Wednesday, 28 May 2014


We had a wonderful group of friends come to visit Hungerford Arcade.  I spoke to two of them, Suzie Pollak and Laurie Callaway who told me that they came from the Bay Area, California, USA.  Suzie said they have just returned from a visit to the Cotswolds which was very beautiful.  They have been to fabulous Chelsea in London and would be returning to London when they have finished shopping at the Arcade.  

Suzie said a friend told her that they must visit Hungerford Arcade whilst in England and she said they are very glad they did. We were delighted to meet them all.

Laurie, Suzie and me

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The owners, staff and stallholders at Hungerford Arcade were very proud and privileged to have the Crown Prince and Princess of Thailand visit us on Bank Holiday Monday.

We all send our very best wishes to the Crown Prince and Princess and hope you enjoyed your visit as much as we did.

Sunday, 25 May 2014


Very rare 1968 Ford Mustang 63D Fastback
Owned by Rob Hutt

What a fantastic day we had at Hungerford Arcade today with our Classic Car Show.  It was bigger and better this year with even more club members than ever before bringing their fabulous cars to the Arcade.  It was wonderful to see visitors talking to the owners, looking under the bonnets and learning the history of the cars. Organisers, Colleen and Mike Kent were magnificent, as always, and helped make the show the success it is, even though Colleen was in a lot of pain with her knee and Achilles tendon. Get well quickly Colleen.

Because there were so many cars today, I am posting the photographs in two parts. Here is the selection for part one.
     Rob with his son-in-law, Paul Hyde in the
                1968 Mustang 63D Fastback


The rare bench seat in the Mustang 63D
There were only 256 Mustang 63D Fastbacks ever made with the rear bench.  It has the Deluxe all leather interior, overhead console and steering wheel.  This is the only one in the United Kingdom and there are now only 15 in the USA.  The first owner of this particular car was Mr. Alfred F. Theodore. On a trip from England to Michigan, he had been asked by his son to buy him a Mustang Fastback as it was his dream car, but when Alfred took delivery of it on his return to the UK, his son, sadly could no longer afford to buy it as he had spent a lot of money refurbishing his house.  Alfred did not mind at all and kept the car for 42 years.  It then came onto the market and Rob bought it.  It is still completely original, including the paintwork.

1952 MGTD
Owned by Graham Smith
This beautiful 1952 MGTD has been owned by Graham Smith for the past nine years. The full restoration, apart from the paintwork was carried out by Graham and what a fabulous job he has done.  Graham said the car was made in the same month and year that he was born, but the car has aged better. Graham's words not mine!

Interior of the 1952 MGTD

1962 Standard Companion 'Penny'
Peter Mason is a very lucky man.  He is the proud owner of Penny, a 1962 Standard Companion and Betty, a 1934 Standard.  The combined age of these two beauties is 132 years!
1934 Standard 'Betty'

Paul and Niki with their 1967 MG Midget
Paul and Niki Hyde (daughter and son-in-law of Mustang owner, Rob Hutt) brought their fully restored MG Midget to their first ever show.  It was always Niki's dream to own a Midget and thanks to her grandmother, was able to purchase a 1967 MG Midget.  It has taken them a long time to restore this car.  There were a lot of 1970's parts added to it such as a small steering wheel, the wrong wheels and seats which were all terrible. Paul and Niki got to work replacing everything with genuine MG Midget parts and it looks fabulous.
 Part Two will follow shortly.

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Here at Hungerford Arcade, we have very interesting visitors from all over the world.  Gerard and Geertje Coolen arrived from the Netherlands in a stunning, very rare, Volvo P1800ES.  For those of us who remember 'The Saint' also remember his white Volvo P100 which was also a star in the show, you will be in awe of this beautiful estate/coupe.  Gerard has restored this car from scratch as you will see from the photographs.  He also has a beautiful Volvo 260GLT (1979). You will see from the photographs below that he has completely restored it.

Below, Gerard explains in an e-mail to me, the photographs and the restoration.  Hope you enjoy Gerard's story and the photographs as much as I did.

Gerard and Geertje will be back at Hungerford Arcade soon and we are looking  forward very much to seeing them.

The Volvo P1800ES as Gerard found it
Picture 1 shows the 1800ES as found. Picture 2 is my other Volvo (260GLT from ‘79) as found and picture 3 after restoration.
As already said when we visited you I did the whole restoration myself with exception of 
Impressive Interior of the Volvo P1800ES
spraying and interior (all the Seats have been refurbished).
The 1800ES took me two and a half year to rebuild.

Picture 4 is a picture of the dashboard of the P1800ES. I have rebuilt it using very thin genuine wood and genuine leather instead of the original plastic.

Gerard Coolen

The stunning volvo P1800ES
Fully restored, sitting proudly outside Hungerford Arcade.
 Even has its original number plate!

I just love this car!

The Volvo 260GLT  Before
The fabulous Volvo 260GLT in all its glory

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Saturday, 10 May 2014


Teacher, Dany Bosek taking pictures
of the students receiving their coins from me

Once again, all the staff and stallholders at Hungerford Arcade were very proud to welcome 57 students and four of their teachers, Dany Bosec, Laurence Tondeur, Carole Coudray and Emmanuel Isnard from their school in Hungerford's twin town Liguiel in France. They had a wonderful time at the Arcade and each student was 
presented with a pouch containing an old English coin with a slip telling them what the old coinage was and what its equivalent would be in today's money.  They loved exploring all the nooks and crannies of the building (of which there are many) and admiring some of the fabulous antiques that caught their eye. They said that they had a marvellous time in the town and also visited the local school, John O'Gaunt and made friends with their fellow students.
Beautiful picture of student having fun
Dany Bosec, the teacher who once again organised this trip to Hungerford with Penny Locke, told me that this was a five day trip and that they had just returned from a wonderful time in Wales.  Today they are in Hungerford and tomorrow they will be visiting London before returning home to France.
Penny Locke and Arcade Manager,
Alex Rogers
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Thursday, 8 May 2014


Author of the Falconer Files and The Belchester Chronicles series. British by birth but now residing in France. Published by 

Andrea with husband Tony

We had a wonderful visitor to Hungerford Arcade, author, Andrea Frazer who has written over 30 fabulous books. Andrea is no ordinary Whodunnit? author.  Her stories are very, very funny.   I mean, the titles give you a clue as to her fantastic sense of humour.  "Death of an Old Git", "Strict and Peculiar", and "The Belchester Chronicles".  Andrea has received rave reviews for her books and I can understand why.

Andrea and her publisher husband, Tony have four grown-up children and now live in the Dordogne with their seven cats. Andrea said "Well, its six and a half cats really!".  She said that she has wanted to write since she first began to read at the age of 5, but has been a little busy raising a family and working as a lecturer in Greek (she has a Fellowship Diploma in Greek), and teaching music.

You can meet Andrea on her website at and find more of the wonderful things that she does with her life.

Me with Andrea
We had such a laugh on a day I will always remember


Mayor Dennis Benneyworth
with his beautiful children,
Elsie and Barney
(This photograph was taken
in December 2013)

All the staff and stallholders at Hungerford Arcade send our congratulations to Councillor Dennis Benneyworth upon his appointment to the office of Mayor of Hungerford.

We also wish Hungerford's outgoing Mayor, Councillor Martin Crane OBE our very best wishes for the future.

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Fire Chief Pete Rackham giving me the details
beside the brand new Fire Pump

What a lot of excitement outside Hungerford Arcade when a Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue fire engine, siren screaming, pulled up.  Fire Chief, Pete Rackham said the fire alarm is going off in an upstairs office a couple of doors down from the Arcade.  The offices were not open because of it being a Bank Holiday so if there is smoke or flames, the Fire Brigade will have to break in.  The ladders were quickly off loaded from the brand new pump and it was action stations.  The Fire Chief, phoned the proprietor of the building and he was on his way down.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a false alarm, but the speed and efficiency of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service was wonderful to see.
Fire Chief, Pete Racham with me
Its all over

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Sunday, 4 May 2014


9.15 AM - 4.00 PM 

All of us at Hungerford Arcade are proud to welcome back the West Berkshire Classic Vehicle Club.  This is a stunning event not to be missed.  You will see many wonderful cars of a bygone age which will take you on a fantastic journey down Memory Lane.  The owners of these cars are great people and will just love to talk to you about their classic gems.  They will even let you sit in their cars
 and have a good look at the engine and everything. This event is totally free so bring the whole family along and experience a wonderful day out.  I have posted a few pictures below to give you a taste of what is to come.

The classic cars will be parked in a grid immediately outside the Arcade and also in the staff car park at the rear of the building.  There is plenty of parking in Hungerford and it is free on Sunday's and Bank Holidays so come on in!

The Hungerford Farmers Market will also be here with lots of meat, produce, cheese, cakes and much more.

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Here we have Part One of the fascinating real life story of a Private in the Army written by the great author himself, Stuart Miller-Osborne. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  In fact, I can't wait for Part Two.

An Army Life  –  Part One  (The Early Years)
On the 19th of November 1880, a certain William Colenutt enlisted in the Army having previously been a mason’s labourer. He was nineteen at the time of his enlistment having been born in 1861.

These facts, although interesting, are unremarkable as large numbers of men from all walks of life enlisted in the Army and the Navy. Why was William different? Did he win a Victoria Cross in action or was he promoted to a high rank? The answer is no. When William left the army in 1887 he was released holding the same rank as he entered. that of a Private.

He had played a minute part in maintaining the Pax Britannica which roughly lasted between 1815 to the outbreak of the First World War. Britain was at the height of her powers and governed great swathes of the world. Due to our military might we had no real rivals with the exception of possibly Russia. 

Because of this, a peace was maintained. Britain due to the strength of its Navy was an unchallenged sea power. Trade routes were left open and Britain controlled the economies of many countries. 

But all this came at a price as there were many colonial wars to be fought and won to maintain the general peace. The British, in a way were acting as a global police force and it needed the enlistment of men such as William to keep the wheels of empire oiled.

Britain was well aware that what started as a local uprising could if unchecked escalate into a full scale war if treated lightly. If you fought from a position of strength then a certain peace could be maintained no matter how bloody.
It was like a giant game of chess. But why am I picking out William alone, why should he be the subject of this article? 

The answer is that a short while ago I was handed a worn leather wallet which contained the discharge certificate and two army account books of a William Colenutt, who, as I have noted previously, served his country between 1880 and 1887.

With the exception of the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the Indian Mutiny (1857), Britain faced no large conflicts and although victorious in both, it was obvious that the army was not really moving with the times and with the global theatre growing larger each year, urgent reforms were needed.

The physical fitness of the soldiers was open to question as the country had no trained reserves. In certain ways we were unable to defend our own borders but more of that later. 

If you took the rest of the world in a window of William’s service (1880-1887), the following wars or conflicts were taking place to name but a few. 

The Basuto Gun War (1880-1881)

First Boer War (1880-1881)

The French Occupation of Tunisia (1881)

Mahdist War (1881-1889) 

Mandingo Wars (1882-1898)

Ekumeku Movement (1883-1914) 

First Madagascar Expedition (1883-1885)

Tonkin Campaign (1883-1886)

Sino-French War (1884-1885) 

North-West Rebellion (1885)

Serbo-Bulgarian War (1885) 

Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885 -1886)

As you can see even from this short list,. the world was far from a peaceful place. But let us look at the period (2007-2014). I wonder how this list would compare to someone a hundred and thirty years later.  

We are all aware of the Syrian conflict and the troubles in Afghanistan and many others. Is the world a more peaceful place? Maybe yes, maybe no.

In a way, we have learned the lessons of history but, we have also forgotten them. It never ceases to amaze me how fast, even a country as liberal and democratic as our own, tends to enter conflict. The Falklands War in 1982 and the more recent involvement in Iraq spring to mind. 

However, this type of thinking would have been far from William’s thoughts when he joined up in 1880. As I have noted, William had been a mason’s labourer, which from a modern perspective, must have been arduous work and occasionally dangerous. The dust from the stone would not have done wonders for William's health or the health of his pals in the yard. 

Looking at the worn leather wallet and the contents, they give no clue to William’s aspirations or goals and any reasoning he might have had for joining up.

Maybe he was bored and wanted to see the world, maybe, (and this is fanciful) it was due to a sad love affair. He most probably saw little or no future in working with stone apart from possibly an early death from exhaustion or other related diseases. 

You might think I am a little extreme in my association, but I had occasion to visit some of the quarries near Portland about thirty years ago and was shocked to see how manual some of the processes still were. The men seemed worn and aged before their time. Many of the men I met were heavy drinkers and smokers, but most all the thing that I remembered, was the resignation of these men. 

I had visited the quarries as an art student walking in the footsteps of the sculptor Henri Gaudier Brzeska (I was really looking for his ghost as I knew he had visited the area before World War One) but all I found was a lifestyle that had not radically changed for many years. In a way it has haunted me ever since. 

It is a supposition on my part to assume that William had worked or even had association with Portland. As a mason’s labourer he was most probably located in a small yard somewhere in Dorset, Hampshire or the Isle of Wight working with stone each day. This might or might not have been Portland Stone.

From my perspective, I think William was bored and did not see a future for himself. He craved excitement, Dorset and Hampshire in the 1880s was not all Thomas Hardy,Troy, Bathsheba and Tess. These were hard places to live although the geography was favourable. 

Life would have been a challenge for the average man and poverty (especially if you had a family) was never far away. I think Hardy’s later Jude the Obscure best sums up what I am trying to illustrate.

As I write this, to my left lie two booklets and a parchment relating to William’s army life. What do I know about him? Well as I have noted he was born in November 1861 and appeared to have entered this world near Sandown on the Isle of Wight. He was of average height (5ft 9ins) and of a fresh complexion. His eyes were a greyish brown and his hair was also brown. He had no disguising marks or scars and belonged to the Church of England. 

Well that was all the army wanted to know about him. He would have been subjected to the routine medical and would have been passed fit.

What I did find interesting from his army papers was that although he was first noted as being five feet nine inches tall, later he was noted as being five feet ten inches tall in December 1882, whilst in the period 1884-1886 he was noted as being five feet eleven inches tall. 

His boot size also varied between sizes eight and nine.These differences might have been as William was still growing or just the muddled recording of facts. 

It is likely that his diet might have been superior although according to his clothing account details, he had not filled out much during this period.

Another thing that I noticed from his account and monthly settlements booklets was that his signature had changed slightly. At the time of his entry his signature seemed timid and somewhat immature. The signature of somebody that was not totally at ease with their education or lack of it.

His signatures however, mature throughout these booklets. William it appears, has become more bold during his army service. When he worked as a mason’s labourer it is likely that he was still treated as a callow youth without much experience of life. After a couple years of army life, William is obviously much more confident and outgoing. He is a man amongst other men. 

Another interesting clue to William’s background is to be found in his account booklet on page fourteen.This page deals with The Soldier’s Next-Of-Kin Now Living. What this does tell me is that in 1880 William did not have a mother. His father and three sisters (Clara Mary and Bertha) were still alive and all lived in the district of Sandown on the Isle of Wight. No mention of their occupations were noted though.

I wonder, now that William had a settled income, how much of that he sent home and what was the exact circumstance of his family?

It also reinforces that being in the army could be a very dangerous occupation. Whether a tropical disease got you or you died in some unimportant skirmish far from home, there was a good chance that you might not see your service out.

I remember a friend of my father’s telling me of the graveyards he found in Northern India just before the last war. They were full of memorials to people from the United Kingdom and other parts of the Empire who, with their families, had gone to India in military and civilian capacities and had died from disease shortly after.  

The country was especially harsh on children and quite a large number of the graves he found were of young people under twenty. 

Did William think of this (or if he was even aware) when he joined up? One has to remember the Empire was at its height and subjects such as disease might have been brushed over. Especially as one was more likely to die of disease than meet a violent death when in service. 

On the 12th of July 1882 William was about to find out for himself as his duty in India was about to begin. Also cast your mind back to my listing of wars and conflicts which were taking place during William’s service. One in particular, the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-1886) was there waiting for him. 

Why did his army service come to an end in 1887 and what do the small selection of his army papers tell me about his time in India and Burma?

More will be revealed in the second part of this article An Army Life  –  Part Two (William in India)   

Stuart Miller-Osborne

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Saturday, 3 May 2014


We always enjoy Tutti Day at Hungerford Arcade as do all the towns folk and businesses in this beautiful market town. Hungerford is the only place in the country to have continuously celebrated Tutti Day.  Today, it marks the end of the town council's financial year but, in the past it was a celebration of the town's great patron, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399).  Member of the House of Plantagenet and the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault

The Bellman, (or Town Crier) summons the Commoners of the town to the Hocktide Court held at the Town Hall, while two florally decorated Tutti Men and the Orange Man visit every house with commoners' rights (almost a hundred properties), accompanied by six Tutti Girls drawn from the local school. Originally, the Tutti Men collected head pennies to ensure fishing and grazing rights. Today, instead of taxes, they collect kisses from each lady of the house. 

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