Local News                         2021/2020


Scientists breed

designer wheat for

whisky distillers

A team of scientists from Rothamsted Research

have bred a type of wheat specifically to improve

whisky production.

The group’s lead researcher says this new wheat

will reduce the processing problems, higher energy

use, and wear on pumps caused by using current

wheat varieties.

Rothamsted’s Dr Rowan Mitchell said: “At present using wheat grain is a problem for distilleries because it causes sticky residues that mean the whole distillery must be shut down for cleaning.

“Our novel wheat is designed to have grain with low levels of soluble dietary fibre and should greatly decrease these problems. Great for making whisky, but the opposite to what’s required by bakers.”

He added that the development will also make UK grown wheat more desirable for use in whisky compared to imported maize, which is currently easier to process.

This new wheat line is one of the first wheat varieties in the world developed using ‘reverse genetics’ - where scientists start with knowledge of what a gene does, rather than screening for the trait in a plant first and then looking for which of its genes are responsible.

Their non-GM approach, called TILLING, allowed them to rapidly breed their gene of choice into an existing wheat variety – no easy task as wheat has six copies of each of its genes compared to only two copies of each in humans.

The group focused in on genes they discovered that controlled the amount of a chemical found in plant cell walls called arabinoxylan, responsible for soluble fibre levels and what determines its viscosity - whether the liquid extract is ‘thin’ like water, or ‘thick’ like honey.

By using traditional plant breeding methods, they created wheat lines where these genes had stopped working – referred to as ‘knock out’ or loss of function lines.

In these lines, the arabinoxylan molecules where both shorter and fewer in number, leading to a whisky-friendly wheat that produces a liquid extract between 50 and 80% less ‘gloopy’ compared to wheat without the knock-out genes.

Interestingly, the team saw that the plant responded to this change by increasing the bonds between the remaining arabinoxylan molecules, which helped it maintain the size and shape of its cells.

The group have a patent on the use of the gene for this application and are now working with plant breeding company Limagrain to develop a new commercial variety.

Co-author Dr Simon Berry, marker specialist at Limagrain, said: “There is going to be a pilot scale test on about a quarter of a tonne of grain at a distillery this year and we are aiming for an official trials entry within the next 5 years.

“Low viscosity wheat would strengthen the continued use of UK wheat in distilling and offer a solution to those distillers still using maize.”

Scotch production is an extremely important industry to the UK, worth about £5 bn per year.

The project, which also included the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, was funded by UKRI and Innovate UK.

Calling all jigsaw lovers!

Harpenden will hold its first ever Jigsaw Festival

on 4 & 5 June 2021 at High Street Methodist

Church. Organised by volunteers from two

Harpenden churches, this will be a community-

wide event with all proceeds going to two

nominated charities. Jigsaw festivals have proved

popular events around the country, where

hundreds of made up jigsaw puzzles are displayed

either to buy or just to view, whilst refreshments are


Further details will be released later, but at this stage, in order to make the event a success, the organisers are looking for the community to get involved with any of the following tasks:-

· Assembling your own puzzles and donating them.

· Donating unmade complete puzzles for others to assemble and Making up jigsaws donated by others.

If you are willing to help in any way, or require further details, please contact:-

Email: harpendenjigsaws@gmail.com, or telephone: 01582 713056 or visit the festival website:harpendenjigsawfestival.co.uk.

Follow progress on our Facebook page Harpenden Jigsaw Festival




John Murray is the new president of Harpenden Village

Rotary Club. He has lived in Harpenden since 2001 when,

after a career including spells in the oil industry and running

his own business, he was appointed chief executive of the

Society of Maritime Industries.

John is married to Christine and they have two grown-up


This is not his first Rotary presidency. He joined Darlington Rotary Club in the 1970s and was president in 1989-90. He has been a member of Harpenden Village Rotary Club since 2001.

John commented: ‘The core ethos of Rotary is encapsulated in its motto, Service above Self. While serving and supporting the community, both locally and through our international contacts, may appear to be on hold at present, as a result of Covid-19, I can assure you that our club members are working behind the scenes to ensure that during my year we will be able to deliver on our remit.’


Local help to tackle money worries

Mounting personal debt is an increasing problem as many of us struggle to pay bills because of the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on our finances.  There are high levels of debt on credit cards, and personal loans and not everyone can manage the repayments at the moment.

Help is at hand from Harpenden Money Advice Centre which is a charity providing confidential, non-judgemental and impartial debt and budgeting advice. This free local service from trained advisers, all volunteers, will look at how best to tackle your debts.

Manager of the charity Richard Payne said "Our team are here to help people look at their money problems and work with them to come up with an affordable plan, prioritising the most urgent payments and looking at what they can afford to repay.  Anyone can get into debt, and often it’s no fault of their own doing.  It could be a job loss, relationship breakdown, bereavement or other change in circumstances and it can be very hard to admit there is a problem.  But that is the first step to sorting it out.  We are still open during these strange times and can give help via Zoom or on the phone.  Do get in contact.  We are very friendly and just want to help."

One client told their story:

"Two years ago I felt I was drowning. I was making payments every month but then had no money for the remainder of the month and was then getting further loans to get through each month, increasing my debts and finding myself in a vicious cycle I couldn't get out of. I also needed to find somewhere else to live, as the tenancy on the place I was living in was running out. With your help and support not only did you arrange an affordable monthly plan with my creditors, but you also found me a new place to live.

I was at a point two years ago where I felt almost suicidal but thanks to you, I now see a light at the end of the tunnel and emotionally and mentally I have emerged from that black hole I was in. Thank you, without your help, I dread to think where I would now be."

To find out more contact Richard Payne on www.hmac.uk or call 07954 276281 email info@hmac.uk

Harpenden Money Advice Centre is a local charity supported by churches across Harpenden. All advisers are volunteers who freely give their time and are trained to the CMA Level 3 Award in Generalist Debt Advice, which has been "Money Advice Service" accredited at Advice Level.

Photo above of the HMAC team (Richard Payne is in the centre with the purple jumper)

Harpenden’s new culture centre to be named after comedy legend.

Harpenden’s new culture centre is to be named

after one of its most famous residents – comedy

legend Eric Morecambe.

The centre is being built on the site of the town’s

former sports centre in Rothamsted Park and is

due to open by the late spring of next year.

Eric, who died in 1983, lived in the West

Common area of Harpenden during the height

of his fame as part of TV’s Morecambe and

Wise double act.

The Eric Morecambe Centre (EMC) will include

a 511-seat theatre with state-of-the-art

production equipment to allow major touring

shows to be staged as well as those put on by

local groups.

There will also be an exhibition space, two function rooms, a local history room, bars on two floors and a coffee shop with views across the park.

The EMC is being built along with a new Harpenden Leisure Centre by St Albans City and District Council in an ambitious £20 million project.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Heritage and Public Realm, said: “The Council approached Eric’s family and asked permission to name the centre after him and I am delighted that they have agreed.

“Eric Morecambe was one of Britain’s most-loved and treasured comedians as well as one of Harpenden’s most famous residents.

“Given the huge contribution he made to the country’s entertainment industry, it is only fitting that the town’s culture centre should be named after him.

“It will be a fantastic asset for Harpenden and will be a focus for the promotion and enjoyment of the arts. I’m sure Eric would have approved.”

The auditorium of Harpenden Public Halls - which the EMC is replacing – had also been named after Eric.

THE HUB is more than a “cafe” to

Redbourn, its a “social” centre. 

By Simon Barnes.

Started 9 years ago, we hadn’t clue about Coffee

or Retail but Lindy & I agreed if we were going to

invest a lot of time and money in a new venture

we wanted it to be “special’.

We both enjoy sharing our passion and a good

chat with customers which led us to a coffee bar

for cyclists.

We took a short lease on a c1600 year building

to give it a go.

And it WENT !!

We soon discovered how much there was to learn, what fun it was and the thrill of offering a really good quality coffee.

We took advice to ensure our coffee offering would be the best ever and opted for Allpress coffee, a NZ roasters with a roasterry in East London AND have all our Barritas trained by them in London.

We broadened customer base to anyone enjoying our style and coffee, added some REAL “homemade cakes “, Redbournbury Mill bread [including Zuckermaus) !

Only being able to serve one customer at a time has been challenging but staff have risen to the task and customers. We are still very pleased to still gain comfort from their favourite coffee and cakes.

Lindy and I, (below) although being in our 70s, love the venture, introducing us to so many people, many becoming friends. Our staff are all local people and we are dog friendly.

We’d like to thank all our customers who have continued to support us during the year And with the vaccination programmes now under way we hope to open up our regular service in the Spring.

The Pudding Stop. Opening soon on the Harpenden

High Street.

Famous in St Albans for their home made puddings and cakes, served in a ‘Coffee Shop’ +takeaways. WHERE? In the old Rolands Carpet store nxt to Marks and Spencer. The interior is currently being converted ready for opening????

SUCCESS. Over 210 laptops & tablets

donated to schools & people who need them.

Inc locally:  Katherine Warrington, Manland,

Redbourn Primary, St Dominic’s, Sauncey

Wood, St George’s, The Grove, Wood End,

Crabtree Primary, The Kings School.

Computer Friendly – a local charity which normally

runs face-to-face IT courses but obviously can’t at

the moment – has a small team of volunteers recycling old machines and giving them to people who need them - especially families with children who are having to learn online.

What about my personal data?

We might remove the laptop hard drive and destroy it! If you need advice to save your data before donating it, please get in touch.

What devices can I donate?

LAPTOPS (PC & Macbook) Less than 10 years old
Will start up
Runs Window 7, 8 or 10 (PC) Has its power adapter

TABLETS (iPads and Android)
Will start up (Please do a factory reset if required to erase all data before donating)


Who do I contact? Phone: 01727 617359

Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10am and 1pm. Answerphone at all other times.

Email: recycle@computerfriendly.org.uk Website: www.computerfriendlystalbans.org.uk

NB. Please keep spreading the word as it has become clear that online learning will continue in some capacity even though children have returned to school. 


Hold your events SAFELY in meeting rooms at Rothamsted Conference Centre from May 17

As a result of the latest Government guidelines, Rothamsted Conference Centre in Harpenden will re-open from 17th May 2021 with all our rooms available at 50% capacity. We have a robust Safe Events Strategy in place, supported by a detailed COVID-19 Safety Policy and Covid-19 Risk Assessment. These comprehensive documents contain all the information our customers need to understand the many safety measures and procedures we have put in place to enable safe, socially distanced events and meetings in our conference centre.

Reduced room capacities; Room Hire Only rate or a Day Delegate Rate (DDR) depending on your needs; Shorter meeting times are available; Outside seating or table service in our Restaurant or Cafe from 12th April; PPE and hygiene stations for staff; Face coverings: All visitors to the conference centre are required to wear face coverings at all times, unless seated for eating or drinking. Hand sanitiser stations:

These are placed throughout the conference centre for your use; Robust cleaning regime

Email our Events Team to discuss your event requirements further or call 01582938500. 

Harpenden Leisure Centre –

launch April 12 subject

to Government road map.

The opening of Harpenden’s new

multi-million-pound leisure centre

was postponed because of the Government’s new COVID-19 restrictions.

The superb new facility on the edge of Rothamsted Park will be reopening soon (subject to final Government approval)

Reopening Hours

The centre will now open from

April 12 as follows:

Monday - Tuesday 7am - 8pm

Wednesday             7am - 9pm

Thursday - Friday   7am - 8pm

Saturday                  8am - 2pm

Sunday                    8am - 3pm

Swim Lessons

Swim school is returning to

Harpenden from 12th April and we expect demand to be high! 


Owned by St Albans City and District Council, the Leisure Centre is managed on its behalf by contractors 1Life.

Contact: membership@1life.co.uk (for membership queries) - GMHarpenden@1life.co.uk (any other enquiries)

ABOVE: The exit road from the new Car Park back into the Amenbury Lane Car Park.

ABOVE LEFT: The entrance road in Amenbury Lane Car Park that takes you to the new car park at the back of the Pool.

BELOW: The new Car Park

BELOW: The front of the new Sports Centre, lights on and equipped inside ready to open April 12

ON COURSE for an early Summer opening

Harpenden’s new culture centre - The Eric Morecambe Centre (EMC)

It will includea 511-seat theatre with state-of-the-art

production equipment to allow major touring

shows to be staged as well as those put on by

local groups.

There will also be an exhibition space, two function rooms, a local history room, bars on two floors and a coffee shop with views across the park.

New Parking spaces available

Everything you need to know about the New Sports Centre opening April 12, inc Safety

Dear 1Life Customer,

The highly anticipated opening of Harpenden Leisure Centre is now just around the corner, we will be opening the doors to your new facility on Monday 12th April 2021. You can stay up to date with what’s going on by following our social media pages @facebook.com/harpendensc1life @harpendensportscentre

Please find a list of FAQs below:

Q- What are the new centre opening times?

A – The initial opening hours will be reduced and will stay under constant review, we aim to extend our opening hour at step 3 of the Government Roadmap – 17th May.

Mon: 7:00- 20:00 Tue: 7:00- 20:00 Wed: 7:00- 21:00 Thu: 7:00- 20:00 Fri: 7:00- 20:00 Sat: 8:00- 14:00 Sun: 8:00-15:00   

Q- How can I tour the new facility?

A – You are able to virtually tour the whole facility now, please visit our webpage https://www.1life.co.uk/Harpenden-Leisure-centre/

Q- I want to use the Gym or Swimming Pool, how do I book?

A – Please download the 1Life Live More, Live Well App, logging with your email and 4 digit pin then book.

Q- Will the Health Suite and Crèche be open from 12th April?

A – No, we will aim to have the crèche and health suite open by step 3 on the Government roadmap 17th May.

Q- Will Swimming Lessons return from 12th April?

A – Yes, Swimming Lessons will recommence from 12th April, with reduced class capacities – if you haven’t yet been able to book your child in, please remain patient, and we will be putting on more and more lesson times as the week’s progress.

Q- Will the Gym Equipment be socially distanced and do I need to clean the equipment before and after use?

A – Yes, the gym equipment is all socially distanced and you will be required to wipe down equipment before and after use – it is your responsibility as a member to help us keep the gym clean and safe.

Q- When will Group Exercise return?

A – Group Exercise classes will return on 17th May, we will aim to share the new timetable two weeks prior.

Q- How will car parking work?

A – Parking will be paid for via the parking meters located within the car park, the first two hours will be free but you will still need to collect your ticket from the pay meter

   Q- I have an issue with my current membership, who should I contact?

A – For all membership related issues, please contact membership@1life.co.uk your query will be dealt with as soon as possible please don’t expect an instant response.

Q- I am a private hirer and want to find out more information about hiring space within the leisure centre, who should I contact?

A – We are not currently accepting private hire bookings, for those wanting to block book space in the Sports Hall, MUGA, Pool or Tennis Courts we will soon be releasing information on how to register your interest.

Q- What COVID restrictions are in place for swimmers?

A – We will have three 4m spaced lanes available for each lane swimming session, these sessions need to be booked online via the App prior to attendance, and each lane will be limited to 10 swimmers per lane at any one time.

Q- Will there be Sanitiser stations within the new centre?

A – Yes we have installed automatic sanitiser stations throughout the building.

Q- Where is the new entrance to the centre?

A – The new entrance is adjacent to the car park on the other side of the building, next to the skate park.

Q- Can non-members use the café?

A – The café will only be open for takeaway food and drink from 12th April due to COVID restrictions, we welcome non-members to use the café but the ask that you give consideration to our members and adhere to social distancing at all times.

Q- What are the Junior Gym operating hours?

A – Our Junior Gym operating hours are Mon-Fri 4pm – 6pm and Saturday 11am – 1pm only. All junior members are aged 16 or below.

Q- Will changing facilities and showers for the Gym be in use?

A – The changing facilities and showers for Gym users will be closed and not in use, we encourage all gym users to come ready to work out with their own water bottles.

Finally, we ask for you to remain patient with us during these uncertain times, rest assured we are working hard to ensure your new centre is safe and ready to open for 12th April.

All Swim School enquiries should be directed to swim.harpenden@1life.co.uk

All membership enquires should be directed to membership@1life.co.uk



Twice postponed through Covid restrictions

the SECOND Stay-in-your -car Treasure Hunt,

organised by Rotary in Harpenden, will now

be held on SUNDAY 18 APRIL.

Starting from Bowers Way East Car Park,

Harpenden AL5 4EQ, you follow written

directions for 20 miles along country lanes

in the Flamstead, Markyate and Slip End areas,

seeking answers to 55 clues – and they’re all visible from the comfort of your car.

Cars will leave the car park at 5-minute intervals from 9.30am to 5pm.

A fee of £10 will go to support the local charity, Herts & Essex Air Ambulance Trust.

Winners and runners up will be able to choose from a range of prizes.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL. To secure your slot go to rotaryinharpenden.org.uk

Harpenden’s Summer Carnival on the Common has been cancelled by the Town Council.

Each year Harpenden Town Council and Harpenden Round Table work together to deliver the Harpenden Summer Carnival. Large scale events like these require significant lead in time to ensure that they are delivered safely and to a high standard. Unfortunately, the Government restrictions and roadmap relating to Covid-19 means it is not possible to deliver the event as planned in June 2021 and it has sadly been cancelled.  

We know the cancellation of Harpenden Carnival in June will be disappointing news, however we are committed to delivering it even bigger and better in 2022.  

Despite this news, Harpenden Town Council is planning to deliver a variety of exciting events for the summer and autumn months once restrictions are relaxed. This includes the return of the Harpenden Food and Drink Festival on Saturday 18 September 2021. The Food and Drink Festival will bring together businesses from the local area for a wide range of food & drink stalls and cookery demonstrations, while children’s activities, live entertainment, and much more will be on hand throughout the day.   

Harpenden Round Table also have exciting plans for the rest of the year including joining the Food and Drink Festival and hosting a Festival Field as part of the event which will have live entertainment and be delivered in partnership with the Harpenden Beer Festival who will be celebrating their 10th anniversary.  

Art on the Common has been booked for Sept 18 &19.

This year's AOTC has been agreed for 18th & 19th September on their usual section of the Common. Over the coming months the organisers will be reviewing the Covid situation with the Town Council to ensure they meet any requirements that may be necessary to make the event as safe as possible.

More information to follow.

Harpenden Bowling Club are

holding an Open Afternoon on

Sunday 25th April from 2pm

followed by an Open Evening

on Tuesday 27th April from

5.30 onwards.

We'd love to see, you come and give bowls

a try. You'll be surprised, bowls is both

enjoyable, healthy and very social. The club

has been in Spenser Rd., Harpenden for over100 years and is an oasis of calm that not many Harpenden people know about. Currently we have just over a 100 full members. They enjoy playing both competitive bowls and social bowls. The outdoor summer season begins in two weeks and runs through until the end of September.

We then move inside to play Short Mat Bowls from October through to March. As well as short mat we have a club evening once or twice a month when the bar is open along with a variety of indoor games. Coffee mornings once a month during the winter are a regular feature plus a few Supper Evenings.

We already have some people 'signed up' to come along to one of the sessions, so look at your diaries, check which session you would like to attend and give our secretary a call. His contact details are

Brian Moores telephone 07847 430597 or email secretary@harpendenbcomowlingclub.