some fashion? We’d love to know: editor@ludlowledger.co.uk

Put up a nestbox or clean out an existing one

ROOFTOP THEATRE COMPANY

Britain’s nature in February text edited from} www.open.edu | image} Scot Storm – NATURE – WHAT to look for? The first bumblebees emerge on sunny days obtaining nectar from garden plants such as crocuses. Most are large queen bees, which have hibernated over winter and are on the lookout for places to start a new family. They like untidy corners and often build their nests in the old nests of mice. Ladybirds, including two spot and seven spot, will sun themselves in milder spells. In woods, bluebell leaves are pushing through the soil and under hedges, leaves of wild arum are unfurling. Long maroon and yellow catkins appear on alder trees along rivers and streams. Sparrowhawks and buzzards begin to establish territories by soaring over woods on clear days. Birdsong begins to grow louder as chaffinches, song thrushes and blackbirds become more vocal, and great spotted woodpeckers drum. On wintry evenings the nearest reservoir may produce a blizzard of gulls, as thousands of the birds fly in to roost. Did you know? The Normans introduced the pheasant into Britain in the 11th century. There are thought to be around eight million birds in the

countryside over winter, many reared from chicks by gamekeepers; nearly half are shot and the others die from natural causes. Habitat of the month: Animals come to towns because it’s warmer and food is sparse in the countryside. Watch for wildlife in open park areas and gardens, and help out by putting up a birdfeeder in your garden. Photo opportunity: bird feeders. With food in short supply your bird feeder is an ideal place to photograph wild birds. Your house makes an ideal hide – take photographs through an open window and the birds will not notice you. A telephoto lens is useful to get good close-up shots, but you may find a tripod useful to keep the lens steady.

D. B. STINTON

SHAKESPEARE IN THE BREWERY

HENRY

Four Seasons, Wyson Lane, Brimfield, Shropshire, SY8 4NQ 07891 732114

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Also available from Ludlow Assembly Rooms and by phone 01584 878141

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Ludlow Brewery, The Old Railway Shed, Station Road, Ludlow, SY8 2PQ


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Ledger stockists

Former fulling mill site saved from housing

Class of ’98 turned Green with envy text} Mia Davis | image of Paul Nicholls} John Richards – COMMUNITY –

Aragons Cafe Church St Assembly Rooms Mill St Baker’s Cafe Tower St Barber Jacks Lower Galdeford Bentley’s Castle Square Bindery Shop Bull Ring Castle Bookshop Market Square Charlton Arms Ludford Bridge China Garden New Rd Church Inn Church St Cicchetti Bar Broad St Codfather Sandpits Corve Garage Bromfield Rd Countrywide Weeping Cross Lane Crumbs Tower Street Ego’s Wine Bar Quality Square Fish House Bull Ring Home Care Temeside La Jewellery Parkway Mews Leisure Centre Bromfield Rd Ludlow Brewery Station Drive Ludlow Motors Bromfield Rd Ludlow Touring Park Ludford Mod Lang The Woodyard (Corve St) Myriad Organics Corve St Olive Branch Bull Ring Queens Lower Galdeford Renaissance Centre Tower St Rockspring Centre Sandpits Rose & Crown Church St Sam’s Cafe Lingen Ind Est Silk Top Hat Gallery Quality Square Swifts Bakery Corve St Tiger Lilly Bull Ring Tourist Information Mill St Unicorn Corve St Vaughan’s Sandwich Bar King St V Cafe New Rd Wheatsheaf Lower Broad St Woodyard Gallery Woodyard ----------------------------------------------Aardvark Books Brampton Bryan Apple Tree Onibury Bennetts End Hope Bagot Brightwells Auction Leominster Community Shop Aston-on-Clun Discovery Centre Craven Arms Downton Lodge Downton Fiddler’s Elbow Leintwardine Ludlow Food Centre Bromfield Nelson Inn Rocks Green Roebuck (pub & shop) Brimfield Sun Inn Leintwardine Village Hall Ashford Carbonell Fancy becoming a stockist of Ludlow Ledger? stock@ludlowledger.co.uk

BENEATH the steep incline to the castle, where the ‘waters sweep under Ludlow’s storied keep,’ is a part of Ludlow which has been immortalised over the centuries by artists and poets from JMW Turner and John Piper, to AE Housman and Francis Brett Young. Today, the iconic view across the Teme towards Dinham includes a part of Ludlow regularly enjoyed by the entire community. From toddlers in search of tiddlers, to bored teenagers, excited dogs, babies in prams and promenading visitors, most of Ludlow life can be found on the Millennium Green. Think of a French impressionist’s depiction of a park scene without the bonnets and parasols, and you’ll know what I mean. Long considered a place of considerable beauty, the Dinham Millennium Green has become a prime spot to enjoy the river, hold local outdoor events, have an excellent meal on the terrace of the Green Café, or simply enjoy a picnic on a sunny day. And if you visit one of the summer fêtes, then you’ll find yourself in what could be the ideal setting for an episode of Poirot. Chairman of the Dinham Millennium Green Trust, Paul Nicholls (a taller version of David Suchet) presides over events, excellently attired in tweed, complete with waistcoat, pocket watch and trilby, while a jazz band plays in the background and bunting flutters in the breeze. Even more happily, no murders have occurred thus far. And yet the wonderful Dinham Green hasn’t always been this way. It is common knowledge that, in recent years, this was the site of the old swimming pool – a place many locals remember with fondness. Prior to that, the Green experienced several incarnations, from fulling mill and brass and iron foundry, to the literal powerhouse for the rather thrilling sounding Ludlow Electric Light Company. So, as the area has evolved, over the generations (from JMW Turner’s romantic vision of sleepy bucolic harmony, to industrial workhorse and area for new modes of leisure during the twentieth century), it’s perhaps only fitting that its transformation for the new millennium reflects its position as an area for enjoyment of the great outdoors. But only just. Despite its historical significance, had it not been for the formation of the Dinham Millennium Green

Trust (DMGT) with its roots in the Ludlow Guild ’98, then this delightful spot would now be a collection of soulless-looking modern houses. Not quite a case of The Village Green Preservation Society wanting to save ‘little shops, china cups and virginity,’ as The Kinks sang, but an effort to save the former swimming-pool site for the creation of a place that would ‘make a substantial contribution to the life of the whole community,’ as the DMGT put it. So how did this ragged band of philanthropists pull it off? Led by the redoubtable Mrs Prue Bellak, the great revolt against the Council’s plans for a housing development involved a group of protestors being marched up and down Dinham Hill by Mrs Bellak, in the style of The Grand Old Duke of York. After convening on Dinham Bridge for a press photo, the group marched up and on to the Council Offices to stand in silent protest. Happily, as a result, the Council decided to defer their plans and allow time for the local community to raise the necessary funds to buy the site. Two weeks later, a meeting was convened where a group of ten, formed under the name of the Ludlow Guild ’98 and headed by Councillor Peter Corston, resolved to approach the Countryside Agency for part of the £220,000 funding cost to transform the old swimming pool into a Millennium Green. The Countryside Agency accepted their application, thanks to a lucky combination of spring sunshine and a mistaken red carpet reception. “Damsel flies were flitting amongst the reeds, and chestnut horses grazed in the buttercup-dappled meadow opposite. The scene was set. But when we took the agency reps to Mr Underhill’s for coffee, it also so happened that the owners had laid out a red carpet for cleaning. After leading the officials along the red carpet to the restaurant, it was at this point, we’re sure they became utterly convinced,” Paul recalls. And so a large part of the funding was secured; followed by local donations, a grant from the Biffaward Scheme, and a reduction from the District Council for the purchase of the site. By October 1999 the Council had approved the planning application for the Green and the Ludlow Guild had formally become the Dinham Millennium Green Trust, and were now the owners of the site. By August 2000 the old pool had been demolished and the grand opening of the Dinham Millennium Green officially made.

Later phases of development have included the restoration of the old mill building, now housing a water wheel for the generation of electricity, the excellent Green Café, and upstairs office space and meeting room, along with repair of the weirs, the installation of fishing platforms, visitor information plaques, and planting schemes. The Green itself is kept in tip-top condition by a DMGT working party on the first Sunday of every month usually led by David Edwards, the Trust’s vice-chairman. And the Trust’s hard work should be celebrated – not only have they been instrumental in creating a beautiful community space, but also for putting on regular events for the enjoyment of everyone.

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It was agreed from the very beginning that the Green is ‘to be enjoyed by people of all ages and physical abilities... and to be an area where people may find physical and spiritual refreshment in the natural beauty of the surroundings.’ Fortunately, too, the existence of the Green for future generations is secure, as the Trust have written into the deeds that they should hold the Green in perpetuity for the benefit of the community forever. So if you go down to the river today, it’s thanks in part to the ‘Ludlow Ten’ who made it all possible only a few years ago. And were they here, JMW Turner and John Piper would no doubt agree.

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Saltmoor Bridge text and images on p10} Editor


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– COVER STORY – < continued from the front page A recent team may well have found a new species of crocodile (pending the results of tests). The museum’s own team also regularly collaborate with other museums – from Hereford, Worcester and Cardiff to the Natural History Museum in London. “Sometimes we’re doing research on a particular subject and we suddenly find other collections that might complement ours or vice versa,” Jackie explains. “The collections are also used at other museums around the county, like Shrewsbury. Part of what we do is to select and prepare temporary displays and educational workshops at our other sites.” “Social history?” prompts Daniel and we’re off again. In the sealed environment of corridors and doors I’ve forgotten what floor we’re on, but I’m whisked off to another set of doors that swing open to reveal a fantastically eclectic range of objects. From Victorian prams and old dolls houses to lamps, vacuum cleaners, bedpans, bellows and an extremely sinister looking chair – that looks like torture equipment – the room is packed to the rafters with fascinating things. Daniel reveals that the chair is actually “a fold down dentist’s chair that a travelling dentist would have used. He’d have set it up in the centre of town, taken out his bag of tools and called for customers.” So my first impression wasn’t too far off the mark then… One of the highlights of the social history room is the racks of beautifully kept clothing and costumes. The oldest one hanging up dates back to Georgian times but the majority of the collection is from the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th. I ask Jackie and Daniel if they’ve ever tried any of them on – Daniel raises an eyebrow and deadpans “given that most of them are for ladies, well…” The majority of the social history collection is, like most of the collection, from local people. “We’re very lucky,” says Jackie, “we have

experts in the field of costumes who are volunteers here. And the costumes do get used quite a lot – we hold costume education workshops, for example.” Those of you who might be tempted to play dressing-up might be pleased to know that there are replica costumes to play with although, sadly, they’re only for children. So, if you happened to have a Victorian agricultural smock hanging in your wardrobe at home, would the museum be keen to take it as a donation? “We have a strict collections policy,” says Daniel. “We’ll only take something if the local provenance can be proven or if there’s a really good story behind it,” adds Jackie. “In the past,” Daniel explains, “museums used to take whatever was offered which meant you got lots of duplicates, things like numerous Victorian sewing machines, when really you only need one.” So, no more Victorian smocks or christening robes then? “Unless it’s Charles Darwin’s christening robe then we’d have to politely say no. We do get regular offers for all sorts of things and we’re happy to take a look, particularly if there’s a good story and the associated information or documentation that goes with it, but we do have to say no if it’s a duplicate.” With so many objects in the collection, the museum is reliant on a group of around 30 hard-working volunteers, many of whom have highly-valued specialist knowledge to catalogue, photograph, research and digitise the collection. Apart from Jackie and Daniel, there’s just one other member of staff, the cheerful Avril, who keeps everything ticking over. “We’d be absolutely stuffed if we didn’t have the volunteers,” says Daniel. Some of their volunteers have been working with them for over a decade, and each and every one of them has a key role to play in recording the vast collection. There’s a steady trickle of new volunteers but Jackie is always keen to hear from potential new volunteers with specialist knowledge that could be put to good use. For volunteers, there’s


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Cover-story text} Liz Hyder; images} Richard Stanton


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a research room, a mini library and space for research projects, along with a rather fantastic piece of equipment that looks like it came out of a sci-fi movie. Disappointingly, it’s just a dust extraction unit or, in other words, a bloody great big vacuum cleaner. “You’ll like the Fluid Room,” says Daniel with a grin. This bizarrelynamed room contains a Frankensteinesque collection crammed full of ‘things in jars,’ from a Gollum-like baby kangaroo to disembowelled frogs and a rather ugly sea lamprey, one of the oldest pieces in the collection. It’s fascinating and repulsive all at the same time and, of course, probably my favourite room. Jackie reveals that the fluid in which the animals and plants are suspended is alcohol which, unfortunately, evaporates. When the containers need topping up, they have to be carefully taken to a secure airtight cabinet so that the fumes of the alcohol don’t overwhelm whoever’s topping the jars up. As we leave the Fluid Room, Daniel makes a quip about a ‘dead-body freezer’ and I laugh heartily until I clock Jackie holding up the lid of a large chest freezer and pulling out a slightly iced-up clear plastic bag. “A spotted woodpecker,” she says and recalls how the woman who brought it in had fed and taken great pleasure in the bird until it, somewhat unfortunately, brained itself by flying into her window. I spy a bullfinch, a blue tit and others, bagged up and frozen stiff, and I joke about frozen peas being at the bottom. “Oh no, I think there’s a badger in there,” says Jackie. “And an otter” adds Daniel. “I’m pretty sure there’s an otter at the bottom… we had a bag of frogs once but they don’t last forever.” Best before dates? “About three years,” says Daniel and with that we’re off to the Natural History store, home to a wide range of taxidermied animals, butterflies in display cases, birds eggs and more. The highlight, apart from someone’s stuffed pet dog (sadly rather hairless these days and reminiscent of a deranged soft toy), is Albert the stuffed Albatross, rescued from an attic in a grand country house by a workman. Albert, about five foot tall in his glass case, spent time, somewhat surprisingly, sharing the bedroom of said workman before the decision was made to donate him to the local museum. Daniel and Jackie, alas, haven’t had a go at taxidermy themselves but Daniel does cheerfully explain that to stuff a caterpillar (no, really), you have to gently blow the contents out “a bit like an egg...and

then, because the colours are all in the capillaries, you have to paint the markings back on.” Which slightly begs the question of why you just don’t make a model of it but, y’know, you have to admire the dedication of someone who’s prepared to blow out the internal organs of a caterpillar, stuff and then hand-paint it in the name of science. Ludlow’s museum proper, which showcases items from the collections, is currently preparing for its new location, the Buttercross, in the heart of town. It’s a move that’s proving controversial given that the museum will have less space than its previous location at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms, but one rumour that’s proven to be unfounded is that it won’t be accessible. Daniel reassures me that there’ll be a lift as well as stairs, so that the less able or those with pushchairs can easily be accommodated. He also points out that the museum was previously housed in the Buttercross (between 1950 to 1992) before moving to the LAR so, in a way, it’s returning home. “We’re trying to choose what to display at the moment,” Jackie says, “but it’s so hard, there’s such a rich history and we need to tell Ludlow’s story.” Daniel confirms that there will be more interactivity on offer too, with audio, visual and hands on displays. There will also be a chance to showcase the recently found Bitterley Hoard, a collection of over 130 silver coins (and one gold one) found by a local person with a metal detector. It’s a cracking story and one the Ledger will be reporting back on at a later point. Jackie, Daniel and Avril’s enthusiasm and passion for the collections is apparent but what’s more, it’s infectious too. In over two hours, I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m already keen to go back and explore further. Jackie’s worked at the Museum and Resource Centre for many years and, when I ask her what her favourite thing about working there is, she says with a big smile, “I love finding new things all the time, that sense of ‘ooh, look what I’ve found!” Daniel nods. “For me, it’s a question of why people collect things and hand them on. Every object has a story behind it and our job is being able to pass these stories on.” Jackie jumps in. “Yes, and to sort them into some sort of order so that people can use it and value it – and, crucially, leaving them in a better state for the future too.”

P12 and 13: Donated green woodpecker in a chest freezer – above a blue tit and a badger; one of the many display trays of butterflies (Natural History store); Daniel Lockett, mammoth tusk and draws full of dinosaur bones (Geology store); Jackie Tweddle and a crocodile (Natural History room) Avril Lines showcases an avenue of ladies’ wear (Social History Store); P14: Michael Turner hangs one of the framed Ludlow scenes (Fine Art picture store); baby kangaroo in a jar, (Fluid room); Cover: Dick Hughes casts some light on a heron, hare, partridge and two squirrels (Lab room)


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NAG’S HEAD SIGN – One of the properties I have looked at, as a potential new home for Ludlow Ledger, is 126 Corve Street. Built in the 1840s it started life as a private house (and most recently housed the shop Material) but for most of its life, up until the late 1980s, it was The Nag’s Head – complete with bar, taproom, smokeroom and sitting room. In its latter years it was sold as a free house by Bass-company Mitchells & Butlers, though closed soon after. Though McCartney’s informed me that a tenant was lined up, awaiting the signing of the lease, I decided to dig a little further – getting the team at Ludlow Library on the case; digging up a couple of books on the Nag’s Head pub itself and the yard immediately behind. Later that day I popped for a pint at The Nelson, where the subject was raised. Two of the regulars talked fondly of the Nag’s Head, quoting it as the only pub that was open all day on a Monday back then (serving customers from the Pig Day market). I was also told that the landlord would close at 5pm and open again at 5.30pm allowing 20 minutes drinking up time... It was suggested that this ploy was to rid the pub of some of its customers, though the same drinkers were usually to be found sat on the window sill outside waiting for the door to open again. The great bit of the Nelson chat was landlord Alan stating that he had the actual sign that once hung above the Corve-Street drinking hole. Even better, Alan directed me to the coal store outside where on top sat a very dilapidated, soaked-to-the-core sign in two parts. I was allowed to take ownership of the sign which, after a month of so, is still drenched but fascinating all the same.

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text} Mia Davis – MEET & GREET – IF you’re a bit tired of telling your hairdresser where you’ve been on holiday this year, then you might find the conversation in Mill Street’s new ‘Reflections’ salon a little bit different. Walk in and all is normal, with the requisite hair dryers, towels, chairs and mirrors in place. But if you get talking to salon-owner Sam during a cut and blow dry, then you’ll find that they aren’t just interested in what you look like on the outside, but cater for inner beauty as well. Talking about inner beauty, when your job is to make people look better, might seem a bit of a poor business decision and yet this is what ‘Reflections’ is all about. While they do a very fine cut and colour, they also devote time and space to offering holistic treatments, for treating the mind and spirit as well as the body, which are interdependent. If you’re doubtful about this as a concept, then it’s worth thinking back to a period of serious stress – chances are that you didn’t look your best. Working on a deep inner level, complementary therapies can reduce stress, restore and rebalance the bodies’ energy systems, and bring about change on a physical level as well as an emotional one. It could be argued that a few drinks have the same result but it’s not very lasting and the under-eye shadows and porridge-coloured complexion that come with a hangover might be okay for Kate Moss but not for us lesser mortals. So looking good generally means feeling good and this, along with the fact that we can all benefit from taking care of body and soul, is the message Sam wants to get across. The area behind the salon is devoted to a centre for complementary health

and healing, offering reiki healing, reflexology, Swedish massage and even crystal therapy which is carried out by Sam herself and other fully-qualified professionals. Some of this might be considered a bit far out for Ludlow, but it’s what Sam is passionate about and her own life has changed radically as a result. Many who are local to Ludlow will remember Reflections as Cameo Hair and Beauty – after seeing a bowen therapist for some serious health problems, Sam came to the realisation that everything had to change. “I had a cancer scare and realised that for too long my life hadn’t been right,” she tells me. “I don’t honestly know what happened, but after seeing the bowen therapist, things changed literally overnight. My husband and mum told me that they barely recognised me – for the good.” Sam changed and she knew that her salon had to change too, so she closed Cameo Hair and Beauty, gave it a massive make-over and reopened as Reflections, with the intention of creating a nurturing environment devoted not only to hair but also to wellbeing. Having made this momentous decision, she found that the practitioners she needed came to her and the holistic side of the business was born. Understandably, Sam is keen to make sure that clients understand what Reflections stands for. “It’s not about witchcraft and waving dead crows above people’s heads,” she laughs. “Chiefly, we’re still a hair salon, but what I also wanted was to provide a place of nurturing. If a client wants someone to really talk to in confidence, or need some form of healing then we’re here.” With the majority of businesses more fully concerned with money, then it

would be all too easy to scoff at how genuine this philosophy actually is. In Sam’s case, however, this seems to be entirely true. She’s even went so far as to offer reiki and crystal healing by donation on Thursdays and Fridays, and hairdressing by donation on Tuesdays – the idea being that clients paid whatever they felt they could afford. Unfortunately, the hair dressing by donation didn’t work out to plan. “There were a few disputes amongst customers, which was a real shame, but I think we’ll start it again with a £5 minimum charge.” Nicole and Gemma, the other hair stylists on the team, are fully behind the business concept and offer the same warm generosity of spirit towards clients as Sam does. Nicole is even planning to train in crystal awareness. So how does Sam’s husband take all this? Is there a dream catcher over the bed or perhaps a dead crow? Sam laughs again. “No, nothing like that, but I have to admit he is a sceptic,” she says. “He recently had quite a serious accident where he split his head open on a JCB bucket. I did some Reiki healing on him and when he went back to the hospital for a check-up after the stitches, they said it was healing really well. Of course my husband said he healed really well anyway. That said, he loves the change in me. I was so stressed before, and now I feel much more able to manage. I can cope and I’m so much happier than I was.” So there we have it. If one lady can change her life so dramatically through the power of reiki healing, reflexology and crystals, then it’s got to be worth popping in for a go. Either that or a good haircut, if you’re not so sure about working on your body and soul.

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Stockist image p15} Richard Stanton; Stockist location} Bindery Shop


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STOCKIST OF THE MONTH, OR TWO: It probably helps that they serve a perfect pint of Ludlow Brewing Company’s Stairway, but it’s a pleasure nevertheless to drop off copies of Ludlow Ledger to the Nelson Inn (a short 20-minute stroll mile out of town, past The Queens up Gravel Hill then right at China Garden and along Henley Road – found on the other side of the A49 roundabout). The Nelson has featured twice in Doghouse – the British pub magazine (which is published by Son of Saxon: creators of Ludlow Ledger). We had this to say about the Rocks Green public house in edition five: “As a guide, don’t bother with the front door facing the road, instead head to the right, over the cellar doors and around to your left. Walking in through the first door will bring you face-to-face with the locals, as the small matchboard counter is immediately to your right. It’s a no-frills pub – I hate to use the phrase spit and sawdust, as it doesn’t seem right – with threadbare carpet, a pool table, dartboard, a decent jukebox, and the warmest welcome from landlord Al. The beer’s good too.” All six editions of Doghouse magazine can be purchased/ordered from La Jewellery, Mod Lang and Ludlow Brewery, as well as online: www.doghousemagazine.co.uk

ISSUE #3 Ludlow’s golden boy of geology Glass sculpting Behind the scenes at Rickards London to Ludlow with Aubrey King-sized figures from the Furniture Scheme WW1 plane build Holidaying in Borth Riding for the disabled Cath and Eileen talk about old Ludlow ludlowledger.com/archive GeoffreyAdams W O O D YA R D

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In his own words: Jack Andow

Sand Pit Jack, the tapestry lad interviewed by} Jon Saxon | image} Richard Stanton – INSPIRATION – I’VE got multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, had a mini stroke, cholesterol problems, spondylitis, cataracts in my eyes and, in 2013, I had cancer of the nose – so they took my nose off. I thought they were going to cut it off flush (because the pimple was right at the end of my nose) but no, they went all the way back – so there’s a big cavity there now. It was a bit of a shock; I didn’t see it for two or three days. I was in Telford hospital and the one toilet on the ward had two mirrors, the other toilet had one mirror, high up (when I went in with my wheelchair I couldn’t see myself), so I used that one even though it was the furthest one from my bed. I weighed that up before I had the operation. I had some visitors a couple of days after I’d had it done – and my new nose fell off and they didn’t bat an eyelid... so that was my turning point. When they left I went to have a look in the mirror. “Yes,” I said “they didn’t worry,” it was only me that got pestered so I was well away. It’s a good job though; they just moulded it off my old one – fantastic isn’t it? They’re clever today, you know. Thirty years ago, you’d just have been told to hold a hanky over it, wouldn’t you? I’ve been in this wheelchair 20 years, so I’ve had the same pair of shoes for 20 years – and three lots of tyres on my wheelchair, so I’ve done well, really; there’s always a bonus. I’m out most days, if it’s fine. I’ve got another wheelchair, with a bit of power in the back (just to give me hand) and a scooter too. The physio in Shrewsbury recently governed me down from 12-mile a week in my wheelchair to just six. I did six here in Ludlow on the marathon last year ... and it poured down with rain, absolutely poured it down. I came home and had a shower – I think I was drier coming out of the shower. I made £300 for the British Legion that day. I tried woodwork, but the shed got cold so I packed that up as a bad job. Then I tried painting, but I was either picking it or putting it down, or making a mess – and I thought: “No! That’s no good.” That’s when I noticed a seamstress advertising some night

schooling, down on the Bromfield Road – there was nine women and me. I went to make a cup of tea on the first day and heard her say: “He’ll never stick it”. Well, I’ve done 315 tapestries now and raised £37,000 for charity, through raffling them off. I’ve done all of the pubs, done all the churches, done most of Ludlow and they’ve gone to 14 different countries – I sent one to Nova Scotia just last year. I go on cruises because they’re wheelchair-friendly – I’ve done 22, all around, everywhere; and the interest it causes on the ship because a man’s doing needlework ... ain’t it funny? It’s strange for them to see a man doing it, especially out in the open, but I don’t care, I just get on with it. They’re doing crosswords and reading, so I sit in the sun doing my tapestry. First service I did in the navy was 18 months in Bermuda – that was a good posting in the 1950s. I did 31 islands in the West Indies in 18 months. It was BWI (British West Indies) then – it isn’t now, but times have changed. The highlight was Christmas in Bermuda, in shorts – got to be good, ain’t it? We then went up to the Arctic Circle – that got rid of your suntan, mate, I tell you it didn’t last long up there. We spent 18 months up there, then we did six weeks up on Bear Island and up around that end. I joined the navy, so that’s that – get on with it; once you got on that ship and they shut those dockyard gates, you were on your own. I was due to go to the Far East again for another 18 months on the Ark Royal (R09) when I met my good lady – and she didn’t think it was such a good idea me going out to see all those Geisha girls so she said: “Stop here!” I got a job on a farm for a bit and then got into the construction industry. They wouldn’t believe me now if I told them I was doing needlework – but it’s better than just watching the telly. I have an au pair, because I’m posh. Better than a home help; you’ve got to have it right, haven’t you? People ask me where she comes from and I say: “Richards Castle”. It’s about as farflung as it gets. It wasn’t the Ludlow District Council in the Eighties, it was the Ludlow Demolition Council – they knocked

down the Town Hall; in my opinion that shouldn’t have come down. They reckoned it was unsafe, but they could have underpinned it, or something – they spent an awful lot of money on Ludlow Assembly Rooms so if they’d spent that on the Town Hall things would be different. That was bad for Ludlow. The Portcullis pub went too. It seemed that every time they knocked a building down they put some traffic lights up; I don’t know how that worked, but that’s the way it was. The Raven pub coming down – that shouldn’t have happened either; it was a good pub, a real working man’s pub and it had a good trade and all. It is a shame, but it’s a sign of the times – pubs aren’t like they used to be. All these supermarkets don’t affect

me, but it will affect a lot of these small shops – really badly I think. For such a little place, we do have a lot – someone’s making a lot of money out of it and it’s a shame for the local shopkeepers because they work hard. If these little shops haven’t got what you want, they’ll get it for you – usually by the next day. You go into the supermarket and say: “Have you got any of that left?” and they’ll say: “If there’s none left on the shelf we ain’t got it.” This letter arrived at the end of November 2014 – but I couldn’t say anything about it at the time, because it was top secret. It was very serious looking (from the Cabinet Office) and I thought: “Who’s pulling my leg?” It took me half an hour to open it up

and I read it about 12 times. I couldn’t believe it: a letter on behalf of the Queen from the Prime Minister. It said that I was one of only seven people on Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year Honours List for 2015 (published on December 30th) to receive the British Empire Medal (Jack’s is for voluntary service to Royal Navy veterans). I’ll be informed about the award date six weeks before the ceremony this year, when I’ll pop down for a cup of tea and sticky bun with the Queen. Morale is high in this house at this moment, I can tell you. Having had a letter from the PM, I’ll have to change my gang now ... won’t I?

ISSUE #4 Young Farmers Club turns 70 Controversial chef of Broad Street St Laurence’s organist, Shaun Ward Letters from the front Town’s tight wearers of 1968 Kitchen table industries Ludlow Ledger facts Ludlow Legend William Parks Downing pints and dominoes ludlowledger.com/archive

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Nelson Inn image p16} Richard Stanton


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Rooftop Theatre Company

Modelling themselves on Ludlow text} Liz Hyder | images} Richard Stanton – PROFILE – LUDLOW is lucky to have such a thriving theatre community here with Pentabus, Appletree, guest shows at the LAR and now, our newest permanent addition, Rooftop Theatre Company. Last summer Rooftop launched in Ludlow with a lively sell-out production of The Comedy of Errors at Ludlow Brewery, their first ever show in the West Midlands. Founded and run by actors Paul Sayers and Simon Bolton, Rooftop specialise in performing Shakespeare and have been producing shows for over a decade using a mix of professional and amateur performers. I met up with the entertaining pair, raconteurs with a penchant for the Bard, model railways and Doctor Who, to find out more about how Rooftop first started. It was two decades ago that Paul and Simon’s paths crossed when they both gained places to train at Birmingham School of Speech and Drama. At a party for new students in their first week Paul was, initially, pursued around the garden by “an unsuitable man.” The nameless man was neatly avoided, but he served a good turn by drawing Simon’s attention to Paul – and it was love at first sight. Simon sighs theatrically: “I went to drama school specifically intending not to get attached to anyone or to start a relationship – I didn’t even last a week.” Paul confesses, with a laugh, that he was a trainee lawyer before being seduced by the stage. “Probably the most unsuitable job for me in the most unsuitable company,” he says drily, “I studied law at university and found myself in this office…” Lifelong Doctor-Who fan, Simon nods and deadpans: “I wanted to be the Sixth Doctor but got distracted by zoology and teaching.” After completing their training in Birmingham, the duo moved to London and worked in fringe theatre in a range of productions that, they acknowledge, informed the way they run Rooftop. They were particularly inspired by a company called Hush Hush, which Simon says “did really good Shakespeare, similar to what we do now.” Unfortunately, they ran low on money rather quickly. “There aren’t many opportunities in professional theatre and it is very hard to make a living on the fringe,” says Paul, “we had to think about doing real work again.” He saw an advert for a job with a big legal publishing company, thought that it sounded “a good use of my training without having to be in a law firm,” and it marked the start of Paul’s career in legal publishing and editing. He started working for Estates Gazette, a property industry and lawyers’ magazine, which has provided him with lots of work over the years. “I’m very grateful to them, the work has allowed me the flexibility to do other things and I can do the editing anywhere, even Ludlow.” Meanwhile, Simon headed back to the classroom to inspire and terrify primary school children in equal measure as a supply teacher. “Although we were going back to normal jobs,” says Simon, “there was still a real urge to do something on our terms. We started to miss acting and looked around for some courses to get back into it, and that’s when I noticed the City Lit.” The City Lit in London became their biggest influence, and the seeds of Rooftop Theatre were first sown by drama teacher George Pensotti, who taught “with extreme sarcasm” says Simon with a grin – Paul and Simon were both doing a course on acting in

comedies and, each summer, George would write a play for a group of students to perform on the roof at City Lit. They reminisce for a while about the plays and Simon makes us laugh like drains when he muses, mockseriously, “I particularly enjoyed being a cow.” After a few summers in Pensotti’s informal repertory company, Paul and Simon developed plans for the future. Naming themselves Rooftop Theatre Company, in homage to Pensotti’s City Lit shows, they found a fantastic setting in the middle of Queen’s Wood, Highgate – an abandoned paddling pool in a dell – and the setting immediately sparked off an idea. Paul explains “we stood by this circular paddling pool surrounded by trees and looked at each other. It was absolutely perfect for Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In 2003, the year Pensotti retired from teaching, Rooftop made their debut in the wood. The following year, they performed The Comedy of Errors, the very same play they performed in Ludlow a decade later. Since those first productions in Highgate, Rooftop has gone from strength to strength. “We don’t do traditional Shakespeare,” Paul says, “we use non-traditional venues and have mixed casts of professionals and non. I think we approach it from an alternative view – maybe that’s because we’re coming to it when we’re older, but I think the real reason it works is because we do it in our own way.” After six successful productions in St Albans, the pair decided it was time to move on – as St Albans shifted further towards being a commuter town, fewer locals were engaging in the arts. So, having based both Rooftop and themselves in St Albans for the best part of a decade, they moved to Ludlow. What attracted them to the Marches? “We knew Shropshire fairly well,” says Paul. “When I was at university I had a good friend who lived in Wellington and I got to know it as a county – that was 25 years ago; all I remember about Ludlow is how foggy it was – we left the lights on in Galdeford car park and had to jumpstart the car.” “It’s a perfect landscape for us here,” says Paul, and Simon nods in agreement; “there’s good wildlife, a lovely river.” They both mention Julia Walling, an artist, counsellor and conservationist in Ludlow who also moved to the town from St Albans. “We knew Julia from down our road and she gave us really good advice about moving up here. She kept recommending it, telling us we can do stuff here and that people are supportive – and it’s absolutely true. You can define yourself here, be who you want to be,” says Paul passionately. “I was worried about the townspeople with pitchforks running us out of town,” laughs Simon. As well as theatre and Doctor Who, Simon’s other great passion is model railways. Recently, he launched his new book (Scratch-Building Model Railway Locomotives) with a rather marvellous window display in Castle Bookshop that included a Dalek train and various Doctor Who figurines, much to the amusement of shoppers and passers by, who seemed permanently glued to the window. Simon’s obsession started when he was a boy. “I had a train set, a TriangHornby, and I joined the Model Railway Club at school which was run by a blind history teacher. In his back garden he had a massive railway track around the edge of the garden with a pond in the centre, which he fell in regularly.” I raise a sceptical eyebrow at this but Simon insists that he’s not


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making it up. “There were five or six of us strange children that went there and then I got older, went off to university and forgot about it.” Until, that is, the pair moved to St Albans where they had a bit more space. “Nowadays it’s such a great privilege to be able to spend time making money out of a hobby and having the space to do it, here in Ludlow, is fantastic. Making things seems to be becoming popular again,” Simon muses. “There are a lot of retired Baby Boomers around with a bit of spare cash who want to spend their time running their models and either have a go at building new ones or commission scratch builders to do so.” Model making, particularly from scratch, can be extremely time consuming. “There’s a lot of planning involved and much of it can be very fiddly. You need good eye-sight, plenty of light and a reasonably steady soldering hand. I’ve gained lots of skills – and burns.” Simon laughs. “It takes real perseverance and you have to be very patient, particularly when the carpet in your workshop hides all the tiny bits and pieces you’ve built that have pinged off into oblivion.” On a more serious note, Paul is convinced that “Ludlow is the place we’re destined to be. On the surface, it’s got lots of great things, but when we got here and started meeting all of these talented people ...” “Including some of the finest railway modellers in Britain ...” interjects Simon. Paul grins and continues, “We met Steve Dunachie, with whom we have music lessons and who performed live for The Comedy of Errors. There are amazing people who share stuff here and bring something to the community. It feels there’s a real momentum for doing things in Ludlow.” Simon uses the example of Stanton, who runs Castle Bookshop, and says he gave them free rein for the window display with the Dalek train. “We couldn’t have done that in St Albans or London. And all those people that came to the launch drinking fizz around Stanton’s books, it was great.” Next year, they may well be doing two productions, with Henry V at the Brewery in February and a possible production during the Fringe. Casting is done through a combination of

word of mouth and local media. “For Comedy of Errors we got a cast together within 30 miles of Ludlow,” says Simon. The pair also take great pride in using the local community not just on stage but throughout the whole process, from using Appletree for rehearsals to “using the local butcher for the pig’s head prop – although we had to keep it in the freezer overnight,” says Paul, grimacing. I confess that as an amateur ex-props maker, I was impressed with how real the pig’s head looked but am genuinely surprised to find out that it was real. So much so that Simon says the father of one of the cast ate it at the end of the run. The Comedy of Errors did phenomenally well for Rooftop, with audiences of over 450 over the week-long run in the Brewery. “Better than we ever had in St Albans – it was amazing,” says Paul. “We had no idea that we’d get that reaction,” says Simon, “it’s the first time we’d done a full show in Ludlow, although we’d done a few little things – compèred for the Corve St Fringe and a Shakespeare quiz for the Friends of Ludlow Arts through Di Lyle, who’s been very supportive of us. People in Ludlow are really open to trying new things. I didn’t think the audience would be as receptive as it was.” Their Ludlow debut was part of Ludlow Fringe – now the only arts festival in town after the previous two Arts Festivals folded within two years of each other. “I don’t know if we’ll be the only Shakespeare in Ludlow,” says Paul and Simon nods, agreeing with him. “The death of the arts festival will affect the town,” he adds “but the Fringe will fill the gap. A lot of people used to go to the old Arts Festival but perhaps the Fringe helps bring in new audiences.” For Henry V, Rooftop are hoping to do school workshops and get more children in to see the show. “It’s important that you open up people’s minds. School kids roll their eyes when you mention Shakespeare often before they’ve read or seen it – where does that come from? That idea that Shakespeare is boring, where does it come from?” Teamwork is important for Rooftop too. Paul says, “We can take the historic text and modernise the characterisation in production but

it’s the teamwork that makes the difference, that mix of professional and amateur actors.” Why have that mix? Paul deadpans “It’s all we can get...” then they both burst into laughter. “A lot of professional actors are fairly set in their ways – ‘where’s my green room?’ ‘Where’s my cup of tea?’ We don’t allow that, everyone has to work together.” “We wanted to be actors, we happened to go to drama school but most people don’t get the chance to perform on stage and we offer them that chance,” says Simon. “And,” Paul points out, “people can’t always tell the professionals from the amateurs. That’s why Shakespeare is so great, you can perform it on the move with lots of energy.” So will Rooftop ever perform a show that isn’t Shakespeare? Simon ponders this for a moment. “We keep meaning to – given the chance and the chance is always around… one day we’ll get round to it.” In the meantime, they have Henry V to rehearse for February with its cast of 17, big lighting effects and a larger scale show than anything Rooftop have done previously. Will it take over their lives I ask? “Oh yes,” says Paul, “in a good way though – it gives us something to live for,” and he bursts out laughing again. “Artistically it’s a joint effort – I’ll organize and budget it and then Simon will do the actual directing – apart from the scenes he’s in which I’ll direct. We overlap, but it’s complimentary.” He pauses for a moment before adding, mock pofaced, “like a Venn diagram.” Given their support for the Fringe, will they be returning with a new show in the summer too? “We’d like to,” says Simon. “We’d love to do The Tempest; when I was 11 I got taken to see an RSC production and I really remember the colour and energy of it.” Paul points out that they haven’t done a magical play for a while and they chat excitedly about what they could do in Ludlow for some time, as our coffee slowly goes cold and our faces ache from having laughed so much over the few hours we’ve spent chatting. St Albans’s loss is very much Ludlow’s gain.

Above: Paul Sayer: paul@rooftoptheatre.co.uk; Top: Simon Bolton: 07540 377526, simon@artfulengineering.co.uk


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This issue in facts

Don’t Dump It, Donate it.

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THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE IN A PUB examine your choice of beer by tilting the glass, to see if foam adheres to the side – foam that does is called ‘Brussels lace’ and some consider it to be a sign of high-quality beer; it also means your glass is clean. Signs of a dirty glass are: a lack of head retention, no foam lines (known as lacing), and if you see bubbles stuck to the inside of the glass.

Donating furniture to the Furniture Scheme is easy and it goes a long way to helping your community In the last 12 months we have saved 141,039kg from landfill and provided furniture for more than 2,400 disadvantaged families and individuals

To donate please call: 01584 877788 or go to: www.furniturescheme.co.uk

page 6

THE BRITISH LEGION doesn’t advocate war but is simply there to support those who have been prepared to make a personal sacrifice through serving in the British Armed Forces. Since the Second World War there has only been one year (that being 1968) when a British Service person hasn’t been killed on active service.

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LONDONTAXIDERMY.COM offers many items for hire and to buy. Under their ‘contemporary’ tab you’ll find a signed and numbered red squirrel in vintage boxing outfit under an antique glass dome. You’ll also find a cased hedgehog skeleton and an exploding lobster (not as gruesome as it sounds).

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HMS ARK ROYAL featured in the 1960s TV series Not Only... But Also starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. In one episode, they used the ship’s catapult to shoot a piano into the sea.

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GRAHAM FREDERICK YOUNG was fascinated, from a young age, by poisons and their effects. In 1961 he started to test poisons on his family – and was eventually sent to a psychiatrist, who contacted the police. Young was arrested in May 1962 and confessed to the attempted murders of his father, sister, and friend. In June 1970, after nearly eight years in Broadmoor, the prison’s psychiatrist, Dr Edgar Udwin, wrote to the Home Secretary to recommend Young’s release, announcing that he “is no longer obsessed with poisons, violence and mischief.” In 1971, soon after his release from hospital, Young began work at John Hadland Laboratories in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, where he started making tea laced with poisons for his colleagues. His foreman grew ill and died. A sickness soon swept through his workplace and – mistaken for a virus – was nicknamed the Bovingdon Bug. Young poisoned about 70 people during the next few months until he was arrested in November 1971. Police discovered a detailed diary that Young had kept, noting the doses he had administered, their effects, and whether he was going to allow each person to live or die. At his trial at St Albans Crown Court, which lasted for ten days, Young pleaded not guilty and claimed the diary was a fantasy for a novel.

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PARTIAL RECORDS SHOW that, during the 14th century, soldiers of Ludlow Castle used the current site of Ludlow Racecourse for the staging of matches between two or three horses and their riders. It is also know that flat racing started on this same site as early as 1729, with the current hurdles course using a one-mile stretch of the old flat course.

Relieving poverty, protecting the environment and enabling people

“I do not know the county well,” admitted Housman

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While Ludlow tower shall stand

Vaughan’s Sandwich & Salad bar

text and image} David Harley – FINDING LUDLOW – I SUPPOSE my journey into into the world of Alfred Edward Housman (in so far as the world of this very private man allows) began not in Ludlow, but in Shrewsbury (where I grew up) and a school photography-club project. As I remember it, my part consisted of wandering round Pontesford Hill, trailing after the lad whose project it was. I think he was probably the only one of us with a camera, too. My next encounter was at an even greater distance, geographically speaking. In the mid-1970s, while living in Berkshire, I wrote an uncharacteristically folky song Thomas Anderson (a belated casualty of the Jacobite rebellion who’d been executed in Shrewsbury in 1752) and this lengthy ballad proved popular, despite not being my usual bluesy material. Shortly after this, fortune dropped a copy of Housman’s collected verse in my lap and I was inspired (if that’s not too precious a way of expressing it) to set half a dozen or so pieces from A Shropshire Lad to music; like many rather more famous composers (Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, John Ireland) I found that the lyrics almost wrote their own melodies. (They are not among my studio recordings, but I have put some demo recordings on my Housman-obsessive blog site). Fast forward to 2011: Needing, for family reasons, to move back to Shropshire, my wife and I moved to a charming (though essentially fake) period development in Ludlow, known to the locals as Disneyland. To my surprise, I found myself living a short walk from Housman, whose ashes lie just outside the North Wall of St Laurence’s church, so my wife replaced my long-gone collection of Housman’s verse with a copy of A Shropshire Lad liberally illustrated with photographs by Gareth B. Thomas. I wonder if he was a member of that photography club? Occasionally, you may see Housman himself referred to as ‘that Shropshire lad’, but he wasn’t born in Shropshire and never lived here. He was born near Bromsgrove (where he was educated), he studied classics at Oxford and then he worked in London (eventually becoming Professor of

Latin at University College); in 1911 he became Professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he stayed until his death in 1936. However, according to Shropshire historian David Lloyd, Housman spent much of 1894 and 1895 visiting Shropshire following the death of his father. He published his collection in March 1896 and other sources suggest that he hadn’t actually been to Shropshire at the time of publication, but Lloyd’s account seems to make more sense. Housman himself admitted, in 1934, that “I do not know the county well, except in parts, and some of my topographical details are wrong and imaginary.” He may have been thinking of the well-known lines: The vane on Hughley steeple Veers bright, a far-known sign... I suspect that many of ‘the faithful’ who have visited Hughley as a result of reading that verse have been disappointed. In a letter to his brother Lawrence, Housman wrote, “I ascertained by looking down from Wenlock Edge that Hughley church could not have much of a steeple. But … I had already composed the poem and could not invent another name that sounded so nice…” As Christopher Ricks, Professor of Poetry at Oxford and President of the Housman Society, wryly observed in his introduction to the edition of A Shropshire Lad with Gareth B. Thomas’ photographs, Housman “did possess a poetic licence.” Clearly, his final resting place at Ludlow suggests an abiding love for the place – after all, his place in the pantheon of poetry is assured enough to have rated the dedication of a window in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. As Lloyd, Clark and Potter remarked, “…though not a parishioner (he) had made Ludlow so much his own...” -------------------------------------------------In a more oblique reference, a cherry tree was planted nearby by the Japanese Housman Society. David Harley makes his living from writing about computer security, but prefers to think of himself as a part-time musician and an amateur historian.

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Book signing, De Greys and free range eggs

The Testament of Vida Tremayne text} Sarah Vincent

– FICTION – AUTHOR Vida Tremayne lies silent in a hospital bed. The forces which brought about her decline are shrouded in mystery. Meanwhile her estranged daughter, Dory, is forced to abandon her city life for her mother’s remote cottage on the edge of the Stiperstones. Dory hates the country, but luckily Vida already has a carer in residence, the enigmatic Rhiannon Townsend. A long-standing fan of Vida’s, Rhiannon is happy to take care of the bedside vigil and Dory is free to resume her life.... or is she? She discovers her mother’s journal – Vida’s chilling testament reveals the trigger for her catatonic state; it also reveals the danger that still lurks close by. A danger that will call on Dory’s every reserve of courage if she is to free her mother and maybe, in doing so, free herself. In the following extract from Vida’s journal, Rhiannon, having inveigled her way into her life and nursed her through a flu-like illness, has persuaded the convalescing Vida to show her around the market town of Ludlow..... -------------------------------------------------SO, Ludlow it was. Escorting Rhiannon around town seemed the very least I could do after the fuss she’d made of me. But, as we wandered down King Street towards the Buttercross, Rhiannon exclaiming over every cobble and leaded windowpane, it was hard to focus on everyday things like bread and bananas. A damp wind funnelled through the narrow streets, which seem always to lie in shadow. Outside St. Laurence’s Church, I suggested she go and look at the famous misericords, “they’re very fine. I’ll just be in the square over by Farmers’ stall.” She was reluctant to leave me, but I explained that I’m not keen on church interiors, which is true. While she was gone, I mooched half-heartedly about the market stalls – a my only purchase, a half dozen free range eggs, my thoughts so blurred I could barely count out my change to pay for them. Then I saw her, flouncing across the square towards me, her expression fierce. Was something wrong? “The misericords - dunking stools and witches and nagging wives – all that post St. Augustine misogyny.” She glanced over her shoulder in the direction of the church, “I should have known better than to go inside.” I was sorry this had upset her so much. It was the first time I’d seen her disconcerted in any way, and curiously it made me feel stronger. We moved on to De Greys for tea and scones. “My treat;” I pushed away her embroidered purse and snapped open my wallet, “a little thank you for all you’ve done.” “It’s nothing, I told you; anyone would have done the same.” She began talking about London, how she had ‘outgrown’ it, how she could hear the streets ringing with the marching feet of the Roman legions. Then she folded her arms as if she’d come to a momentous decision about something: “You know Vida, I feel I could really settle in a place like this.” On the way back to the car park we passed Bridge Books. Rhiannon halted over the reduced stand in the doorway; “Do you mind if we go in? You can tell so much about a place from its bookshops.” Of course I didn’t mind. I loitered close to the door, leafing through a book about old roses, the luscious photographs making me long for summer. Within minutes she was bustling back down the aisle towards me, her expression heated, urgent. When she spoke it was in the tone of

someone trying to break bad news gently, “Vida, I’ve just checked out the ‘T’s in fiction. They don’t have a single one of your books. Not even The Gingerbread House.” This was no surprise to me; I explained that it was hardly a current title. “Vida, you are a local author. If a bookshop can’t support its local authors, what is the point? What kind of philistines are they in this place?” “It’s a family business,” I wished she’d keep her voice down, “they can’t afford to stock everything, and David the owner does his best. He organized a book signing for my last book…” I broke off, recalling that mortifying day when only one customer had shown up. How thankful I was he wasn’t behind the counter today, watching his eyes flicker with faint recognition as he tried to recall my face. “Rhiannon, wait…” She wasn’t going to, was she? Oh my God, she was! She was at the counter already, demanding to know if my last title was in stock. “The Gingerbread House,” I heard her say, uttering the title, my title, as if it was an incantation, as if it somehow belonged to her, as if she was the author herself. “You must have that one at least.” David’s young assistant stared fearfully at the computer screen, tapping keys. A shy boy, with an inflamed rash pulsating behind a floppy fringe, he muttered apologetically, they didn’t appear to have it in stock. “Is it still in print? We could order it for you?” “Not in stock? Tell me you’re joking. Do you know who this is?” To my utter mortification, Rhiannon turned to indicate me. “This is Vida Tremayne, author of The Gingerbread House, winner of the Peccadill Prize. You have heard of the Peccadill Prize?” I hovered speechless, while registering an awkward customer, the poor boy pushed at his fringe, “I… sorry…” “And she lives on your very doorstep. She is a local author, and you’re very privileged to have her...” “Rhiannon! It doesn’t matter. Please…” Blithely ignoring me, she went on, “look, can you get me the manager please?” “No!” I interrupted, “no, that won’t be necessary. Rhiannon, I’m going now.” Since trying to wrestle her from the shop would only create a worse spectacle, I stalked out ahead, hoping she would follow. She did. Although not without some parting threat to the assistant I was sure. I didn’t wait for her to catch me up. I put on a spurt, hardly pausing for breath until I reached the car. I was already seated at the wheel by the time she caught up. “Something wrong, Vida?” She looked quietly triumphant, as if she’d scored a point scaring that poor spotty boy to death on my account. I laughed. “Wrong? What could possibly be wrong? You’ve just humiliated me, made a complete exhibition of me in my local bookshop, thank you.” “Vida, if I can’t speak up for you, then who can?” “My agent does that job perfectly well.” Actually she doesn’t, but I’ve never mentioned Fee Moody to Rhiannon and have no intention of doing so. She made a dismissive humphing sound; “these people have no appreciation.” “Rhiannon, forgive me, but my

sales, my work, my books are really my business.” She was silent, infuriatingly superior beside me, like a mother humouring a toddler’s tantrum. I plunged ahead into the silence, unable to stop myself. “You seem to have some, I don’t know, some fixation about me being a literary genius. Sorry to disillusion you, but I’m not. I’ll admit I once wrote a good book, but that was at my peak, I peaked, understand?” “No, no...” she twisted round in the passenger seat to face me, “the best is yet to come, believe me.” I slapped the steering wheel, “You’re wrong. If you want the truth, I haven’t written for months apart from my diary, and the bloody shopping list. I’m getting old. I’m dried up. Blocked. Do you understand? I am finished as a writer. There will be no more books.” My words were intended to shock her, but in fact it was me they shocked the most. No more books. I stared bleakly out through the windscreen, smeary with bird shit and dead fly. Did I really believe that? Was my future really that bleak? In the brief silence that followed I could hear her breathing. When she spoke it was in the steady reasoned voice of an adult dealing with a juvenile delinquent: “You say you’re ‘dried up.’ There’s no such thing as dried up. Dig down deep enough and you’ll always find the wellspring, even in the desert, you’ll find it. I understand how you feel, really I do, but just answer me one thing. If you had the chance, would you like to write again, something wonderful, something the world can’t ignore?” A dry laugh choked out of me, more like a gulp, “It’s what I do isn’t it? It’s all I can do.” “Then, listen to me Vida,” she moved closer, so I was forced to face her, “this is what I propose. Give me a month, just a month at your house, and I will free you. I promise, in one month you will be working again, you will be writing like an angel.” “I don’t know…” “One month. But, you have to submit yourself absolutely to my programme.” “Programme. What programme?” “The programme I’ve been working on with my students, I wrote to you about it remember? About removing creative blocks?” “Oh those.” I sighed, then shifted uncomfortably. Her eyes were so earnest, so compelling. It’s hard to ignore someone else’s belief in you. Even Jonathan, although he was pleased for me, never had that confidence in my work. “You have such faith in me. I’m flattered really but…” “I’m not doing this to flatter you. I just hate to see talent like yours go to waste, that’s all.” I didn’t say yes; not right then. I was still smouldering after that debacle in the shop. She didn’t press me further. She turned back to face the windscreen and snapped on her seat belt, as if the decision had been made. Something about this, about her certainty half convinced me as we drove back to the house. By the time we’d pulled up in the drive, I’d made up my mind to accept her strange offer. Such faith is rare. Such friendship is rare. And who else do I have to care? “Vida,” she’s calling now from the kitchen, “d’you want your drink in the study?” “No…no, I’m just coming”. I must put this away, and go and be companionable. The Programme will begin in a few days’ time, she says. The Programme – I have no idea what it entails; I confess to feeling apprehensive. What exactly have I committed to? But, there it is. I agreed to her offer, I said yes, I promised. I hate going back on my word. And anyway, how on earth can I wriggle out of it now? -------------------------------------------------Published by Three Hares Publishing, and available in print from selected bookshops and as an e-book via Amazon. www.sarahkvincent.co.uk

CHEESE – Dudley and 350 truckles of mature cheese in Ludlow Food

What’s your Ludlow story? What was it like growing up in Ludlow? How did you end up here? What do you feel needs addressing in this town? Or perhaps an amusing story, whether old or new?

Please send your letters and emails to} Ludlow Ledger, Hillkroft, Bromfield Rd, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1DW editor@ludlowledger.co.uk


23

Accidents, ale and axed architecture

Pulling in some stats of our train line text} Jon Saxon

– FACTS & FIGURES –

Centre’s ‘Maturing Room’; 10 kilos each, they take 100 litres of milk to produce and 20 months to mature

LUDLOW train station opened on 21st April 1852. There are presently only four railway tunnels in use in Shropshire – including the one that flows underneath Gravel Hill, at just 192 yards in length. The station has three recorded train incidents: the first a derailment on 12th December 1877 (owing to a collision with debris) with no reported fatalities or injured persons. The third, on 6th September 1956 (also derailed) was caused by a collision between a parked passenger train and a parcels train. The primary cause was noted in the Ministry of Transport report of 1957 as driver error; stating that the parcels train: ‘...travelled past a distant signal at caution and two stop signals at danger without reducing speed and collided, at 40-50 mph, with the rear of the 4:45pm express passenger train from Penzance to Manchester, which had been stopped at Ludlow signal box owing to an obstruction on the line at a level crossing ahead.’ Amazingly there were no fatalities, though, as the report continues: ‘...two of the ten passenger in the coach required treatment for shock. The guard and fireman escaped, but the driver was injured and suffered severely from shock. He was unable to give evidence until 12th November 1956.’ By this time the engine shed had closed, with the goods yard following the same fate 17 years on (in 1968) around about the same time that the Victorian station buildings were demolished and the last of the signal boxes were closed. The goods shed is now home to Ludlow Brewing Co. Nowadays the station is the fourth busiest by passenger numbers in Shropshire and, on 3rd August 1914, witnessed a 10:13am train to Shrewsbury packed with army

reservists bound for the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry depot, a day ahead of the official declaration of war. The nearest pub to the station was once The Nag’s Head on Corve Street (as featured on p11). Another relatively near public house is The Bridge (again on Corve Street) so named for its close proximity to the bridge spanning Bromfield Road. In fact this pub was called the Queen’s Head up until 1970. Keeping with Ludlow pubs: the end of terrace 11 St Mary’s Lane (literally in eye-shot of The Bridge) was once the Cross Keys. This beer house was frequented by the railway workers of the time, who used to haul buckets of beer up the embankment to the sidings. Train-wise: scroll down the long-line of bygone engines within the GWR Castle Class and you’ll notice No 5002 Ludlow Castle, which was built in September 1926 and, later, withdrawn from service in September 1964. You can buy one of the 80 bespoke models for £3,000 from Edinburgh’s leemarshmodelco.com – who can also be reached on: 0131 667 3405. Talking of steam trains: on 24th November 2012, the A1 Class Locomotive 60163 Tornado paid a visit to Ludlow from Slough (the first excursion for Tornado in its all-over blue livery). The locomotive was built over a 19-year period by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, who shared the extraordinary ambition of building a brand new Peppercorn A1 Pacific. This very locomotive (completed in 2008) was featured in the Top Gear special Race to the North when Jeremy Clarkson rode in the cab from Kings Cross, London to Edinburgh (over the course of 400 miles) against a James May in a Jaguar XK120 and Richard Hammond upon a Vincent Black Shadow.

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Race horses, gardening forks, plastic glasses of beer, and tweed... for just £10

Falling for Ludlow races text} Liz Hyder | image} Richard Stanton

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– SPORT – HAVING not ridden a horse since my early teenage years, my interest in all things equine has, until now, been fairly minimal. Combine that with a distinct lack of interest in gambling and you’ll see why, despite four years of living in Ludlow, I’ve never previously made it down to Ludlow Racecourse. On a mild day in December, however, all this changed. Clad in coat and hat (non-tweed I hasten to add), I sauntered down to the course with local poet Jean Atkin for an afternoon in what can only be described as a parallel universe. This is a place packed full of leggy supermodel horses, eager punters, beer in plastic and red trousers. Never, dear reader, have I seen so much tweed in all my life. So much so that, at the entry to the course, there’s actually a stall selling it in case you need to top up your supply. Said stall also, bizarrely, sells prints and paintings of a bafflingly large size that frankly wouldn’t fit into any gentleman’s pocket, however roomy one’s tailor had made it. Given that I don’t really understand horses or racing, I’m in good hands. Jean knows horses; can actually name their different parts and everything. I just make approving noises and admire the elegant thoroughbreds as they’re paraded around in front of us, before galloping off to take their places. The thunder of hooves as they shoot past and the warm whiff of the horses is, I have to say, utterly thrilling and the first race hasn’t even started. There’s an atmosphere of genuine excitement rippling through the whole course – from novice punters like me to obvious regulars (who all seem to be called Roger) eagerly greeting each other, in their winter plumage of red trousers and flat caps.

There’s a clear hierarchy in terms of ticket pricing. One price gets you into the paddock side with a very small grandstand. The next pricing tier gets you across the course to the rather beautiful Edwardian grandstand (with its disappointingly municipal bar and restaurant) and the final ticket price gets you into the rather painful sounding Member’s Enclosure. All ticket holders are also furnished with a race card which is, in fact, a little brochure with hilariously scathing school reports of the runners and riders for the day. Poor old Mountain of Angels is ‘related to a few winners, but no promise so far,’ for example. There are also details of each horse’s weight, age and a colour-coded guide to the jockeys, which comes in handy. The dress code is surprisingly relaxed too. I had visions of being thrown out for having a non-tweed hat, but lots of punters are wearing jeans which the dress code states is fine, unless they’re ripped – then you’re out on your ear. Presumably they’re fairly lenient if you fall over and rip your denim on site. Either way, I’m sure you can buy a tweed replacement. The other items that are strictly frowned upon are vests, shorts and football or rugby shirts, otherwise you can wear pretty much what you want. There are a fair few proper fur coats on display including one worn by a woman whose hair is exactly the same colour as her coat giving the somewhat unfortunate impression that, Rapunzel-like, she’s keeping warm by wrapping her incredibly long tresses around her entire body. Jean and I stand as close to the track as we can, watching the horses thunder past us, one of which does a celebratory poo at making it into the first three. Jean laughs her head off at me when I enquire where the finish line is before, somewhat

embarrassingly, I realise that I’m standing at it. As each race ends, men with gardening forks and luminous vests dash out on to the track and whack the turf back flat, whilst the punters nip down from the grandstands to inspect the next race contenders and place their bets. It’s all brilliantly exciting and, from £10 for a whole day’s entertainment (the course opens two hours before the first race), pretty good value too. I’m particularly delighted when an outsider, the Ludlow-trained Grove Pride, defies the odds to come in third, and even happier when its stable mate, the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen, Tara Mist, wins by three and a half lengths – or something like that. The language of the course is all full of ‘awaiting’, ‘mounting,’ ‘lengths’ and ‘good to soft.’ It all sounds faintly Carry On but that might just be me. Still, after seven glorious races and many happy hours, I can truly say, hand on heart, that I’ve had a bloody marvellous day. In fact, I’d go so far as to claim to be a convert. And, best of all, I’m only £3.50 down but I’ll win that back next time ... right? -------------------------------------------------Fixtures January and February, 2015 January 15th – first race: 1.10pm January 7th – first race: 12.50pm January 26th – first race: 1.40pm February 4th – first race: 1.40pm February 18th – first race: 2.10pm February 26th – first race: 2.00pm Course enclosure £10.00 Grandstand & Paddock £16.00 Free admission for accompanied under 18 years of age (proof may be required) Contact ludlowracecourse.co.uk

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Ludlow Ledger (Issue #5)  

Welcome to the online-edition of issue 5 – the hyperlocal free print newspaper all about Ludlow, Shropshire – past and present – with column...

Ludlow Ledger (Issue #5)  

Welcome to the online-edition of issue 5 – the hyperlocal free print newspaper all about Ludlow, Shropshire – past and present – with column...

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