Harpenden news reports. 2020

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My wife and I were privileged to have a private viewing of the panels in February this year. They are incredibly beautiful and still in remarkable condition for their age.

A single image can change the face of History

Portrait imagery was the key aspect of the programme. Images whether painted or photographed could have an incredibly powerful influence on the population. Examples featuring Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, and Margaret Thatcher were used to demonstrate this power. Clever or deceptive dependent on your personal position.

Saving the Cottages for the Nation

The current owner, Ms Murphy, from Hertford, explained that she and business partner Alison Wright bought two adjoining cottages, which house the mural between them, specifically to find a way for the paintings to be brought into public ownership.

"The panels should be in the care of the nation - we are committed to finding a way of doing it."

"They are so rare that the paintings must be preserved for both present and future generations, as a sign of those past beliefs and turbulent times," he said.

"We have been pursuing this aim for a number of years and have now launched a public appeal as the only way to preserve them for posterity."

The owner added that if the money couldn't be raised, they would have to apply for a change of use to residential.

Hopefully Simon Schama’s programme will awaken the local Herts authorities to take action now.

Ron Taylor. Editor. Harpendia.com

Hemel’s hidden treasure featured by Simon Schama on BBC TV’s ‘The Face of Britain’ Wed Sept 30

Simon Schama visited Piccott’s End Cottages to show an important aspect of the history of British portraiture, revealing some beautiful and compelling images that demonstrate their eternal power.

Defacing religious paintings

The cottages in Hemel were a resting place for Pilgrims on their journey from Ashridge to nearby St Albans Abbey in the 1530’s. The interior wall panels had been painted extensively with religious murals reflecting imagery of the Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Saints. Scenes include Jesus's baptism, St Catherine of Alexandria, St Peter and St Margaret. During the Reformation the faces of Jesus, Mary and the Saints were obliterated (defaced- see below) to make the images powerless in the sight of anyone who visited the cottages. At some time post Reformation the panels were covered by linen and NOT seen again until 1953.


Lots of information is available via the SADC consultation web site. You have to be registered and then trawl through the hundreds of comments made by commercial organisations and residents. Additionally several ‘gems’ of information were shown (briefly) at The Harpenden Society public meeting on Feb 4 at Rothamsted Conference Centre. My reports starting today (March 2) will be revealed during the coming weeks.

The maps below show the Legal and General proposals for 500 homes and  a new primary school.

How did this expensive proposal or ‘Masterplan’ become a ‘live’ option. Find out in more revelations soon. Ron Taylor. Editor.


Residents will be encouraged to walk and cycle via the routes on the map which are going to be improved.

So what happens with all the new cars being added to already congested roads?

The 500 homes development above is not sacrosanct .

A survey has revealed a large number of small scale sites around Harpenden that could be utilised. Another developer has plans for a 50 home site.


Legal & General have huge land interests in NW Harpenden and south Beds (see map below) They have submitted their concepts to SADC (See part letter below) for the yellow area on the map with detailed plans later on this page.


1,000 plus homes could be built by Cen Beds to cope with Luton Housing shortfall in the PINK area of the map-almost in Harpenden, ON LAND OWNED BY LEGAL & GENERAL. READ THE EMAIL BELOW (EXTRACTS) TO SADC EXPLAINING THEIR REQUIREMENTS

How can the 948 Sports Foundation help Harpenden schools. associations, clubs and individuals?

Read the article below.

ABOVE left:Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” painted by Picasso in 1907, depicting five ladies from a brothel, which was an important artistic turning point for him away from naturalistic art and conventions of perspective and a single viewpoint, and towards geometrical faceting that characterised his exploration of Cubism later on. RIGHT: HAC members drawing and painting a clothed life model on 20.2.20

In a change from the usual practical art workshops, last week Harpenden Arts Club members sat back in the Southdown Room at the Harpenden Public Halls and enjoyed a fascinating presentation and talk by Valerie Brown on the life and some of the works of Pablo Picasso. Valerie is a member of the Harpenden Arts Club who is very knowledgeable about certain artists and has a great speaking style. As an introduction to what the Harpenden Arts Club was all about, this was enjoyed by visitors who just wanted to dip their toes in before throwing themselves into the practical side of creating art with the club in their Thursday evening workshops.

Picasso was a prolific artist and produced thousands of paintings, sculptures, drawings and etchings in his long lifetime (1881 – 1973). He achieved great fame and fortune, and was at the forefront of many movements in art including Analytical Cubism, Synthetic Cubism and Surrealism. Whilst being an original, imaginative, classically trained artist, Picasso was primarily a social commentator on his time and events, and produced many thought-provoking works.

The audience of around 30 people were led through the various periods in Picasso’s life looking at examples of his work, whilst the personal and political influences on Picasso were explained by Valerie, with some fascinating anecdotes. A very enjoyable and informative evening!

So far this season, members of the Harpenden Arts Club have enjoyed some exciting art workshops. Visiting demonstrators have tutored on such subjects as painting in an Impressionist style, Botanical Art, portrait painting, semi-abstract painting, and landscape painting in pastels. In addition, the club organises regular life drawing sessions with clothed and unclothed models, and more experienced members lead some of the weekly workshops in specific areas of their own expertise to share artistic knowledge and techniques. The club is led by a strong, enthusiastic committee, supported by many willing helpers, and membership is expanding. Visitors have commented on how relaxed and friendly they have found the club, which welcomes new adult members, whatever their level of skill and expertise, who would like to explore their creative side. Visitors can come along to up to three meetings for just £3 each on the door to see what it is like, whilst basic membership of the club is only £25p.a. which covers 25 – 30 Thursday evening workshops and demonstrations per year, and other benefits besides. Full details can be found on their website www.harpendenartsclub.org.uk, along with many photos and reviews of recent meetings for interest, and details of future events.

So if you love art, be inspired – try out the Harpenden Arts Club!

March 2. Where can you learn all about the World’s great artists?

Where can you learn about life drawing and painting?

In Harpenden of course, at Harpenden Arts Club.

March. A Vision for a new Parish Centre at St John’s Church, Harpenden.

The current church hall has served the parish for 50 years but is now nearing the end of its useful life. Knowing this situation a steering group conducted extensive research to understand the best way forward. Repairs /upgrade or a replacement hall with all new facilities to meet the needs of current and future generations.

After much discussion MEG Design were appointed to proceed with a design concept to meet all the objectives needed to create a beautiful new building in keeping with the existing Church.

Planning permission has been given for the new centre so they now need to secure funds from the congregation and the local community. Costs have been estimated at £1,600,000. However £310,000 has already been received from Parochial Church Council (PCC) and others.

The image below shows a floor plan.

Full details of the complete project can be seen on their web site with information on how to donate:


April 20. Harpenden based charity Jumbulance helps with the South East Coast Ambulance service as part of its Covid-19 response.

SECAmb has commissioned the charity to provide a Jumbulance vehicle which  has been adapted further to meet its specification to assist SECAmb with multiple patient transfers between hospitals.

A Jumbulance is a medically-equipped coach vehicle, which is fitted with stretchers, to give those with disabilities and severe illnesses, and other significantly dependent individuals, the opportunity to travel in safety and comfort across the UK and Europe.

The SECAmb adaptations include the fitting of a bulkhead aluminium frame to protect the driver, updating stretchers to Trust specification, sealing off all fabric surfaces so they can be easily wiped clean and for improved infection control, fitting a piped oxygen system and installing clinical waste bins and hand gel dispensers.

The charity will provide drivers for the vehicle, who have undergone additional training, while the vehicle will be crewed by critical care paramedics. The vehicle, which will be used in the coming weeks as required, will be able to transport up to five stretchered patients at a time – avoiding multiple trips by different ambulance crews.

SECAmb Associate Director of Operations (Resilience), Ian Shaw said: “I am pleased that we have been able to work with the Jumbulance Trust and commission the charity to help with our Covid-19 response and prepare for the potential increase in demand. The role of these vehicles is usually very different and we are pleased that we have been able to adapt one of their vehicles to help with our response. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this important collective work to help patients.”

Jumbulance Trust Chair, Gill Berry added: “We are proud that Jumbulance Trust, a small volunteer-led charity with specialist vehicles and dedicated staff, can help SECAmb with multiple patient transfers. It is humbling for us to be able to give something back and use our resources in this way. I would also like to add a huge thanks to all involved for their commitment to making this happen.”

April 20. Harpenden businessman

sets up Home Delivery website

directory to support the community

during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Local businessman Neil McDermott has launched

Harpenden Delivers, a free online directory of

local companies who are delivering to homes in

the area. It was inspired by his own family need

to self isolate and how they needed to source

home deliveries of essential goods. Recognising that many other people were looking for the same service he used his skills as a web designer to set up a site featuring businesses who deliver direct to homes.

Neil, founder of Harpenden based web design agency easiserv.com, comments:

“At these difficult times, it’s great to see communities working together to help each other stay safe.  With Government guidance to “Stay at Home”, I wanted to create an easy to navigate list of local businesses that could deliver products contact-free to people’s doors. Living and working in Harpenden, I know we are lucky to have a strong community of small businesses, with many now offering home delivery, it’s a great time to shop local.”

If you have a business which delivers to Harpenden and would like to be included on the website, please contact Neil: neil@easiserv.com



June 8. Town Council announces spending plans for the capital amount of £2.6m raised from the sale of the Westfield Site.  Town Mayor Cllr Nicola Linacre advised me:

“We’ve already allocated some to EHGC (East Harpenden Gardening Club), but the rest will be spent delivering some of the 184 ideas that were suggested by residents, plus some councillors and some officer suggestions. 

The spending plans on the website are just the first lot of ideas that had Council approval on 18th May to develop further.  They will go through the normal committee stages for challenge/approval and then Full Council again once costs are confirmed. 

Other ideas will also be pursued, and again they will have to go through committee stage and Full Council.  I think we are going to be able to do some really positive things for Harpenden with this money, so this whole process is really exciting.  We had some excellent ideas from members of the public, definitely a really valuable exercise going out to ask for people’s thoughts.”

Sept. Scheme to provide better cycle

connections between

Wheathampstead, St Albans,

Harpenden, Luton, Hatfield and

Welwyn AND a scheme for a cycle

route on the A5183 road between

St Albans and Redbourn which

would link the existing cycle routes

of the Nicky Line, the Green Ring

and the Alban Way do not conform

to the Government’s criteria which

favoured urban routes.


Cllr Brewster said: “It was absolutely devastating that the scheme for a Redbourn Road cycle lane was not put forward for Tranche 2 of the Government’s £6m Emergency Active Travel Fund earmarked for Hertfordshire.

“It has received universal support from Councillors and a rapidly-signed petition from over 1,800 concerned residents. 

“The Government funding seeks for cycle lanes to be wholly-fitted into existing road space.  When detailed engineering was examined, the use of some verge, footway and greenery plus some timely junction remodelling would be required and this was unlikely to meet the fund’s criteria, so its inclusion could risk other county projects that were also being submitted.

“Similarly, greater connectivity between the towns around Wheathampstead are not being put forward for Government funding. Again, this is because they would not be deemed urban enough to comply with the funding requirements.

“The County Council’s hands have been tied by the Government giving priority to urban rather than rural routes.

“However, I am urgently working with Officers to find other means of funding these vital routes, looking at internal County Council funding schemes.

“I will now be writing to the Transport Secretary and will call on him to allow local representatives to decide where the money should be allocated. They are the ones who know their communities best and have a real feel for their areas.

“If we want people to cycle and walk more, particularly in light of new post Covid-19 habits, we have to provide them with safe routes to do so wherever they live in our District.”

December Talks

Harpenden Gardening Society’s   remaining Talks for 2020 will now take place online via ZOOM.

Our last meeting of the year on Tuesday December 1 will feature the author and TV Editor Geoff Hodge who will talk about winter colours in the garden….beating the winter blues.

Members will receive the Zoom link to view the presentations prior to each talk.

Non members can join the Society (annual fee £12.00) and participate in all events by contacting our Treasurer Doug Knowles at douglasknowles@talktalk.net

Nov 10. Peter Jones Foundation and Pearson select Roundwood Park student as one of UK’s next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Maisy Smith from Roundwood Park School in Harpenden is one of three student winners of Be The Future challenge announced, after submitting business plan pitch designed to tackle social or environmental issues

Today, leading learning company Pearson and the Peter Jones Foundation announce that Maisy Smith of Roundwood Park School is one of the three winners of their inaugural Be The Future Challenge. The competition was set up to encourage young people across the UK to explore their entrepreneurial spirit and develop skills to become entrepreneurs.

Students aged 11-18 (KS3-KS5) in schools and colleges across the UK were challenged to create and pitch a social enterprise idea. To enter, students had to complete a form outlining their idea, plus create a 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ video. The enterprise had to be designed to make a profit, alongside addressing a social or environmental issue linked to one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Maisy’s winning idea in the Key Stage 4 category was Bowerbird Clothing. Maisy’s idea showcased an acute knowledge of the fashion and textiles industry with her business, Bowerbird Clothing. Bowerbird is a clothing rental business for ethically sourced and made clothing looking to eliminate clothing waste to landfill. The judges thought Maisy’s conscientious research and competitive analysis demonstrated that her business was well-positioned to deliver a viable and exciting solution to challenge the fast-fashion industry.

Commenting on her win, Maisy said “I am very pleased and proud to have won this competition and would like to thank the judges for their kind words. I think social enterprise is very important as it can help improve the world”.

The other two winners are:

Key Stage 3: Renew – Rooks Heath College

Gabriela from Rooks Heath College demonstrated an innovative approach to tackling plastic-pollution with her app idea. Renew is a litter picking app allowing communities to come together in organised litter picks. The removal of the waste is then managed through a designated service. The judges praised her conscientious research and clear business strategy ensured that her pitch was robust and well-delivered.

Key Stage 5: Natural Flow – Preston Manor School

Natural Flow is a business created by a team of students from Preston Manor School that is dedicated to eradicating period poverty. Natural Flow is a business focused on raising awareness for period equality and tackling period poverty, both nationally and in developed countries. It will achieve its aims through the production of low-cost, renewable and biodegradable sanitary products. The judges noted that the Team had a clear understanding of the scale of the issue and its social and ecological impact – their combination of purpose and passion ensured that they were deserving winners.

Pearson and the Peter Jones Foundation partner together on a series of courses, qualifications and competitions, aimed to empower and develop the next generation of business leaders. The panel of 4 judges from the two organisations reviewed 30 entries from 20 schools and colleges, assessing how far they met the following criteria: creativity and innovation; viability; sustainability and impact.

The winners will each receive a personal online enterprise masterclass this term, hosted by the Peter Jones Foundation, with the opportunity to meet and hear from leading social entrepreneur, Joana Baptista.

Commenting on the announcement, Cindy Rampersaud, Senior Vice President of BTECs and Apprenticeships at Pearson, said:

“Congratulations to all three winners of the 'Be the Future' competition. It's inspiring to see these students coming up with innovative, practical, and thoughtful business ideas to support the UN's sustainability goals.

“The business and enterprise sector offers a wide range of exciting and rewarding career opportunities, and plays an important role in creating access to careers for many. I think the winning students will benefit hugely from the insights, advice and mentorship that will be provided by the industry experts supporting the Peter Jones Foundation masterclasses. “

Bill Muirhead, Managing Director at the Peter Jones Foundation, said:

“Since launching our Tycoon Enterprise Competition in 2012, we have seen an increasing number of young entrepreneurs putting purpose at the heart of their business proposition. The social and ecological consciousness of these young entrepreneurs is inspiring, and we were delighted to extend our partnership with Pearson through the Be The Future Challenge and ask young people how they would use business to make the changes that they want to see in the world. The quality and scope of the entries is testament to the creativity and determination of the next generation of social-impact business leaders.”

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