Author Archives: Backstreeter


Churchyard Cat
Those green eyes out-stare me from between the tombstones.

The churchyard cat is often to be seen in St Helen’s Churchyard among the graves and wandering freely along the pavements and gardens beyond.
Churchyard Cat
It helps itself to rats, and mice, and might honour you with a visit in return for some food.

It does not look to be the sort of cat to curl up on your lap. It is aloof and has cattitude.

Ongoing building work in Abingdon

The ex Vauxhall dealership – Bellinger – have almost completed their transformation into Churchill retirement apartments.
Reserving Now signs have replaced Caution – Reversing Vehicles.
The second half of the Fairacres redevelopment has metal cladding and a roof line that looks dead level from the car park side,
and from Nuffield Way.

The old red pillar box has been kept in place during the demolition and building work. It is held up on a plug of concrete until building work is complete.

Peace Tree and Abingdon Camera Club

Camera Club
The Radio 4 PM program today had a piece about 170 trees at Hiroshima that survived the atom bomb blast 75 years ago today.  Seedlings from those trees have been planted around the world to show there is hope – whatever.

There is a tree in the Abbey Grounds planted by the Abingdon Peace Group ‘in Memory of All Victims of War.’
I met some members of Abingdon Camera club, gathering in the Cattle Market car park. They have been meeting virtually and their first physical meeting was to be in the Abbey Grounds. For Peter, who sometimes sends me pictures, this was his first outing since the start of the lockdown. If he sends me any pictures I will add them to this post.

The clouds were high in the sky, and the air was getting warmer after some cool cloudy days. Tomorrow is predicted to be hot.
Churchyard Cat
Sally sent me this picture of the peace vigil at the war memorial that morning. Peter sent pictures but we have a problem that they got bounced so I will try to find why.

The Abingdon Fire Service and N.F.S. No 15

I am always interested to discover old Abingdon poems and verses and recently found a verse in a book on The Abingdon Fire Service (1871 – 1945) by John Hooke.

During WWII the Abingdon Fire Service helped in the national effort and went to places to put out the fires after the Blitz bombing. They arrived in Coventry after a 60 mile journey. It was complete chaos. ‘See those Almshouses, Leslie, the incendiaries have only just started their work of destruction. We could put them out with a drop of water – but there is no water in the mains. Look out! A stick of bombs fall on the cross roads where we had been standing only seconds before, two firemen just disappear.’

Town fire services were nationalised for greater efficiency and central control and to ensure uniform standards. The Abingdon Fire Service became part of National Fire Service No 15 (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire).
Getting water appeared a problem for the fire service. In Abingdon a static water tank was put in the Market Square and aroused some criticism. A verse appeared in the North Berks Herald and is reprinted in the book …

A hole has appeared in the Market Square!
Now who in the deuce could have put it there?
Everyone is ‘hollering out’
And asking ‘What is it all about?’
The ‘whole thing seems extremely rum
Oh! Is it to be an aquarium?
Or maybe a Lido they’ll install
(High diving from the old Town Hall!)

Possible new future for Old Abbey House – Thinking Caps On!

The Vale of White Horse District Council have announced they are looking for a possible new future for Old Abbey House. They no longer need Old Abbey House and are looking for a new owner. It could be sold for housing, but they are also in discussions with the Friends of Abingdon Civic Society about community use.

Before closure, the larger part of the building was used by Abingdon Town Council, and the smaller part by Citizens Advice Abingdon.
Old Abbey House
The entrance foyer of the part used by Abingdon Town Council was home to the Abingdon Information Centre.
Old Abbey House
To the left of that was the council committee room.
Old Abbey House
Next to that was a wide wooden staircase, with a stained glass window, leading to four or five offices.
Old Abbey House
Behind the information centre, to the left, was the Mayor’s Parlour with an attractive bow window. The Mayor for 2013-14, Sam Bowring, can be seen entertaining some English Civil War reenactors.

To the right of the information desk were open plan offices, and the muniments room – holding old town documents.

The old citizens advice area had a separate entrance and was also divided into smaller rooms. From the outside that half of the building can be seen to need roof repairs.

Old Abbey House is not a listed building, but is in the heart of Abingdon. Its old garden, the Abbey Gardens, should remain for public use whatever happens. Everybody would be delighted if a viable community scheme comes forward for the building. If we all put our thinking caps on maybe we could come up with something.