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					                         THE
                         HIGH WYCOMBE
                         SOCIETY
                         newsletter
     NUMBER 116                                                                SUMMER 2000

                                            A Golden Day
     WARM SUNSHINE glinting off the racing water, the summer blues of iris flowers and sky, the
     chink of tea cups, cool shadows under the trees and the slow, purposeful turn of the mill wheel,
     supplying the power for the grinding of corn into flour. These and so much more were there for
     the happy crowds at Pann Mill on National Mills Day on Sunday 14th May 2000.

     This was a day that was the culmination of so much hope and planning over so many years. Some
     of us will remember the first steps taken in the restoration of the mill wheel; also the need that
     was soon recognised that there would have to be some sort of shelter for the machinery. At that
     time the site was a bare, grassy plot with just trees growing and a river running through it. What a
     joy it has been to see Margaret’s beautiful garden take shape over the years and what a relief it
     was when Marks and Spencer became involved in the funding of the wooden mill building now on
     the site.

     Over the years Myra King and her team have courageously worked to fulfil the vision of Pann
     Mill’s machinery grinding corn again into flour. Sunday 14th May was the day when many of us
     gathered to celebrate the historic occasion when for the first time in 80 years corn was ground on
     the site, occupied by a mill as long ago as the Domesday Book, for human consumption.

     Reference was often made on the day to Jack Scruton MBE and how proud he would have been of
     this achievement. I think we all felt proud for Myra King and her team. Congratulations to them
     all for having the skills, resourcefulness and above all the determination to restore this part of
     High Wycombe’s heritage. Thank you also to all who worked to give us such a golden treasure of a
     day.

                                                                                                Kathleen Peatey

     Squeeze…Squeeze…Squeeze We had a great deal of material for this issue that we have had to hold over to
     September, e.g. we could not have done justice to James Rattue’s real tour-de-force on local chairmaking.
     And there are various issues simmering which are likely to move forward in the next couple of months. The fate
     of the trees in Frogmoor is still undecided as we go to press. The Western Sector seems to be resolved and is
     now, in our view, ripe for further consultation. We had a very useful – and confidence-building – meeting with
     District Council officials about the Railway Station. Some interesting issues arose at the ANTAS meeting. More
     of all this in our Autumn issue. If you are not a member, make sure of your copy by joining the Society now!



                       …caring about our town: past, present
                                                 and future
                   Registered Charity No. 257897

Honorary Secretary: Frances Presland, 61 Hicks Farm Rise, High Wycombe, Bucks. HP13 7SX. Tel: (01494) 523263
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                               2                          NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000




                      Annual General Meeting 2000
THE SOCIETY’S AGM took place on 13 April. It               expenditure      as   the    project   approached
was well attended, some 60 members being                   completion. In the 1999/2000 accounting year,
present. The chairman for the meeting was of               this outweighed the very impressive fund-raising
course Roger Lawson (except when the matter of             work by the Pann Mill Restoration Group. The
his re-election came to be considered).                    Society was able to carry these one-off items
                                                           because of previous bequests from members
The Hon. Secretary’s Report                                and it was not necessary to increase
The report was Frances Presland’s first, and               subscriptions. (Have you remembered the Society
written copies were available for those attending.         in your will? Previous generosity by members really
                                                           has made a huge difference in the past year. – Ed.)
The Society’s membership is up to 359
members (341 last year) plus 24 affiliated                 The Elections
societies (typically residents’ associations). We
                                                           Mr John Mayes remains Honorary Life President
are affiliated to the Victorian Society, the Society
                                                           and Mrs Kathleen Peatey MBE and Mrs Olive
for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the
                                                           Scruton remain our Vice-Presidents. The
Chiltern Society, the Open Spaces Society,
                                                           Executive Committee comprises Mr Roger
ANTAS, Transport 2000, the Wycombe Arts
                                                           Lawson (Hon. Chairman), Mrs Myra King (Hon.
Festival and the Wycombe Show Association. We
                                                           Vice-Chairman), Miss Frances Presland (Hon.
are registered with the Civic Trust and are a
                                                           Secretary), Mr Nick Giles (Hon. Treasurer), Mrs
registered charity. Newsletters are received from
                                                           Pauline Cauvain, Mr John Gore, Mrs Evelyn Roe,
most of these bodies, and help to inform your
                                                           Mr Ron Sims, Mr David Turner, Mr Chris
Executive Committee.
                                                           Woodman and Mrs Annie Woodward. There are
Frances’ report summarised in some detail the              five vacancies and the Executive Committee
work of each of the Society’s six groups. This             would welcome anyone else who would be
was a very instructive overview of the Society’s           interested to serve.
work during the year, which has of course also
been reported in the Newsletter.                           Subscriptions
                                                           The subscription rates remain at £5.00
The Hon. Treasurer’s Report
                                                           individual, £7.00 family, £2.50 retirement
Nick Giles reported that the Society’s balances            pensioner and from £5.00 to £15.00 for
had fallen from £3,103.46 in 1999 to £1,972.19             affiliated    societies   depending       on     their
on 29 February 2000. The majority of excess of             membership. (We have been pleased to see that at
expenditure over income occurred on the Pann               least one of those societies has been encouraging
Mill account where there was heavy capital                 their individual members to join our Society. – Ed.)


Planning

            Planning Policy Guidance on Housing
IN MARCH this year, the Department of                      and by building where there is good access by
Environment, Transport and the Regions                     foot or by public transport to jobs, shopping,
published the latest edition of their Planning             schools and other facilities, in order to minimise
Policy Guidance Note No.3 (PPG3) on Housing.               car dependence. Good quality design and a mix
We had commented on a draft version about a                of dwelling sizes, types and levels of affordability
year ago. This is an important document, as                are also called for. Other features of the
County and District Councils must take its                 guidance include:
requirements into account when preparing
                                                           Plan, monitor and manage This aims to replace
County Structure and District Local Plans, and in
                                                           the existing ‘Predict and Provide’ system, which
dealing with planning applications and appeals.
                                                           looks 15-20 years ahead, by a scheme which
The new guidance emphasises the need for
                                                           continually monitors housing needs and
sustainability and the protection of the
                                                           achievements. Hopefully, this will result in more
environment: for example, by giving priority to
                                                           restraint in the allocation of greenfield land for
re-using previously developed land within urban
                                                           housing.
areas rather than greenfield sites (target 60%),
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                             3                         NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000


Sequential approach This calls on local planning         spaces per dwelling is to be looked on as an
authorities when identifying housing sites for           upper limit.
their Local Plans, first to allocate previously
                                                         Designing for Quality The guidance calls for
developed sites, empty buildings etc. within
                                                         imaginative designs which make more efficient
urban areas, then urban extensions and finally
                                                         use of land without compromising the quality of
sites well served by public transport. Brownfield
                                                         the environment. Designs should respect and
first, greenfield last.
                                                         enhance local character, and take safety, energy
Densities The guidance calls for more efficient          efficiency and crime prevention into account.
use of land by avoiding housing densities of less
                                                         This all sounds very promising! Let us hope that
than 30 dwellings per hectare (approx. 12 per
                                                         in practice this guidance will help to raise
acre) and by encouraging densities of 30-50 per
                                                         housing standards, enhance our towns and cities
hectare, with even greater intensity in places on
                                                         and delay the onslaught on our countryside.
good quality public transport corridors.
                                                                                                 John Gore
Car parking In future, 1.5 off-street car parking



            Latest Draft Regional Planning Guidance
WE ARE now in the latest round of the lengthy            the prudent use of natural resources.
saga of drawing up new Regional Planning
                                                         London and the South East form the most
Guidance for the South East Region up to 2016,
                                                         prosperous region of the UK. Even so, some
which of course includes Buckinghamshire and
                                                         parts are not as successful as others, and the
Wycombe District. We commented on the first
                                                         Guidance seeks to encourage economic success
draft almost two years ago. Since then there has
                                                         in these areas, which include the ‘Thames
been an Examination in Public under Professor
                                                         Gateway’ (north and south of the Thames from
Crow’s chairmanship, at which he got himself a
                                                         east London to the Thames estuary) and
bad     name     with   local   authorities   and
                                                         ‘Priority Areas for Economic Regeneration’ (such
environmental groups by stepping up the
                                                         as coastal towns in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire
estimates of new houses required across the
                                                         and the Isle of Wight). Milton Keynes and
Region.     Now    the    Department     for  the
                                                         Ashford in Kent are scheduled as ‘Potential
Environment, Transport and the Regions has
                                                         Growth Areas’, where planned sustainable
published a new draft of what is called a ‘spatial
                                                         development of jobs and homes will be
strategy’ for the Region for further public
                                                         concentrated. Wycombe District (or at least part
consultation. This cuts the Crow housing figures,
                                                         of it) is in the so-called ‘Western Arc’, which runs
but suggests that Buckinghamshire should plan
                                                         west of London roughly between the M40 and
for some 4,150 dwellings per year, that is, about
                                                         the M3 motorways. Here, local authorities are
1000 more than the earlier requirement.
                                                         set the task of maintaining a thriving ‘high tech’
However, under the new PPG3 ‘plan, monitor
                                                         economy without allowing ‘hotspots’ of skilled
and manage’ regime (see PPG3 article above)
                                                         labour or housing shortages or traffic
this figure could change. The draft continues the
                                                         congestion.
new PPG3 theme by calling for at least 60% of
new development to be on previously-developed            As people concerned among other things with
(brownfield) land, and for building at higher            protecting our green fields, we ought to give this
densities and on sites well related to public            Guidance a warm welcome, but increasing
transport services.                                      housing density within towns has its dangers.
                                                         Social unrest and crime could increase if
Of course, the RPG does not confine itself to
                                                         housing design is not done carefully and
housing, although this subject arouses the most
                                                         sensitively (remember the tower blocks of the
controversy. It also covers core strategy, quality
                                                         1960s). People must be given enough space of
of life, the environment, the economy, transport,
                                                         their own. Of course, the Guidance concentrates
water supplies, waste management and energy
                                                         almost exclusively on the South East and
across the Region. Generally speaking, the
                                                         bordering Regions. Personally I would have liked
Guidance can be commended for its vision which
                                                         some suggestion that development pressures on
focuses on promoting urban renaissance, a
                                                         the South East ought to be reduced in order to
prosperous countryside and a wider choice of
                                                         assist some of the Regions to the north which
travel options (to reduce dependence on the
                                                         need a boost to their economies.
private car), always bearing in mind the need for
sustainability which encompasses economic                                                        John Gore
success,       social   inclusion,    maintaining
environmental and cultural attractiveness, and
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                             4                        NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000


            May 14th 2000 – National Mills Day


                       And we put the “Mill” in “Millennium”!
AN ABUNDANCE of water, a beautiful, hot sunny day and hundreds of visitors conspired to create a
lively atmosphere and a marvellous sense of achievement when flour was ground at Pann Mill for
the first time since the late 1920s.
On a day when wind and water mills across the            quality wheat from a known source is a good
land opened their doors to the public, we                second best. Later reports and tasting of bread
attracted a huge crowd, keen to witness this             from this first milling have been very
historic event. Pann Mill became the only water          encouraging.
mill in south Bucks to be producing flour in             We volunteers are an enthusiastic team of
the traditional manner. (The aim of the Society          novices, but we were guided and helped
now is to set up regular milling days for the            practically by local experts. In the long run-up
sale of stone-ground wholemeal flour.) On the            to milling, we have lost count of the times that
ground floor visitors were able to look at an            vital parts were completed, fitted, removed,
assortment of moving cogs and wheels, and the            refitted, adjusted, tightened, slackened, pared
delivery of flour from the chute to sacks. Then          or    redesigned.    As   one     can    imagine,
they could climb the ladder to the ‘stone floor’         manoeuvring half-ton millstones has not been
to see grain being shaken into the eye of the            easy either, within the confines of our small
grinding stones.                                         mill. Another extra burden we rightly had to
                                                         shoulder was the matter of insurance and
Apart from a few technical hitches early in the
                                                         safety. Officers from the Fire Service, Thames
day, we soon fell into milling mode. The French
                                                         Water, BCC (Weights & Measures), WDC (Food
Burr stones eased themselves into a good
                                                         Hygiene, Risk Assessment, Safety at Work) and
rhythm and settled to produce good quality
                                                         our own advisory signs involved the group in
flour. We were delighted to be able to use local
                                                         hours of extra work.
grain (Malacca wheat) from Kensham Farm,
Cadmore End, which was generously sold to us             There have been many peaks and troughs
at a reduced price. Unfortunately, to mill               during the 16 years since Marks & Spencer, in
organically grown wheat would have been too              1984, donated £17,000 to create the building
costly for us as a charitable society, but we            to Colin Kennedy’s design. Volunteers have
were assured by other millers that a high                joined and left, and site disturbances have




The team (left to right): Ian Barratt, Don Murray, Robert Turner, Peter Hazzard, Eric van Voorden, Annabelle
Giorgietti, Owen Rush, Nick Dewey, John Mumford, Lesley Howe, Nick Gillott, Nick Turner(f), Helen Evans,
Malcolm Connell, Pat Gerrard(f), Bianca Iaciofano, Gary Howard, Sarah Howe, Carina Iaciofano(f), Myra King,
Karen Roberts, Margaret Simmons, Harry Turner(f). (f = exactly in front of someone else.)
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                           5                          NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000


been frequent as archaeological digs, heavy            milling at our mill before proceeding to Lacey
works plant, new watercourses, bridge                  Green Windmill.
strengthening, bank reshaping and boundary
fences caused our faithful gardener, Margaret
Simmons, to throw her hands up in horror.
Indomitable, she stayed with us and turned
each upheaval into a challenge.
The regular team has been strengthened by the
addition of staff from Montgomery Watson, the
Water and Environmental Consultants based
in    Terriers.    Annabelle   Giorgietti  was
instrumental in encouraging them to make a
donation of £500. Team members have shared
the restoration tasks with intelligence and
determination (no job too small, and no prima
donnas!) and my work as Project Leader was
                                                       Team Leader Myra King is flabbergasted on getting a
made easy by their constant good humour. A             bouquet from our Chairman, Roger Lawson, as
short promotional film has been made for the           Town Mayor Peter Cartwright looks benignly on.
Society’s use. Each member has brought a
special skill and they will forgive me for not         Other attractions were delicious home-made
naming them individually.                              teas, wood turning, ceramics, the Energy &
                                                       Efficiency team from WDC, Cottage Garden
Local companies have helped us quite freely            Plants and of course our own Membership and
with their time, equipment and expertise over          Publicity Group.
the past six months. They include Bowens
Scrap Metal, Isotemp, Ever Ready Tool Hire,            But undoubtedly the STARS of the show were
Ison, Jarvis Engineering, Thames Water, Savoir         the four children who worked all day long with
Faire Marquees and C Bond Electrical.                  tireless enthusiasm and no previous experience
                                                       weighing, bagging and selling the flour to
                                                       visitors. It had been difficult to predict what
                                                       staff we would need for the task. What would
                                                       be the demand? In fact, over 200 bags were
                                                       sold at £1 each and without their help we
                                                       would now be the owners of a ‘flour mountain’.
                                                       The children’s role was appropriate. Pann Mill
                                                       is not only part of our heritage, but is an
                                                       educational asset to the town where future
                                                       generations will be able to see, hear and smell
                                                       this ancient but still relevant craft producing
                                                       our staple diet.
                                                                                            Myra King
   The bagging team, hard at work. Isn’t it fun?
                                                                          *     *    *
Special guests on the day were the Town Mayor
Peter Cartwright, the Chairman of the District         And the Chairman ponders…
Council David Cox, Councillor Malcolm                  There is however an important wider aspect of
Blanksby and former Councillor Frances                 this “super day out in the sunshine”.
Alexander. Local artist Lorna Cassidy came to
enjoy the day and kindly donated a framed              The work of the Planning and Transport
print of Pann Mill in 1962. Barry Giggins,             Groups, the Friends of the Rye and the
former WDC Engineer, visited from Windsor              Heritage Group, is in each case important but
and was pleased to see his scale model of Pann         is much involved in reviewing and evaluating
Mill ca 1920 still being admired. Mr Reed, tutor       information and data. It requires us to respond
of West Herts College, came and saw the                appropriately to proposals and conclusions of
tensioning device in action which was designed         our local authorities and other official agencies,
and made by his students. Former Pann Mill             or to our fellow citizens’ planning applications.
volunteers Ian and Diana Stone came from               Important as it is to maintain this stance of
Shropshire to help for the weekend and the             vigilance and reaction, the work seldom excites
High Wycombe Film Society recorded the event           the imagination of Joe Public who can only be
for their archives. Greetings and good wishes          relied upon to rouse from his early evening
came from milling friends at Mapledurham               slumber in front of the telly when his or her
(Secretary of the National Wind & Watermills           household is directly blighted by property
Association), Warwickshire and as far away as          development proposals or similar.
the Isle of Man. Some visitors took in the first                                     (concluded on p.7)
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                           6                          NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000



Planning this Quarter                                  Roll-over jackpot
District Local Plan to 2011 As expected, the

                                                                   !!! Quiz Time !!!
Council issued its proposed Pre-Inquiry
changes to the Local Plan in March, which the
Planning Group reviewed. We decided to
support a number of changes promising                  Calling all children 1 – 15 years old…There
increased environmental protection, including          were no replies to the puzzle in the Spring
the addition of the Gomm Valley to the list of
Local Landscape Areas, but to object to a              Newsletter so this time, if you solve it you
proposal to include retail warehousing on the          could win a £10 Smiths token!
former Gas Works site in Suffield Road. We
thought this would undermine the viability of                   “Where in the town is the
shops in the town centre and Western Sector,                       Hen and Chickens”
and suggested as an alternative either active
leisure pursuits or a hotel plus housing. More         Send your answers to the Editor (address on
recently, North Thames Gas submitted a                 back page) by 30 June. The first correct
planning application for retail shops plus flats       answer out of the bag will win.
on the site, and we have objected to this in a
similar vein.                                          Questions set by Pauline Cauvain of our Heritage Group.
                                                       Last issue’s question was “Where in the town can you find
Abbey Barn Farm A company known as                     a village pump?” Answer: “Behind the Little Market
Wycombe Option Ltd has applied to convert the          House.”
Abbey Barn Farm buildings into a hotel, and to
add a golf driving range and tennis courts. We
consider this to be an unsuitable development          and encouraging the “customers” to share
in a Local Landscape Area and have objected            their memories, as they inevitably do.
to it. We also pointed out that access to the          I like the story of Tom Burt who, according to
farm whether on foot or by public transport is         local legend, built his house in the High
difficult, and it would be undesirable to              Street (No. 30) after finding a crock of gold. I
encourage more traffic in this area. The               reckon old Tom had the right idea, as I am a
Council have suggested Wycombe Marsh                   great fan of town living myself.
former paper mill site as suitable for a new
hotel, and this would be preferable to Abbey           Anyway, after “doing” the High Street, we
Barn.                                                  made our way down Pauls Row, St Mary
                                                       Street, Queen Victoria Street and Easton
                                     John Gore         Street. Isn’t it good to see the old Post Office
                                                       building brought back to life as Rigs Wine
                                                       Bar? Also in Easton Street is another of my
Arts Festival Heritage Trail                           favourite features of Wycombe, the ruins of St
                                                       John’s Hospital – incredible to think they
One of the High Wycombe Society’s                      have stood there for over 800 years.
contributions to the Arts Festival was a Town
Trail around the Conservation Area, held on            The walk ended at Pann Mill and, as this was
14th May.                                              National Mills Day, Myra and the team had
                                                       pulled out all the stops to put on a great
Mary Woodman, John Gore and I were to lead             display. It is always a treat to see the wheel
the trails, and we were waiting outside the            turning, and this time there was a bonus! The
Parish Church at 2.00pm. The weather was               ancient, mysterious mechanism was working,
wonderfully warm and sunny – at last! – and            actually grinding flour.
to our delight around 60 people had turned
up!                                                    Pann Mill is always an attraction, and this
                                                       must have been one of the busiest open days
After John Gore had shown us all around the            ever. There had also been a Water Trail
Church, we divided into three groups and               around the Rye, with participants coming in
began the tour. It must have been a couple of          for refreshments at the Mill. There were
years since I led a trail, and I was quite             plants for sale, energy-saving advice from
surprised at how noisy the town has become             Thames Water, and the Mill garden was
on a Sunday, with traffic in the High Street,          looking beautiful – truly a something-for-
car radios and several shops open.                     everyone day.
I never tire of looking at the buildings and           And if I have persuaded one person to take a
speculating on their illustrious past. Leading         closer look at buildings in towns, then I will
a town trail is a perfect excuse for pointing          be well pleased.
out the interesting bits, relating anecdotes                                         Denise Lindsay
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                           7                      NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000



Society of Aldermen!                                   Help! Help!
                      A heart-warming spec-            Yes, it’s the Hon. Sec. after you all to DO
                      ial meeting of the               things again…
                      Wycombe         District
                                                       FUND RAISING! In the Autumn 1999 news-
                      Council took place on
                                                       letter, I wrote a piece on recruitment and said
                      8th May. The business
                                                       the Society needed to be more proactive. To
                      was to enrol three new
                                                       some extent this has happened and the
                      Honorary Aldermen. All
                                                       Society is becoming involved in projects which
                      were    retired    long-
                                                       we hope will increase public appreciation and
                      serving Councillors –
                                                       awareness of High Wycombe. So we are
                      Robert Barber, Eliza-
                                                       currently working with the Wycombe District
                      beth Barratt MBE JP
                                                       Council on the Heritage Open Days weekend
and Kathleen Peatey MBE JP. Both the ladies
                                                       (see p.11) and hope to produce other
have been members of the High Wycombe
                                                       exhibitions and displays. Pann Mill is a very
Society since the very early days, and each
                                                       long-term project but is now becoming a real
took on public service in addition to her role
                                                       asset to the town.
as mother and schoolteacher. Kathleen is of
course now one of our Vice-Presidents. And             Building restoration and upkeep, exhibition
their mutual friendship goes back to their             and display materials all cost money. Many
schooldays.                                            members make generous donations with their
                                                       annual subscriptions and this is much
Mrs Pam Priestley, today’s Leader of the
                                                       appreciated. However, this money mainly goes
Council, referred to Kathleen’s immense
                                                       towards the ‘nuts and bolts’ running of the
interest in the environment – her successful
                                                       Society, and we would like to raise extra
efforts to save the old housing in Green
                                                       money to support these newer projects and
Street, Saffron Platt and Hughenden Road.
                                                       help with the increasing needs of Pann Mill.
But for her, the obtrusive Wilkinson Sword
Building would have been even higher. As               To this end, I would like to form a fund-
Chairman, Cllr Mrs Peatey had arranged for             raising team, to work in association with the
all Councillors to receive an oak tree to plant!       Membership and Publicity Group. Do we have
                                                       any budding (or retired!) entrepreneurs who
Later she reminisced to me that in her early
                                                       would be willing to share their ideas and help
days there were some councillors who could
                                                       get this project off the ground? If so I would
always be relied upon to take the view of
                                                       very much like to get in touch with you. If you
developers. She herself was “reminded” after
                                                       telephone me (01494 523263) and leave your
she was elected that she was a member of the
                                                       name and number, I will get back to you.
Conservative Party now, not a representative
of the High Wycombe Society! She gave the                                         Frances Presland
only possible reply: she would represent the
interests of her electorate.
                                                       Ponderings… (continued from page 5)
Elizabeth Barratt devoted herself for many
years to areas of less direct interest to the          However, the activities revolving around the
                         Society but no less           Pann Mill Open Days are vivid, exciting,
                         important for the             customer-friendly and right there in front of
                         town - to housing             the visitors. A good time is had by all, whilst
                         issues,    developing         the Society can promote its considered views
                         partnerships     with         on a particular issue by an exhibition on site.
                         Housing        Assoc-
                                                       The teas are consumed, the plants and
                         iations. She was also
                                                       publications purchased, and the High
                         very active on youth
                                                       Wycombe Society has a field day. So, whilst
                         employment       and
                                                       our committee and members have good
                         housing      matters,
                                                       reason to thank Myra King for her inspired
                         and worked with
                                                       leadership of the splendid Pann Mill Group in
                         groups     for    the
                                                       their achievements, we must also be thankful
                         disabled and elderly
                                                       that on a Mill Open Day, we can show
                         people.    When     I
                                                       another side of our personality, as a sociable
spoke to her however, she said only how
                                                       bunch of fun-inducing conservationists with a
humbling it had been: the real heroes, she
                                                       purpose, not just a group of serious-minded
thinks, are those who work single-mindedly
                                                       carers for the life of our town of High
and unsung for a single cause!
                                                       Wycombe and its environs.
Many congratulations to both our Aldermen.
                                                                              Geriatricus Emeritus
What a pity that no local press reporters – or
                                                                              a.k.a. Roger Lawson
their editors – saw fit to attend the event.
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                              8                         NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000




LORNA CASSIDY is our truly local artist. She is              Then the war ended, and it was back to
not the only artist who lives locally – there are            Holtspur. “I knew it was a hideous house, you
many of those. But it is she who personifies                 know, … a horrible place.” St Mary’s School in
High Wycombe because of what she creates:                    Gerrard’s Cross, and Beaconsfield New Town
local     landscapes      around        the     town,        were no better, but when she visited Wycombe
screenprints,      lithographs      and      etchings        – where her grandparents lived at 1 Hampden
generated in numbers that allow us all to buy                Road – “that was a sort of revelation”. Not just
one or two, with an emphasis on the changing                 the lively market, but “all these old factories,
face of Wycombe: from the destruction of much                still going”. In 1950 after School Certificate,
of the centre of our                                                                   Lorna left St Mary’s
town in the 1960s to                                                                   to join the Art School
make way for the                                                                       in Wycombe – then
Octagon        develop-                                                                situated behind the
ment, to the demol-                                                                    Technical       College
ition of Glenisters                                                                    (once the Grammar
just a couple of                                                                       School) and closely
years ago to be                                                                        linked       to     the
replaced by Safeway                                                                    Furniture       School.
(or, more accurately,                                                                  The art education
their monstrous car                                                                    was comprehensive –
park). Furthermore,                                                                    perspective, history
with her mop of                                                                        of art, life drawing –
silver hair and her                                                                    “You did everything
familiar bicycle on                                                                    really.” And in those
which she travels                                                                      days, you didn’t need
absolutely       every-                                                                to go to a big city for
where,      Lorna     is   The artist in her studio: the big press and a copper plate. a    first   rate   art
herself a feature of                                                                   education:      Lorna’s
High Wycombe’s townscape! So it was with                     father paid £8 a term for her: “It was cheap,
great pleasure that I received her agreement to              and it was the best.” After two years she took
be interviewed for the Newsletter about her life             the Intermediate Exam – “the sad thing was
and work.                                                    that only two of us passed” – and although she
                                                             wanted to do painting, the headmaster said,
Lorna was born in Holtspur, of parents who
                                                             “You’re not a painter, you’re an illustrator,”
had met as Christian Scientists. Her father was
                                                             and that in due course led her into etching.
a solicitor commuting to London but, when the
war arrived and Lorna was still very young, he               But then tragedy struck. Lorna’s much-loved
was called up into the Royal Air Force and the               father went to London as usual, and collapsed
family moved initially to Honeybourne in the                 and died in the street from a heart attack – he
Vale of Evesham, where they lived in the                     was not yet 50. Lorna was almost coached
vicarage.                                                    through her final exam for the National
                                                             Diploma in Design by a sympathetic teacher.
Bourton-on-the-Hill was her inspiration. While
                                                             Having demonstrated, triumphantly, a lack of
Lorna’s mother was musical (her uncle,
                                                             aptitude for teaching, in 1955 Lorna went to
Frederick Bailey, started the Bucks School of
                                                             work for Longmans in London but hated it –
Music), Lorna “was never very good at that side
                                                             “doing what I thought was silly things” – and
of it”. Her calling was art. “I started painting,
                                                             quit before Christmas. But she continued to
and I was rather good at it.” In those days
                                                             attend the London School of Printing part-time.
paper of any kind was scarce and she used
watercolour. She contrived to deprive her                    Then she took a succession of jobs in the
younger brother of a paintbox he had been                    Wycombe area – a nursery garden (she still
given by demonstrating her superior skills (a                loves gardens) which is now Beaconsfield
bowl of roses) to the vicar’s wife, and she shyly            Garden Centre, and a milk round in Penn (she
watched a local artist at work in the                        had learnt to drive on family holidays) which
churchyard. So began – at the age of 9 - her                 finished when she broke a leg slipping down a
love of views. By the time they left Bourton, she            bank in Cock Lane! At this time, she also fitted
had created a whole book of scenes of the                    in evening courses at the College – now in new
village – “it was a beautiful place”.                        premises at the foot of Marlow Hill - where she
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                                 9                           NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000


could use their press, and she worked as                     school at the top of the hill is going to be
illustrator for a local publication called the               disposed of, which is awful.” As a low rise
“Bucks Interest Magazine”, which operated out                building, Disraeli Middle School is well adapted
of premises in Desborough Road.                              to its hilltop site – what will replace it? Lorna
                                                             has watched Bellfield since the 1950s –
In 1957 Lorna married and moved into her late
                                                             culminating in the horror of the Safeway
grandmother’s house in Hampden Road. A year
                                                             supermarket – “such a hideous site I won’t go
later the first of three sons, Paul, was born and
                                                             up there and look at it.” She fought for the
the pattern was set for the next phase of her
                                                             survival of the 7-arch railway viaduct in
life. In due course, she obtained from a friendly
                                                             Temple End – only the 4-arch viaduct survives,
neighbour      a    small   press    (which   she
                                                             albeit magnificently. And they’ve put in that
subsequently replaced with a larger one) and
                                                             “massive road system and it all seems to add
set it up in the garage. She sold her work at
                                                             up to a kind of Spaghetti Junction, doesn’t it?”
craft fairs, and through her connection with
the printer of the Bucks Interest Magazine she               On her table lay an emollient letter from Peter




Before the Octagon. In this beautifully detailed etching, we are looking across the building site, at the back of
White Hart Street: Guildhall on the right, and to the left of the church porch is the original ‘Chequers’, allowed to
decay by the owner and then destroyed. Today a ‘replica’ or, as Jack Scruton put it, a ‘fake’, stands in its place.
wrote and illustrated in 1977 – Jubilee Year –               Musset – “District Librarian, Wycombe and
her book “25 Years in High Wycombe”.                         South Bucks”. As an almost daily user of the
                                                             library, Lorna was decidedly miffed to hear that
So print-making has been at the heart of
                                                             a consultation meeting had been held on the
Lorna’s creative life. Although we have two
                                                             possibility of forming a “Friends of Wycombe
Cassidys in the editorial living room, it was a
                                                             Library” to which she had not been invited. She
process I dimly understood, if at all! The
                                                             is very attached to the existing library which,
etching is created on a copper or zinc plate as a
                                                             she explained, had very nearly been bulldozed:
mirror image. Before each impression, ink is
                                                             “You know, the blighters were going to pull it
applied. Lorna enhances the process with an
                                                             down and put up the predecessor of the Swan.”
all-over tint (“aquatint”) applied by melting
                                                             She had pointed out to “the blighters” that they
resin dust on the plate. In principle, the
                                                             hadn’t knocked down the Council offices but
process should be applied identically for each
                                                             had built on the back. That is how eventually
print from the plate, but Lorna interprets that
                                                             the Swan took shape. But Lorna is not
rule liberally – “what’s the point?” – and in
                                                             enthusiastic about the Swan. “I hate the Swan,
practice some prints differ, whether slightly or
                                                             it’s not an Arts Centre. I never go there.” And of
substantially, from the others.
                                                             course, she’s right. The Swan is a wonderful
Lorna remains an active and involved member                  asset for the performing arts in the town, but
of the High Wycombe Society. But her interest                visual arts scarcely get a look in: “there’s only a
in the fabric of our town has run long and deep              passageway for pictures, which leads to a
– indeed she remembers something she refers                  broom cupboard!” She pushes the current
to as “Col Watson’s Society” which was our                   Swan programme leaflet under a book –
forerunner, and she brings the perspectives to               “hideous, hits you in the eye, horrible. The
bear of one with a deep training in the visual               publicity is an insult to me as an artist.”
arts. As we began to talk, she glanced out of
                                                             Lorna’s first exhibition was in the Red Cross
the back window of 1 Hampden Road: “That
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                            10                        NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000


Knight (now demolished for “Spaghetti                    So, our engrossing couple of hours comes to an
Junction”). Her thesis is that exhibition                end. Lorna shows me down her “woodland”
facilities “have got worse and worse and worse”          garden which stretches way down the hill
and she points the finger at the District                towards Roberts Road. Finally, we take a look
Council’s Leisure Department which, she says,            at her bicycle! Why her dedication to a mode of
“was set up as a kind of sporting effort – he’s          transport now mostly used, in this country at
got to do sport”. Her solution, when the new             any rate, only by children? Well, “Have you
Library in the Western Sector is complete, is to         ever waited in the bus station?” I saw her
convert the existing library into exhibition             point. But that’s not all. She knows her father
space, and connect it to the Swan for people to          died prematurely of an undiagnosed heart
visit in the interval. “That’s what you need, a          condition. Her mother took up driving but,
captive audience.” What a wonderful idea! All            when she was too old to continue, found she
you’d need, she explains, is “a few doors” and           was not fit enough to get on a bus either. So
somebody would have to work there for                    Lorna learnt the lesson. She has no plans to
supervision. And she enthuses about the                  revert to her car which she had to use in
gradual changes and additions to the library             earlier years to take her work to craft fairs. She
building over the years – “like a cathedral”.            will stay super-fit on her humble bicycle.
It is the time of the Wycombe Arts Festival.             May we continue to see her on it for many
Lorna points out that until Jack Scruton’s               years to come!
death, the High Wycombe Society usually
staged an exhibition as one of its contributions         An exhibition of Lorna Cassidy’s prints opens in
(although perhaps one of the finest was the one          Wycombe Museum on 10th June. She will
after Jack’s death that celebrated his life). Now        publish her new book, “50 years – Etchings of
it just sponsors a single lecture (plus the              High Wycombe” at the same time. The book
escorted town trail of course). I muse to myself         contains     many       beautifully    produced
that, while the Society is making good                   reproductions of her work, and also contains
progress, we need to look to our past too.               more biographical detail of her life.


Quarterly meeting

           Housing and Green Belt Development
FOLLOWING THE conclusion of the Society’s AGM on 13 April, a fascinating and well-informed talk
was given by Tony Bosworth, Housing Campaigner of Friends of the Earth. Mr Bosworth’s talk
centred on the problem of house building in the countryside, versus the use of brownfield sites.
It is estimated that up to 3.8 million new               Friends of the Earth would like to see a change
homes will be needed by 2021, with 835,000 of            in the tax regulations regarding the building
them in the south east, contributing factors             industry. At present, no VAT is levied on
being a growing population, more elderly                 greenfield sites but there is VAT on labour and
people, more young people leaving home and               materials for urban conversions. This does
the increase in divorce.                                 nothing to further the cause, as the building
                                                         industry is obviously motivated by profit.
Problems associated with large-scale house
building in the countryside include the threat           Mr Bosworth concluded his talk by summing
to the Green Belt, increased traffic and                 up Friends of the Earth’s aims: environmental
pollution and an increased demand for water              protection, social justice and economic
supplies. Friends of the Earth recognise that            prosperity. I’m sure we would all agree.
people will always need homes, but they favour
                                                         A vote of thanks was given by John Gore.
a more cautious approach to the predicted
requirements, and they would like to see more                                            Denise Lindsay
homes created in towns and cities.
There is much scope in urban areas. Disused
industrial sites can be built upon, as long as           Hazlemere is not Terriers!
any contamination is removed. There is a                 An eagle-eyed Councillor has pointed out to us
surprising number of empty dwellings around –            that the Equity and Law site – now christened
5,700 in Bucks alone. Disused warehouses and             “Kingswood” by Berkeley Homes – is in
offices can be converted into homes, a trend             Hazlemere, not Terriers. We’re sorry for the
which is becoming increasingly fashionable in            inaccuracy! But where Berkeley Homes think
many cities.                                             Hazlemere actually is you will find even more
                                                         interesting. More in the next issue…
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                            11                        NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000



Events                                                   The Heritage Group intends to have a display
                                                         entitled “The Making of High Wycombe”,
Coffee Morning, Saturday 1 July                          depicting Wycombe’s history from Roman times
                                                         until the present day. Anyone who would like
                                                         to help with this display would be very
Following much activity this spring with                 welcome. We would also like to have live
meetings, fund-raising and, of course, corn              displays of traditional crafts and pastimes such
grinding, we hope you will take this                     as:
opportunity to meet other members socially
over a cup of coffee.                                                    Lace making
                                                                         Carving
The Wycombe Museum is a splendid venue                                   Bodging **
with the added attraction of an exhibition of                            Music
Lorna Cassidy’s work, reflecting her 50 years
as an artist in High Wycombe.                            Are you (or is there anyone you know) willing to
                                                         demonstrate a traditional skill? We are not
We have a record number of new members this              allowed to charge for people to watch
quarter. Please come to welcome them. Bring              demonstrations, but the demonstrators will be
your family and friends. The museum grounds              able to sell items. It would add to the event if
are ideal for relaxing between the Saturday              people were willing to dress in clothes
chores and the shopping.                                 appropriate to the period, e.g. Mediaeval,
                                                         Victorian, etc. (but only if you want to). Have
 WYCOMBE MUSEUM 10.30AM-12.00 NOON                       we any budding wardrobe mistresses who can
            BRING AND BUY STALL                          adapt clothing for the purpose?
           COFFEE AND A CAKE £1                          We also need volunteers just to keep an eye on
                                                         things while demonstrations are taking place.
            Membership and Publicity Group               If you are interested in helping with this event,
                                                         or know anyone that would like to take part,
                                                         please telephone and I will contact you.
Not Quite so “Hidden” Bucks
                                                         Finally, we do hope that you will be able to
                                                         support this event. Look out for the posters
Tour No.3 takes place on Saturday 8th July
                                                         around the town, and a full programme will be
2000, and will follow the usual pattern of using
                                                         available at our Wycombe Show stand on 2/3
our own cars, and setting off to find some of
                                                         September.
the locations described by Jean Archer. This
                                                                                     Frances Presland
time a couple of the places are not really
                                                                                       Hon. Secretary
“hidden” but are well worth a visit.
Depart 9.15am for Jordans (talk at the Friends’          ** Sorry, James, that’s chair-leg turning! – Ed.
Meeting House, Grave of Wm. Penn); Chalfont
St Giles (Milton’s Cottage, Parish Church with
Flower Festival). Lunch at Chalfont St Giles.            Charity Market Stall – 29 April
Memorial to Capt. Cook at The Vache, then the
charming village of Latimer, and finishing at            Probably our most successful ever, this event
Chenies to visit St Michael’s church.                    raised £240. Very many items were donated
Whether you’re a driver or navigator, or would           with some larger goods boosting the profits.
just like an enjoyable day out, why not join us?         The sum raised conveniently swelled the coffers
                                                         at a time when the Treasurer was beginning to
                              Ann Simone                 wring his hands in despair!
            Membership and Publicity Group
                                                         Many thanks to all who were involved – to
                                                         those who generously donated such a variety of
                                                         goods, to those who collected, sorted and
Heritage Open Days                                       priced the items and to those who manned the
                                                         stall on the day.
Many of you will be familiar with the Heritage
Open Days weekends, which are co-ordinated                            Membership and Publicity Group
by the Civic Trust. (This year the event is to be
held on 16-17 September, NOT the 9th and                 Roger Lawson (Chairman) adds:
10th as stated in your Programme Card.) For              “Even though I was unable to be present for this
2000 the event has been given a cultural                 event, I know that two people deserve special
theme, and the Heritage Group is working in              thanks – Olivia Price for kindly making her
conjunction with Jo Tiddy, the Wycombe                   garage available for the storage of goods, and
District Council’s Heritage Officer, on several          Ann Simone for overseeing the organisation,
ideas.                                                   which provided some unexpected challenges.”
THE HIGH WYCOMBE SOCIETY                              12                         NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2000



Notices                                                    We extend our condolences to their families and
                                                           friends.
New Members
We warmly welcome the following new members:               A Busy Spring
Mr and Mrs J Allison of Queens Road                        Very many thanks to all who have paid their
Mrs A M Armour of Hythe, Kent                              subscriptions on time. Special thanks to many
Mrs H M Blackwell of Deeds Grove                           who have included generous donations. The
                                                           Society is most grateful for these extra funds.
Mr and Mrs D N Clark of Rectory Avenue
                                                           If you have not yet paid, are not sure how much
Mrs E D Davis of Hatters Lane
                                                           you owe, or have an out-of-date Banker’s Order, I
Mr N Dewey of Abercromby Avenue                            would be pleased to answer any queries. Please
Mr and Mrs A G Fooks of Park Farm Road                     get in touch with me at any reasonable hour
Mr N L Gillott of Micklefield Road                         (tel. 01494 527978).
Miss A Giorgietti of Rosebery Avenue                       PS. I am more an owl than a lark!
Mr T Haynes of Amersham Road
                                                                                          Annie Woodward
Mrs K M Hearfield of Walton Drive
                                                                                      Membership Secretary
Master R Hogan of Forest Way
Mr G Howard of Garratts Way
Mrs C Last of Baronsmead Road                              Be creative!
Mr and Mrs W E C Page of Trees Ave Hughenden
                                                           Many thanks for all your excellent contributions
Mr and Mrs A T Rees of Magpie Close, Flackwell
                                                           this quarter (including those that we have had to
  Heath
                                                           hold over until the next issue).
Mr I J Rees of Saffron Road
Mr and Mrs S Shaw of Totteridge Drive                      However, there is no “In My Opinion” this month
                                                           because we did not receive any appropriate
Mr J Tribe of Green End Road, Radnage
                                                           material for it! Also, we have not had much in
Master S K Ward of Micklefield Road                        the way of drawings and cartoons lately, and it
                                                           would be very nice to have some more drawers
Obituaries                                                 and cartoonists on our books. Material for the
We regret to announce the following deaths:                Autumn issue should reach the Editor at
                                                           29 Maybrook Gardens High Wycombe HP13 6PJ
               Mr L H Clarke                               (01494 528106) by 20 August, please.
               Mr J R W Huddart
                                                                                Chris Woodman (Hon Editor)
               Miss G R Vernon




Please put these in your diary now – don’t wait for the next Newsletter or you’ll miss the September events!

2000
Saturday 1 July 10.30am-12.00noon            Coffee Morning with Bring & Buy stall – see p.11.
Wycombe Museum                               Take the opportunity, at the same time, to view the display
                                             of our member Lorna Cassidy’s etchings which is showing in
                                             the Museum from 10 June to 3 Sept (see also pp. 8-10).
Saturday 8 July                              “Hidden Bucks” tour No.3 by shared cars, visiting another
                                             batch of places described in Jean Archer’s book (see p.11).
                                             Contact Ann Simone on (01494) 448773.
Saturday/Sunday 2/3 September                Wycombe Show – Millennium event on the Rye. Pann Mill will
                                             be grinding corn again on Sunday 3 September.
Saturday/Sunday 16/17 September              Heritage Weekend. See posters around the town, and the
(and not as in your programme card!)         Hon. Secretary’s appeal for volunteers on p.11.
Wednesday 18 October 7.45pm                  Quarterly Meeting: The Work of the Historic Buildings Trust.
Reggie Goves Centre                          Martin Andrew, Wycombe Dist. Council Conservation Officer.
Friday 3 November evening                    Fund-raising evening for the Pann Mill project. Illustrated
(date provisional – details later)           talk on “The Life and Times of Marie Lloyd”.

				
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