© 2017 The Harpenden Society
As a priority project for 2016-17, St Albans City and District Council is looking at the best way of redeveloping and improving the Harpenden’s leisure and cultural facilities to meet the needs of a growing population. The facilities being reviewed are Harpenden Swimming Pool, Harpenden Sports Centre and Harpenden Public Halls.
The Sports Centre and Swimming Pool complex in Rothamsted Park is acknowledged to be outdated and not large enough to cope with current demand whilst the Harpenden Public Halls are in a poor state of repair both internally and externally.
Sports, the arts and heritage are not Local Council statutory services, so austerity measures mean improvement funding has to be applied for via Lottery Grants. Alternatively projects require a good business case to generate income. The good news is SADC has just completed a feasibility study and feel the project is viable.
A Public Consultation will soon be announced so residents will have the opportunity to view concept designs and have their say. The aim is to open a new Harpenden Leisure Centre by December 2018 and a new Harpenden Arts and Cultural Centre a year later.
Cllr Annie Brewster, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage, said: “The council is committed to providing affordable sports, arts and cultural facilities in modern environments for residents to enjoy. So far, we have delivered three new developments: Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, Batchwood Sports Centre and Cotlandswick Leisure Centre and we are currently raising funds to create a new City and District Museum and Art Gallery in the Grade II* Listed St Albans Town Hall. As part of this strategy, we are now exploring an exciting opportunity to transform our facilities in Harpenden.”
On a day of mixed weather in June, visitors to the hugely well-attended Harpenden Carnival who called at – or passed by – the Harpenden Society’s display, were invited to test their local observation and knowledge in a brain-teasing competition. Many were undoubtedly encouraged by the prospect of winning one of the attractive prizes. The entry form showed photographs, including close-ups and others taken from unusual angles, of eleven different locations around the town, which entrants were challenged to identify.
Fifty-five of the 360 or so participants pinpointed the pictured sites correctly. Their names went into a lucky-dip box and later, at a garden party on a fine evening thrown by Society chairman Chris Marsden, the Town Mayor Nicola Linacre was invited (right) to pull out the names of the prize-winners, on the first 14 slips to be drawn.
Possibly through a fear of begging letters, most of the prize-winners opted for anonymity. The prizes, donated by the Harpenden Society and town retailers, and won by individuals, were:
£100 cash donated by the Harpenden Society, a Cherry Tree Hall dolls house worth £200, from Jarvis Homes, a private wine tasting worth £200 for eight people, from Rollings Wine, a £50 fashion voucher from Oui, a £50 voucher from bathroom supplier Ripples, a £25 voucher from R&M Butchers, a £20 takeaway meal voucher from Godfrey’s Fish & Chips, a book voucher from Harpenden Books, a part body, back, neck & shoulder massage from Breathing Space, a ‘luxury’ cushion from Lister Interiors, four Carnival ice cream sundaes from Nice, two prizes were won by retailer entrants. They were awarded: a free half-page advertisement in ‘What’s On Herts’ and a full-page feature on the Harpendia website.
Also invited to the chairman’s garden party, enabling them to be thanked for their services, were the group of volunteers, led by Liz Trounce, who enable the town’s public library to remain open for business on Wednesday afternoons, when it would otherwise be closed.
A refreshing taste of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ on Harpenden’s doorstep was enjoyed in early June by twenty or so Harpenden Society members and friends on a guided tour of Hammonds End Farm. An initial drizzle threatened literally to put a damper on the early-evening visit, as the group climbed aboard the farm trailer, seating ourselves surprisingly comfortably on the straw bales provided.
Our informative host and guide was Stuart Roberts, representing the 3rd generation of the Roberts family, who have been farming at Hammonds End since the 1950s, where today Stuart’s father Howard occupies the farmhouse.
Stuart explained that in 1998 a decision was made, on commercial as well as ecological grounds, to ‘go organic’, eschewing the use of any chemicals, as fertiliser or for weed/pest control. Hammonds End is one of the few wholly organic farms in the area which, as Stuart observed, is ironically in stark contrast to some of the GM trials going on at Rothamsted Research, whose land is in places only 120 yards away. He stressed that the farm nevertheless enjoys an amicable relationship with Rothamsted. Today some 100 acres at Hammonds End are assigned to wheat production, 60 acres to oats and smaller areas to other crops such as rye, which is sold to distilleries producing a bourbon-like whisky. Stuart said that, thanks in large measure to Hammonds End’s organic regime, today’s farm has become habitat for a wide variety of both fauna and flora. At the end of our 90-minute tour we repaired to one of the farm’s traditional barns, for welcome tea and cakes, where Stuart was glad to answer any outstanding questions. Everyone agreed it had been a highly enjoyable as well as an educational experience.