Friday, 26 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade Classic Car Show (Part I)

Hungerford Arcade says a big thank you to Colleen and Mike Kent for organising the West Berkshire Classic Vehicle Club car show outside the Arcade on Sunday and to the WBCVC Members for bringing along their superb vehicles. The weather was perfect, the cars were perfect and everyone had a wonderful day as you can see from the pictures.  I hope you enjoy looking at these lovely vehicles which always draw a big crowd.

Ivor Bleaney relaxing in his
1937 Rolls Royce

Half of the Rolls Royce Engine

Original Post Office Van
owned by Kevin Saville

Lovely Colleen Kent

Ken Pickford proud owner of
this 1976 Humber Estate which he found
neglected and in pieces.  What a fabulous
job you did Ken - its stunning

Look out for Part II - coming soon.

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade Marlborough College Afghanaid

Neil Hall, a very good friend of Hungerford Arcade, as well as being a Marlburian, called in this morning having just returned from being interviewed on Radio Wiltshire about the forth coming Afghanaid Conference at Marlborough College.  Read below and visit their website to find out about this very interesting charity. 

Changing the Narrative on Afghanistan
Marlborough College, Bath Road, Marlborough SN8 1PA

With kind permission of the Master of Marlborough College, Afghanaid is hosting a half-day conference including a photography exhibition, discussions with leading experts on Afghanistan and a performance of Afghan music.

The photographic exhibition opens at 11.00 with conference registration from 11.00-13.00 in the Heywood Building.  The conference will be held between 14.00-1900 in the Ellis Theatre.

Ticket price (£20) includes a coffee/tea and biscuits/cakes during the tea break and a glass of wine at the closing reception.
A full schedule is available on

Jonathan Leigh, the Master of Marlborough College, will open the conference.  His introduction will be followed by a short film narrated by Channel 4 News Presenter, Jon Snow.

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Hungerford Arcade World's Biggest Coffee Morning

Hungerford Arcade is very proud to support the World's Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The event is being held this Friday, 26th September from 10.00 to 12.00 at the United Reformed Church, High Street, Hungerford, organised by Fiona Hobson a Director of Town Team Hungerford Ltd and her team.  

This year, once again, there will be the very popular 'silent auction' where people put their bids into sealed envelopes which when opened, the highest bid is declared the winner. There will also be the raffle.  Over the previous two years, Fiona and her team have raised a massive £1325.76 for Macmillan Cancer Support. £743.60 was from last year alone, so please come along and help beat this total.

Everyone knows someone who has or have had this terrible disease.  Lets all join together and help wipe it out completely.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade Bomber Command

Two very good friends of Hungerford Arcade, Colleen and Mike Kent, who organise the West Berkshire Classic Vehicle Club Show for us (Sunday, 21st September), have sent me an article on a very special visit they made at the weekend to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre.

Experience of a lifetime

Dad was an Airframe Fitter on Lancasters during World War 2, so the Lancaster Bomber has always been my number one interest.  In fact both me, and my wife Colleen, are members of the Lincolnshire Lancaster Association.
There are only 2 airworthy Lancasters in the world, one in England as part of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at Coiningsby, Lincolnshire, the other in Canada, at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. So imagine my excitement when the Canadian’s announced they were bringing their Lancaster FM213 over, to join with the RAF’s Lancaster PA474, for 6 weeks.  During which time the 2 Lancasters would be flying together at Air Displays.  I just had to see the 2 together.

Canadian Lancaster Bomber FM213 (VERA)
The Canadian’s Lancaster, known as VERA, due to her markings, arrived at RAF Coningsby on the 8th August.  The 2 Lancs have done numerous Fly Pasts and Displays since. 

We have visited Lincolnshire twice to photograph the 2 Lancasters together.  On one accession we got to RAF Coningsby, only to be told that flying was cancelled for the day, due to low cloud.  This however provided us with an excellent photo opportunity, as both planes were manoeuvred back into the hangar.

England's Lancaster Bomber PA474
 During the weekend of 13th and 14th September both aircraft were at Bournemouth Airport, having returned from the Channel Islands, and booked to display at Goodwood Revival.  Unfortunately both went unserviceable, the BBMF one with an engine problem, and VERA with a brake fault.  Both were however repaired, by 17:00 hrs, (a Hurricane from the BBMF having flown in with the spares).  The Canadian then carried out 2 local flights, before both departed for the display at Goodwood, and returned 50 minutes later, giving the waiting crowd another unexpected treat.

Mike photographing the fabulous WWII Lancaster Bomber
I must also mention Lancaster NX611 at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, just a few miles from Coningsby.  This aircraft taxies most Saturdays, and a visit to watch this is 
always well worthwhile.
Mike Kent

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade Tour of Britain Bike Race 2014

It was a beautiful warm day and the air was filled with excitement in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the Tour of Britain Bike Race cyclists.  This was Stage 6 of the long race from Bath to Hemel Hempstead. The crowds lined the streets of Hungerford to catch a glimpse of the riders taking part.
The police on their big BMW motorbikes riding ahead, making sure all the roads were clear of traffic, together with the race marshalls on their motorbikes, all added to the spectacle that was about to arrive.  Suddenly, there was a great cheer from the top of the High Street  and within seconds, cheers rang out from everywhere as they rode through our beautiful market town. Everyone was amazed by the speed they were travelling at - they were magnificent! 

To find out more about this fantastic event, go to their website at

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade Classic Car Show




The West Berkshire Classic Vehicles Club is once again coming to Hungerford Arcade to put on a fantastic show in their fabulous classic and vintage cars. This event is entirely free so bring the whole family along to this fantastic event which we hold twice a year. The people are very friendly and will tell you everything they know about their beloved vehicles. They will even let you sit in them and of course, you can take photographs. The cars will be immediately outside the Arcade and in the staff car park at the rear of the building. There is always plenty to see and do at Hungerford Arcade which also has Rafters Cafe` on the top floor where you can relax and have a cup of tea/coffee and enjoy their tasty home-made food. Also on this day, The Thames Valley Farmers Market will be here selling their top quality produce. A fantastic day out and one to remember.
From 10.00 am but the cars do start arriving from around 8.30 am 

Hungerford Arcade Antiques & Collectables, 26-27 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire RG17 0NF

Contact telephone: 01488 683701

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Hungerford Arcade - Thomas Shoel (1759-1823)

Our wonderful author, Stuart Miller-Osborne has, apart from writing a fantastic article, also set us all a challenge.  It is a fascinating article and I am going to do some research of my own and see what I can come up with.  Please e-mail us at if you can find anything and I will forward them onto Stuart so that he can write about what has been discovered.  We are really looking forward to hearing from you.
Thomas Shoel (1759-1823)
Things Never Found

Here is a challenge for you. As readers, you will know I occasionally write the series “Things Often Found” about items you are likely to come across when visiting antique shops and the like. 

Well your challenge, if you choose accept it, is to see if you can find anything written by an amazing but totally forgotten man called Thomas Shoel (1759-1823) who wrote poetry and composed hymns and sacred music throughout his sixty four years.

Your task could be called “Things Never Found “

What is so special about Tom Shoel you may ask?  Well Tom was one of those amazing breed of people who without any formal training was able to master his gifts, possibly without recognising how powerful they actually were.

Alfred Wallis, the Cornish artist and to a lesser extent our very own Alfred Williams are good examples. Men who had none of the advantages of life, yet through pure willpower managed to pursue their God given talents.

But who was Tom Shoel? Well I was lucky, I came across Tom many years ago when visiting Montacute in Somerset after reading about him previously on my journey from London.

I read of this man who wrote poetry and was a composer of sacred music and hymns yet had received no training at all. His schooling was non-existent. He was in short an illiterate labourer from a small village in Somerset and would have remained so but for his unique vision. 

Tom Shoel was a labourer, a hedger and a ditcher, a man who would have been as familiar in the Somerset of some two hundred years ago as cars are today.

There were a lot of Tom’s working in the West Country living demanding yet unremarkable lives, marrying, having lots of children and passing into history in some quiet churchyard usually at a rather young age.  

Their lives were most probably not celebrated by a headstone, maybe a wooden cross which would have rotted away in the years following their passing. 

Today their final resting places might possibly be noted as grassy mounds of raised earth in the outreaches of the shadow of the church or they are totally lost in the geography of the churchyard.

Who knew these men and women who lived and died in obscurity and whose names are not remembered?

Yet for every George or Emma or Tom there is a descendant who is living today. Maybe they are still in Somerset or they might have migrated elsewhere.

Tom Shoel is likely to have descendants living somewhere in the West Country but I wonder if they know much about him or has history obscured his memory.  

The village of Montacute is some four miles west of Yeovil and from a literary perspective is best known for its connections with the Powys family. 

The Reverend Charles Powys (1843-1923) who was the vicar of the village between 1885 and 1918 was the father of the writers John Cowper Powys (1872-1963), Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939) and Theodore Francis Powys (1875-1953).

Indeed their sister Philippa Powys (1886-1963) was born in Montacute. 

It was however, through Llewelyn in his Somerset Essays that I first discovered Tom Shoel. 

When I visited the village over thirty years ago it appeared to be more or less the same as it would have been in Tom’s time. Obviously, roads would have replaced, the lanes of the area and the rural industries even in the 1980s were a thing of the past. 

No hedgers or ditchers would have survived their occupations long dead. 

Unlike the Powys brothers and sister, Tom was born into poverty in 1759. His parents died when he was quite young and he would have been learning his trade of hedging and ditching from a very early age.

He was a candidate for a short life of toil and misery as were his fellows.

Today we look on these years with a slight nostalgia. But times were hard in rural areas. If you were born into poverty you most likely would live, marry and die in poverty.

It was said of Tom that he grew up “with music in me head”.  At an early age he was given a tin whistle and from that he composed tunes. As with most country folk, Tom went to church and gradually learnt to read from the Bible. 

But he did not stop there as he taught himself to write in a beautiful copperplate (which strangely enough I was taught at school – although I am long lapsed). 

Tom wandered in the surrounding countryside and explored the lanes surrounding his village. This inspired him and with his inner music he found his expression in music, hymns and poetry.

To the ordinary people of the village, (who could not understand him) he was considered a harmless eccentric.

He married (as far as I can see) at a young age and had a number of children. Sadly his wife (worn out by childbirth) and all of his children with the exception of one son, died quite early on.

This caused a great shift in Tom’s life. It appears that his music and poetry became more melancholic and maybe a painful maturity began to show through.

Tom married again when he was nearly forty but happiness was to desert him again as his wife killed herself some years later. 

This was through no fault of Tom. The poor woman was just worn down by the appalling demands made on her and just ended her life to escape her misery.

For the second time,Tom was grieving for a lost wife and his misery was added to by unhappy mutterings in the village stating that he should give up his writing and concentrate on his rural duties. Maybe some of the tongues blamed him for the family tragedies he had endured.

As he grew older,Tom devoted a great deal of time to his passion. In reality he was living just above the breadline.

There was a brief light in the rural night when an enlightened clergyman arranged for some of his music and poems to be published in Bristol. But any hopes of success were dashed as he made little money. 

His talent was brought to the attention of certain literary figures of the day but sadly they ignored him.

Tom became more and more eccentric. He would walk around the village talking to himself (this was most probably Tom working out his poems and music).

He would often walk to Bristol living off of the land with the hope of selling a hymn or a poem and was noted as wearing a rough coat with a new hymn or poem in the pocket during these visits. 

All this for a sale of a few pennies. 

When his work was read it was thought that he had plagiarised other works as a simple labourer would not have been able to write music ,hymns or poetry to such a standard, or so people thought.

Sadly, I have not really read much of Tom’s work but the short pieces I have read were astounding. True, the structure of some of his work could be seen as naive and his spelling was at times worse than mine, but what shone out was the intensity that looking from a modern perspective could be seen as a direct gift from God as it was so original. 

When Tom died in 1823 much of his work died with him, unread and uncared for. It is likely that much of it was disposed of quite quickly after Tom's passing. 

If Alfred Wallis had not been discovered towards the end of his life then his paintings would most certainly have suffered the same fate as Tom’s written works which is sad. 

In short he was not understood by those around him. It was observed that “He gets it from above” by more than one person. He was a remarkable man possibly born a century early. Maybe if he had been a contemporary of the Powys brothers and sister then his story would have been different and he would have been more celebrated. They would have surely have taken him under their wings as the St Ives School took Wallis into their fold.

If you want to read more about Thomas Shoel, then the chapter in Somerset Essays by Llewelyn Powys is a good place to start. There was a short piece written by David Foot in 1985 which was very informative and helped me in my researches. 

Or on the other hand, you could look on the internet to find out more about this interesting man. You might want to motor down to Montacute and look at Tom’s village for yourself.

I doubt if it has changed much since my visit in 1981. Who knows, Tom might be more celebrated today in the village than he was thirty odd years ago. It would be nice to think that he was.

At the start of this article, I set a challenge.The next time you are looking through anything remotely connected with Somersetshire in the early part of the nineteenth century or even the late eighteenth century then look to see if tucked away there is any of Tom’s music or a hymn composed by him or maybe even a poem.

On a dusty bookshelf you might find a copy of one of his volumes of poetry (there were several) or some of his hymns or sacred music. I have been looking for thirty years without even a sniff.
Stuart Miller-Osborne
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Monday, 1 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade A WWI Trench Journal - The Dump

The Dump: A Trench Journal

During times of war, when the serving troops are suffering great hardship through situations they can’t control, keeping morale high is one of the biggest challenges the Army faces.  One example of a great morale booster is this wonderful magazine one of our stallholders showed me.  A magazine or “Trench Journal” written for the enjoyment of troops serving in the trenches of the Western Front during The First World War.  The idea of a magazine written by your fellow soldiers was brilliant and I imagine it offered some much needed comic relief to the poor souls stuck in the trenches. 

Some are better known than others such as The Wipers Times (named after soldier slang for Ypres where it was first printed.) of which a BBC dramatisation was produced in 2013.  Others, such as The Dump are very much unknown.  While doing some research I found only one mention of this same edition of the journal on an old auction listing, but no information at all.

 It seems that the journal had always been planned to be published once a year, at Christmas, until the end of the War.  However it is my assumption, and please correct me if you believe me to be wrong, that this was the one and only published issue of The Dump.  The XXIII Division, under the command of Major-General Sir James Melville, was sent to France in August 1915 and this edition was published in Christmas of that year.  It is my opinion that so much happened on the Western Front during 1916, including the Battle of the Somme, that the XXIII division was no longer able to produce the magazine.  Being one of humanity’s bloodiest battles, it is more than likely that some of the main contributors of the journal were killed or wounded at the Somme.

Produced in the winter of 1915 by the XXIII Division, The Dump begins with a message from the editor in which he talks of various limitations, which have been overcome in the production of the journal, including time, materials and means of illumination.  He goes on to say that all ranks have contributed in some way towards the publication and the generals and staff officers have been just as ruthlessly sub-edited as the rank and file, if not more so. 

Contrary to what you might expect from a war journal, it is full of humourous cartoons and anecdotes.  Obviously it was aimed at the troops living in the trenches; keeping hold of your sense of humour when in such poor conditions can be all you need to stay sane. 

On the first page an advertisement for “Wisquerine” appears; “The latest invention for raising hair on the most beardless youth’s cheek.”  One of the testimonials reads, “Your Wisquerine made me a terror to look at in less than a week.”  It is a product I can find no mention of anywhere else and am quite certain it is a tongue in (hairy) cheek advert, simply for amusement.

I have included some pictures of my favourite parts of the journal but here I think I will leave you with a poem by “A Recruit” that seemed to stick with me.

Alex Rogers


From a Recruit.

 I’ve eaten my stew with my fingers,

And drunk the juice from my plate,

I’ve tasted mud with the humble spud

I’m given to masticate.

I’ve shared a bowl with the stranger,

Whose face wore a two-day’s coat;

I’ve quaffed my tea in which I could see,

Strange bodies bob round and float.


I’ve slept in a whitewashed barrack,

With friends of unfragrant kind;

In a luscious rug, where the sporting bug

Was not a strange thing to find.


I’ve sat in a growing puddle,

In my one and only pair;

Wild nights I’ve spent in a leaky tent

Where twelve had the floor to share.


I’ve tried my hand at some laundry,

When my shirts I’ve managed to rinse;

They were hung to dry, but the wind was high,

And I’ve never seen them since.


But, bless you, I’m not grumbling,

What Briton would ever dare!

When over the way, in a ghastly fray,

There’s shrapnel and blood for fare.


So come, you chaps, from your downy beds,

It isn’t all nice, no doubt;

But you’d better die eating English dirt,

Than live to eat Sauerkraut.