NEWPORT VILLAGE RECORDER
REPORT FOR 2010
Newport has been relatively unaffected by the economic upheavals and political changes in 2010.
New property developments have been few, and at least one major development has been deferred. However, there have been a number of interesting renovation and extension type projects on historic buildings and public facilities. Property sales have been modest, at best relatively flat.
Traffic problems remain much as in previous years with pronounced peak period congestion during the early morning and late afternoon extended by the school rushes. As of the time of writing the only new traffic measures have involved introduction of 20mph speed limits on Frambury lane, School Lane, Bury Water Lane and Bridge End . It is expected that a pedestrian crossing will be installed near the Grammar School in the near future. Parking remains a problem with many instances of inconsiderate short term parking on the principal routes and longer term parking by commuters despite the improvements to the station car park.
There is a broad range of leisure activities covering a spectrum of ages and topics ranging from sport to theatrical. A large number of societies operate in the village, many of them very successful and taken overall indicate a high degree of social cohesion.
Recorder Activities: A busy year providing information to enquiries received through the Recorders website or directly. Major enquiries related to the Sanderson , Sell, Whyman and Tyllinghast families and were in the main answered as far as possible using information in local archives.
Enquiries regarding older properties in Newport were handled in the same way.
Information has been gathered for a correspondent researching the development of Council Housing covering the north Essex area including Newport.
Ongoing research into the history of Shortgrove has continued to reveal interesting new information on the Smith family. Some of that information concerning the charitable works of Margaret Smith was published in the latest edition of Newport News. Others will be produced for subsequent issues.
Support was given to the Wicken Bonhunt History exhibition in the form of some exhibition stands illustrating the impact of Shortgrove and Quendon Hall estates on that area.
Work on the VCH project has begun in earnest.
Local History Group: Another successful year of excellent lectures on a broad range of local history topics all of which were very well attended. The summer programme of visits was very successful with notable visits to Thaxted, the Moot Hall and Plume Library at Maldon, and Layer Marney Tower. Interest in all aspects of local history remains high in the village.
The Victoria County History project on Newport is gathering momentum. The project team is fortunate to have secured finance from a private foundation to defray the costs of research and travel. 2011 will be the crucial year for this project which will first be published on the internet.
Newport News: The acclaimed village magazine has undergone a transformation following the retirement of Angela Archer the long serving editor. A new editorial team and designer produced the usual two issues in 2010 with a crisp new style and to a high standard. The revised approach provides an index with topics, such as local history, grouped to enable easy access, highlighted banners etc. The magazine remains dependent on a substantial team of volunteers to obtain articles and advertising. This year's issues have met with widespread approval and a survey rated history topics highly in terms of interest.
St Mary's Church: In 2010 two major projects were completed - installation of an organ to take over from the existing one which has reached the end of its useful life, and replacement of the heating system. As with all old churches restoration projects are on-going and the PCC is looking to raise more funds to address impending problems with the chancel roof. A notable innovation during 2010 was the institution of a Foundress Day service for Newport Free Grammar School. This will become an annual event. Regrettably the vicar, Rev. Dr Barbara Sherlock, who has been ably supported by her husband David, will be leaving Newport in early 2011.
Historic buildings: A small number of historic buildings have changed ownership and/or have been renovated in 2010. Monks Barn, an important Wealden house has had major renovations to the south elevation and a new interceptor drain installed on the roadside to prevent water penetration; The Old House, formerly the Radio & Television Shop, has been completely, sympathetically renovated and a splendid band of raised pargetting applied to the front elevation; a similar but more extensive parget has been applied to an early 19th C cottage on Wicken Rd. These have attracted considerable attention and are a great asset to the village. Monks Cottage on the High St. has had its exterior renovated and a significant extension has been added to a 17th century cottage on Belmont Hill.
Newport Business Association: The association was formed to promote business in Newport and also to support community initiatives. Besides it' purely business activities, it installed in 2010 the first community based defibrillator in Essex complete with an on-going training programme. It has also recently 'adopted' Newport Railway Station with the intention of participating in schemes to improve the station and its facilities.
The Village Hall: The current major projects for the redevelopment of the village hall were completed in 2010 resulting in much improved facilities. The availability of additional rooms providing good facilities together with better general infra-structure should make the venue even more attractive. There remains work to be done and the committee are looking for more funding to complete the overall project and maintain it to high standards. The hall is a popular venue and in regular use for, private meetings, functions, clubs, exhibitions etc. e.g. The Newport Amateur heatrical Society (NATS) successfully staged two productions this year, Calamity Jane and Cash on Delivery.
Parish Council: The parish council has spearheaded a number of significant projects including improvements to the Diana Sell playground and provision of better facilities at the Recreation Ground involving a purpose built home for Newport Youth Club. The problems which have delayed the provision of a pedestrian crossing on Belmont Hill now appear to have been resolved and it is hoped that Essex County Council will allocate funds in 2011/12. This and addressing the on-going traffic problems remains a high priority. Plans for construction of a substantial number of new houses in Newport have been shelved following the change of government. There is now a new requirement for development of a local housing plan. The affordable housing development at Frambury Lane has been delayed by local objections and planning issues.
The fruits of a village consultation for the Future of Newport undertaken by a volunteer team over the last 18 months have been delivered. The aim was to generate findings on the needs for shops, business, recreation, transport, housing etc. and to deliver the parish council an action plan. Unsurprisingly, Newport remains a favoured location with many desirable features. There exists strong opposition to any further major expansion but the need for affordable housing is recognised. Long held concerns remain with respect to traffic congestion, speeding and difficulties with parking and crossing the roads. Many feel that a central meeting facility for social activities and more recreational facilities would be a valuable addition together with more local services and business. Also that the needs of the substantial number of elderly people resident in the village should be addressed. A very professional document collating the needs, recommendations and proposals has been delivered to every household in the village. It is to be considered by the Parish Council and will hopefully be adopted as the basis of a series of initiatives.
Business Developments: During 2010 three small businesses closed, two on the High St, the other on Station Rd. The site of one has returned to a former use as a used car dealer. The future of the Maltings adjacent to the station remains in uncertain, meanwhile the existing tenants continue in their businesses.
Schools: Major works were carried out on the Primary School buildings including replacement of the roof. Coincidentally refurbishment of the adjacent Oliver's Lodge (playgroup) was undertaken at the same time. The buildings are now in excellent condition to provide for the needs of current and future years pupils.
Newport Free Grammar School continued its record of high academic achievement with excellent results in both GCSE and A levels. Increasingly the pupils are involved in community projects such as litter clearance etc.. The school has continued its tradition of musicals, this years offering being a well received production of Grease.
Clubs etc.: As mentioned earlier, Newport has a large number of Clubs, Associations etc which materially enrich the community and cater for all ages and many tastes ranging from art to sports of all types. The Local History Group and NATS have already been mentioned. It is not possible to mention them all but notable amongst them is the 'Girls Go Out' group dedicated to 'Girls' of all ages and organises meetings and visits of all descriptions such as theatre and film visits, lunches, dinners and talks. This provides an important network for our ladies to meet, exchange views and enjoy each others company.
David Evans; Newport Village Recorder;