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Village News

WI - Feb 2019

Our first meeting of the New Year took place on January 10th 2019 when Colin Pawson, a keen member of the British Carriage Society, gave us an illustrated talk on the history of coaches and coach horns from the golden age of coaching to the present day.    It included practical demonstrations of traditional coach horn calls and tunes.  Colin cut an elegant figure in his full uniform as a road coach guard.  The history of coaches is fascinating and is explained fully on his website: www.thetootler.com

Colin showed us some photographs of the horses, coaches and people he has been and still is involved with, saying that it is a team effort, involving lots of fun and many pub stops along their journeys.  He has travelled to many different countries with the coaches and teams keeping alive the spirit of the road.  In 2010 they took part in a fundraising journey travelling from London to Portsmouth in aid of the ‘Help for Heroes’.  To celebrate Charles Dicken’s Bicentenary in 2012 they travelled from London to Dover raising money for Barnados Charity.  He has a hard-wired love of coaching.   The latter part of his talk involved our members pretending to be on his wonderful carriage drawn by 4 superb horses.  We imagined that Colin was stood at the back of the carriage ready to blow instructional or warning tunes on the different coach horns he had kindly brought along.  What a treat!  The first call was to signal to us, the passengers breakfasting in the pub, to’ Get Ready’.  Crystal clear, perfectly pitched sound emitted from the very long coach horns.  On the coach now ready to start came the ‘Sit Fast’ call.  There were many calls on the journey, each with their own special tune and meaning played beautifully by Colin: Clear the Road, Hounds Ahead, Change Horses, Pull Up, and the call for home was Fun on the Road.  It was brilliant.

Sue George


Our last meeting was on Thursday 14th February when we were entertained by Mervyn of the local family run coach company Mervyn’s Coaches, often seen around our roads in their familiar cream and burgundy colours.  The company was established in 1982 and supplies coaches for school runs, private hire, weddings, excursions as well as starring in the odd film or television programme, including Agatha Christie and the Darling Buds of May!  Mervyn is proud of the fact that all his drivers wear suits and peaked caps to enhance a professional appearance.  Mervyn then gave us a brief history of the use of coaches, starting with the horse-drawn stagecoaches, to the first motorised coaches, his preferred make at that time was Bedford, through to the modern coaches of today, interspersed with funny experiences he has had during his coaching career.  Mervyn and his son have restored several vintage coaches over the years and they currently have three which are regularly used for weddings and special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays and school proms.  They are currently restoring a 1937 AEC Regal which is badly in need of some TLC after being stored in a shed for 40 years then broken into and vandalised before Mervyn obtained it.  It was so lovely to hear from someone who is obviously so passionate about what he does and is ensuring that these vintage coaches will be around for a few more years yet.

Carolyn Brown

Next meetings:-

March 14th 2019 – Our 83rd Birthday Meeting including a talk on ‘Marvellous Millinery.  Simon Meanwell-Ralph is the designer of hats and fascinators.  He works at his studio in Winchester and offers friendly, professional service for hats and fascinators for that special occasion.  This meeting will be held in the North Waltham School Hall.

April 11th 2019 – our speaker at this meeting will be someone from St Michael’s Hospice in Basingstoke – our local hospice that cares for patients with life-limiting illnesses.

May 9th 2019 – AGM and Resolutions, plus a social evening.

Why not come along as a guest, a potential new member, or as someone who is interested in listening to a particular speaker?  We are a cheerful group of ladies and we do have fun!  If anyone would like to come along or would like more details please contact Carolyn Brown

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