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Bleasby Past

This section is dedicated to Bleasby Past (well, anything before 2018 when the website was updated!). If you have any photos to add to this page, please email to [email protected]. If you only have hard copies then arrangements can be made to have them photographed for publication. 

Bleasby News October 2020 included an entry from the editors, Barbara and Rachael (Over Forty Years of Change and Achievement in Bleasby), recalling some of their memories from the previous 40 years of their life in the village. The article is published at the end of the photographs in this section and provides a feel for how Bleasby has evolved during that time.

Over Forty Years of Change and Achievement in Bleasby (by Barbara Cast and Rachael Stephens, Editors of Bleasby News Oct 2020)

Both your editors have lived in Bleasby for over forty years – we are slightly older and possibly wiser now! During our time in the parish we have seen quite a lot of changes and many significant achievements.

Where shall we start? Well changes – none of us is terribly keen to see the places we have long known, and often loved, change – loss of old buildings, raw new houses springing up, trees we have valued disappearing, the closure of post office and shop, no Star and Garter at Hazelford – all cause varying degrees of pain or even indignation. Not to mention coach trips for walks in the Peak District, British Legion Sports Days, It’s a Knock-out at summer schools, dramatic performances, dances! 

But achievements – yes in those forty plus years much has been achieved in and for our Nottinghamshire patch.

Let me start at our beginnings in Bleasby. In 1974 the Cast family arrived in Bleasby and the Andrew family a couple of years later. The two families, in their different ways, like many others over the years, quickly became involved in the life of the village. Early involvement for the Casts was in 1975, when we had lived here for just a few months: it was a new initiative of the Parish Council – the “Bleasby Village Study”. Five volunteers worked on the study including Diana Temperley (then Chair of the Parish Council), Peter Cast and the late John Davies. Over 70% of households responded to the survey – a very impressive number – and the study group extracted the main findings and it is very interesting to see that, since 1975, a number of residents’ comments regarding what was needed in the parish have since been achieved.

In 1975 the lack of a village green was regretted as this “was felt to be an integral part and heart of a village”. But it wasn’t until 2009 that the Glebe Field actually became owned by the Parish Council after at least forty years of attempting to persuade the diocesan finance authorities to sell, lease or lend it to the parish. In the ‘80s a new tack was tried when the PC tendered for summer grazing – this was unsuccessful! So yet another attempt to purchase or lease was commenced – this time having to deal with local agents which the PC negotiators (Lynda Ogilvie and BC) found to be extremely difficult. All avenues were explored – especially as the millennium loomed and grants for common land were available. Hopes were raised and dashed – dashed especially when the agents wrote to inform the PC in 2005 “I can now inform you that the Board does not wish to sell this land to the parish council, now or in the future”. However, by 2009, the situation had changed and you can imagine the delight of those on the Parish Council (and supporters) who found the parish in possession of the Glebe Field after so many years of persistent attempts. No wonder those involved in its acquisition hold this beautiful, tranquil field in the centre of the village in such affection! 

Under the study section relating to the environment, the importance of the gravel ponds to wildlife was noted and, again in 1975, it was recognised that they should be carefully retained as an undeveloped area for wildlife, recreation and leisure. A year or so later, in preparation for celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, a meeting was held for Bleasby residents to suggest ideas to mark the occasion. Gerald Cole (then of Sycamore Lane) and Peter Cast jointly put forward a proposal that the parish attempt to acquire these disused gravel workings for an area available to all parishioners for “gentle recreation and nature conservation”. The Parish Council saw this as an ideal way to commemorate the Jubilee and set about negotiating a deal with the legal assistance of Brian Temperley and the late Tony Callaghan, then Secretary to Hoveringham Gravels and a Bleasby resident. An agreement was signed on 16th November 1978 to rent and manage what were to be called the Jubilee Ponds for £1 annually. Then on March 9th 1987, the exchange of contracts took place between Hoveringham Gravel (later Tarmac Ltd) and Bleasby Parish Council to complete the purchase of the area now known as the Jubilee Ponds, paying the small fortune of one pound sterling! In the process the access road to the Ponds had its historic name, Borrowbread Lane, resurrected.

In 1975 a large majority of respondents agreed that it was “extremely important to maintain the open spaces between Goverton and Bleasby and Bleasby and Gibsmere. These open spaces have been maintained and are still valued both for practical reasons and in identifying the special settlement areas of the parish. Apart from these open spaces several other areas were noted as being of particular attractiveness – only one has been lost and that was the field behind the Old Willows (later Carlins Field). Since 1975 the Conservation Area around Gypsy Lane, the Church and the Waggon and Horses has been established.

It was also noted in 1975 that there was the lack of a playing field – subsequently the Parish Council negotiated the joint use for local youngsters of the School Field out of school hours. This has been particularly valued during the period of school lockdown.

Public transport was also noted in 1975 – the train service was good and should be continued – a late train from Newark would have been welcomed. It has to be said that our train service is not as good as it was - many fewer trains stop here than in previous years. A better bus service to Southwell was called for in 1975 – there is now a service three times a week to Southwell, also to Newark and Lowdham.

Village amenities – in 1975 the village hall was due to be extended and modernised under the guidance of the then Chair of the Village Hall Committee, Lester Brooks. It has resulted in a valuable asset to the parish with many events and activities held there, including the playgroup which was something wished for in 1975. A village newspaper was also mentioned then (another achievement - let’s hope it will continue!).

There have been other achievements in the parish over the years, with many parishioners contributing to their success – the Millennium Stone or Maggot Cross at High Cross; full level crossing gates after much lobbying; the new roadside drainage system; the wooden heron carving on Main Street; the acquisition of the defibrillator now overseen by Ali Sutherland; the beautiful window in the village hall; the millennium embroidery also in the village hall; the Centenary Wood in the Jubilee Ponds; the Aircrews Memorial largely due to the tireless endeavours of Ken Ogilvie and team; the restoration of the Churchyard memorial; a well-kept wildlife friendly churchyard with thanks to the mowing team, Roger, Derek and John; the acquisition of Ferry End; the Flood Action Group with oversight by Elaine France; the Local History Society; the Lunch Club now at Manor Farm Teashop; Bleasby Open Gardens; Christmas and other special celebrations and regular, well attended parish events; and all the support our parish has benefited from through St Mary’s thanks to Revd Phil and churchwardens, Diana Temperley and Rachael, the WI currently under the lively guidance of Monica Richardson, the Parish Council, other organisations and many individuals.