Until 1927, all affairs were conducted by Parish Meetings rather than a Parish Council, mainly chaired by Canon Joshua Anderson, Rector of St. Bartholomew's, Arborfield.
It took a crisis to put the civil parish onto a more formal footing, when finances became insufficient to cover repairs to the six Parish Cottages because the two main revenue-earners - Arborfield Hall and Arborfield Grange - were unoccupied (and therefore not liable for Poor Rate) for 6 months. Following this, it was proposed to set up a Parish Council, and permission was then granted by Berkshire County Council.
The first election on 8th July 1927 produced 8 candidates:
Elizabeth Marion Prescott*,
Meetings had been held at the Arborfield and Barkham School Rooms to 1911, and at Arborfield Grange on 26th October 1911.
Here are some gleanings from the Meeting Minutes over the years, showing what was important in village life at the time.
Click here for a separate article on the Parish's six houses.
Canon Anderson proposed at the 1919 Annual Parish Meeting "That this Meeting is of the opinion that additional houses for working people are required in this Parish", and the motion was forwarded to Wokingham Rural District Council [WRDC]. Eventually, WRDC built 32 Council Houses near the Bramshill Hunt on Eversley Road (much more recently known as Rickman Close and Bramshill Close).
The Aldershot Gas, Water and District Lighting Co. proposed in 1918 to promote a Bill to extend its gas area to include the parishes of Winnersh, Newland, Barkham, Arborfield, Swallowfield and Shinfield (detached). That year's annual meeting could not decide whether this would benefit the Parish.
The Thames Valley Electricity Supply Co. proposed to supply the village in 1937; action was delayed because BCC and the WRDC insisted that a large part of the cable be underground. In the event, electricity was not supplied until after the War.
In 1926, Wokingham R.D.C. proposed a Water Supply Scheme. A public enquiry was held in Hurst, with strong opposition shown at the meeting to the scheme. Mr Bowyer, who had attended this meeting, was of the opinion that the matter would be dropped by the Rural District Council.
In 1933, Mr Barker reported that he had petitioned the Postmaster at Reading for a Post Box near the "Bramshill" public house, there being 40 houses within 600 yards. Most of these were Council Houses provided by Wokingham Rural District Council.
Footpaths and Stiles
In 1898, repairs to the fence and gate and the gravelling of the foot path through the field leading to the church cost £5/19/6.
In November 1919, the Chairman, Mr Kenneth Prescott of Arborfield Court, offered to withdraw while the Parish Meeting discussed an application from him. John Simonds was present and voted. It was proposed that there should be a diversion, turning and stopping up of a footpath leading out of the SE side of the high road from Arborfield Cross to Swallowfield at a point adjacent to Chamberlain's Farm and running in a southerly direction along the SE side of Arborfield Court into a lane known as Wokingham Lane. This was agreed to, after the plans were made publicly available for viewing in the Rectory from 5 to 7 pm every weekday for 2 months.
The 1919 meeting also heard about the dangerous state of the stile near Mr Harrington's cottage (owned by Mrs. Hart).
Stiles over the footpath through Chamberlain's Farm were in bad repair in 1923; also that near Bridge Cottages in 1924.
Small Holdings and Allotments
1925 - Allotments circular received - decided in 1926 that there was no demand.
In 1911, the pond was cleaned out, and the mud deposited in the Occupation of Mr D Lucas.
Councillors and Overseers
From 1894, the Chairman was Captain Stuart Rickman, who died in office in 1913. His successor for many years was the Rector, Rev. Joshua Anderson, but Kenneth Prescott of Arborfield Court chaired meetings between 1918 and 1923.
Overseers from 1894 to 1901 were John Michael Wells and Richard Mallam Wells. John was succeeded by Andrew Nash in 1902, then Francis Holliday in 1903 and Alfred Ebenezer Scrivener in 1904. Richard Wells handed over to Douglas Parfitt in 1907. Alfred Scrivever stood down in 1918 for a year when George A Keasley of Arborfield Hall Farm took over, but returned to office in 1919. He then retired due to age and ill-health in 1923. Charles Walter Crocker took over for a year, followed by Charles Lewis Hewett. Douglas Parfitt handed over to Stanley Thurston Hoskins in 1919, who in turn was replaced the same year by Joseph Bushell.
After the Parish Council had been elected in 1927, one year later Canon Anderson replaced John Jackson , and the same representatives served for another decade until Guthrie Allsebrook took over as Chairman in 1937.
The Second World War
By 1939, there was talk of war. Provision had already been made during the "Crisis in October 1938" for housing or finding accommodation for a large number of children who might be evacuated from the towns to the country at a few hours' notice, and the Councillors had all attended a special meeting in preparation. Meanwhile, the perennial cesspool issue had been referred to the R.D.C., who had offered to provide a "Wet Scavenging Scheme" for Arborfield. First mention was made of a proposed Playing Field, considered most likely to be behind Pond Cottages.
The 1940 meeting began, not with mention of the War, but that the Old Churchyard had never been in a better or more tidy condition in recent years than now [parts of the old church, including the Standen Tomb, the Altar Rail and the old wooden font, had recently been moved into the Victorian church]. The Parish was trying to get a speed limit through the village. The only military connection was reported by Mr. Barker, that an Army lorry had knocked down the notice board near the "Bramshill Hunt". Cesspits were again mentioned, namely the one from the Pheasantries, which was leaking into the ditch in Church Lane "causing an unbearable stench".
There was no meeting in 1941, but in 1942 the War was mentioned at last. Mrs Jervoise of Targett's Farm, the A.R.P. Warden, had purchased bandages, gauze and cotton wool from Messrs. Boots & Co. in Wokingham for dressing wounds.
In 1943, Mr Lee of Newland Farm raised the subject of the Dug-Out just off the Reading Road, while Mr Watts complained that the road near his cottage was being cut away by heavy traffic.
The state of the Dug-Out was discussed again at the next meeting, in 1945. The roof was falling in, and boys were playing there. Representation was obviously a hot local issue. Mrs More of the Nurseries [in Swallowfield Road] enquired who was the District Councillor, and asked for two District Councillors in future, one for Arborfield and one for Newland. Because she was not a registered Elector, the Clerk stopped her from speaking, whereupon the District Councillor Mrs. Capper took up the issue, which was carried unanimously.
The Greensward Lane cottages needed to be re-thatched in 1946, exhausting Parish reserves. Bus times were an issue, the 6 o'clock from Reading needing to be duplicated, and the morning services to Reading needing an extra service between 8:51 and 10:25. It was hoped that the bus company would provide shelters at the Cross and at the end of Church Lane. Extra policing was also called for, there having been a spate of thefts prior to Christmas 1945.
The Village Hall replaced the School as a venue for the first time in March 1947, when the two Parishes held a joint meeting under the chairmanship of Brigadier E. W. Chadwick, with 21 present. They discussed a possible amalgamation, though the Newland Charities might cause difficulties because they would not cover residents of Arborfield. It was reported that the Military Authorities planned to buy the whole of Arborfield Court Estate; if this occurred, the Councils were anxious to preserve the footpath and the woodland. More generally, there was concern over the general state of roads and footpaths, the removal of barbed wire at Arborfield Cross, and the filling-in of the Pond at the Cross. Electricity was on the way, and the telephone kiosk was wired for electric light, ready for connection.
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