June 2016 Print E-mail
Hambledon Today and Yesterday        
 Two fascinating sets of written memories have  surfaced recently. In the mid 1980's Geoff  Hartridge encouraged Aubrey Taylor to write down  his memories of Hambledon life — Hambledon  Through Two World Wars. His father Harry Taylor  was born in Hambledon in 1864; Aubrey, born  in 1906 followed his father into his painting and  decorating business.   
 In 1988, Williarn Heath was persuaded by his  daughter to write down his —   Wills Wanderings  Down Memory Lane. William was a farmer, based  more in Denmead — his parents moved to Little  Denmead Farm in I908 — but his experiences echo  those of our local farming community and equally  informs our Hambledon history. 
There is so much of interest in both books - they  fill gaps and as usual we will continue to mine  them for future articles.  This month we are picking  up on some of the war stories. We recently featured  the purchase by Hartridges of the Alliance Brewery  from the Horne family. Now on 7th‘ December  1940 this brewery took a direct hit from a German  high explosive bomb and was completely destroyed.  The aftermath was captured in the photo. The  Droxford ARP handwritten District Report of the  incident recorded: "on the outskirts of Hambledon  village several incendiary bombs followed by a stick  of high explosive bombs across the village. No  casualties. Hartridges Brewery completely destroyed  and ceilings and Windows of about 50 houses  damaged. Telephone wires down. Morale of  inhabitants OK". These were by no means the only  bombs to fall in the area, Taylor writes that over a  100 high explosive bombs dropped in the vicinity  — especially during the blitzes on Portsmouth and  Southampton. Fortunately, although woods were  set ablaze on several occasions, other damage to  property was limited. (A map exists of where the  bombs fell - we are trying to locate a copy.) 
William Heath also captures the experience of  bombing, "I remember one evening I was on the  tractor ploughing and a Land Army Girl was following  me with a horse and a presser when a German plane  came over the top of us — he was being chased by  our fighters and dropped four bombs in the field at the back of the Farm buildings ~ fortunately it  did not do much damage, just made craters, whereas  at Anthill Common, about a mile the opposite  side, the blast blew out some of their windows".
   These eyewitness accounts by local people at  the time remind us of the impact of the war in  Hambledon's daily life. Farmers were under  enormous pressure to provide food and after the  war William Heath was presented with a certificate  thanking him and including the words ‘The task of  British Agriculture, an arduous, indeed a vital one  was to keep the nation fed. With your help it has been done People dealing with new responsibilities,  new living arrangements, new people — evacuees,  prisoners ofwar, soldiers — all suddenly appear in  a previously close knit community.
  Farming was for so long the driving economic  force for Hambledon and we want to focus on it  and how it has evolved in the village over the coming  months. We plan to hold another Pub meeting in  the Autumn where we will highlight Hambledon's  farming heritage. Please give this thought and be  ready to share your stories and memories.
  Today, it is much easier to capture the moment  in photos — so don't forget to record what's  happening in 2016 and enter the Horticultural  Society Summer Show Photo competition! But if  you know of other memoirs and personal notes  like Aubrey and William's, which can add to the  Hambledon story, please do let us know.
  Thanks to Geoff Hartridge, James King and Nick  Bailey for their help in informing this article.