31 December 2016

Historic barge in Hoo

The most well-known of the iconic sailing barges to have sailed along the River Thames arrived at Hoo Marina in early September, for winter storage, as she marks the end of her 110th year.

90ft-long sailing barge Cambria was built at the F. T. Everard and Sons Limited boatyard at Greenhithe in 1906 and is famous for being the last British registered vessel to carry cargo under sail alone – the final cargo being 100 tonnes of cattle cake in 1970 when she was owned by the folksinger and bargeman Bob Roberts.

Since being restored in 2007, thanks to £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cambria has been able to provide life-changing experiences for hundreds of young people in association with the Sea Change Sail Trust as well as being hired out for private charters.  Cambria has also been active in the annual programme of traditional barge match races.

You can find out more about Cambria by visiting the Cambria Trust’s website here or take a look at the groups more up-to-date Facebook page here.

Photograph appears courtesy of Rob Powell at the Cambria Trust.

27 December 2016

Old BAE Club to be demolished

Following the recent purchase by Bellway Homes Limited of land at the top of Bells Lane in Hoo, previously occupied by the BAE Sports & Social Club (later known as The Village Community, Sports & Social Club and, prior to its closure, as the Peninsula Club), demolition of buildings on the site is about to commence.

According to a notice on the perimeter fence the buildings could be demolished tomorrow (28th December) or thereabouts.  It will mark the beginning of a process involving potentially hundreds of new homes being built in this part of Hoo, although at the time of writing I have not seen a formal planning application.

My own memories of this site are relatively recent.  Back in 2013 I was one of the organisers of the semi-successful Hoo Village Fun Day.  We welcomed special guests Cllr. Josie Iles (then the Mayor of Medway), Mark Reckless MP and Rochester Town Crier Robin Burfoot, and we enjoyed many attractions, including the fabulous Big Sing Choir (under the instruction of T Jae Cole), a strongman contest and a helicopter flypast.  It was an exhausting day.

It is sad knowing that this once popular facility, including its double recreation ground, will not be hosting such events ever again.

Fun Day photographs appear courtesy of the Village Voices Community Magazine.

24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing Christmas.

If you'd like to see how festive the Hoo Peninsula landscape looked at this very same time back in 2010, click here for some photographs.

15 December 2016

New Year's Eve at Taggs

I popped into Taggs Coffee Shop in Hoo today and had a good chat with my old mate Tom Taggart.  He told me all about a fun evening he's planning at Taggs Wine Bar on New Year's Eve.

If you’re looking for somewhere fun and local to go on 31st December, Taggs Wine Bar is the place for you!

You'll be able to enjoy the last few remaining hours of 2016 with host Tom and a popular group called Sold on Soul, who'll belt out many classic soul, funk and disco tunes, from 9pm.  This group has performed at Taggs before and were well received.

Tickets are £15, just pop to Taggs (Church Street, Hoo, ME3 9AH) to get yours, but don't leave it too long.

12 December 2016

Help fund important community project

The UJ Community Partnership is a community-based organisation with the objective of helping local residents gain/learn new skills as well as generally seeking to reduce levels of social isolation.

From learning something new by attending training and personal development courses, or making new friends by attending social events, the UJ Community Partnership has helped many residents from across the Hoo Peninsula since it was formed in 2003.

The long-established and much loved group is run by Veronica Cordier, who works hard to ensure the group’s survival.  Funding is always at the top of Veronica’s agenda – making sure the group can afford to offer new training courses and other opportunities for residents, as well as more routine expenses, such as heating, equipment, facilities and running costs.

With everyone tightening their belts, it has become more difficult to find funding, so if you run a local business and are able to offer funding support of any amount (it all helps), please get in touch with Veronica by phoning 01634 271807, or write to Veronica Cordier, UJ Community Partnership, The Chapel/Grain Library, Chapel Road, Isle of Grain, ME3 0BZ.

Next month the UJ Community Partnership is offering residents training/familiarisation workshops on using a tablet - particularly handy if you receive one for Christmas!  Book your place by phoning 01634 271807.

9 December 2016

Seeing old Friends at Grain Coastal Park

I visited Grain Coastal Park last weekend and bumped into my old volunteering colleague Michael Dale.

Michael is now a leading-light in the park’s Friends group – a group of volunteers (mainly residents from the Isle of Grain) who spend many hours each week working hard looking after this increasingly popular and vast open space.

The Friends of Grain Coastal Park group has gone from strength to strength since it was created back in January 2012, following a successful community project undertaken by the Kent Wildlife Trust throughout 2011, in collaboration with St. James, Isle of Grain, Parish Council.  Those early project sessions were lots of fun and very interesting.

Michael and his volunteer colleagues have spent considerable time creating many great walks for visitors to enjoy.  In the noticeboard at the main car park (at the end of High Street, ME3 0BS) you will find a detailed map of the park showing all the walks.

If you’re looking to burn off some Christmas calories this weekend or during the festive period, or would simply like to get out of the house and enjoy fresh air and great views of the Essex coast and Isle of Sheppey – pop along to Grain Coastal Park.

8 December 2016

Rolling back the years to 1982

Formed in 2014, the Thomas Aveling Society (Hoo), also known as TASH, is hard at work developing a project to formally recognise the life, work and professional achievements of notable agricultural engineer Thomas Aveling (co-founder of the Aveling and Porter Company).

Thomas was born in Cambridgeshire in 1824, although he and his mother moved to Hoo during his childhood.  As well as his business interests, his relatively short life saw him become active in the community – serving as Mayor of Rochester, a trustee of the Watts’ Charity and governor at the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School.  He died at Boley Hill House in Rochester in 1882 and is buried in the churchyard at St. Werburgh Church, Hoo.

TASH volunteers (I am one) hope to install an interpretation board in Hoo and erect name plaques at places associated with Thomas and his family.  Work commenced a while ago on researching his life, compiling information and producing/submitting grant applications.

Back in 1982 an event was held in Hoo to mark the centenary of his death.  This included steam rollers (and enthusiasts from around the country) driving through the village and along Church Street and Vicarage Lane (to St. Werburgh Church).

If you have any old photographs of this centenary event, I would very much like to hear from you.  If you have hard-copy photographs – they can easily be scanned and returned, just get in touch by emailing me here.