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Working sessions
We are again planning to carry out some regular maintenance in and around East and West Hanney this year. We plan to work from 09:00 until noon, and as usual, the location will depend upon what needs to be done. Please add these dates to your diaries. It would be great if everyone could do at least one session during the year as it then spreads the load out.
*** Venue and work details will be advised each month by email to subscribers of our E-newsletter ***



We are looking for volunteers to organise each weekend, so please contact us via the contact form.


Saturday 18th of December
A great team effort today tacking a cluster of 6 or 7 trees that had fallen across the Brook, blocking four fifths of the width and building up a dam of debris as a consequence. The team also skilfully removed the top of a broken Blackthorn tree, only held together with ivy, from the bank without getting their feet wet. Both work areas were cleared of all the debris with very little escaping and floating off downstream to cause issues elsewhere. Grateful thanks to Ian and Dickon who towed the trailer and Phil for the mince pies.

The hard-working team today were joined by Mick, who came along for the first time, giving Ian, Dickon, David B, Keith, Paul, Peter, Phil, Adrian, Jane, Stewart, Oliver and Clive M a helping hand. Thank you to all the volunteers for today and all the others who have turned out each month this year.

Today was the first time we have been subjected to a full inspection by residents of the Brook who arrived just as we were finishing. The inspection team consisted of mum, dad and two rather large signets. They seemed very satisfied that this large obstruction had been removed. Great to see them. Photographs on the Letcombe Brook and West and East Hanney Community Facebook pages.

Saturday 20th of November
Plenty of rewarding effort and a few aching muscles no doubt from two tasks completed this weekend.
The overgrown and unkempt vegetation along the water course behind Mill Orchard was reduced and tamed by Phil and Lamorna working discretely to minimise any potential disturbance of the wildlife known to be resident here. Plenty of signs of burrows, droppings and food sources illustrating what an important nature reserve the Letcombe Brook and its associated waterways are. Great job – thank you and well done.
Continuing from last month the second tunnel under Botney Bridge was excavated to leave a deep channel for the water to flow through this culvert. Using traditional mining methods of buckets and shovels, not enough room to swing a pick under here, teams dug through the heavy silt opening up a 2ft 6inch wide channel for water to flow continually, potentially reducing the risk and level of flooding here. A stretch of the Childrey Brook downstream from here was also cleared of debris to enable water to flow more easily away from this pinch point. Plenty of heavy work by all involved. As well as clearing the bridge the ditches on either side of Hyde Road were cleared of vegetation, road barrier stands, two number plates and other litter which has no business to be dumped here. As for the sheet of corrugated iron buried under the bridge.... one can only speculate. A blocked large bore culvert was discovered linking the ditches on either side of the road and this was cleared and is now able to perform the function for which it was installed.

One hopes that the efforts of David C, Paul S, Keith, David S, Clive M, Clive F, David B, Ian, Dickon, Peter, Oliver and Bob are recognised by OCC Highways whose asset this bridge is and motivates them to maintain this bridge with its twin tunnels on a regular basis from now on, after all we have done the hard work for them.

Saturday 18th of September
Ten volunteers this month including two welcome new members to the team. We were able to complete the programme of reed and bramble reduction opening up the main channel of the Brook towards Lower Mill. Several overhanging branches were trimmed allowing more light onto the water and banks. We saw two water voles today and a kingfisher.
Thank you to: Peter, Phil, Clive M, David S, David B, Andrew, Ian, Dickon, Violeta and Adrian.

Saturday 21st August
Apart from a brief period of insignificant drizzle at the start it stayed dry for the 16 HFG volunteers in the Brook and on the banks. A programme of reed reduction opened up the main channel of the Brook below the Iron Bridge towards Lower Mill. This area has not had much significant maintenance for a couple of years and had become very narrow in places. A brief foray during lockdowns had made a difference to one area but the whole of this section of the Brook had become very overgrown. We should be able to finish this task next month if we have the same turnout of volunteers.
Thank you to: Phil, Clive M, David S, David B, Keith, Meryl, Andrew, Paul S, Oliver K, Stewart, Ian, Dickon, Barry, Jim, Jane and Mark S.
Paul Sayers has kindly sent an extract from Frank Pollers book about the bathing place as it was known.   [LINK]

Saturday 17th of July
Fantastic weather, if not a little hot for the working parties. The main focus was removal of Himalayan Balsam from Letcombe Brook below Lower Mill, Philberds Manor and Willow Barn. Removal of obstacles and litter continued from last month. The clearance of Ebbs Lane ditches and culverts had to be postponed but is still firmly on the list of jobs to be done.
Many thanks to Kerem, Alastair, Mark S, Jim, Jane, Phil, Mark B, Paul S, Paul D, David S, Andrew, Keith and Clive. Commiserations to Ian and Dickon having to self-isolate having been pinged; the first flood group working party they have missed.
Thank you to all those who sent apologies as this really helps with planning the working parties.
A small working party has been attempting to clear the blocked culverts in Berry Lane and after approximately 15 man hours hard graft have succeeded David S, Andrew and Clive M have cleared the top end of drains and culverts in Berry Lane. There is more to do but many thanks to this team.

Saturday 19th of June
Good turnout this morning between the days of heavy rain with some very significant progress made with all the projects and some tasks completed in full.

Ye Olde Housen Ditch: Phil Manvell, Meryl Chisholm, Denis Houldey, Clive Fewins. Big heap of weeds removed and channel left to flow freely.

Headings Pond: Paul Sayers and David Corps. Roadside drains cleared and the ensuing sumps and pipework cleared back to the drainage ditch. Traffic damaged grass verges also removed leaving the road clear.

Causeway Drains: Lamorna Zambellas, Ian Green, Dickon Green, Oliver Cornish+ Phil Manvell. All drain openings and associated manholes cleared. One drain completely blocked by a football removed. Traffic damaged grass verges also removed enabling water to reach the drains and flow away from the road. Will not be long before it gets a test run!!

Obstruction Removal Team: David Stubbington, Keith Chisholm, Andrew Wastie, Clive Manvell. Significant number of fallen trees and other debris removed. Still some more to do but a great effort and plenty of energy expended.

Photos to follow.

Thank you all for returning the tools and equipment cleaned and ready for the next time.

Apologies if this appears a bit late but I have today walked Letcombe Brook from mid-way down Weir Farm to the far end of Philberds Manor and can find nothing that needs clearing or removing despite all the recent strong winds.
I have also been in touch with Paul Dyer and there is nothing to do there either, at the moment. I am not aware of any other areas with issues.
So surprisingly I am cancelling this months working party. The wildlife is better not disturbed at this time of year too and the weather does not look that good either.
I know this will be huge disappointment to all of you but if you want to get out then I can suggest a litter pick along the Brook would be beneficial. It is not too bad at present but the usual crop of plastic and metal beverage cans, tennis balls, footballs and there is nearly always a plastic duck too. Himalayan Balsam is just beginning to germinate and for the moment is difficult to see, but if you do see some please let us know. After 7 years we have nearly got rid of it from our village but there is plenty downstream and still some upstream. Some photos attached for your education, pulled out this afternoon. Clive.

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Saturday 17th of April
Beautiful sunshine, as nearly always, to welcome the first HFG working party for some time and a fantastic turnout of 19 volunteers. Literally a very warm welcome to Andrew, Mark and Georgie. Working in small teams, socially distanced, in the fresh Hanney air we tackled ditches, culverts and drains in Halls Lane, identifying some significant problems that will require further resolution by OCC Highways; cleared a series of beaver-like dams blocking drainage channels in a woodland area; removed a significant-sized log from Letcombe Brook; cleared a side branch of Gods ditch of debris, dead branches including about 40 yards of dense brambles. A fantastic effort.

Thank you to Ian and Dickon for towing the trailer and leading the team clearing Halls Lane with Jane and Jim, Oliver K and Stella; thank you to David S for leading the woodland team with Andrew, Keith, Barry and James. Phil, Mark S, Stewart, Georgie, Meryl and Charlotte for clearing the drainage ditch with me, leaving the way clear for a digger to get in and grade the ditch so that it can flow towards Gods Ditch. Plenty more work to do here clearing more debris and investigating the culvert discovered at the junction with Ebbs Lane.

Hopefully we will see the new recruits again in the coming months. The next scheduled working party is Saturday 15th May. I will send preliminary details nearer the time. Thank you to everyone who responded swiftly, it makes a huge difference in the planning as we have to work in small teams, which needs a bit of organisation.

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January maintenance session is not as necessary as it has been in previous years. We still need to do a stock take and a thorough spring clean, perhaps run some equipment checks and other tasks including some tool sharpening!

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Himalayan balsam

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