Tag Archives: Finchampstead

Why is this Closed Overnight?

Heading down towards my favourite set of roadworks, the A327 closure in Eversley, when I got to the point where the Road Closed sign usually sits, I found that the sign and the barriers had been cleared to one side, as they had been last weekend. The five cars in front of me all went through, so I followed. The road was in much the same state as it was last weekend, with a new smooth surface, but no lines, and with cones and obvious signs of ongoing work on the footpaths on each side, but no workmen, and no work vehicles. There was also traffic coming the other way, including a lorry. The only hazard in the road was a cone over a manhole cover, aside from that there were two clear car widths through the whole of Eversley, aside from going round the road closed barriers. When we reached the other end it transpired that it wasn’t actually open, as the two sets of barriers on the other side were in place, so I assume that some frustrated motorist had cleared the barriers out of the way.

Eversley Roadworks

Anyway, coming back tonight, rather than the long back route I took last night to avoid both these roadworks, and the water works in Finchampstead, I headed straight for Eversley. Again, the barriers were across the road, but two clear car widths through the entire roadworks, with just cones along the footpaths. Again, I wasn’t the only person going through, however the traffic was quiet enough that I could pull over and take a picture. I could have stopped anywhere through the works and taken a similar shot.

Bear in mind looking at this picture that these roadworks were advertised as being 24 hours a day – which they evidently aren’t (and couldn’t be because of all the residents along the road). They are also causing daily chaos around the area, with residents in Finchampstead being particularly hard hit by queuing traffic in some places, and rat running drivers in others, the problem being especially bad at rush hour. However at these times, nobody is working on the works here, indeed the road surface itself was finished more than a week ago. To be honest I’m left wondering quite what Hampshire County Council are playing at. This week part of the M25 was resurfaced and reopened in under 24 hours after a lorry exploded and damaged the surface, and yet they are closing this, and other major roads around the area for six weeks at a time… Surely it is possible to open the road outside the times that the workers are actually at work, such as evenings and weekends, and at least give the people in Finchampstead a break? Or maybe as all the chaos is in Finchampstead, in Wokingham district, they really couldn’t care two hoots?

Incidentally, when I reached the spot tonight where the barriers had been moved this morning, the old barriers had been replaced with some much more substantial blocks, in an attempt to stop a repeat performance I guess.

Traffic Chaos Gets Worse

Things got a whole load worse this week with the closure of the A327 that I blogged about last week. Whilst we had a nice break over the Bank Holiday, with the road being reopened from late Friday afternoon until Tuesday morning, the barriers were back up on Tuesday night. However another of the badly timed local roadworks made it’s presence felt today, with three way traffic lights in the middle of Finchampstead for water main renewal – Finchampstead being the unofficial way most people have been going rather than the official diversion which goes via Reading and Hook. (As an aside, it is worth noting that the New Mill has officially published directions to it’s customers telling them to ignore the diversions and come through Finchampstead – is anyone actually following the official diversion?)

Interestingly, Finchampstead Parish Council spotted that there may be a problem and have the following statement on their site:

From Tuesday 2nd August, the 12 and 15 inch water main through Finchampstead will be relined by SE Water’s contractors Pipeway, … this task will take 5-6 weeks. Inevitably, temporary traffic lights will be in use at times.

To compound the potential traffic disruption, from Monday 15 August the A327 at Eversley Street (southwards from Bluebeckers), is to be completely closed (by Hampshire County Council) for up to 8 weeks to allow for major road repairs. Although some HGV traffic will be diverted, we can expect significant volumes of extra traffic to use Fleet Hill/The Village and also Longwater Road (and hence other Finchampstead routes), in their attempts to find alternative routes past the closure. This closure will be featured on TV news programs to alert drivers.

Clearly, there will be 4 weeks where these works overlap. WDC will closely monitor the situation.

For those who are wondering, WDC is Wokingham District Council, and from previous experience when complaining about badly timed roadworks, will take the tough luck, can’t be that bad attitude, when of course the staff involved, as with those at Hampshire County Council who planned the A327 closure, don’t actually have to sit in the road works every day.

Of course as anybody with children will know, the real problems will start next week, when with the two sets of road works in full swing, all the schools go back, so in addition to the extra school run traffic there will be a number of school buses, and parents parking dropping their kids outside Finchampstead School on the route that everybody is taking anyway. Quite frankly it will be absolute chaos, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an accident somewhere in Finchampstead as a result.

If anyone feels the need to complain about this chaos, the two people responsible for the A327 are James Holt and Martin Milner of the Hampshire County Council Highways office, whose phone number is 01256 764444, and e-mail (thanks to Swallowfield Parish council) is [email protected]. Whilst, as I’ve said, I fully accept that these things need to be done, it surely doesn’t take much to realise that if you close a major road, you should minimise any other disruption in the area.

Tower Open Day 2005

Tower Open Day 2

After heavy rain all morning, this afternoon we were very lucky with the weather for the annual opening of the tower.

The rain stopped by about two o’clock, and by the time I arrived at the church at 3 o’clock the sun was starting to break through. The photographer from the local paper made it to the top of the tower this year, and took a picture of Maurice Driver and his two grandsons, so hopefully that will appear in next weeks paper.

When I got back, I also discovered that some Geocachers had logged the tower for one of my caches, which I was slightly annoyed to have missed!

Anyway, I’ve uploaded some more pictures from today, plus a few other shots of the church to a picture gallery.

A Different Sort of Music

Voces Cantabiles by Candlelight

So after our youth service last night we were back at St James for music of a different kind, a concert by Voces Cantabiles, a well regarded choir that was formed in 2003, drawn from a variety of musical institutions around the country.

If you take a look at their list of concerts on their website, you’ll see that St James is in amongst some fairly illustrious company, indeed from St James the choir are going to compete in the International Choral Grand Prix in Italy. So how come such an acclaimed choir were performing in a small Berkshire church on a Monday night?

The link is through Barney and Paul Smith, who lead the choir. Although they have sung in many cathedrals, their parents live in the village and come to St James. Both Barney and Paul helped out the St James choir when we were without a Director of Music, and on special occasions, indeed every so often when Barney or Paul are around on a Sunday, the harmony lines of the Church Choir are augmented by the two of them.

Anyway, as a result, they have been using the Church to practice, and in return they gave us a concert to raise money for the restoration. Sadly as it was on a Monday a number of people couldn’t make it. Plus since the power had failed in part of the village, the concert was by candlight too. However it was an excellent occasion, and as with their previous concert for us we feel honoured to have them sing at St James.

Rocking the Church

View Down the Church

Tonight we held our second youth service at St James since Rev Richard arrived. This time we had a different band, a third of which was actually home grown talent, plus we actually described it as a Rockmass.

We used the same layout with the band in the chancel, and celebrating on a small table in front. We also used our soon to be patented projector mount of a MDF board and two C-clamps to provide a shelf for the projector in the arch into the north aisle, projecting across onto the screen in the pulpit. The laptop that drives the projector is then positioned up in the chancel so that the person working the screen is close to the people leading.

Matt Doing a Sound Check

We were up at the church from about 3:30pm, and got all of our gear set up first before the inevitable chaos when the band arrives. In this case we had got together with the local Baptist Church, and the band consisted of Matt Valler, the youth worker at the Baptist church, his brother, and Richard from our Church as drummer. Matt knows our church pretty well having attended the youth group when he was a teenager.

As with anything involving a live band there is a good deal of fiddling around to make sure sound is good, and ensure that everything works. However we were all ready to go in good time.

Matt Doing Some Practice

As an aside just before the service I had a slightly strange encounter. Whilst I was walking back to the Church from the Parish Centre, a white van with all sorts of strange things on the roof drove into the car park, and parked – pretty badly, and the two guys in the front got out and went into the back. It looked to me like a TV detector van, so I walked over to ask them to park a bit better as we were expecting cars in the car park for the service. Anyway, I put my head round the door, and one of the people in the van was John Redwood. They asked if they could stay and I said not to worry, just that we needed space to get round the car park. Having said that Rev Richard went and had a chat when he arrived and suggested that if they wanted quiet (it was actually a radio van) they might be better going elsewhere before all the young people arrived.

The service went well, and we even had Ian, the Diocesan Youth Adviser for part of the service, who seemed to have met almost everybody involved having led a youth camp that Matt and Richard had attended! Matt did the talk, and Beth did the prayers, using a ‘prayer basket’ idea where a symbol is brought up for each prayer, for example a mobile phone was brought up when we prayed for friends. The band were great, and we even had some of our Youth Group sing a song during communion to give the band a break.

Clearing Up

To some extent it was a learning experience for all as our Youth Group aren’t used to having a band, and also the Baptist Youth Group aren’t used to our comparitively formal litugical structure for the service. Having said that we got good feedback from both groups after the service, and certainly we are looking at trying to do something similar again in the autumn. As we said afterwards, each of the three Finchampstead Churches can’t put something like this together on their own, but by pooling resources we can pull it off. Certainly it has given us a good place to start.

Anyway, after all the young people had gone, one thing left, clearing up – the downside with having a band!