Category Archives: community

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.

Celebration of Carers is ending its spot on Thursday at 8pm. Next up ….

Last applause
In West St Helen Street there was a good turn out for the final Thursday 8 PM celebration of carers. Every Thursday people are encouraged onto the doorsteps by a member of the Oxford Caledonian Pipe Band with a drum

In Thesiger Road, George Haslam has been playing the clarinet on Thursdays at 8pm, and on this final week he appeared with a saxophone to play Over the Rainbow.

There will be other ways to show our appreciation to carers like making sure they are paid fittingly for their heroic efforts in future.
Last applause
We can also find new ways to come together as a community. One such is Abingdon Zoo Day this coming Sunday.

Town Centre Day Centre looking for a new use

Town Centre Day Centre
The former Charter Day Centre (the downstairs part) has been empty since it closed as a Day Centre for people with Learning Disabilities in October 2017. Before that it served as a Day Centre for the elderly until 2008.
Town Centre Day Centre
Suggested uses by the estate agent are educational or as a surgery. It is next door to the library and Malthouse Surgery and multi story carpark.

It would also make a good day centre. The rent is too high though for a community group to take it on.

Abingdon Poppy Appeal smashes £50,000

Thankyou to Clare for this press release from a few days ago. I have reused pictures from the blog post on 27th October 2018 . There was a chance to take more pictures on Thursday when volunteers got together which I did not make.
Abingdon Poppy Appeal
Big-hearted Abingdon folk raised more than £50,000 for the Poppy Appeal last year — a 16 per cent increase and equivalent to more than £1 for every person in the town.

Official figures show that the town has donated £52,545, an increase of £7,196 on the previous year.

The generosity of people was astounding with more than £15,000 in notes alone being dropped into one of the 364 collection tins. They also tapped their way to a further £1,000 on a contactless machine.
Abingdon Poppy Appeal
Highlights of the two-week collection saw the the Army Cadets smash through the £10,000 donation barrier, while a single collector raised almost £4,000.

But the really big story was the fundraising at Tesco Extra Abingdon where the team of collectors with their “poppy shop” in the store foyer raised £17,368 – more than £4,000 up on the previous year. A further £500 came in from collection tins at the end of tills.
Abingdon Poppy Appeal
The Appeal was given its own Abingdon launch with MG owners in poppy red cars parked on the Market Place, while Abingdon Lions took on the task of distributing boxes in the town centre.

Clare Oldfield, Poppy Appeal Organiser, says: ‘Ten years ago Abingdon raised £20,793 for the Poppy. Over the past two years the poppy collectors have raised almost £100,000.

Abingdon may not be the biggest town on the Thames but it must surely have the biggest heart. The amount raised is truly amazing and something the town and its poppy collectors should be rightly proud of.’

Special Abingdon Parish Meeting to discuss the Guildhall

Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
11 residents had requested a special Parish meeting to discuss the Guildhall, and the meeting took place this evening at the Roysse Room. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the usage of the much larger Abbey Hall, the only civic space in Abingdon large enough to hold such public meetings, and to discuss accessibility plans for the older part of the Guildhall.

The large Abbey Hall has been closed for about three years. It was initially closed while the Town Council considered tenders for its redevelopment. The assumption was that the redevelopment would go ahead that year. However an election happened at that point, and the council membership changed. We heard for the first time this evening that one tender came in at £3m and another  $4m. And so the Town Council looked at ways to reduce the scope of the project, and the Abbey Hall remained closed while that happened. There followed another round of consultants and architects and planning under a new Guildhall Chairman.

The council then gave up on that plan, about the time the Town Council leader changed. It cost an annual subsidy of £200k to keep the Guildhall complex open. They than began speaking to Oxfordshire County Council about putting the Abbey Hall into the review of County Council public places, and now expect something exciting to come out of that review for Abingdon.

So the town council are now concentrating on the older part of the building, and using the £1.2m legacy, given by the District Council with the Guildhall, on just the old rooms.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
This evening the Roysse room was not large enough for the number of people who came.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
About 60 people were not allowed in. That included some of the 11 who had requested the meeting.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
So there will be a second meeting next Monday for anybody who could not get in.

During the meeting, The Mayor, Councillor Jan Morter, read out a release from the Town Council, prepared for the meeting, that you can read here. She then added that Evesham Regal are looking to negotiate terms to run a cinema in the Abbey Hall, and manage other events people want holding there, and help the council finances at the same time. That would be until Oxfordshire County Council want to use it for whatever exciting plans they have after their review of places. The Town Council have not had the chance to discuss that offer yet but it was interesting news.

Then people were allowed to ask questions or make statements, first about the Abbey Hall, then on accessibility plans for the old part. However the Town Council could give no answers to the meeting. They needed to give the answers full consideration in council before giving answers.

Many points were made but it was news to hear that The Regal, Evesham, think they can run a cinema and re-open the Abbey Hall and help the council finances.

The pictures above do make the point that Abingdon does needs a public room for civic events to hold more than 80 people.
Special Abingdon Parish Meeting
Another point made by a number of people was that splitting the Guildhall into the old and the new part created accessibility problems in the old part. The Abbey Hall did have 2 ramps and 2 lifts to try to make it accessible. The last person to speak said ‘The Abbey Hall may be a 1960’s carbuncle but we still want to use it!’