BYGONE RURAL TIMES: A reminder that tonight (Friday) is Jean Woodgate’s magic lantern show drawing on her extensive archive of old photographs, some of them dating back to the 1880s. The doors at Mountfield Village Hall will open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Entrance is just £7.50 to include soup and a ploughman’s at half time. Jean’s show is in aid of All Saints Mountfield so it’s one local treasure supporting another.

BRITISH GYPSUM: Peter writes: Last week, British Gypsum celebrated the 350th anniversary of the founding of St. Gobain, the company that now owns BG. Jim Ray and I were invited to represent the local parish and community by joining the BG team for two commemorative events up at the Mine. The first was the formal unveiling of a specially commissioned sculpture on the apron of the Weighbridge. I am sure there will be a picture in the main news section of the Battle Observer at some point so suffice it to say that it was designed and constructed by two local artists, and embodies various elements of the company such as crushed glass to represent St Gobain’s glass making origins, imprints from the tips of the drill bits used underground, and the ammonites found in the limestone that underlays the gypsum deposits.

After lunch in the ever cheerful canteen (we duly noted the red, white and blue napkins provided pour l’anniversaire), we were kitted out and driven up to a viewing platform (on the site of the former Woodland mineshaft) overlooking the restoration of the old mine area. On the face of it, it might not have looked much more than a gently sloping area of bare soil and grass but to anyone who remembers it either when it was cleared to make way for the restoration, or the sterile moonscape of the RMC era, or the site as it was when there were 800 men working at the mine, the difference was dramatic. Over 50,000 tonnes of soil was imported, all of it carefully screened for compatability. Over 350 trees have been planted in the western area towards Snep’s wood but the main area has been designed to regenerate as heathland. An information board was unveiled with photographs to show the extent of the restoration.

The day was also an opportunity for Jim and I to thank British Gypsum personally for the support they have given the parish and community over the last year such as the restoration of the Twitten on Hoath Hill, the refurbishment of the swings in the playground, and sponsoring events such as the Mountfield ride.

SPEEDWAY STAR: Not everyone reads the sports pages so we should mention Nathan Ablitt who received a good splash in the back pages of last week’s Battle Observer, complete with a photograph of him in full war paint astride his bike. Although only eleven, Nathan competes in the Under-15 150cc British Championship and throughout this season usually went through from the heats to ride in the 4-rider final at each meeting. His riding prowess has taken him and Dad, Nic, all over the country to venues as far flung as Scunthorpe, Leicester, and Redcar. Although Nathan started riding at the age of three and a half, this is only his second season of competitive racing and it’s clear that a professional career beckons. In case anyone is not clear about what exactly speedway is, think of four motor bikes with only one gear and no brakes, being ridden at breakneck speed round a stadium dirt track, in a virtually permanent, controlled (!), broadside power skid. Nathan also supports Chelsea FC. (Quite right too).

UPGRADE TO CROSSINGS: This coming Sunday should be the final day of the disruption as they upgrade the crossings on the London Road and at Riverhall. It has made for some interesting journey scheduling: twenty five minutes from the Village Hall to Eatenden Lane, for example. As you would expect, it has also played havoc with British Gypsum’s timed deliveries. It was never going to be easy, you can’t make an omelette, etc but the boys from Amey were all very experienced and amiable. Once it’s all finished, we’ll just have to wait and see what effect the extra waiting time on the London Road, expected to be about three minutes instead of thirty seconds, has on traffic tailing back to the tip and the exit from the Mine Road.

OTHER DIARY DATES: Next Friday (October 30) is the Mountfield Family Bonfire in Solomon’s Lane. Gates open at 6pm for the lighting of the bonfire, the display, plus barbecue and refreshments. Afterwards, the Mountfield Club are laying on a happy hour back at the Club, all welcome. The next Kids Club will be Friday November 6 from 3.30pm to 5.30pm in the village hall. And then the Children’s Christmas Party is on Saturday December 12.

CONTACT: As ever, if you have anything for the Village Voice, we can be contacted on 880614 or via

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