Villager Magazine – a reader writes

Dear Sir or Madam,
I was intrigued to see that I can now download a copy of the “Villager” magazine from the Wincanton Window website, but not from the Horsington Blog. Can you explain?

A Reader

We don’t know. It is of course possible that the Villager magazine is unaware of our existence. As far as we know, everyone in Horsington and South Cheriton now gets the magazine delivered to their door, but you know how it is -you need to refer to it immediately after you used it to light the fire. So, as a service to our readers we are including a permanent link to the latest downloadable version in our “Blogroll” (right hand column.)

Incidentally, we  have included a link to the excellent Wincanton Window ever since our launch.- Ed.

News from the Party conferences: Labour

The Blog is indebted to our new political correspondent, Professor Dave Wonk of the lefty think tank “New Thought”, who has travelled up to Liverpool (at his own expense) for the Labour Party conference. He writes “ Liverpool is an exciting city and just the place for
the exciting re-birth of the labour movement, where we’re all very excited about the exciting prospect of smashing the discredited Cameronian-Cleggist  junta ….”

I have cut the rest . But I append one of Profesor Wonk’s slides from a fringe meeting where he outlined the evolution of the labour movement since the last general election. It really does help us to  understand what’s going on -EdThe evolution of political movements -labour

Richard Lennox Recital, Wincanton Methodist Church, Saturday October 1st

The multi-talented Somerset musician Richard Lennox will give a recital of piano and organ music at Wincanton Methodist Church on Saturday 1st October at 6.30 pm.

Richard Lennox is a highly regarded musician performing concerts throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. In the UK he has recently played as soloist at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, St David’s Hall Cardiff, Birmingham NEC, Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Edinburgh Festival – and now Wincanton.

His unique talent includes the piano, organ, keyboards, double bass, composing and arranging.

In aid of brain tumour research in young people in memory of Alfie Morland, grandson of recital organiser Paddy Hughes.

Tickets £10 each

Paddy Hughes: 01963-370323 or Rita Hibberd: 01963-32039

BloggoVision Extra – See Richard Lennox rehearsing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” for a concert at theRoyal  Albert Hall.

More on Templecombe: Ticket office to become an “assisted channel”

Templecombe is just one of 600-odd stations whose ticket office is threatened with closure. Another is Rotherham, where the ticket office has been closed for rebuilding, and the locals are concerned that it might not re-open. (Compare Templecombe, where the associated signal box will close at some point in the future, and then what will happen to the ticket office?).

At Question Time on the 15th October, at about the same time as SW Trains’ Andy Pitt was telling us there were no plans to close the Templecombe ticket office, The Transport Secretary, Phil Hammond. was telling the House of Commons that ownership of stations was being transferred to the train operators “so that they can have a more direct, hands-on involvement”  Translation: Can shut ticket offices without any reference to Government or Network Rail –Ed

Rotherham’s MP, Dennis MacShane, told the Minister “many constituents do not do computers and need help and aid”.

The Minister agreed –well sort of. “I agree there will be the need for assisted channels”.

Mr MacShane: “Assisted channels?” (possibly uttered like Lady Bracknell’s “A handbaaag?”)

Mr Hammond: “I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what assisted channels are. Even as the purchase of tickets, over time, is bound to become more computer based, as new technologies are deployed and more tickets are bought online, through mobile technology and so on, there will still be a need for an assisted channel, and we will ensure that there is one. Translation: We will regard people who do not like computers or ticket machines as disabled and provide limited, minimal facilities at inconvenient times (or rather times which are convenient to the train operator, but not to anyone else –Ed

Unfair? Cynical? We shall see. Watch this space.

South West Trains answers Templecombe ticket office question

Templecombe station
The golden days of Templecombe (Photo: © Rabbi WP Thinrod and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence)

We asked  a direct question regarding the possible closure of Templecombe station ticket office and got the following reply from SW Trains Managing Director Andy Pitt during the “Live web chat” on September 15:

“We have no plans to close Templecombe ticket office. We will be revising the opening hours following the Network Rail closure of the signal box and the withdrawal of their staff who currently retail tickets at this location. At this time I do not have a date when the Network rail box will close, but the ticket office opening hours will not be changed until after this date.”

In response to an earlier general question, Mr Pitt said “We have no immediate plans to implement the recommendations made in the McNulty report, but will continue to review opening hours across our network at every ticket office to ensure they reflect the commercial demands of the market.

“Available sales channels for customers to purchase rail tickets have grown significantly over the last few years because of new technology, and whilst ticket offices will still play their part, customer demand dictates that we continue to retail in the most cost-effective way”.

We say – not having plans to close it does not mean it will stay open for ever. We think rail users should keep up the pressure, and would urge our local politicians to keep an eye on the situation.

See earlier post

New Parliamentary constituency proposed for the Blackmore Vale

Map for the new constituency

Voters in Horsington will become part of a new parliamentary constituency to be called Glastonbury & Wincanton, replacing the existing Somerton & Frome constituency.

The new constituency will have 75,231 voters from the Mendip and South Somerset District Council areas.

The proposals by the Boundary Commission now go into an extensive consultation stage, and the final parliamentary map will be resolved by the end of 2013.

Anyone can comment or make alternative suggestions. See the Boundary Commission’s website.

Perhaps someone from the main political parties can tell us how this will affect the political make up of the area?

Otherwise your long-suffering editor (who hates politics) will have to do it -Ed


Horsington Parish Church for sale

Horsington Church
Horsington Church, painted by Philp Rawlings

Or rather a charming picture, painted by Cucklington artist Philip Rawlings, which will be offered for auction at the Sunday charity quiz and auction at the Half Moon on Sunday 25 September.

Also on sale will be lots of delicious cakes and local produce, including an industrial block of cheese. Mouse farmers please note.

The quiz will be set by Landlord Andrew, and the usual close finish is anticipated.

It’s all in aid of Cancer Research

The full size original is currently on view at the Half Moon -Ed

Your chance to hold SW Trains to account on September 15

Templecombe station
Templecombe station’s statue to the memory of personal contact on the railway (Picture: John Baxter, Wincanton Window)

Key contacts to help you fight proposed Templecombe station ticket office closure

Around a quarter of the country’s railway station ticket offices are listed for closure, and inevitably Templecombe is one of them.

This is a pity, because the Templecombe office is one of the friendliest, most helpful, knowledgeable and pleasant places on the entire rail network. Some excellent people will lose their livelihoods, while the rest of us will struggle with the car park machine and the ticket machine on the platform. Our travelling experienced will be diminished further, as the rail companies try to remove any remaining pleasure from rail travel, charging premium prices for a third world service. There are safety, security and disabled access implications as well.

What can be done? No firm decision has been made. There is nothing on the SW trains or South Somerset District Council Websites about this, so it may not be too late. If enough people write to SW Trains, their MPs, local councilors and the local council itself, it may be possible to apply some pressure and head these proposed changes off. None of our elected representatives seem to be running with this, so give them a jab.

Our MP – David Heath MP -17 Bath Street , Frome,  Somerset , BA11 1DN or via website.

Councillors: Tim Inglefield
William Wallace:
(They could start by asking why Templecombe station does not even appear on the rail map on the SSDC website)

William Wallace is also a county councilor, but it would be unkind to write to him twice.

SW Trains operates the line.  There is a” live web chat” this Thursday 15 September between 2 and 4 pm where you can raise questions and put points to SW Trains management. Just go to the SW trains website and follow the links.

SW Trains managing director is Andy Pitt. Write to him at SW Trains, Friars Bridge Court, 41-45 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NZ.

Some points to make
• How much do ticket machines cost? We hear £30,000 or more. So where is the cost saving?
• How does the proposed closure fit with the company’s committed aim of  “improving the delivery of our service to our customers, being an even better partner to work with, and making an increasingly positive impact on society and the environment”? And all the other corporate social responsibility guff on their website?
• Automatic machines do not always sell the cheapest ticket
• There are frequent problems with automatic machines
• Train companies frequently change the rules regarding peak times and ticket availability
• Many people will find themselves paying unjustly levied penalty fares
• The lack of a personal touch will seriously diminish the travelling experience
• Current fares are very expensive and are set to rise further –the public would rather pay for staff on the ground than management bonuses.
• Wheelchair users and others with handicaps or difficulties will not be able to cross the line
• Car park users will be seriously inconvenienced if the ticket office closes
• A manned station is a safe station

You can guarantee that the ticket office will close if nobody makes a fuss!

PS: Templecombe  Station volunteers are also looking for recruits to help restore Templecombe station’s famous garden to its former glory, including the now-weathered statue. Contact

“Trains are a rich man’s toy”, says Transport Minister

Silas Silage’s Gardening Diary

Silas Silage, our learned (and exclusive) gardening columnist is back from a long summer sojourn. But let him explain…
I had a bit of bother earlier in the summer, and decided to lie low for a bit. In fact I was advised to take up secluded employment, and a place was found for me at a home for the elderly mentally challenged in the next county. Not that I’m mentally challenged. As the owner, a very fit and businesslike lady with piercing blue eyes told me, “We have all sorts here, and if you can fix the garden, then you can stay”.

And what a garden! Rolling lawns down to a lilac fringed rowing lake adorned with lilies; avenues of ancient oak and chestnut; close cropped yew hedges, walled kitchen gardens and orchards, and an orangery. A camomile lawn, giving onto an ancient meadow, cut with a ha-ha fence to keep the grazing cattle at bay.

It was the yew hedge that got me going. I’ve always fancied trying my hand at hedge sculpture, or topiary, as it is known. This ancient craft, known to the Phonecians… (Get on with it –Ed).

So, armed with my trusty Banzai Hedgiboshi trimming tool and a ladder, plus a couple of nips of turnip calvados, I set about an unruly  set of untrimmed branches with gusto. What better than a nice tall lighthouse to look over the lake, and guide the rowers home to their tea?

With the distant memory of a trip to Portland in my head, I began to fashion that structure out of the verdant branches. With living wood, you have to work with the natural contours and angles as they occur, and I took advantage of this to give my lovely tall lighthouse two  nice large round rocks, one each side, which to my way of thinking finished it off very nicely with perfect symmetry.

I was working away and I didn’t realise I had attracted quite a crowd, who seemed very appreciative of my efforts, particularly the ladies, who were all pointing excitedly at it, nudging each other, and giving little exclamations. Some of the male residents too, showed quite an interest.

Just then men in  white tunics came down and shooed them all inside with little electric prodders, which I thought was rather unnecessary. “Bath time”, explained one of them, adding “The Boss would like a word….now!”

Silas Silage
"What better than a nice tall lighthouse to look over the lake, and guide the rowers home to their tea?"

He rather brusquely ushered me into her office. To my surprise, my bag was on her desk, packed. She said some very hurtful things and accused me of all sorts, and before I could begin to assert my innocence, I was outside, trudging up the long drive to the main road and the bus home. Looking behind me, I saw white coated figures cutting down my beautiful lighthouse.

People are strange, and it will be good to be home again with normal folk.
(To be continued –Ed)
New Reader?  Catch up on previous episodes by clicking on “Silas Silage” in the”Categories” list on the right.
Think  we made this up? See the BBC video on yew hedge trimming at Montacute House