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Routemaster bus will be centrepiece of new market

It's a long way from London, but Marlborough residents will soon get used to seeing a red Routemaster bus in the High Street.

The bus, which is fitted out with a kitchen and has a small cafe on the upper deck, will be the striking centrepiece of the relaunched Farmers' Market, which will return on Sunday, July 1 from 10am to 4pm with a wider remit under its new name – Marlborough Communities Market.

The market aims to be a showcase for local enterprises and fairly traded produce, as well as locally-sourced produce grown with the minimal use of pesticides and fertilisers.

The markets will be organised by the not-for-profit organisation Wessex Community Markets, with support from Marlborough Town Council and Transition Marlborough.

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Town council publishes definitive list of Jubilee events

A definitive list of events being held in Marlborough to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee has been published by Marlborough Town Council.

A summer of celebrations open with a concert of classical music on May 19 and wrap up with more classical music almost three months later. Between times there'll be drama, talks, art and photographic exhibitions, films, fairground rides, a picnic, a ball, the lighting of a beacon and even a skateboarding festival!

Saturday, May 19
Olympic Jubilee Ball, Town Hall, 7pm for 7.30pm. Organised by the Chamber of Commerce in aid of Swift Medics. Tickets £40 from Specsavers, The Food Gallery and Joules. Black Tie.

Marlborough Choral Society Concert. St. Mary’s Church, 7.30pm, British songs and Last Night of the Proms music, so bring your flags and celebrate! Tickets £9 from Sound Knowledge and Choir members.

Sunday, May 20
Fifteen: Drama with students from St. John’s & Marlborough College, Town Hall, 2.30pm. This unique production looks at the years from 1952 to 2012 through the eyes of a fifteen year old. Music by Kaya Drums. Sponsored by Kennet Valley Arts trust. Tickets £5 from White Horse Bookshop and KVAT website, or 07771704253.

Wednesday, May 23
The Merchant’s House Lecture, in association with Marlborough History Society, by Sir Roy Strong, entitled 20th Century Coronations, at The Memorial Hall, Marlborough College, by kind permission of the Master. 7.30pm. Tickets £14 (Friends of MH and MHS £12) from the Merchant’s House.

Sunday, May 27
Marlborough Area young people join in the celebrations with a Skate-n-Scoot competition, which they have organised. Open to all. Recreation Ground, Marlborough. Free entry.

Monday, May 28 to Friday, June 1
An Exhibition of Self Portraits by Marlborough’s Children, some of which will have been digitised to form part of the Face Britain initiative in celebration of the Jubilee. Town Hall, 3pm to 7pm, free entry

An Exhibition of Photographs of people in Marlborough taken during the celebrations on Coronation Day. Town Hall 3pm-7pm. Free entry. From the Merchant’s House collection. It is hoped that some of the residents featured will be on hand to tell their stories.

Friday, June 1 to Tuesday, June 5
Fair on Marlborough Common. All the fun of the fair from the town's old friends in the Showmen’s Guild who have visited Marlborough for generations for the Mop.

Saturday, June 2
Official opening of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations by the Mayor. Town Hall 10am. Hoisting of the Union Jack and a symbolic presentation by Marlborough Community Orchard of their gift of an orchard to the town.

 A Queen is crowned : 1953 film of the Coronation, with narration by Sir Laurence Olivier. Town Hall. 7pm for 7.30pm. Organisers will also be showing rare footage of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Free entry. Licensed bar.

Sunday, June 3
A Civic Service of Thanksgiving for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. St. Mary’s Church 10am. Marlborough Churches Together invite you to this service, which, in common with churches across the country, will include prayers and readings especially composed for the occasion.

Picnic in the Priory at Priory Gardens from 11am until 5pm. Bring your own picnic and join in the fun. Bouncy castle, bucking bronco, traditional Punch and Judy, dance and fencing displays, live music. Food and Bar. Town Hall open if wet. Free entry

The Thames Pageant, Town Hall, 3pm. Live coverage of this spectacular show with the Queen’s Barge and a flotilla of a thousand boats on the Town Hall's huge screen. Food and licensed bar. Free entry.

Monday, June 4
The Lighting of a Beacon above Barbury Racecourse, organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group.
This forms part of 2012 beacons being lit across the Commonwealth and those at Martinsell and Inkpen will be able to be viewed. Marquee, live music, dancing, bar. Tickets, to include hog roast, £15 Adults, £5 for those under 18 and £35 for a family of four. Available at the White Horse Bookshop and MBG on 01672 861116. Open from 6pm Beacon to be lit at sundown. A camping area will be provided for those who wish to stay the night at the site.

Tuesday, June 5
Presentation of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to local emergency service personnel. Town Hall 10am. Come and pay tribute to the town's local heroes.

Live coverage on the big screen of the Service of Thanksgiving from St. Paul’s in the presence of Her Majesty. Town Hall 10 am (Service at 11am). Free Entry

Sunday, June 10
Diamond Jubilee Open Gardens. Certificates will be given to open gardeners who display in this Jubilee year. Look out for a variety of interpretations on the Diamond Jubilee theme. Details from the Merchant’s House.

Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16
Jubilee: A Celebration in Dance: Performed by St. John’s students at the Theatre on the Hill. Tickets £5, concessions £3, family tickets £12. 7pm. Download a booking form from the St. John’s website Theatre page -

Saturday, June 23
 Manton Music Festival. A wide variety of music, including London Straight Six, Mort de la Mer and Scarlet Simonis Skedaddle. Bring your own picnic or choose from a hog roast or burgers. At Manton Grange water meadows. Licensed bar. Tickets £10, £5 for concessions and £15 for a family of four. 4pm until 11pm. For tickets see or call 07771704253.

Saturday, July 7
 MCO Diamond Jubilee Concert. Marlborough Concert Orchestra will play Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music among other pieces. An outstanding young violinist, Mathieu van Bellen, returns to Marlborough for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto at this concert. 7.30pm Tickets £8 Students £1.50. From Sound Knowledge

Friday, July 13
Priory Gardens (evening). A performance of the Queen’s Suite, composed by Duke Ellington,
and premiered this Summer in the UK by the band Echoes of Ellington. Written in her honour by the Duke after they met and performed by one of the greatest ever UK swing bands. Details from

Tuesday, August 7
Queen’s Jubilee Concert - A performance of the works featured in the Coronation, Walton, Parry, Handel and others. Marlborough College Chapel and in the Memorial Hall for the second half. Tickets £15 from Sound Knowledge. 8pm

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Savernake forest’s famous ancient oak trees to star in a new book

Saddle Oak 1Saddle Oak 1Many of Savernake forest’s most venerable oak trees have been receiving some special attention during a visit by photographers from a Belgian publishing house.  On Sunday (April 22) Michel Timacheff from the publishers Edilens Editions and two colleagues were shown round some of the oldest – some as much as 700 years old – and most famous of Savernake’s oak trees.

Edilens Editions are preparing an English language edition with new photographs of their Guide Illustré des Chenes – or oaks. This massive and scholarly two volume, 1,500 page work first published in 2006, details the various species and varieties of oaks across Europe, the Americas and Asia, and contains about 4,000 photographs from northern South America to Indonesia – via Savernake.

Michel is the chief photographer and graphic designer for Edilens’ series of botanical reference works designed to be the standard books on each species.  They have already published a guide to the world’s maples (1995) and a work on pines is nearing completion.  

Michel and his team are on a ten day tour of British oaks.  The visit to Britain was essential as British woods hold about eighty per cent of all Northern Europe’s veteran trees and Savernake Forest is one of the most important sites for veteran trees in England.

Michel told Marlborough News Online: “There are not many forests in Europe with so many old oaks – and we’ve not seen many older oaks on our visit so far.  Here in Savernake there are so many really old oaks – and with so many wonderful shapes.”

Left to right:  Dr Jack Oliver, Hervé Mureau & Michel TimacheffLeft to right: Dr Jack Oliver, Hervé Mureau & Michel TimacheffThose strange shapes – like the Saddle Oak and Old Paunchy – have formed because many centuries ago the trees were pollarded or cut down to use in building homes, barns and sometimes barrels, leaving a large stump which slowly regrew into today’s mighty trees.

The tour of the ancient oaks was organised by Joan Davies who lives on the edge of Savernake Forest.  Some years ago, she and retired doctor and active botanist, Dr Jack Oliver, did a survey of the oaks and wrote a paper about them for the Wiltshire Archaeology and Natural History Society.

In 2003, at the request of the Forestry Commission, Dr Oliver used Joan’s photographs for a display at the International Oak Conference in Winchester.  It was the publication in America of the proceedings of the conference that prompted Michel to contact Joan about Savernake’s oaks.

Old Paunchy – a Sessile oakOld Paunchy – a Sessile oakAlso on the tour is Hervé Mureau a French botanist who works in the Lyon Botanical Garden specialising in trees.  He and Jack Oliver spent time discussing the minute differences between various hybrids.

 Savernake Forest is home to the English or pedunculate oak, the Sessile oak and to many variant hybrids.  Old Paunchy is a Sessile oak – you can tell from its stalkless acorns (sessile means ‘stalkless’.)  And there’s one Turkey oak in the forest.

Next stop for Michel and his team was to be the Forest of Dean which does not have as many or as old oaks as Savernake.  But they are very keen to photograph the famous Verderer’s oak which may be 500 years old and has a girth of 7.5 metres.

Michel photographs Saddle Oak 2Michel photographs Saddle Oak 2

Michel and Joan Davies discuss their route through the ForestMichel and Joan Davies discuss their route through the Forest

Michel Timacheff stands by the base of the Cathedral OakMichel Timacheff stands by the base of the Cathedral Oak

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Children plant a "Christmas" tree at Easter

Marlborough pre-schoolers have helped to plant an apple tree that started life around the same time as they did, as part of the town's Community Orchard initiative.

Children at St Mary’s Under Fives helped to plant a Christmas Pippin in the grounds of the school. The sapling had grown from a pip planted in 2007 by Leader Janet Hobson and her husband Neville, to celebrate National Apple Day’s eighteenth birthday and the publishing of The Apple Source book.

The planting of the sapling brought the number of new apple trees in the town to 34. Other recent editions include a Grenadier in the grounds of Highfield residential home and a Charles Ross, a classic late Victorian variety, which was planted in St Peter's churchyard on Good Friday.

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The new sport of slack lining proves a fun idea for St John’s teenagers

An new fun sport has manifested itself in Marlborough – slack lining is its odd name – but it has so interested the town council that it is helping to get it established.

Slack lines are tightropes  that you can string between two trees – protected with pieces of carpet round their trunks – and that gives you a chance to test your balance like a circus trapeze artiste.

But it all happens safely just three feet off the ground – and you can do it barefoot too.

Seventeen-year-old Harry Shakeshaft and a group of fellow sixth formers at St John’s School tried it out in Priory Gardens last month and immediately attracted attention – and the need for permission to continue.

And Harry was at Monday’s meeting of the council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee to explain the sport to councillors and seek their approval.

“I was given a slack line for Christmas and it all started from there,” Harry told Marlborough News Online. “Then a school friend bought one too.”

“Now most days after school we come down to the park and put up the slack lines.  It’s good fun.”

Councillor Richard Pitts, the committee chairman, showed councillors a video he took of the slack liners in action.  Councillor Caroline Jackson commenting: “Learning balance is so important.  It’s a wonderful idea.”

Deputy mayor Edwina Fogg approved too.  “A nice activity for youngsters,” she said.

Now Councillor Pitts has had an offer from a company to put up easily removable slack line poles in the council’s Salisbury Road play area to give a chance to other youngsters to try out the sport.

“I’m all for it,” he declared.

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Advice on how to make some headway out of the financial gloom

Myles PalmerMyles PalmerThere may be gloom all around, but the new tax year does offer advantages to be considered while making a spring clean of your finances.

Advice on the subject has come from Myles Palmer (pictured), divisional director of Marlborough-based Brewin Dolphin, the investment house that sponsors arts events in the town, including the jazz and literary festivals.

“New ISA limits mean you have never been able to save as much in the tax-efficient shelter,” he points out. “This tax year you can invest £11,280 in an ISA, with a maximum of £5,640 allowed in cash.”

“It is the same with pensions.  The more you put in the more you get back from the Treasury. High earners paying the top rate 50 per cent tax should maximise their pension contributions to get the 50 per cent relief.”

“They could also take advantage of the 22 per cent tax gap between capital gains tax and income tax to increase capital return from investments.”  

He admits that with the economy still fairly fragile many households will be eager to give their finances a boost.

“For starters, get yourself an action plan,” he suggests. “Dig out your financial records, including savings, bonds, insurance plans, both general and life, pensions and mortgage statements.”

“If you have debts, use it to repay them.  Borrowing rates may be low, but savings rates are lower still. It is more than three years since the Bank of England cut base rate to just 0.5 per cent.”

“And so it makes sense to repay debt now while rates are at rock bottom.”

He adds:  “Spring-cleaning your finances is not just about cutting back.  It is also about making the most of what you have.”

“Check whether you had an account that offered a bonus a year ago.  If you did, that bonus has probably disappeared and so you may find that your rate has fallen off a cliff. If so switch to a better paying account.”

Becoming an early bird investor too by taking advantage of the new tax year ISA and pension provisions and take a look too at Enterprise Investment Schemes.

From April 6 anyone investing up to £100,000 in a new start-up business will be eligible for income tax relief of 50 per cent, plus for 2012 any tax on capital gains invested in such businesses will be waived.

But he warns: “The risks related to these investments are high and are not suitable for all investors.  Though of course, you should never let the tax tail wag the investment dog.”

“But irrespective of whether you are a higher rate or a lower rate taxpayer, get your tax personal tax affairs in order.”

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Ceremony marks arrival of shepherd's hut at windmill

What is thought to be the country's largest shepherd's hut was pulled into place at Wilton Windmill on Saturday (March 24), where it will act as a souvenir shop, refreshment area and education centre.

At 24ft long by 10ft wide, the new mobile shepherd's hut is twice as long and much wider than the standard 12ft by 7ft buildings – including the two it has replaced.

At a ceremony on Saturday a 1937 Farm All F20 tractor was used to pull the brand new hut – designed in the style of the originals, which date back 120 years – onto the site, before a modern tractor and winch truck positioned the building.

The shepherd's hut was built by cousins Will Vickery and George Bannister of Blackdown Shepherd's Huts, a business started in Taunton last year by carpenters with 20 years experience.

The sheer size of the hut posed considerable challenges for the craftsmen. “We worked with a fabricator to build a frame and roof arch that would support a structure of this size,” said Will.

“Now we know we can do it, we hope it will open up a whole new market for us – these shepherd's huts look much better than the static caravans you find at caravan parks, but don't cost an awful lot more.

“For tourism in heritage areas, or for the glamping – glamourous camping - scene we can offer something very attractive.”

The hut cost £32,000 fully fitted. The exterior, floors and internal fixtures are all made of FSC certified seasoned oak, and the cast iron wheels were forged by a foundry in the south west.

George explained: “A shepherd's hut is basically a mobile home used by shepherds to provide shelter as they herded their flocks across the land.

“The first evidence of a shepherd's hut dates from 1596 and became a common sight in Southern England in the 1800s as sheep were moved across the light chalky soils to fertilise the land.”

Peter Lemon of the Wilton Windmill Society said: “We are delighted with the hut created by Blackdown Shepherd Huts.

“We wanted something versatile and an eco-friendly venue that would fit comfortably into the Centre and provide a stimulating environment for the school groups to learn. The quality of the shepherd hut is outstanding”.

The hut was funded and equipped through fundraising by the Wilton Windmill Society, the North Wessex Downs AONB and the Pewsey Area Board.

The ceremony took place in glorious sunshine, with enough wind to make the sails of the windmill turn – which won a cheer from visitors. The official Wilton Windmill season starts on Easter weekend, with guided tours and demonstrations from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The season runs until September and the annual heritage open day will be held on Saturday, September 8 from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.  

Pictured: Above: Will Vickery and George Bannister of Blackdown Shepherd's Huts (seated) with Wilton Windmill Society volunteers and members Below: Mike Walsh on his 1937 Farm All F20 tractor

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