Our meeting this month started with our President, Kate giving a heartfelt tribute to member Jacquie Wilson who had died on 31st March. This sudden death, following a devastating diagnosis, has saddened and shocked us all. Jacquie was a keen member of our Institute joining in with many activities and over the years had been a Vice-President and Programme Secretary. She will be much missed. A donation has been made in her name to Denman College the WI’s own education centre.
All our different groups have met this month including the book club who had been reading “Solomon Creed” by S. Toyne and which provided the most diverse views to date. Apparently, opinions on their choices are so varied they do wonder sometimes if they have all read the same book!
Our speaker this month was Dr. Becky Pocock and she is fortunate to have paid employment with what is affectionately known as The Watercress Line, but, is in fact The Mid-Hants Railway. She is now Project Supervisor with responsibility for overseeing the Canadian Pacific Project, which is the restoration of a large and powerful steam locomotive, even though she admitted she is not an engineer. This is a two million pound project. Lottery funding has provided £895,000; the Charity must contribute £200,000 and the rest comes from donations and other funding. Sounds like a lot of work.
With the aid of slides and text Becky took us through its varied identities and chequered history since its inception in 1865. Edward Knight (nephew of Jane Austen) was involved at the start and became a major shareholder. It began as a means of transporting watercress and other farm goods between Winchester & Alton filling in the gap between Alton and the main route from London to Southampton.
It has seen ups and downs over the years, been made bankrupt and then finally axed, but not without resistance, following the Dr. Beeching review.
It is now one of the most successful heritage railways in the country run mainly by volunteers from the drivers, engineers to those answering the telephone. They have a varied schedule and programme of events catering for all ages.
Watch this space – we may be tootling along the line ourselves sometime in the future. We will see what our programme committee comes up with for 2019/2020.
On our calendars for this year is a guided walk around Winchester on 4th July at 6.30 p.m. and our summer outing to Eltham Place on 01 August (both open to non-members). If you are interested, then information on the latter can be found in the Village Shop and committee contact information is on our pages on this website.
Next month is our Annual Meeting and we are having a fish and chip supper prior to all the formal and obligatory reports and summaries. It will still be fun though, no speaker, so more time to chat and socialise, so probably a good time to come and see what we are about. We will be in the Village Hall on 30th May for a 7.30 p.m. start.
04 May – Breakfast Cub
09 May – Supper Club
11 May – Walking Group
14 May – Reading Group
25 May – Lunch Club
30 May – Annual Meeting in the Village Hall 7.30 p.m.