Thursday, 26 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade Mary Hare School for the Deaf

Hungerford Arcade is one of many businesses as well as individual donors raising money for the Mary Hare Foundation.  They urgently need to replace the building that houses the swimming pool at the Mary Hare School for the Deaf and we are very proud to be able to help.  The young students at the school hold a lot of fundraising events to raise much needed funds and they need all the help they can get. If you feel you can help in any way, please get in touch with them - their contact details are below.  Thank you.

                         Sink or Swim

The pool at Mary Hare School was built over 30 years ago.  Whilst the pool itself is still in good order, we need to re-build the cover and changing rooms. 
It's a really important facility at the school for the 230 deaf young people who attend.  It also serves the needs of 8 local community groups for swimming lessons, scuba, canoeing and other activities.
If we don't carry out the necessary renovations in the next few years, we may have to close the pool. 

So please help us keep it open.

Contact us

01635 244 200

Hungerford Arcade The Scout Hut Toy Collectors Fair

Vintage, Retro & Modern Toys

Hungerford Arcade stallholder, Steve who is also the Hungerford Cubs Leader invites you to the:
SUNDAY,  1st March 2015
From 10am - 4pm
The Scout Hut, Parsonage Lane,
Hungerford, RG17 OHY

          Playmobil                 Rare & Retro Toys
         Board Games
          Barbie Dolls        

Lego                                       Trains...
Action figures                        Transformers
Comics                                    Autographs

                 Refreshments Available
       In aid of Hungerford Scout Group

For further information or to Book a Stall, call Steve on Tel: 07875584475
Organised by 'The Toy Collectors' Promotions

Normal Price £2 per Adult or
Free Entry with leaflet

Friday, 20 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade Defence Academy of the United Kingdom Visit

Colonel Wilde
What a wonderful day we had at Hungerford Arcade today. The door opened and in strode what looked like a British Army Regiment.  In fact, Colonel Wilde told me, the men and women were from a wide range of regiments.  Medics, Logistics,  

Royal Artillery, Infantry, Cavalry, Engineers and more. They had eight weeks left of a nine month high quality education course to post-graduate level and conduct research in fields related to defence.  All this happens at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.  I managed to photograph them (with Colonel Wilde's permission, of course) while they were having a break in the Arcade upstairs in Rafters Cafe`.  The smell of bacon sandwiches and fresh coffee was wonderful.

I must introduce you to an amazing Border Collie named Cody and his owner, Major Charlotte Hayes.  He goes everywhere with Charlotte and you can see they are part of one another. Cody looks every inch a Military Collie!

It was great meeting you all and look forward to your return.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade Railway to Hungerford

Our great author, Stuart Miller-Osborne has written a wonderful article on Hungerford and the railways.  It is a very interesting and nostalgic read, especially when you are relaxing with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.  Feeling refreshed? Come and visit us at the famous Hungerford Arcade and see what people get excited about!

One of the great joys of visiting Hungerford is that you can travel to the town by either road or rail or, water if you choose to use the canal. 

The town is made up really of two main roads. The Bath Road and the Salisbury Road which meet at the Bear Hotel near the Rivers Kennet and Dun but if you travel towards the town on the Salisbury Road (the main High Street), you will as you cross the canal bridge, see the railway bridge which cuts the town in half.

You will also note that Hungerford is partially built on the side of a hill and this, when the railway was being planned, would have presented a number of obstacles.

This is why for part of its journey through Hungerford the railway was built on an embankment which can be clearly seen when the railway is viewed from the main street in the town. 

Obviously if the railway engineers had planned otherwise then the railway would have been threatened with flooding as the ground at river level would have acted like a basin when the rivers overflowed, as they were prone to doing during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In my view there is nothing better than being in the High Street when an express thunders across the bridge at speed. The whole area seems to rock and shake for a few moments before peace is restored. 

The railway like the Town Hall, is a part of Hungerford Life and surprisingly the railway pre-dates our present town hall by some twenty-five years.

The first stirrings were in 1845 when a line from Reading to Hungerford (via Newbury) was proposed. This was some four years after Brunel’s main line between London and Bristol was opened in 1841 and by the December of 1847 Hungerford had become the termini for this double track broad gauge extension from Reading.

The railway even had a turntable so that engines could be turned and this is how things stayed for the next fifteen years. 

In 1859 it was proposed that the railway be extended beyond Hungerford for some twenty-four miles to Seend near Devizes where it would be linked with the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway. 

It was then that the railway really began to take shape and the first of three bridges was constructed over the High Street and the railway began to resemble the railway we see today.

There is a beautiful account of Hungerford in the Bradshaw’s of 1866 which I have copied below. This can be found on the excellent Hungerford Virtual Museum website along with a number of nostalgic photographs

Bradshaw's Guide [Bradshaw's Tours, Section II, 1866)
A telegraph station
HOTEL - Black Bear
MARKET DAY - Wednesday
FAIRS - Last Wednesday in April and Sept., and first Wednesday in Oct.

HUNGERFORD is a market town which stands partly in the county of Berks, and partly in that of Wilts. The Kennet flows past this town, which opens a communication with the river Thames on the east, and the Avon and Bristol Channel on the west. The town principally consists of one long main street, with a few smaller ones branching from it.

In the centre stands the market house, over which there is a large room for public business and here is still preserved the Hungerford Horn, presented to the corporate body by John of Gaunt. It is made of brass, and is blown every Horn Tuesday to  assemble the inhabitants for the election of the town constable.

From Hungerford you may follow the Berkshire Downs round to Reading, past Lambourn, Ashdown (where Alfred beat the Danes). Uffington Castle, Wayland Smith's Stone, the White Horse Hill (893 feet high with the figure of a galloping horse 370 feet long, cut in the chalk). Wantage, along Ickleton Street (a Roman way on the ridge) to East Ilsley (noted for its great sheep fairs), and so to Reading, a strip of about 40 or 45 miles, never to be forgotten by a light-heeled pedestrian.
The Berks and Hants, a railway 24½ miles long, begins here and runs through a nearly level country. Although the title would seem to imply, it forms no connection between the two counties named, taking as it does a westerly direction from the borders of Berks through the very heart of the county of Wilts. 

In those far off days you could travel from Hungerford to Devizes quite easily or change trains at Holt Junction. In time, the Broad Gauge tracks were changed to Narrow Gauge and the line which had originally been a single line was doubled.

In 1896 the original bridge was replaced (This bridge was subsequently replaced again the 1960s).

A fine country station, a goods shed and two signal boxes were also added.

As with most things Victorian, it was a tidy compact set up which seemed to compliment the nearby Hungerford Common. 

But sadly whilst the line survived the Beeching/Marples cuts in the 1960s, the station did not. It was deliberately left to go to rack and ruin and the last buildings were demolished in the early 1970s.

What we were left with is roughly the station we see today. The initiative by Network South East in the 1980s can still be seen, although the spartan waiting shelters are in the process of being replaced. 

Whilst functional, the state of the current station is a little sad but there is, I hope, light at the end of the tunnel as there are plans to redevelop the station area, which I trust will include the upgrading of the station.

As with a lot of things these days and after the farce of privatisation, there are so many agencies involved that this might be a lengthy process. Time will tell. 

In a way current events are mirroring the pioneering days of Victorian times. The railway is soon to be electrified to Newbury which I have mixed feeling about having seen the destruction it caused in the Hemel Hempstead/Berkhamstead areas in the 1960s.

Personally, I do not think that electrification will proceed beyond Newbury for three reasons. Firstly cost, as there are a large number of small bridges in the town and beyond. 

To replace these, (some of which carry just farm tracks), would be very costly and if the new bridges near Aldermaston are to be the type of replacements then this would run into enormous opposition.

This also brings me onto my second point as here in Hungerford, we live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the totems and station signs at the station advertise this) and any thoughts of electrification would run into a very strong green lobby and the arguments and counter arguments would take years and years to resolve. 

Thirdly, the current line does not run towards Devizes anymore but towards Pewsey and

Westbury which are essentially lightly populated areas. It would not really make proper economic sense to electrify this part of the line. 

As I mentioned, Devizes is no longer connected to the railway. The station site (which I remember from my childhood) is now a car park and the tunnel that ran into the station is now used in part by a gun club. 

Seend station is just a couple of platforms hidden in the undergrowth with the once busy track bed a series of puddles. 

I have not been able to locate Holt Junction station but I was told locally that it was just another meadow with no trace of its former use to be seen. 

We are lucky that Hungerford retained its railway with smaller communities such as Kintbury and Bedwyn also being served. Although the railway station is a little scruffy, we have a fine refurbished railway bridge which adds to the majesty of the town.

I would like to think that any visitors that do travel to Hungerford will find the town most agreeable. We have some fine antique outlets which, if you look hard enough, do sell items connected with the railway.

Recently I have seen a couple of cast metal signs for sale plus other railway memorabilia such as lamps and railway tickets. If you prefer model trains then these can also be found in the town at reasonable prices.

It is quite fun to collect things connected with the railway as today in many areas of the country the railways disappoint. I frequently travel to Kent and some of the fine Victorian stations are dreadfully neglected.

Unless we do not care for the railways at all, there is a sense of nostalgia when one looks at old photographs of the railway.

When sturdy stations were built even for the smallest of villages, these stations were fully manned by caring railwaymen in company uniforms. 

Perhaps if you read my article again in five years’ time (2020), and the proposed development of the station area, maybe the station will be complete, which would be delightful. 

The madness of electrification would have been stopped at Newbury and visitors would able to travel the ten miles to Hungerford and sample the delights of our town (there are many) and perhaps seek out their own small piece of railway history when they visit one of the many antique establishments in the High Street and beyond.

Stuart Miller-Osborne

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Hungerford Arcade An audience with Channel 4's Jon Snow

Monday, 16 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade Jo May and the Spoon for Dotty Day

What a great day it was on Saturday at Hungerford Arcade.  The door burst open and in came this bright, bubbly, fun lady, professional percussionist, Jo May.  Jo came to the Arcade to play the spoons and do workshops for all those wanting to take part.  After setting herself up, there was no shortage of people wanting to have a go and even do a duet with Jo.  First up was Arcade manager, Alex Rogers, closely followed by stallholder, Ian Spuffard.  Ian, Jo and another gentleman wore top hats which all added to the fun. Next up was stallholder, Ann Parker and I must say, they were all very good.  Jo played the spoons almost non-stop from when she arrived just before 1.00 pm to 6.00 pm. 

The story behind this event is, in Jo's words, " I'll be doing a spoon-playing fundraiser throughout February 2015 for Dorothy House Hospice in support of my sister Karen who was diagnosed with secondary cancer two years ago".  Hence the name, 'Spoon for Dotty'.  The customers and the staff thoroughly enjoyed the whole afternoon and Jo collected over £130 towards her goal of reaching £1000 by the end of February.

You can follow Jo on the following links

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade - Farewell Paddy

24/4/1928 – 6/2/2015

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of  our very dear friend, Paddy (Patricia Joan May Porter).  Paddy has been a stallholder here at the Arcade for over 30 years and will be sadly missed.

We send our sincere condolences to Paddy’s family and friends.  Our thoughts are with them at this very sad time.

Funeral taking place at St Mark’s Church, Coldash at 12.30 p.m, Thursday, 19th February 2015

Family flowers only.  Donations to The Newbury & District Cancer Care Trust.

Adrian, Hazel, Managers, Staff and Stallholders

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade: Birthday Brooches

Happy birthday to Mrs Harman from Swindon!  Not only has she been put up in Littlecote House Hotel for two days by her lovely husband to celebrate her 80th birthday - he topped it off by buying her these two fantastic Lea Stein brooches to remind her of a brooch she once lost.  She was overjoyed with her presents.  

Happy Birthday from everyone at the Arcade!


Monday, 9 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade Deb's Candle Cups

We are very fortunate here at Hungerford Arcade because our customers love to talk to us and tell us why they are buying certain items and what they intend doing with them.  Today a lovely lady, Debbie Turner came into the Arcade and was buying all types of china.  There were cups and saucers, vases, small pots, an assortment of all shapes and sizes. Debbie said she buys this type of china to put candles in so that she can sell them for a charity close to her heart, the Camberley Cats Protection 
Rita and Debbie
League.  Debbie is a very busy lady working at the Gordon House Veterinary practice in Blackwater, Camberley as the Feline Behaviour Advisor for Blackwater Valley Vets.  With such a busy work load, she has still found the time to come all the way to Hungerford to fulfill her mission, once again at the Arcade.  It was lovely to meet you Debbie and good luck with your wonderful candles helping the beautiful cats.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade: Busking Piano

You don't see many buskers on the streets of Hungerford, but when they do show up, they do it in style!  I noticed Tim Valentine through the window of the Arcade, unloading a huge shipping case from his car.  I had no idea what was going to come out of it.  As it unfolded, a stool appeared.  Then an umbrella went up!  But soon it all became clear.

It turns out that Tim is a travelling pianist and what he brought to Hungerford was his famous Busking Piano which he has adapted for playing almost anywhere, in all weather conditions.  From local streets to grand halls, Tim has played all around the world and it was a real pleasure to hear him play some classics outside the Arcade.  Come back soon Tim!

Check out his website at 


Monday, 2 February 2015

Hungerford Arcade Spoon for Dotty

We are very proud to welcome to Hungerford Arcade on Saturday, 7th February Jo May.  Jo will doing a spoon playing and workshop fundraiser raising money for Dorothy House Hospice near Bath, in support of her sister who was diagnosed with secondary cancer a couple of years ago.  It's called Spoon for Dotty.  Every day in February, Jo will be going to a different kitchen or cutlery-related venue, raiding cutlery drawers, trying out different spoons. Jo was so excited when she saw Unit 10 here at the Arcade, owned by Barbro Rees who specialises in cutlery.  She fell in love with it when she saw the wonderful spoons in there.

You can find out more about Spoon for Dotty and Jo on the following links:
Do come along and give Jo a huge welcome here at Hungerford Arcade this Saturday, 7th February from 1.00 pm to 6.00 pm. Hopefully, later on in the afternoon, Jo may be accompanied by guitarist, Matt Sullivan.

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