News dot2left cropped500pxt
  • Camilla-2012-10-19 152
  • Xmas-Lights-2011-11-24 10
  • Hares 017cropped
  • Big-Bull
  • Jazz Fest Sat 572
  • Sunset2
  • Landscape
  • D4S9273
  • D4S0472
  • IMG 8472-2
  • Duke-of-Kent 086
  • 4MI-2013-11-28 030
  • Christmas-Lights 15-11-20 097
  • Bluebells-in-West-Woods-10-05-09------30
  • D812668
  • Town-Hall-2011-05-03 08-2
  • Mop-Fair---10-10-09------08
  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters-2
  • MYFC 005
  • Torch-2012-05-23 093-
  • ARK Manton -2012-01-14 49-
  • Civic Selfie1
  • IMG 9097-2
  • TdB-Pewsey 044
  • Silbury-Sunset---10-06-08-----07-2

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Features

New excavation near Stonehenge: first evidence shows mystery shapes beneath Durrington's henge are empty post holes not stones

Blue plastic sheeting covers one pit - the other lies under the light coloured patch of chalkBlue plastic sheeting covers one pit - the other lies under the light coloured patch of chalkIt's an opening in the grass meadow on the Durrington Walls henge about seven metres by six metres and cut at the beginning of the week - and already it is revealing intriguing evidence.  

While Marlborough.News was at the site on day two of the dig, the archaeologists announced they had found the floor of a Neolithic house.  

That discovery is just a by-product of this excavation.  The real aim is to investigate two of the two hundred and more mysterious 'anomalies' lying beneath the 4,500 year-old bank at Durrington Walls which were revealed by recent geo-physical surveys led by Professor Vince Gaffney using ground penetrating radar and other technologies.  

One school of thought was that they were the remains of old standing stones.  Had this been the case it would have radically changed our views of the whole Stonehenge complex.

The alternative theory - held by Professor Mike Parker Pearson - was that they might be pits dug to hold giant wooden posts - but then filled in again when there was a change of plan.

It is now certain that the Parker Pearson theory is right.  They have found two pits, which had been sunk before the bank was built.  And so far they have found no signs of old or broken up standing stones.

One pit has been partly excavated - and may never have held a post.  Work on the other one and a nearby heap of spoil probably dug from one of the pits, is still going on.  This second pit may have once held a post that decayed in situ.


Professor Mike Parker Pearson told Marlborough.News about the pits which were made to take huge wooden poles standing about twenty feet above the surface: "Each pit has a vertical shaft and a ramp to guide the huge post into the hole - it would then be raised and packed with flints and chalk. But here no posts were put in - the holes were filled in with soft material - loose soil and wood ash."

Prof Parker Pearson takes a pickaxe to the upper layers of chalkProf Parker Pearson takes a pickaxe to the upper layers of chalk The house floor with traces of burnt material & - top left - the covered pit The house floor with traces of burnt material & - top left - the covered pit Prof Parker Pearson getting down to some finer workProf Parker Pearson getting down to some finer work

He believes there was a bit of what he laughingly calls "Neolithic managerial incompetence" in deciding to commemorate the site with timber posts:  "Wooden posts would have lasted about 150 years. They wanted something that would last for ever - so they changed their plan and built the bank.  That's a real statement of memory and commemoration - and authority."

He points out that organising the building of Stonehenge, its associated sites like the giant cursus and Durrington henge involved a huge number of people.  He reckons 600 people were involved in making the Durrington post holes and 4,000 in building the bank - that needs 'authority' and organisation.

Prof Vince Gaffney & National Trust's Dr Nick SnashallProf Vince Gaffney & National Trust's Dr Nick Snashall Probably a Neolithic spoil heapProbably a Neolithic spoil heap Bones exposedBones exposed

Apart from the pits, finds so far include part of the floor of that Neolithic house with a chalk plaster floor and traces of its hearth, an antler tine that may have been part of an antler pick, a piece of pottery and some fairly large bones.

The excavation continues until Thursday (August 11.)

Print Email

RURAL BROADBAND - Part One: Why can't BT produce decent broadband speeds to rural homes

This past week MPs have told BT (July 19) that it must spend much, much more on the broadband infrastructure - and that this monopoly company risks being broken up if it does not invest enough. 

Reports of the House of Commons committee's decisions mentioned that parts of Britain were 'superfast' while large parts remained 'superslow' - and many of those parts are rural.

BT's week got worse when many of its customers lost internet after a power failure at one of its providers - perhaps another example of lack of appropriate investment.

The failure to keep the country in the EU will eventually - one assumes  - mean that government ministers will not have the excuse of EU competition rules to stop them putting our money into companies' coffers when they are threatened with closure and job losses - or fail to provide a proper service.

Could this, in turn, lead finally to fully funding of British Telecom's infrastructure and provide twenty-first century broadband services across the country and especially to rural areas?  And pigs might....

But, ever hopeful, here is a story told to Marlborough.News by a friendly Wiltshire householder.  It should embarrass the present government, BT and Wiltshire Council.  The latter's use of millions of council tax pounds has failed to improve promised broadband speeds even across its own so-called 'intervention zone':

"I thought my iPad was having a turn.  It was suddenly producing amazing download speeds - I could hardly keep up.  In case I was hallucinating, I checked.  The checker read 15.25Mbit/s. Impossible.  I checked again.  Wow!"

Will BT's Openreach eventually be split offWill BT's Openreach eventually be split off"I was not, of course at home in rural Wiltshire - where the download speed to my iPad sometimes creeps just over the 2Mbit/s mark. I live about 6kms from the nearest telephone exchange."

"I was in very rural France.  In Lower Normandy. I was in a settlement of four homes - hardly even a 'hamlet' - and 100 metres from what my map calls an 'other road'."

"The nearest village is 1.5kms away and has a population of 211.  The nearest town (9 kms away) has a population of 2,532 (about half the size of Pewsey - though boasting a very fine chateau.)  The nearest town even approaching Marlborough's size is 16kms away."

"When the English owner of the house I was staying in bought it as a ruined property in 2010, he asked France Telecom (now Orange SA) for phone services.  The very next day a man arrived offering a survey for 75 euros. 'Yes, please!' "  

"Three days later two young men arrived and strung a line down from the road on new poles - all at no extra cost.  He now pays 36 euros a month for his broadband, all mobile and land-line calls within France and land-line calls to about 100 overseas countries.  And he has a download speed on his laptop that hovers around 20Mbit/s."

"Last winter, the house owner told me, a major storm knocked out his service for 48 hours and he was offered - repeat offered - a month's free service."   

That is some story - all of it true.  Last year a group of Marlborough residents moved into newly built houses in the centre of the town and had to wait thirteen weeks to be connected by BT.

Delivery of fast broadband speeds is - repeat is - possible even in rural areas.  It must be that BT - with the connivance of government and council - cannot be bothered.

What's the difference between Orange SA and BT?  The French government still owns about a quarter of the shares in Orange SA.  The British government sold its last shares in BT in 1993 and BT is now totally beholden to its shareholders.

Or may be it's simply that Britain's much-vaunted engineering and digital skills are not all they are cracked up to be.

See Broadband Part Two - for alternative delivery options.

Print Email

RURAL BROADBAND - Part Two: alternative routes to increased speeds - while the real solution runs past the front gate

A dish for broadband via satelliteA dish for broadband via satelliteOur last government - that's the one led by Mr Cameron - put forward a scheme to get the last five per cent of homes onto superfast broadband.

It was announced in the Queen's Speech in May as giving 'a legal right to high-speed broadband'.  But this 'legal right' included the government's right to ask users for a contribution if costs were too high.  And it might rest on vouchers that do not cover ongoing costs that will be higher than those for high-speed broadband by fibre optic cable.

Still, as far the politicians were concerned this solved their problem.  Whether it will survive government changes and the introduction of an 'industrial strategy' remains to be seen.  Politically May was a long time ago.

There are people who work from home in the Marlborough area whose low broadband speeds via BT lines impact so disastrously on their work that they have already taken the plunge and tried alternative means of broadband delivery.  

Here are two examples - we will return later to the fact that a BT fibre optic cable runs right past their front gates.

First stop is a person working for a company relying on international reach who needs to use multi-point Skype-type conference calls via a WebEx on-line meetings system.  Via BT's broadband this was "simply hopeless".   He also needs to be able to download large spread-sheets and contracts.  

His broadband speed prevented him working as his job demanded.

So he is trying 4G.  Via a roof aerial, he gets download speeds of between 10 and 15Mbits/s and upload speeds of 10.  This is viable - but it does not like rain: "To be accurate the system is reliable for around 95 per cent of the time we need it."

"We suffer reduced speeds down to about 1mb/sec for around 4 per cent of the time and occasional complete loss for very short periods - with heavy rain. Most problems are solved with a reboot of the router. Incidentally, 1mb/sec is about what we were getting from BT 100 per cent of the time!"

Having paid £300 + VAT for gear, the cost of this is £25 + VAT per month for 25 gigabytes of download:  "25Gb is plenty of data for our four employee business. It wouldn’t suffice if the family were using the system for movies etc., but for the business use it’s plenty."

Improved internet speed means he can rely on VOIP (Voice over internet protocol): "This operates via our internet and serves as our company telephone system. Using VOIP you can dispense with the BT phone lines - a major cost saving. The telephone number is completely portable - so if you’re in Marlborough, Wiltshire on Monday and Marlborough, Massachusetts on Wednesday, your 01672 number is the same."

He is pleased he turned to 4G: "We’re about six months in and will likely retain the 4G based system until we can get fibre or some other solution presents itself."

...but not in the rural area where our two examples live ...but not in the rural area where our two examples live Our second example lives not too far away and has chosen to go the broadband-by-satellite route.  He sees the problem like this:  "We live in a rural place and have all the benefits of the countryside, but we are poor in our mobile 'phone service as well as in broadband."

His solution involves a satellite dish and a contract with a commercial provider.  The problem is that the service relies on the amount of space on the satellite transponder that the provider has bought and how many people are using the service at any one time.

This means the system has what is called a problem of 'contention' - a conflict over access to what is in effect a shared resource.  In simple terms, when too many people are logged on, you can get a sharp dip in the broadband speed.

Our satellite-broadband user finds that he sometimes gets "...a very poor service":  at 3.00am he can get 28Mbits/s.  At 6.00pm - when everyone has got home and switched on their computers - it can be back to BT speeds of +/- 2Mbits/s.

BT's travelling sales pitch...BT's travelling sales pitch...He is paying £69 per month - and during the first year of his contract paid an extra £10 per month for equipment and installation costs.  He could buy a more expensive 'Business package' which would give him priority when there is a contention issue on the service.

He sums up his experience: "It is not consistent. On bad weather days we get poor service and when lots of people are viewing it gets worse still."

Both these people are working from home.  Both live beside a main road and along that road runs a BT fibre optic cable.  Breaking into a fibre optic cable of this sort costs is a complicated technical exercise - it is said to cost £17,000.

However, no one from Wiltshire Council has contacted these two people - or others living nearby - to ask whether they might like to pay towards using this cable for a high-speed broadband service for them and for their neighbours.

Both live in the Council's so-called broadband 'intervention zone' and both had asked for high speed broadband when the Council's scheme was launched.  Perhaps the new government will pay for accessing that fibre optic cable running so temptingly close to their homes.

If any reader wants to try the 4G route to broadband Marlborough.News can put you in touch with someone who will check whether the 4G system will work for them in their location, where to buy the data at wholesale rates, which router and where to buy it:  "I’ll give them, chapter and verse in exchange for an undertaking to donate £100 to Cancer Research UK."  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Print Email

Two Marlboroughs take a leaf out of each other’s book

Mayor Noel Barrett Morton library manager Carol Moylan and councillor Cynthia BrooksMayor Noel Barrett Morton library manager Carol Moylan and councillor Cynthia BrooksBook lovers who want to find out more about Marlborough in New Zealand will soon be able to – thanks to a new tome-filled shelf in the town’s public library.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Kiwis will be able to pop into the public libraries in Blenheim and Picton to find out more about us.

An exchange of books too place on Friday (July 15) to strengthen the bond between, and foster a greater understanding of, the two communities.

Marlborough UK’s mayor, Cllr Noel Barrett-Morton, presented his Antipodean counterpart with a range of books written in, about, or by writers who lived in the town.

The collection included Trains and Buttered Toast, a selection from John Betjeman’s 300 radio talks, and Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, a novel by Siegfried Sassoon.

There were historical books packed with pictures of old Marlborough – Marlborough & Around Through Time by Stanley C. Jenkins, and The Western Kennet Valley in the Great War by Roger Day, and books for children including The Savernake Big Belly Oak by Barbara Townsend.

Councillor Cynthia Brooks presents Autumn Twilight in Marlborough to mayor and mayoress Noel and Susan Barrett MortonCouncillor Cynthia Brooks presents Autumn Twilight in Marlborough to mayor and mayoress Noel and Susan Barrett MortonIn return, Marlborough NZ councillor Cynthia Brooks presented Marlborough UK with a selection of works tracing the gold rush that originally brought settlers to the region, and the wine on which its fortunes rest today.

Among the collection was Marlborough: Celebrating 150 years. Produced in 2009 to mark the century and a half since the first settlers’ boats reached the Marlborough Sounds, the book was described by Cllr Brooks as “150 years condensed into 508 pages” and she should know: she edited the work, while photographer husband Graham provided many of the photographs.

During a ceremony at Marlborough Town Hall, Cllr Barrett-Morton said “the two Marlboroughs are separated by thousands of miles, but the bond is very strong."

There was an extra gift for Marlborough UK from its Kiwi cousins: a painting in the pointillism style by the renowned artist Clarry Neame.

The landscape, Autumn Twilight in Marlborough, shows vineyards in their autumnal colours, after the crop has been harvested. Eighty percent of the wine produced in New Zealand comes from Marlborough. The painting will be hung in the Town Hall. 

The New Zealand book collection is now in the hands of Marlborough’s library manager Carol Moylan, who will catalogue the books before they are given their own special shelf.

Print Email

The Battle of the Somme: First Battalion Wiltshire Regiment’s attack on the Leipzig Redoubt

The Battle of the Somme:  Exactly a hundred years ago men of the First Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment were involved in attacks on the German defensive position known as the Leipzig Redoubt - this stood on the western side of the Leipzig Salient.  The Salient was attacked on the first day of the battle - July 1 - and fighting continued as fresh attempts were made to capture the Redoubt. 

This contemporary report on the Wiltshires' - and Worcesters'  - part in the fighting was signed by Lieutenant Colonel R F Legge of the Leinster Regiment - a Staff Officer with the 25th Division:

"The GOC [General Officer Commanding] wishes to congratulate the Wiltshire and the Worcestershire Regiments on their gallant behaviour during the operations which took place between the 6th and 8th July.

During this period the first Battalion Wilts Regiment successfully carried out two attacks, repelled several sustained and determined counter-attacks on two consecutive nights and firmly held the position won under an intense bombardment which lasted over four hours. He greatly regrets the death of Lieut. Colonel W S Brown, who was killed on the 6th of July whilst conducting the first attack, the success of which was greatly due to the careful preliminary arrangements made by him.

The command of the Battalion then passed to Captain S S Ogilvie, under whom on the night of the 6th and 7th the Battalion successfully repelled all enemy counter attacks. There Lieut. R J O Palmer (wounded) and C S M Lester (killed) behaved with the greatest gallantry.

On the 7th July Captain Ogilvie sent Captain Russell to take command of the advanced trenches and the fact that all enemy attacks throughout the day proved a failure was due greatly to the coolness and resourcefulness of this Officer.

Counter-attacks during the night 7th and 8th were easily repulsed with heavy enemy losses. At 6.30 on the 8th July, the second attack was organised and was launched about 8.30 under the command of Lieutenant Gooden (killed).

The moment the men of the Wilts appeared over the parapet they were met by an overwhelming fire from Machine Guns and Rifles, but despite their many casualties, they pressed on and at 9.30 the trench which was the objective had been successfully captured and consolidated.

This performance was all the more creditable owing to the fact that the weather conditions were bad, the ground was much cut up by shell fire and the troops fatigued by the strains they had gone through in the previous thirty six hours.

As the attacking troops reached the enemy's trench the Germans were seen to bolt down the communication trenches, large numbers were killed, and twenty three prisoners were taken.

It was not possible to penetrate further down the enemy's communication trenches, owing to the strongly made blocks and barricades previously erected. Lieutenant Clegg since wounded, the only Officer left, showed conspicuous ability in conducting the consolidation of the captured trench. This trench sustained a very heavy bombardment afterwards and though the cover was indifferent, due to the parapets being shattered by shell fire, the position was held with great determination.

The moment was now critical and the Wilts were reinforced by 2 Companies of the 3rd Worcesters which had been placed at the disposal of OC [Officer Commanding] Wilts. These Companies behaved with the greatest gallantry. They brought up plenty of ammunition and a large supply of bombs and with their assistance all enemy's attempts and counter-attacks were easily repulsed.

The work performed by Lieutenant Harrison with the Trench Mortar Battery was most effective during the 30 seconds intense bombardment proceeding the attack. His guns fired no fewer than 100 rounds with greatest accuracy, putting out of action an enemy Machine Gun. These successes could not have been obtained without the very magnificent support given by the artillery Group under Lieutenant Cotton RFA.

But above all they could not have been obtained except for the heroic courage and stamina and devotion to duties of the Officers and NCOs men of the Wilts and 3rd Worcesters so many of them have earned undying honour by giving their lives in their Country's Cause.

(signed) R F Legge, Lieut. Colonel. 25th Division."

Print Email

Picture perfect and perfectly framed: the Pewsey firm that framed the Queen's birthday portrait

Phillip Elletson in the Pewsey workshopPhillip Elletson in the Pewsey workshopPR Elletson of Pewsey played an important role in the full-length portrait of Her Majesty the Queen commissioned from the artist Nicky Philipps by the Royal Company of Archers to mark Her Majesty's ninetieth birthday.

The Royal Company of Archers are the Queen's Bodyguard in Scotland.  The portrait will hang in the dining room at Archers' Hall in Edinburgh.   The Queen is pictured wearing the robes of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle and standing at the top of the Archers' Hall staircase.

Katie Kerr went to visit the Pewsey workshop.  

It was a real pleasure to meet Phillip Elletson, founder of PR Elletson bespoke frame makers, gilders and restorers based in a large workshop in Pewsey.  I was shown round by Mr Elletson and the Office Manager and Secretary, Lindsey Wood.

Phillip Elletson and his team of talented craftsmen have recently completed work on the frame for Nicky Phillips’s portrait of the Queen for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.

Copyright: Nicola Jane (Nicky) Philipps - Photo by Jo Hanley PhotographyCopyright: Nicola Jane (Nicky) Philipps - Photo by Jo Hanley PhotographyThe frame for the full-length portrait measures an incredible 109 inches x 73 inches.

An early stage in making the frameAn early stage in making the frameThe frame itself is made from bare wood using an 18th century composition technique. This involves making carved moulds to create intricate patterns and shapes that can be conveniently attached to the base frame.

The finished wooden frame is then gilded in gold-leaf to create a dramatic and unique impression. Along the inside edge runs an intricate lattice pattern and round the outer frame there is a combination of elegant pearls and delicate leaves inspired by the portrait itself.

Overall it makes for a very remarkable creation. The frame for this royal birthday portrait took three weeks to construct with a team of six people working on it.

“There is definitely a degree of pressure when working on such high profile projects,” Phillip admitted, “but overall it is such an honour, everyone is very proud to have been involved”.

The Queen herself commented on the frame, describing it as “remarkable”. It is not often that a picture frame even comes close to overshadowing its painting.

Detail of the finished frameDetail of the finished frame“This has got to be one of our biggest achievements,” Phillip told me.  However the firm's reputation for craftsmanship has, it seems, made them frame makers to the famous.

PR Elletson have also framed paintings for Spencer House in London, Prince Andrew, The Duke Of Edinburgh, Hugh Bonneville, Fiona Bruce and they have even made three frames for the multi award winning film The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Pewsey’s PR Elletson has also been featured several times on BBC's The One Show and Sky Arts. They framed the portrait of Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel by Nick Lord (named artist of the year by Sky Arts) and also the people’s portrait as featured on the One Show.

“We’ve come a long way from the old work shed in 1978,” laughed Phillip who has been managing the company for 35 years.

Phillip Elletson also emphasised that they do not just do high profile and large scale projects. Anyone can have anything framed no matter how big or how small. With a variety of sizes and authentic templates available, photographs and paintings can be framed or mounted.

Probably not too many people know that Pewsey is home to such a successful company whose craftsmen are available to the general public - and are not just reserved for Her Majesty the Queen!



Print Email

Red Wheel plaque unveiled at historic pumping station

Peter Stone and Phil HardingPeter Stone and Phil HardingThe importance of Crofton Beam Engines in the story of the nation’s industrial past was celebrated on Saturday with the unveiling of a Red Wheel plaque from the Transport Trust.

The plaque – mounted on the wall of the boiler house – was unveiled by Peter Stone, of the Transport Trust, aided by archaeologist Phil Harding of TV’s Time Team.

The red wheel scheme – much like its blue plaque cousin – aims to promote significant heritage sites from Britain’s transport history. Launched in 2009, there are now more than 80 locations with a red wheel plaque.

It read: “Crofton Pumping Station 1807 House the oldest beam engine in the world able to fulfil its original role – pumping water to the summit of the Kennet and Avon Canal.”

Peter Turvey, chairman of the Crofton Branch of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, said: “Crofton Pumping Station is one of the most important industrial revolution sites in the country.

“Built to supply water to the summit level of the Kennet & Avon Canal, the pumping station is a unique working survivor of the technology which enabled British engineers to drain deep mines, supply water to canals and towns, and build docks and harbours throughout the world.

“For nearly 50 years the Crofton Beam Engines have been kept in working order by teams of dedicated volunteers and the skills needed to run it passed on to new generations. Long may it continue.”

Print Email

More Articles ...

  • ARK Manton -2012-01-14 49-
  • Duke-of-Kent 086
  • Civic Selfie1
  • 4MI-2013-11-28 030
  • Sunset2
  • TdB-Pewsey 044
  • D4S0472
  • Jazz Fest Sat 572
  • MYFC 005
  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters-2
  • Landscape
  • IMG 9097-2
  • Town-Hall-2011-05-03 08-2
  • Hares 017cropped
  • Xmas-Lights-2011-11-24 10
  • Christmas-Lights 15-11-20 097
  • D4S9273
  • Torch-2012-05-23 093-
  • Silbury-Sunset---10-06-08-----07-2
  • Mop-Fair---10-10-09------08
  • D812668
  • Big-Bull
  • Bluebells-in-West-Woods-10-05-09------30
  • IMG 8472-2
  • Camilla-2012-10-19 152