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April 2021

Secrets of Olney, Part 2

Olney shadow factoryOnce a shoe factory, then a WW2 shadow factory, now flats.

Part Two of Two

The town of Olney, often pronounced “Ohney” lies on the River Great Ouse. There’s been a river crossing here for a long time, and a minor Roman road crossed the river about where the modern bridge lies.

There’s plenty of free parking. In the car park in the middle of the Market Place there’s a three hour limit, but on the roads around there it’s just an hour. Away from the Market Place there’s no time limit on the High Street.

Olney has a great many old buildings, but I’ve just picked out the ones I found most interesting. I’ve divided the town up into two walks, both about a mile and a quarter long. The first Olney walk was published here last week.

Secrets of Olney Walk 2 of 2

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Fifty Years Since We Stopped Wing Airport

Concrete Concorde

The Monday Photo

On a lane junction between Dunton and Stewkley is a circular spinney. Right on the edge of the spinney is a white painted piece of concrete in the shape of Concorde

Concorde was the loudest, fastest passenger aircraft half a century ago, and this spot marks the centre of the site where a third airport for London was then planned to be built. It would have changed North Buckinghamshire forever. 

If these plans had come to fruition, North Bucks would have been a far less pleasant place to live, but a hard two and a half year battle against the proposals by the Wing Airport Resistance Association resulted in success, fifty years ago today.

Under the Flight Path

If the ideas on a 1970 map of proposals for the airport had come to pass, the villages of Cublington, Soulbury, and Stewkley would be gone. They’d be buried under twenty square miles of an airport more than six miles long by three wide, lying diagonally across North Bucks.

Whitchurch and its surrounding villages would be close to and more in less in line with the runways on the end of the airport, on the South East end. It would have been the same story for Stoke Hammond, in the North East.

The town that’s now Milton Keynes would have been far bigger, extending from its present footprint  far enough South East to swallow Winslow.

A feeder motorway for the airport from what would eventually be the M25 was planned. There were various routes, but one route would have taken it a few miles to the East of Aylesbury.

An engraved stone in the spinney says:

“CUBLINGTON SPINNEY
This spinney was planted in 1972 by the
Buckinghamshire County Council in gratitude
to all those who supported the campaign
against the recommendation that London’s
third airport should be at Cublington.
Parish councils, organisations, societies
and many individuals contributed towards
the cost of the spinney.
This point is the centre of the area proposed
for the airport.
Midmost unmitigated England.”

I particularly like the last line.

Unfortunately North Bucks is under threat again, as there are plans to build a million new homes in a huge “arc” between Oxford and Cambridge.

We are in the middle of this arc and if it goes ahead, we can look forward to the number of houses in this area being increased by two thirds over what we have already by 2050. That’s four times the projected increase in population of the UK.

If this happens, the quality of life for the residents of North Bucks would fall like a stone. If you feel strongly enough to do something to present this, please contact NEG - Stop The Arc and Let's keep this part of the world as  "Midmost Unmitigated England".

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Secrets of Olney, Part 1

Wooden town sigh  OlneyOlney's town sign, in the Market Place.

Part One of Two

The town of Olney, pronounced “Ohney” by many locals, lies on the River Great Ouse. There’s been a river crossing here for a long time, and a minor Roman road crossed the river about where the present bridge lies. It’s the home of the yearly Olney Pancake Race.

There’s plenty of free parking in the town. In the middle of the Market Place there’s a three hour limit, but on the roads nearby it’s just an hour. Away from the Market Place there’s no time limit on the High Street.

Olney has a great many old buildings, but I’ve just picked out the ones I found most interesting. I’ve divided the walk up into two halves, both about a mile and a quarter long. The second half of the guided walk will be published here next week.


Secrets of Olney walk 1 of 2

 

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Late Again

Yep, I'm running late again; today's post should have been up this morning. But I know what the problem is.

Two weeks in a row, the only day I've been able to go out and do the research and photography for these Secrets of.. posts I want to post quite a few of now has been a Wednesday. Because I have a messed up foot and don't walk too well, all I want to do when I get home is to go to bed. The result is the post doesn't get finished until late the next day.

Tomorrow's post has grown out of control so I'm going to split it up into two halves, or else the post will be just too big. It's still not finished, but the first half should be up tomorrow. Sorry about this, folks.

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Bridge Points

The county border at Ickford Bridge

The Monday Photo

(Also, a Tale From the Edge)

This is what I saw when I sat on Ickford bridge yesterday, eating my packed lunch with one foot in North Bucks, and the other in Oxfordshire.

The county border here runs along the river Thame. I’m looking East, so the fields in this photo are in Buckinghamshire, as is the left hand side of the river. The right hand side is of course in Oxfordshire.

The border runs straight through the apex of this triangular pedestrian refuge and there are two stones marking it, both engraved and both meeting at the apex. The one on the left is easy to see here, but the other stone is in shadow and hardly visible.

The lichen doesn’t help to make the stones easy to read either, but the left hand one says:

Here Begineth
The County
of  Bucks
1685

The right hand one says:

1685
HERE ENDS
THE COUNTY OF
OXON

It seems they were done by two different people, with the year at the top on one and at the bottom on the other, and only one of them is all in capitals. It’s strange that they are worded so differently from each other; perhaps whoever made them were both Buckinghamshire men.

This is the second time I’ve shown you a county boundary marker recently, but these are probably the oldest ones in Buckinghamshire and it’s thought 1685 was also the date the bridge was built. It’s certainly not the first bridge on this spot.

I’ve been to Ickford before; in the fields behind me there’s usually an annual tug of war match between the villages of Ickford in Bucks and Tiddington in Oxon and I’ve covered it on the NBW. Naturally the pull is across the county border, the river. Yep, people get wet.

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Secrets of Oving

Oving Hill  BucksOving Hill and Ammonite (squatter's) Cottage. You can see North Marston at the foot of the hill.

A "Secrets Of" Guided Walk

The village of Oving sits high on a hill above Aylesbury Vale. There’s a Roman road, two squatter’s cottages, and amazing views.

In this walk there’s a couple of sections you can choose not to take, but you’ll miss out on the views if you do. The whole walk is just over two miles, but without the two sections (see map) it’s under a mile.

There’s parking to the left of the early 17th Century Black Boy pub. From there, walk back past the pub to the junction.

On the right of the pub is a lane that leads to the Hossil, or horse hole; a pond that’s said never to dry up or freeze.

The Hossil is just a pond, but it’s fed by at least one of the springs on the hill top. Oving stands on the edge of two watersheds. To the North, water runs into the Wash via the Great Ouse. To the South, streams eventually feed the Thames. The springs were used until mains water came to the village in 1939.

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