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Issue Number Fifty Five - November & December 2020

C ONTENTS News in this edition... • Walton students volunteer on the front line • Generous donation to Swimming Club • Phone fun to beat the isolation blues • Bednall Scarecrow Competition Winners • Reverend Delphine’s retirement • New Stafford Bishop brings tidings of comfort • Haywoods Canalside Café Re-Opens...

And in pictures... • Haywood’s Society Charity Calendar 2021 • A resplendent Colton Harvest Festival • A busy start tat Dunston • Salt Macmillan charity event • A forest to save our future • Stafford and Salt

Welcome to your November/December edition of My Village Voice. Autumn is with us, the clocks have gone back and the dark evenings are drawing in, somehow though, this year seems just a little bit darker. The second wave is here, and the second National Lockdown starts on Thursday 5th November. Everyone is feeling the effects of this pandemic, some more than others. The longer it drags on, the heavier it seems to get. Now is the time to check in on your friends and family, your neighbours and work colleagues, and ask them how they are? If they’re coping, and if there’s anything they need or you can help them with, sometimes even those closest to you will feel the need to keep their worries all to themselves. Compassion, kindness and empathy are at the highest levels in society I’ve ever known, and that’s a beautiful thing, we need to keep that up, even once this pandemic finally passes. Please do send us any news and photos you may have for our January / February edition, all contributions are greatly received. Many thank’s go to our regular contributors, Katie and Pom in Bednall, Anne in the Haywoods, Addy at Walton, Peter in Haughton, Nick in Church Eaton, Sue and Rob in Seighford, Linda in Dunston and Sue in Acton Trussell, sorry if I’ve missed anyone out! All that remains is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy and happy New Year. Let’s all try to make the best of a bad situation and live life to its fullest. Dan Mitchell 1/11/20

GETTING IN TOUCH My Village Voice is wholly independent and is published at 5 Globe Court, Stone, Staffs ST15 8JG 5,700 copies are hand-delivered free to homes and businesses in the Acton Trussell, Bednall, Bradley, Brocton, Church Eaton, Colwich, Coppenhall, Derrington, Dunston, Haughton, The Haywoods, Hyde Lea, Milford, Seighford & Walton on the Hill areas ADVERTISEMENT SALES - sales@myvillagevoice.co.uk EDITORIAL : dan@myvillagevoice.co.uk

TELEPHONE (01785) 819166 Once you’ve finished reading your copy of My Village Voice recycle it by giving it to a friend!

You can read this issue online at www.myvillagevoice.co.uk The views expressed in this publication are those of our contributors and are not necessarily those of the publishers, nor indeed their responsibility.

All Rights Reserved © My Village Voice 2008 -2020

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Welcome to Yarlet Stoves Haughton Christmas Lights display cancelled This friendly, family run business is delighted to offer its customers a diverse range of wood burning and multifuel stoves. Whether you want a fire for your lounge, or need some warmth in your conservatory, the team at Yarlet can help you make the perfect choice. Installation is completed by the Yarlet teams, all tailored to suit you and your family. When visiting the showroom you will find a wide range of wood burning stoves, along with a selection of Electric and Gas fires. You can also view the elegant Everhot Cookers which are now on display. We are situated at Yarlet Bank on the A34 between Stafford and Stone.

OPENING TIMES Tuesday & Wednesday 10am – 4.00pm Thursday to Saturday 9.30am – 4.30pm Outside of these hours are by appointment only CONTACT THE TEAM ON 01889 508790 email sales@yarletstoves.com Follow on Facebook/YarletStoves Instagram : @yarletstoves or visit www.yarletstoves.com The family look forward to seeing you soon

Yarlet Bank, Stafford, ST18 9SD Tel: 01889 508790 www.yarletstoves.com

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Residents of Haughton will not have their traditional Christmas Lights display in December. Covid-19 rules, including social distancing, would not be satisfied. The protection and care of the vulnerable members of the village is the priority. The popular event has grown over the last 25 years to become a major attraction and raises significant funds for local charities including Air Ambulance, Katharine House and the local school. There will be an Audio / Visual presentation on the Internet, highlighting past events and bringing some festive cheer into your homes. A link to a "Just Giving" page will enable donations to local charities. Hopefully, the normal display will return in 2021.

Walton High School students volunteered or worked on the NHS front line

Walton High School have celebrated the work of three of their Year 13 students who volunteered or worked on the NHS front line during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Chloe Bates worked as a full-time community carer for elderly patients and this has further confirmed her drive to pursue a career in nursing. Holly Stodgell worked as an NHS volunteer, delivering prescriptions to those who were unable to visit the pharmacy. Kirsty Fagan worked as a part-time Accident and Emergency receptionist during the height of the pandemic. Megan Riley (Head of Year 13), Kate Cooper (Director of Sixth Form) and Neil Finlay (Headteacher) thanked the girls on Monday by awarding them with their certificates of recognition and handing out chocolates on behalf of the whole school community. The girls are pictured underneath the “Rainbow of Hearts” in the school’s main reception, which was made by keyworker children over lockdown.


Haywood’s Society Charity Calendar 2021 The Haywood Society meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month, normally anyway, however due to covid they haven't held a meeting since March. Meetings are held in the Great Haywood Sports and Social Club where new members are always welcome. The objectives of the Society are to stimulate public interest in the area, to promote high standards of planning and architecture, and to secure the preservation and improvement of features of historic or public interest. The meetings are usually interesting talks varying from brick making today and yesterday, to the upkeep of the canals and rivers. In the summer months they try to arrange outside visits, again these cover a wide range of interests, from a guided walk of Hidden Lichfield to a conducted tour of the Apedale Mining Museum.

• Cover of the calendar taken by Gemma Williams, it is the River Sow Weir at Essex bridge in Great Haywood

• Just a taster of the calendar - July - The Cast Metal bridge over the Trent and Mersey canal at Great Haywood, taken by Micaela Whalley

Over the last few years the group, which is a registered charity. have produced an annual local Calendar to raise funds. In September the Society launched their annual photograph calendar competition. This years winners were ;- Steve Banner, Kim Roberts, Matthew Rushton, Roger Hughes, Nigel Carter, Michaela Whalley, Andy Freeman, Wendy Morris. Les Curzon, Pat Hodgkiss and Gemma Williams. Congratulations to them all as the competition this year was extremely tough, the group had over two hundred photo's! The calendar is on general sale retailing at a very competitive price of A4 is only £4 and A3 at £6. All of the money raised goes towards the Haywood Society coffers. Calendars can be obtained by contacting Barry Owen at barry.owen573@ntlworld.com

• November Misty Sunrise across Shugborough taken by Les Curzon.

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Generous donation to Apex Swimming Club

• Stafford Apex swimmers (socially distanced!) from this Summer's presentation event. Stafford Apex Swimming Club, based at Freedom Leisure Centre, Stafford, were recently presented with an incredibly generous donation of over £320 from Neil Gill, his family, work colleagues and friends of Neil’s wife, Julie Gill (Cope) after Julie’s sudden death. Julie’s father, Dennis Cope, was one of the founding members of Stafford Apex Swimming Club over 40 years ago, with its base at that time being Stafford Brine Baths.

Julie swam for Stafford Apex Swimming Club during her teenage years with Stafford Apex’s now Head coach Julie Shenton. It was the wish of Julie’s mum to donate monies collected to go to the Club, to support its continuation and growth. The Committee and all of the members and swimmers of Stafford Apex would like to say a heartfelt thank you for the generous donation.

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A resplendent Colton Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Colton, took place (with bsocially distancing) on Sunday 4th October. The service was conducted by The Rev. Anne Noble and the Church looked resplendent with harvest corn sheaves adorning the entrance, columns, and alter. Everyone in the congregation had bought flowers, fruits and vegetables and food for the Food Bank.

Churchyard Award Scheme For the first time this year, All Saints CE Primary school at Bednall entered into the Churchyard Award Scheme. This is a scheme aimed at creating a welcoming space that is clearly cared for in ‘God’s Acre’. The report received was very complimentary, noting that this year, despite limitations, it was obviously a clear focal point in the village. Particular areas that left an impression were, the

• From the left to right, Ethan Travers, Grace Bowman, Jenson Travers and Fleur Bowman

• Ruby outside Bugnall Palace

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beautifully cut grass at the front of the church, the tidy paths and the weed free graves. There is a bench in the garden, an inviting space for rest and reflection and also a neatly maintained area for the interment of ashes. It was also noted that the hedges were well maintained, allowing a variety of habitats for birds and small animals. There is also an insect ‘hotel’ to promote biodiversity and a beautifully constructed compost bin as well as an insect log pile. The ‘Bugnall Palace’ has been filled with all the bits and pieces that bugs like. Something to work towards for next year - to designate an area for wild flowers and to provide bat and bird boxes. Is there anyone who could construct such boxes? Without the monthly input by kind people, this report would not have been so complimentary. A copy is pinned up in the porch for all to see. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much, Grete.


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Robert Cartwright's latest book compiled during lockdown - Suggestions for getting out and about We all need a break especially after the weeks of having to follow the rules brought about by the C19 pandemic. Robert Cartwright's latest book, the fourth in the series of his photographs, carries the title - 'Take a Break - 40 Attractions to Visit' listing his suggestions for getting out and about as restrictions are lifted. The A5 format book highlights a range of attractions from towns and villages, to museums and historic buildings, wildlife and country walks. Full information is provided for each destination with the post code given for users of SAT NAV and is illustrated with almost 300 photographs. The majority of the photographs are from Robert's digital library. However, when making the selection for the book, there were a number of scenes that were needed for completion. Before the pandemic it had been Robert's intention to visit the locations to shoot the missing scenes but when lockdown arrived that was made impossible. Having reached the point of no return, Robert decided to approach Photographic Societies and Clubs for their support. The response was far beyond his expectations, resulting in all the missing images being forthcoming along with having the added bonus of making a new set of friends if only by telephone and email. The book is priced at £9.99 and is available from a number of outlets including Waterstones in Stafford. the Canal Farm Shop in Great Haywood, Books may be ordered by mail order by employing the link https://cpre-staffordshire.online web.shop/ £3 from the sale of each book will be donated to the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) Registered Charity 219443. Payment may be made by credit/debit card or PayPal. In case of difficulty in obtaining copies please contact Robert on 01785 - 254283 or by email, robertandrew. cartwright@virgin.net

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• Robert Cartwright Robert's other books are - 'Portraits of Stafford', 'Cannock Chase, Surrounding Villages and Countryside' and 'Beyond the Roving Bridge at Great Haywood Junction', (the local canal scene) All are priced at £9.99 and each contain 50 of his photographs.


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A busy start to the academic year at Dunston

Children at St Leonard's First School & Nursery have been very busy for the first half term. Office manager Mandy Smith told us “ We recently supported the #HelloYellow charity for Young Minds. The children loved wearing yellow, telling jokes, having fun and showing that we all care about each other. We raised a fantastic sum of £60 for the Young Minds charity. The children really enjoyed learning about the significance of harvest time and this year our Harvest collections were for the Christian foodbank. Reverend Sue led our Harvest Festival and we appreciated all the food that was donated to school for the charity in Stafford. The school has also taken part in the 'Just One Tree' campaign.

Our wonderful families gave bedding plants too, which look beautiful around our school. The children loved planting them and seeing the many varieties of donated flowers and plants. Due to the current pandemic situation our annual Open Days have not been able to place, however parents are welcome to get in touch with our school office to book an individual tour of school with Mrs Parton our Headteacher. You can contact the office on 01785 712488 or email office@ st-leonards-dunston.staffs.sch.uk Please also take a look at our school website www.stleonards-dunston.staffs.sch.uk where on the 'Gallery' page you will be able to see our lovely school inaction!”

• Top: Pupils wearing yellow for #HelloYellow charity. • Middle: Harvest collections were for the Christian foodbank. • Bottom: Getting their hands dirty for the 'Just One Tree' campaign.

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New Stafford Bishop brings tidings of comfort Meet the recently announced Area Bishop of Stafford, The Venerable Matthew Parker “Hello to My Village Voice readers! I may be new to the post but not to this area as I’ve been Archdeacon of Stoke-on-Trent since 2013. I came to Staffordshire 20 years ago as a parish priest knowing very little about the City and the County but have come to love this part of the world so much • Bishop’s move: the that I decided I needed to stay! Venerable Matthew Parker I love the variety of North will beinducted as Area Staffordshire, the warmth, the Bishop of Stafford in beauty and grit. In my new role, Lichfield Cathedral on I look forward to joining with February 7th, followed brothers and sisters in Christ as by a welcome service in the we share the good news of God’s Stafford Episcopal area love for the world revealed in Jesus. These are challenging times, not only for the church, but for the whole of society. There is much that threatens to divide us and we are fearful about the future. My prayer is that, in partnership with others, the church in this area will continue to be a sign of unity, joy and hope.” “I have the advantage of being familiar with the area, so I hope I’ll be able to hit the ground running! That said, the coronavirus pandemic is presenting us with enormous challenges and opportunities. In the church, we will need to find ways of ministering and mission that bear true and good witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.” For example, I have not been able to go around meeting people and visiting churches the way I would like, so with the help of Lichfield Diocese, I have made a four-minute introductory video which is available via www.lichfield .anglican.org/news/matthew-to-be-new-bishop-ofstafford. php. I am full of admiration for the way in which churches have embraced digital technology in the last few months. We are aware that there people now engaging with digital worship who previously would not have thought about going to a church building. I have been invited to contribute to services by pre-recording videos and have had to learn the gentle art of talking to camera! I have also been involved in “live” services by video conferencing and I have found it is possible to create a real sense of worship and community despite the technological glitches. One of the challenges for churches will be how to both engage online and to provide “physical” worship now we have returned to our church buildings. To do both well is hard work! We face a Christmas where large gatherings will not be possible and so some of the things we love most about Christmas - the carol services, parties, big family get-togethers - look very likely to be forbidden. It’s also been a tough year for most of us and we wonder when all this is going to end. So Christmas will be different this year. The Church of England nationally is running a campaign this year called “Comfort and Joy” - a phrase from the carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Amidst all the changes we are going through, there is one thing that never changes. - God’s love for the world. This love we celebrate at Christmas in the story of the coming of Jesus and because of this we can still be joyful and perhaps, because everything else is stripped back, we might enter into the joy of Christmas more fully. Because of this there is comfort for the lonely, disappointed and sorrowful because, whilst many things can be taken from us, God’s love towards us never changes or falls away. In Jesus, God is always with us.” God bless, Matthew

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Phone-based fun to beat the isolation blues An award-winning project aimed at tackling loneliness and isolation in Staffordshire has launched a fresh programme of Covid-safe events and is keen to hear from older people in Stone and Eccleshall who would like to take part. Throughout the pandemic, the BeConnected team has stayed in touch with all those older people who attended its events and activities before lockdown, checking on their wellbeing. Based on these conversations, BeConnected is stepping up to help people engage with others in different ways. Led by Care Plus, the project usually holds face-to-face events for people who may otherwise feel lonely or isolated, but now it’s encouraging them to take part in an exciting programme of group activities by telephone. Project coordinator, Alison Poole, explained: “Clearly many BeConnected customers are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 and it would not be safe for them to get together, even in small groups.” “However, reassurance calls made by the project team and volunteers over the past few months have proved extremely popular and we decided to expand the idea and organise a series of group chats and games that can be played over the telephone.” So far, activities such as bingo and quizzes have proved popular with BeConnected customers across the area, with a number from Stone taking part. Every Monday afternoon, BeConnected customers can also brush up their craft skills with a conference call based around activity packs sent out by post. “There are also plenty of opportunities to just chat on the phone over a cup of tea or coffee with friends old and new and we would encourage older members of the community in Stone and Eccleshall, who may be feeling increasingly alone to get in touch and join in the fun,” Alison said. “We also want to hear from people who know anyone that may benefit from the project and can help us reach out to them.” The group chats for up to 20 people are easy to join and, for those who’ve already registered as part of the project, there’s no need to book in advance. Monika took part in many BeConnected events pre-lockdown, and said she was excited at the prospect of reconnecting with friends over the telephone. “All the activities I’ve taken part in have been wonderful and I’ve really missed them over the last few months,” she said. “Now at least we can all get together over the telephone and have a little fun, I’ll certainly be dialling in!” BeConnected was launched in 2017 by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH), with the help of Stafford Borough Council. SARH and Care Plus are part of Housing Plus Group, together with South Staffordshire Housing Association, Severnside Housing and Severn Homes. Elizabeth Lodge, head of community wellbeing services at Care Plus, added: “During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever that people can maintain contact with the outside world. Once again, BeConnected has risen to the challenge to help people who otherwise might be isolated and alone.The range of activities offered and the social interaction provided are a lifeline to many,providing a real boost to both mental and physical health.” A full programme of events, along with details on how to take part, can be found at www.sarh.co.uk/sarh-customers/ in-my-community/beconnected/ Stafford and Rural Homes can also be contacted by phone on 0800 111 4554. CarePlus Staffordshire can be contacted on 01785 312292 or 01785 312102.


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“How lucky we are to live in The Haywoods?”

Haywoods Hamper prize

News from Colwich Parish in Bloom Group By Anne Clendon B. E. M. Members took advantage of the fine weather recently and added to the Wild Flower Meadow by planting two varieties of crocus, and two Narcissus bulbs, (poetics var recurvus, and W. P. Milner) all these bulbs will naturalise and enhance the meadow in future years. The cyclamen corms previously planted are all showing their distinctive leaves and one brave flower showed its head. One member of the public said she was always looking at the grass to see more flowers emerge. We were able to count at least a dozen wild flowers out. I am very happy to tell everyone that Colwich Parish in Bloom are going from strength to strength, on 9th September we held our second actual meeting in the main hall of Great Haywood Memorial Hall (socially distanced of course!) There we learnt that the Parish Council were acquiring more bulbs to help beautify our Parish, these will be planted as soon as they arrive. More species of daffodils have also been ordered from Somerset to be planted in the wild flower meadow which is outside the Abbey, opposite the Spa shop. We also learned that the mosiac welcome beds are to be replaced at the entrance to Colwich and Great Haywood. Our fantastic volunteers have busy planting up the colourful display beds which are under almost all of the road signs and my thanks go to them all. The Litter Pick, together with the Plastic Free Colwich Group, scheduled for the morning of 12th September, was postponed until we have managed to get our Public Liability insurance put in place, everyone will be informed of our progress, so in the meantime we are all being asked not to take unnecessary risks and stay at home. On the plus side the Queens Sapphire Jubilee garden and orchard are looking great, and the public are asked to make a detour round Cliff Road, Great Haywood and look at the fruit trees, floral border and produce the gardeners are producing. Work will also be started cutting back the tree and hedgerow at the back of the Great Haywood Memorial Hall Car Park. We recently had a visit from Travellers with their colourfully painted Caravans, and at least three carthorses; we do hope their visit has not damaged the spring bulbs - last year the display of blue crocus at either end of our villages was quite spectacular. We will shortly have new ‘In Bloom’ Notice Boards, then we can inform all in the Parish of our new and forthcoming events. Recently we had a visit from quite a lot of scarecrows and it will be interesting to know which was the most popular! We are very grateful for the water butt provided by Liam Robertson, and for all the work which is being done by our volunteers. (See us round the Parish in our pink or yellow vests) Recently someone on Facebook said how lucky we are to live in such a lovely place as The Haywoods, and this has been echoed by others. If anyone would like to join our happy group of In Bloomers, do please give me a ring on 01889 808214 / or you can email me at arclendon@gmail.com or contact our Chairman Alan Doehren 01889 883543 or email alandoehren@gmail.com

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• The Hamper was presented to Anne by the Barton's son Geoff. Canalside Fruit Farm at Great Haywood very kindly donated a raffle prize to the C. P. R. E. (Council for the Preservation of Rural England) which was won by Anne Clendon, who lives in the Haywoods and is also a member of the CPRE. Anne was wonderfully surprised to win the hamper which was full of locally sourced produce including honey from the Canalside hives; strawberry jam, coffee from Chartley Coffee, Ale, Cheese biscuits, salted caramel chocolates, Sea salt crisps, and a bottle of strawberry gin! The presentation was made on Thursday 1st October. Anne has been a member of the C. P. R. E. for many years as coming to live in a village from the pavements of Birmingham she thought it was a good step to join, and has been Chairman of the Staffordshire Group and is still a member.

Katharine House Hospice Colwich & Haywoods Support Group We are delighted to be able to tell you that despite not being able to meet as a group at the moment because of the ongoing Covid 19 restrictions, a cheque for £5000 has been given to Katharine House. Katharine House Fundraising Coordinator, Andrea Pugh, has advised us that they are very grateful for this, and that they truly appreciate all the time and effort the Colwich and Haywoods Support Group have given to fundraising for them, allowing them to deliver care and support to their patients and their families. Our thanks go to you all for your generosity and support, which has allowed us to raise this wonderful amount. Hopes that life would have returned to normality by now have not materialised. We have reluctantly cancelled our Dandy Duo Evening of Music and Comedy planned in November, and in the light of the latest restrictions announced by the Government, it is clearly going to be some time before we can make plans for any future fund-raising events. We very much hope that we will be able to hold our usual funding raising events in 2021, especially the Open Gardens Day, and will let you know when further information becomes available. Many thanks for your ongoing support. by Anne Clendon


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Salt Macmillan charity event was a great success A Macmillan fund raising event took place at The Old School House in Salt on September 26th. A team of volunteers provided takeaway hot dogs on artisan bread rolls , kindly donated by Parkside Bakery outside in a Covid safe environment and in Salt Lane there was a delicious cakes to purchase and several luxury hampers to be won in the raffle. Children’s discovery craft bags were also on sale . Thankfully the sun was shining too and the event raised £1205.

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A forest to save our future Christine Conlin visits an award-winning local estate

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uestion: What brought Prince Charles to a Staffordshire Woodland in July 2018?

Answer: He was visiting the BiFOR FACE facility, Birmingham University’s Institute of Forestry Research’s woodland laboratory at Norbury. Take a stroll along the canal south of Norbury Junction and you’ll notice masts sticking up among the treetops. The masts support pipes which, in April 2017, began a ten-year experiment of jetting a controlled concentration of carbon dioxide into the trees. By exposing the woodland to the higher levels of CO2 which we’ll soon be experiencing for real, scientists around the world are already gathering data on how a temperate woodland eco-system will react to increased atmospheric CO2 in the long term. The facility has been part-financed by a donation from the landowner, the Norbury Park Estate, who are passionate about the environment and work tirelessly to ensure the resilience and sustainability of their woodlands. Trees absorb CO2 and lock it into the soil and timber, hence planting woodland is a key strategy for mitigating climate change. But in the UK, woodland makes up only 13% of the UK’s land area, far less than the European average of 38%. Away from the public eye, and literally at the grassroots, Norbury Park Estate is practising sustainable woodland management and conducting groundbreaking experiments to promote remarkable woodland and meadow growth. In 2014, the Estate received a Royal Forestry Society award for Planting Woodlands for Climate Change. Norbury Park Estate covers 500 acres at Ranton and 1,000 acres at Norbury, where over 375 acres have been planted with new woodland during the last 10 years. Previously used for, much of the land was of poor agricultural quality, Estate Manager Steve Spencer explains. “The soil here consists of mixed pockets of clay, peat

and sand left behind at this southern edge of the glaciers from the last Ice Age.” Norbury Park Estate has planted over half a million trees in a huge mixture of over 100 different species. “There are only 36 native British tree species, and many of them are stressed by the hotter, drier summers we’re now experiencing and suffering from pests and diseases as a result,” says Steve. So while native trees make up 40% of the new plantations, the majority are warmer-climate broadleaf species such as plane, eucalyptus, roble, walnut and tulip trees. As for conifers, Douglas firs and Norway spruces are complemented by Western red cedars, maritime and Bhutan pines, Coast redwoods, which are among the tallest trees in the world, Sitka spruce and Nootka cypresses. Take a look at the aerial photo of one of these plantations and you’ll notice that no two similar trees are planted together. This ‘intimate planting’ which mimics natural conditions, is designed to maximise tree growth rates and reduce the transmission of pests and diseases, Steve explains, “When ash dieback strikes, it should just affect one tree and be less likely to jump to other ashes when its neighbours are a different species. We’re beginning to gather evidence that ash trees suffer less die-back when planted next to a cherry or a lime.” It’s a sunny autumn morning with clear views to the Wrekin as Steve takes me out on a tour. Our first stop is a 10-acre mixed plantation of young trees being experimentally irrigated with water from a reservoir formerly used for potatoes. “Guess how old these trees are?” quizzes Steve. Judging by their height, I reckon five years. “Wrong,” laughs Steve, pointing out a birch already taller than him, “we only planted these trees last year!” In a control patch, an identical plantation without irrigation is less than half that height. But just adding water to make trees grow faster and absorb more CO2 is not enough in itself, Steve points out.

• Forest of the future: some of the Norbury Park plantations, looking southwest

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“Like all plants, trees take up soil-based nitrogen and the faster they grow, the quicker that nitrogen becomes depleted. As vegetable gardeners know, you plant nitrogen-fixing crops like peas or beans to restore nitrogen in the soil. Not many nitrogenating trees species exist but luckily, in this country, the common alder is nitrogenating. We have also planted other nitrogenators such as red and grey alder and laburnum.” In another experiment, a new 10-acre broadleaf plantation has been divided into plots, each planted with a different percentage of alders, laburnums, false acacia and Russian olive in a range from zero to 80%. “Over the years, we will measure the growth of trees next to the nitrogenators in each plot,” explains Steve, pointing to a sycamore with an adjustable aluminium girth band for measuring the growth of its trunk. Next we stop by a meadow where Steve has something special to show. Along with all the 600 acres of former arable land at Norbury, it has been re-sown as a herbal ley, a meadow sown with a great variety of species, including grasses, clover and deep rooting plants such as chicory, vetch and sainfoin. This planting mix helps to naturally improve soil structure and fertility and increase thenumber of earthworms; it also locks up more carbon in the soil. “In the drought we had last spring, the deep-rooted plants still flourished so the meadow stayed green even though the grass died back a little,” Steve explains. “In summer, the clover turned the whole field pink.” The Estate lets out the leys to neighbouring farmers who mow and graze them with their own cattle. ”In return, the cattle give our leys a good manuring and trampling hooves help break tough plant stems down into mulch.” As a barn owl breaks cover, Steve points out a stand where a larch tree is clearly outgrowing its neighbours. “This is clearly the ‘winning tree’ in this group, so we’re going to promote its growth by taking measures on some of its neighbours,” Steve explains.


Our final stop is at a slightly older plantation where the trees have grown to 15-20 feet. As a barn owl breaks cover, Steve points out a stand where a larch tree is clearly outgrowing its neighbours. “This is clearly the ‘winning tree’ in this group, so we’re going to promote its growth by taking measures on some of its neighbours,” Steve explains. In mature plantations such as at Ranton, lesser trees are ‘halo thinned’, ie felled, to give ‘winning trees’ a 1-2 metre canopy gap allowing • Look how they’ve grown: Estate Manager Steve Spencer with a year-old irrigated plantation them ample room for growth. But that’s not what’s happening here. Next to the winning larch, Steve points out a birch sapling, lopped off at eight foot and already putting out side branches. “By intervening earlier in the life of the plantation, we can still promote ‘winning trees’ but preserve their neighbours to form an understorey,” Steve explains. “That way, the lesser trees continue to perform their valuable role of locking up carbon and promoting biodiversity.” So new is this practice towoodland management, the Estate has given its own name to it – Norbury pollarding. The Estate’s priorities have always been about increasing woodland cover and sustainable land management - not commercial interests. But inevitably, over time, they found themselves amassing growing stocks of timber. What to do with the 1,500 tonnes of timber the woodlands produce annually? Three years ago, the Estate installed a sawmill, warehouse and wood drying kiln and set up a new business, Shelmore Timber, which produces timber products: beams, planks, engineered flooring, unblemished pieces for furnituremaking down to logs and firewood. The business now employs eight staff in addition to the eight already working on the Estate. Sales Manager Ian McFarlane takes up the story, “The timber comes into the sawmill where it is sawn to size and cut on site, meticulously stored, air dried then finished in our woodchip fired kiln to produce top-quality, ready-to-use timber.” Green oak is used for oak framed house building while other oak varieties along with ash, Douglas fir and larch are used by the joinery sector, in furniture manufacture and cabinet making” Ian explains. “Yew and holly are beloved of wood turners.” “Shelmore Timber supplies timber merchants, kitchen and furniture manufacturers, people restoring or building • Who’s taller now: Steve with a young tree that’s been timber-framed houses down to the individual hobbyist needing pollarded “Norbury style” a special piece for a tabletop,” says Ian. “Customers are welcome to visit our warehouse, inspect our stocks and choose their own timber,” he says, adding that for health and safety reasons, visits are via prior appointment only. Shelmore Timber now sell firewood and logs which can either be collected onsite or delivered within the local area. To complement their haulier service, they also now operate their own small tipper truck which makes local home deliveries on a Thursday or Friday. Public footpaths run through part of Norbury Estate so it is possible to walk across a herbal ley and to see these young plantations which have something to admire at any time of the year. But whether you’re using an Ordnance Survey map or digital map to find your way around, prepare to be slightly disorientated. That’s because the Norbury plantations are so recent they only appear on the latest digital map updates. In the battle to mitigate climate change, Norbury Park • Magnificent specimen: Sawmill Manager Ian McFarlane with Estate is literally changing the facts on the ground. a felled oak on the timber yard

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Haywoods Canalside Café Re-Opens...

Owners of Canalside Farm, near Stafford have announced today that they have re-opened their entire Café, after being closed due to the Corona Virus since March. The family-run farm, which has been growing its own produce for over 35 years, built the large waterfront café six years ago, with the aim of serving fresh, local produce from nearby suppliers and food straight from their farm. Anna Barton, Co-owner of the Farm, said: “We were absolutely devastated when we had to close the café at the end of March, but of course our top priority was to keep our customers safe. Luckily we were able to open an outdoor take-away hut at the beginning of July, but it hasn’t been the same as having the café fully open and was very weather dependant. So we are delighted to be able to fully open once again and to see the café back in full operation.” Indeed the café is a crucial element of the farm’s business, seating up to 56 customers inside, plus an additional 80 people outside. Anna continued: “We obviously want to ensure our customers are completely safe, so we have made several changes to the inside of the café, including removing a third of the tables to

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make it more spacious. There will also be a strict one-way system in operation and customers will place their orders outside at the take-away hut and specify where they are sitting. We know from adapting our farm shop that these systems work really well, so we are confident that we can keep everyone safe, whilst they enjoy their meal.” The café is located on the side of the Trent and Mersey canal, making it a great place to go for a walk. There are 7 different walks to choose from, ranging in distance from a quick 1 mile stroll to a more ambitious 5 mile walk, all of which take in various different local beauty spots and stunning scenery either along the Canal or via Cannock Chase. There are free maps available from both the Farm Shop and Café. If you would like to visit the Farm, Shop and Café, they are open every day from 9am to 4pm and are located in Great Haywood, just 6 miles outside Stafford. They are situated just off the A51, between Stone and Rugeley or can be accessed via the A518 from Stafford, turning right to Great Haywood (postcode ST18 0RQ). For further information please telephone 01889 881747 or log onto the their website www. canalsidefarm.co.uk


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Vintage cars visit historic churches

• Outside Sandon church The Annual “Ride and Stride” event in aid of the Staffordshire Historic Churches Trust took place on September 12th this year. It aims to raise money for this charity which supports historic churches in the County by making grants towards their upkeep and conservation. Owing to Covid 19 regulations, many of the churches were not open for visitors. Undeterred, however, two ntrepid drivers of vintage Austin 7 Chummies who live in Hamstall Ridware decided to drive round as many churches as possible during the day and to take photos to prove they had been there. Migo Wood from Salt accompanied Sarah Elsom in her Austin 7 Chummy (1928), raising money for St James, Salt and for St Michaels, Hamstall Ridware. In the other Austin 7 Chummy (1929) were Lucy Leigh, also from Hamstall Ridware, and her passenger Sunny Eades, raising money for Mavesyn Ridware. In total they raised £1,265 for https://staffordshirehistoricchurchestrust.org/ Half the money raised goes to the participant’s own church and half to Staffordshire Historic Churches Trust itself.

• Austin 7 team setting off from Hamstall Ridware Church gate

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Bednall Scarecrow Competition Winners

Mick and Yvonne Thomas and their daughter, Jane Travers, won the Best Scarecrow competition this year in Bednall, with their scarecrow of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. They are pictured above with their engraved plaque. Second place was awarded to Wayne and Marie Rowley for ‘Boris’ and third place was awarded o Pom for her Jack in the Box. Well done to everyone who took part.

Bednall Defibrillator Installed Spring Paddock Caravan & Motorhome Park has recently

taken delivery & installation of an on-site Defibrillator unit. This is located by the main office door and can be accessed at any time, 24 hours a day. If the defibrillator is needed, instructions for its use are listed on the cabinet unit, with the access code being obtained by dialling 999 and stating ‘Spring Paddock Caravan & Motorhome Park’. A defibrillator training session will take place by local paramedics in due course and anyone interested in attending is more than welcome. If you wish to attend the training session please let Deborah or Martin know so they can inform the paramedics on numbers. Martin’s contact number is 07966 137064.

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PA R I S H P U M P BEDNALL NEWS

Bednall’s “Strictly” Carols round the tree It is hoped to have this event on Saturday 19th December at Bednall Church 5.00pm (If restrictions allow) Come along before Christmas to sing carols around our beautifully lit Christmas tree outside Bednall church, followed by refreshments. Bring a lantern or torch and some warm clothes!

Bednall Village Christmas Cart Shop We are very pleased to announce that we will be having our ‘Shop’ back for Christmas! Toni and Paul Castle have very kindly agreed to ‘house’ the shop in front of their garage, at the top of their driveway at Church View (opposite the church). The shop will be open from Thursday 12th November until Saturday 20th December. The shop will stock all sorts of Christmas goodies Christmas cards, Calendars - being put together ready for printing by Pom - wrapping paper, gift tags, Christmas wreaths , Christmas arrangements and various gifts. We will be having ‘Cake Fridays’ again - which will include mince pies. Proceeds from the sales of goods will be donated to Katharine House Hospice.

News from Bednall Parish Council The Parish Council for Acton Trussell, Bednall and Teddesley Hay has nine Parish Councillors—six for Acton Trussell and three for Bednall and Teddesley Hay. Barbara Golder has served as a Parish Councillor for 43 years and has recently retired as Councillor—we thank her for all her hard work and support for the villages during her time in office. Roger Howarth, has served for seven years, but along with his wife Delphine, has recently moved from Bednall to Penkridge, so he decided to stand down as Councillor as well. We also thank Roger for his support during his time as Councillor. At the last Parish Council meeting, Francesca Beswick and Alex Thompson were elected to the Council to fill the vacancies for Bednall—they will join Trevor Holmes to make up our three Parish Councillors and we wish them all every success in their work as our Bednall representatives on the Council.

Friends of Bednall Annual General Meeting Friends of Bednall will be holding their AGM meeting online through Zoom, on Monday 16th November at 7pm. All are welcome. If you would like to participate, please contact David Primrose, Chairman, at primrose01@talktalk.net by 9th November. You will then receive an agenda, minutes and annual report, as well as the Zoom link, in advance. You should also contact David if you have any matters you would like included on the agenda. The Committee are Toni Castle, Pom Fuller, Jim and Jan Goodwin, Neil Homer, Terry Jones, David Primrose and Alex Thomspon. There will be vacancies for new members.

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Dunston Harvest service A harvest service was held at St.Leonards church Dunston. The reverend Sue Mayo and Wendy Pitt took the service, there was a choir, and the service was live on facebook, it was well attended all social distancing was in place. All offerings of food went to St Austins food bank. Photos from Linda Pliva


Reverend Delphine’s retirement So far, the year 2020 couldn't have been a more difficult year for so many people. Life in and around the churches is just a small example of the massive changes that everyone has had to come to terms with. First of all, Rev. Delphine officially retired on April 26th 2020. We have been used to seeing Delphine around the villages, first walking Bob, and now Flo, and helping out at the tea room. She always found time to stop and talk, and was always there to help in times of need. A much appreciated presence for all, and one we will miss. Secretly a retirement party was in the process of being arranged to celebrate this occasion and to receive her gifts so kindly donated by people from both villages. But Covid 19 struck with the banning of large gatherings. Each plan was thwarted by restrictions. Finally, on a beautiful sunny September day, both Len Bates and I were able to thank Delphine for all her work and to wish her the very best for the future. Although both All Saints and St. James are now open for worship, during lockdown Delphine continued her ministry. With Roger’s IT skills, they were able to provide a Sunday zoom service which continues, and is still just as important with the threat of further restrictions on the horizon. Many thanks to everyone who donated to Delphine’s gift. It is a beautiful piece of glass created by a local artist and can be seen proudly hanging in her new house. Rev. Delphine will be able to continue her preaching around Christmas time. By Grete

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Award-winning park reopens after £2.5m restoration The award-winning Victoria Park in Stafford reopened its gates after a £2.5 million restoration. The Heritage Lottery funded refurbishment includes a new café and training centre, alongside a restored bandstand, listed Mottram Shelter, toilets and enhanced landscaping. The new Alberts Café is run by the local team behind the successful Great British Drive-in cinema at Sandon Hall during the summer. The gates to the historic section of the park were reopened to the public on Wednesday (28 October) for the first time since work began in July last year. The park is seen as the gateway to Stafford - sitting on the doorstep of the town’s railway station. Stafford Borough Council was successful in securing over £1.7 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out the restoration. The park has been awarded the ‘Green Flag’ as one of the best parks and open spaces in the country since 2007. • Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Gareth Jones with Leader of the Council, The River Sow runs through the Patrick Farrington, Cllr Trowbridge and Sue Beardsmore from the National Heritage centre of the park which has been an Lottery Fund (in red coat). extremely popular destination over the years for residents, town centre absolutely fantastic. We have ensured the historic landmarks workers and visitors since it opened as Victoria Park Pleasure have been preserved for future generations to enjoy. And the Grounds in 1908. It covers nearly five acres and includes the new café and training centre are a great addition to the park listed Alderman Mottram shelter and County War Memorial. and their design fits in beautifully with their surrounds. Other park facilities include bowling green, aviaries and “Victoria Park is the jewel in the crown for our county town. It sensory garden. is the first thing many visitors will experience when they arrive The Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Gareth Jones, by train and is a fantastic gateway to our town centre.” marked the official completion of the works with a ceremonial unlocking of the gates at the Mill Bank entrance The park has an active voluntary ‘Friends’ group who work to to the park. increase the community use of the site. If you would like Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, Cabinet Member for Leisure more information about the Friends of Victoria Park at the council, said: “The new and restored facilities look email victoriapark@staffordbc.gov.uk or 01785 619428

• The new café

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Bednall wedding congratulations

Congratulations and Best Wishes to Dave Bowen and Anna Bramley who were married in All Saints Church in Bednall on Saturday 19th September. Dave and Anna would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped in any way towards the cleaning and preparation of the church for their big day. We wish them both a very happy life together.

Bednall village entrance signs

The Friends of Bednall have purchased 2 oval signs to be erected at each end of the village as you enter. These signs are currently in the process of being hand painted. Toni Castle’s sister, Kari (pictured below), is an artist, and she is working on one of the signs while Pom and her daughter Heidi, are working on the other sign. In the meantime, Alex Thompson, Terry Jones and their friend Bob, have prepared the concrete bases for the signs so all is ready once the painting has been completed. We are all looking forward to seeing the new signs in situ in the future. We thank Kari, Pom and Heidi for all their wonderful work.

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The Jorvik Chronicle The Tale behind the Story behind The Jorvik Chronicle?

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total of 111,011 words, 532,525 characters and approximately 124 proof-readings over 11 months are the numbers behind “The Jorvik Chronicle”, a novel by local author Brian Beard but the story behind the story is not about numbers. It`s about passion, loyalty, legacy and no small measure of mystery with a touch of “The Twilight Zone” thrown in for good measure. “The Jorvik Chronicle” is a story set against the backdrop of the 9th century struggle between Anglo-Saxons and Viking invaders for control of England, which didn`t really exist at the time. What was to become England was a hotchpotch of warring tribes and minor kingdoms but before that nation was born there was the not inconsiderable war to be won, against invaders who wished to conquer rather than rape and pillage. This debut novel by Brian, who is better known as a football writer, broadcaster and historian, evolved out of one of those once in a lifetime occurrences most people can only dream of. You certainly couldn`t make it up. Brian takes up the story. “A good friend, Bill Nesbitt, had been writing “The Jorvik Chronicle” since he was a teenager but then his career in Intelligence got in the way. When he eventually retired he picked up the project but died before it could be completed. He had written 12 chapters of an intended 19.” It was shortly after the death of his friend that Brian spoke with Bill`s widow, Jenny, offering to complete the project. Happily Jenny agreed and duly handed over 253 A4 pages of double-spaced typed sheets – Bill wasn`t into digital saving – which had to be transcribed and transferred to computer for editing purposes. Whilst awaiting those 12 chapters Brian set about preparing to write the `bridge` between Bill`s work and the conclusion of “The Jorvik Chroncile”. Part of that process was to formulate an ending to the tale. And that is where things began to get creepy, as Brian explained. “While I was waiting to receive Bill`s 12 chapters I jotted down some ideas and amongst those ideas was the most critical, my view of how “The Jorvik Chronicle” would end. Jenny then told me I should have Bill`s notes and research which was quite a thorough collection. So, in the middle of transferring 12 chapters to my laptop I also had the bonus of Bill`s original research to contemplate although when one, tiny slip of paper fell out of a folded sheet of notes, I began to wonder if `bonus` was the right word.

I had already felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention when I read the ending that Bill was proposing, an ending that was EXACTLY the same as the one I envisaged. But when that slip of paper emerged with the words, in Bill`s beautiful copperplate handwriting – MUST PRINT OFF CHAPTERS 13, 14 AND 15 - I was taken aback. Where are the three missing chapter, some six and a half thousand words?” A trawl of every drawer and cupboard Bill ever had access to was carried out, every nook and cranny searched again but no sign of the missing chapters; no printed sheets, no memory sticks, no external hard drives, nothing. But then Jenny remembered Bill used to occasionally work on an old laptop but that was in the possession of Bill`s son, Ross and, due to Covid-19, inaccessible. Eventually the laptop was returned to Jenny and much to everyone`s relief, the missing chapters were there. Brian takes up the story. “What began as a labour of love to complete the legacy of a good friend soon became a passion then an obsession. That was intensified by the symbiosis I found between my train of thought and Bill`s, almost as if he were sat next to me as I wrote. The Chronicle became organic. It developed a life of its own to the extent it was almost like a pair of hands reaching out from the story, grabbing me by the throat and pulling me back into the 9th Century setting. It not only became part of my life, it became my life. Late nights and early mornings and sometimes getting up in the middle of the night and writing more because ideas, whirling around in my head, made sleep impossible.” The icing on the cake, at completion of “The Jorvik Chronicle” was the acceptance of the novel, Brian`s first, by mainstream publisher Austin Macauley – all, 111, 011 words. A genuine collaborative work which is due for publication in time for Christmas. Bill, whose ashes were scattered by his sons, just off the coast at Whitby, will be pleased.

• Author Bill looking rather dapper Brian`s website, providing bespoke auto-biographies is www.mylifemyword.co.uk

• Brian hard at work

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• Helping to make a ‘cacophony of sound’ are Seighford-based Cooper Perry Primary School pupils Sybil Woollaston-Gask and Holly Luke, both aged eight.

Gavin gifts live music to primary schools Youngsters at two primary schools are getting with the beat as live music is gifted to them by a professional trumpeter who is eager to bolster the crisis-hit industry. Promoting live music has never been more important according to Gavin Lamplough, and in a bid to reach out to the community he is teaching more than 60 children how to play instruments ranging from violins, flutes and clarinets to trumpets, tubas and trombones. Gavin, who is the director of music at Stafford Grammar School, drops in at St Andrew’s C of E Primary in Weston and Seighford’s Cooper Perry every fortnight in a quest to get the eight and nine-year-olds hooked on a new skill. “It’s such a hot topic at the moment as we see the arts suffering at the hands of Covid, with theatres and concert halls threatened and so many musicians being forced to put their careers on hold. I think it’s vital that we give youngsters the chance to listen to and participate in live music. “These pupils are learning how to read music, play the instruments and they’re making a cacophony of sound, which is fantastic,” said Gavin. He is backed by Staffordshire’s Entrust music service which is lending many of the instruments free of charge, while the remainder are provided by Stafford Grammar.

• Eight-year-old musicians Summer Mellor Willett, Joseph Fownes, Reece Willis, Sybil Woollaston-Gask and Holly Luke strike up a tune during a visit by Stafford Grammar’s director of music, Gavin Lamplough.

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• MY VILLAGE VOICE HERITAGE

Stafford and Salt by Nick Lakin

• View of the Royal Brine Baths in Stafford around 1911. Images used courtesy of www.staffspasttrack.org.uk My childhood recollection of the Royal Brine Baths in Stafford is one of the smell of warm salt on entry to the right and the cold poolside changing cubicles to the left. However, it was an almost throw-away comment from someone which grabbed my attention – professional footballers often came to the therapeutic pools to get the benefits of immersion into brine water. No surprise, really, as salt water bathing reduces inflammation of the muscles and joints, relaxes muscles, gives relief from aches and pains and is beneficial for one’s skin. So, a trip to the baths from the likes of Wolves players to aid recovery from knocks and injuries made a great deal of sense at that time. What I had no idea about at the time was how did this warm salt water get into Stafford town centre and where did it come from? Did it somehow come from somewhere near the village of Salt? Well, whilst the village’s old English name was ‘Selte’ meaning salt pit or salt works, the brine definitely did not originate there. In fact, brine was mentioned in the 17th and 18th Centuries with deposits in Ingestre and Chartley and then it was discovered under Stafford Common when the local corporation was boring for water. Initial trial boring started around 1897 and production proper commenced in 1893 when the Stafford Salt and Alkali Company was established on Common Road. A year later a second works was opened by the company at Baswich and this was fed by a pipeline from Stafford Common. It was this pipeline which ran through the town centre and which fed brine to the baths which were situated approximately on the land now occupied by the Stafford Borough Council offices. The success of Stafford Salt and Alkali attracted others and Crown Salt Works and Chance and Hunt also opened operations on the Common. All three companies joined forces in 1950 to form Amasal Limited which produced the brand ‘Shaka’ salt. Amasal itself was acquired by the British Soda Company in 1959. Between 1893 and 1970 almost 7 million tons of salt were extracted. During the Great War, Welsh miners were enticed to provide labour at the Common but the extremely severe and onerous working conditions meant that their tenure was short-lived... and what follows is a first hand description of what it was like to work in this environment. ‘ Workers’ hands developed holes and blisters and they then went hard, becoming like leather through constant contact with brine and salt. Wooden clogs were the footwear of choice as conventional shoes rotted quickly.

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Duck boards were set up as walkways and operatives were stripped to the waist as salt pans were located above boiling water. The salt produced was then tipped into wooden boxes to dry out for many days. The working conditions were also dangerous and a man did fall into the brine and died’. The beginning of the end of Stafford’s salt industry came after the Second World War when cracks in buildings were discovered in Crooked Bridge Road and Corporation Street. Even Stafford Prison and St Georges Hospital were affected where, in the late 1940’s, wards 9 and 10 had to be demolished as they were on the brink of collapse. Perhaps one of the most serious cases of subsidence resulted in Lotus Shoes taking legal action against British Soda as the south end of the shoe factory had to be demolished. In 1970, Lotus’s legal action brought about a court order which banned the pumping of brine and open pan production at the Common ceased that year. Well, we’ve all heard of Newcastle upon Tyne. Perhaps our county town should have been named Stafford upon Brine? Many thanks to: Alan Nield and Vanessa Ward for information on working conditions experienced in the 1930s by one of their relatives. And to Stafford Past - An Illustrated History

• Royal Brine Baths, Interior, from around 1960 - 1965 The Brine Baths in Greengate Street, designed by George Wormald. Its royal title was granted after a visit by the Duchess of Teck in 1895. A swimming pool, Turkish baths and a several therapeutic pools were provided and entrance cost sixpence. The baths were demolished in 1977 when the building was found to be unsafe. Civic offices now stand on this site.


Grave Secrets by Alice James, a brand new novel set in Colton Let me introduce you to Grave Secrets by Alice James, a brand new cosy-crime urban fantasy novel set in Staffordshire. Toni Windsor is trying to live a quiet life in the green and pleasant county of Staffordshire. She’d love to finally master the rules of croquet, acquire a decent boyfriend and make some commission as an estate agent… but first she’s got to deal with zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve. It’s all made rather more complicated by the fact that she’s the one raising all the zombies… and she’s dating one of the vampires. Really, what’s a girl meant to do? Yes, you read that right! Grave Secrets, the start of a new seriespublished by Rebellion this month, is set in Staffordshire! The heroine, diminutive red-head Toni, is an estate agent by day and budding necromancer by night. She lives in the village of Colton, just outside Rugeley, and even attends her annual work bash at Bingley Hall! Her office is just a stone’s throw from Stafford’s Market Square.

• Author Alice James Author Alice James, who penned her debut novel on an old laptop while commuting to London on the train, explains why: “I grew up in Colton myself,” she says. “I was born in Burton on Trent and went to school in Stone. Novels are always set in New York or London and I thought, no, I’ll set this closer to home; much more fun. Oh, and it meant less research too!” Alice’s father John James was the deputy coroner of South Staffordshire for many years and her first job was answering the dedicated police phone line in the office. She claims this has nothing to do with her fascination with solving murders and the undead! She also says that those expecting a dark and angst filled gothic novel will be pleasantly surprised: “Urban fantasy is often too dark and gloomy – there’s too much death and destruction. This is light hearted and fun, as well as a little bit sexy. Think Agatha Raisin meets Buffy but all just a stone’s throw from Isaac Walton’s cottage.” The book is available now in paperback, ebook and (shortly) audiobook format too! “I’ll be narrating the book myself for the Audible version” Alice tells us. “I’m nervous about that because last time I read something out loud was the reading inSt Joseph & St Etheldreda’s in Rugeley.” Find out more about the book here: https://rebellionpublishing.com/product/ grave-secrets/

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by Terry McCracklin

ARIES

LIBRA

March 21- April 20

(September 24 - October 23)

It’s now that you are peaking in all aspects of your life - be it at work or in your social life - you tend to look on others as being slow to catch up. Cut them some slack. You might well be giving off sparks, but you may well be shining by comparison or at someone close to you’s expense. So take care not to gloat or take advantage of your current flair - it could well leave you vulnerable - the old pride proceeding a fall etc. Keep focused.

Last month we encouraged you to take a break - even if only a long weekend. But as November starts, you may well be offered an opportunity that will open your options - but this time, someone rather than something, is holding you back. And they may well be being selfish, although they probably genuinely believe they are working in your interest, and this is where you need to be able to spot their agenda.

TAURUS

October 24 - November 22

April 21- May 21

As we told you, your star is definitely in the ascendant and any self doubt of recent months is now well behind you. Your confidence will see you through to Christmas - possibly beyond and into 2021. So, subject always to the circumstances, you can commit to relationships and investments with a feeling of certainty - and other people trust your opinion.

GEMINI May 22 - June 21

What was that tricky decision that you faced last month - and did you prevaricate as advised or jump in with both feet as is your wont. Let’s face it, you sometimes can’t help yourself - the wind for you is invariable the target for your caution. So if this is indeed the case, November - and probably December, is the time to operate a zero spending regime - when you are in a hole, stop digging.

SCORPIO

November is a time to keep your own counsel - try not to leap in and advise others, and if you have a secret, keep it that way. You will find yourself being tetchy with people, your normal irritability has gone into overdrive and you risk saying something you will live to regret - so if you can, keep your thoughts to yourself. You could well be drifting away from a relationship or set of friends. Don’t worry, change happens, move on.

SAGITTARIUS November 23 - December 21

At last, your aspects are showing signs of developing a more positive spin. For the last few months you have been at full tilt. But there is a wind of change on its way and the winter ahead will be a totally different proposition. The opportunity to sit back and let someone else take the strain.

CANCER June 22 - July 22

CAPRICORN

The worst is over - all you have to do now is clear up the mess, and sort out how you are going to spend the rest of the year possibly even the rest of your life. Don’t be surprised if you are faced with a momentous choice in November - possibly the chance of a new start, a new life, a new home - even a move abroad. The stars are very definitely aspecting change - keep a grip on reality and seriously think about a fresh start.

After the turmoil of September and October, November leaves you becalmed. But it’s probably no bad thing - a break before the seasonal overkill that Christmas has become. Have you considered trying booking a break in the country - perhaps for Christmas week itself. Expensive, no doubt, but money is not a major concern for you just now, but a few days away could be a wise long term investment.

LEO

July 23 - Aug 22 We warned you about always trying to please others - to keep something back, to try and retain at least a modicum of mystery. But you are still at it - trying to be all things to all people and where has it got you? Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Be selfish, distant, unapproachable even. It really will pay off in the end. Playing hard to get - be it at home or at work really will make those around you sit up and take notice. Saying no can sometimes have the desired effect.

VIRGO

August 23 -September 23 If you are reading this, it probably means that you have spurned the exciting opportunities that came your way last month and decided that caution was the better part of valour. Was this the right decision? You may never know, though it is highly likely that the opportunities for moving on will keep on coming in November. Your whole life is in a state of flux and literally anything can happen. You are blessed with a nose for the right direction you should be heading in - so be prepared for the onslaught. But always remember, the grass isn’t necessarily greener. That said, doors open and it is churlish to ignore what may be on the other side.

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December 22 - January 20

AQUARIUS January 21 - February 19

You may well have learned a few lessons of late and you feel wise beyond your years. You are, however, not invincible and the grief and stress you have amassed in one area of your life will need some remedial work. But overall, your life is in the ascendant - two steps forward and only one back - progress may well be faltering, but you will get to where you are headed and the arrival will be worth the wait and the effort - in truth, most achievements only feel right when a certain amount of effort has truly been expended.

PISCES

February 20 - March 20 You think you have probably come to a fairly momentous decision in the last week or two. Your problem is you allow your mood of the day to be dictated by how you feel when you wake up. Big mistake! Do not allow your heart to rule your head. Easier said than done, but preconceptions are your worst enemy.Do what you need to do to fight your corner - as in tennis, as long as you you get the ball back over the net, then it’s your opponents’ problem. As soon as the pressure is off, sit down with the person you most trust and ask their advice. You don’t have to take it - but you must open yourself to the possibility that somewhere down the line you have lost your perspective.


• Pictured back row from left: Saanvi Raut (8), Edward Bradburn (7), Aarav Jilka (7) from Coppenhall Front: Vikram Chahal (7), Great Bridgeford’s Samuel Searle (7), Gillian Parrott (8).

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four! The arrival of autumn brought a bumper harvest of spuds at Stafford Prep, where green fingered pupils are reaping the rewards of their labours. Weighing in at a hefty 20 kilograms, it is the biggest potato crop they have grown in their school garden and now the youngsters are thinking of ways to dish up a tasty treat for their families. “Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they saw the size of the potatoes they were pulling out. They were amazed. We planted the tubers before lockdown and every child who took part in the planting and harvesting has been able to take some home,” said Julie Thompson, who runs the SPS gardening club. Carrots, onions, sweetcorn, apples and raspberries are also on the menu as pupils take turns to pick an assortment of vegetables and soft fruit they have helped tend, while flowers they planted alongside are attracting pollinating insects. The enthusiastic young gardeners are now busy planting spring bulbs in layers to create a continuous flowering period from late February through to next spring. There were spuds galore at Stafford Prep School, as youngsters unearthed a 20kg crop!

• From left: Coppenhall’s Aarav Jilka (7), Gillian Parrott (8), Samuel Searle (7) from Great Bridgeford, Vikram Chahal (7), Edward Bradburn (7), Saanvi Raut (8).

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Profile for My Village Voice

My Village Voice - November / December 2020  

My Village Voice - November / December 2020  

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