Organ Concert at the Church of St James the Less, Sulgrave, Saturday 21st October at 7.30 pm. A few tickets are still available.

October 20th, 2017

A concert by Ian Tracey to celebrate the completion of the organ restoration will be held in the Church at 7.30 pm on Saturday 21 October. A few tickets for this event are still available and may be purchased from Joanna Smyth-Osbourne at Rectory Farm, Little Street, Sulgrave (Tel: 01295 760261). Tickets: £20 to include a glass of wine and refreshments after the performance.

HS2 (High Speed Rail) Update

October 16th, 2017

On Thursday 12th October, representatives of HS2 and the chosen contractors’ consortium were in attendance at Sulgrave Manor to answer villagers’ questions in respect of the construction of the new High Speed Railway Line.

Contracts have now been let in respect of that section of the line which affects Sulgrave. The contractors are a consortium calling itself CEK (Carillion, Eiffage and Kier). The contracts have been let in two stages. Stage One is a 16 month period to develop a design, a programme and a target cost for the construction of the works. Stage Two is for the construction of the main works and this is expected to take between four and five years to complete.

Current estimates are that the detailed design work and costings should be completed by November 2018. The Government Treasury will then have until March 2019 to decide if the designs and costs are acceptable. Assuming this to be the case, construction can then commence and it is anticipated that works in the Sulgrave Area will begin at about the middle of 2020. The general civil engineering work is expected to be completed by 2023 followed by a two year period for the installation of the railway systems, signalling and overhead lines. Following a year of systems testing, the line is expected to be in use by 2026 or 2027.

The detailed design work now in progress will include traffic management schemes for the vehicles involved in the construction and off site movements. Until these designs and management schemes have been completed it follows that many of the questions expressing villagers’ legitimate concerns remained unanswered and the plans on display were no more than those showing the horizontal and vertical alignment of the line which have appeared many times on this website.

However, assurances were given in respect of one of the main concerns of Sulgrave residents, namely “how will the works in progress affect journeys to Banbury and Brackley?” The plan below shows the temporary roads that will be built to bypass the bridge constructions whilst the work is in progress. When completed, the bridges will allow traffic to follow the original road alignment. For the sake of clarity, I have also shown these in blue dots on the simple map of the route on the O.S. 1:50,000 map. Although temporary, these short sections of road will have to be built to the standards required by the Northamptonshire County Council as Highway Authority.

Click here to see a bigger version and use your enlargement facility and computer scroll bars to examine it.

Temporary road diversions on the Banbury and Brackley routes shown in blue dots (schematic only).

It is not anticipated that there will be any permanent road closures.

All villagers are naturally worried as to increases in traffic around the construction sites, especially heavy goods vehicles. In advance of the completion of the detailed design and traffic management scheme, representatives of HS2 and the contractors were not prepared to predict the sort of numbers which will be involved and this must therefore be a matter for continuing concern. In this context, the detailed engineering design will include mass haul diagrams wherein the designers make every endeavour to balance the cut and fill i.e. the material excavated from the cuttings should only be taken to the nearest embankment, rather than elsewhere along public roads. In its Petition to Parliament in 2016, the Parish Council stressed this very point and will be keeping a close eye on this matter as the design progresses. Following on from the petition, HS2 were directed to assure the Parish Council that there would be continued consultation on this important aspect of the scheme and CEK are therefore contractually obliged to honour this assurance. A transcript of the hearing of the Parish Council’s petition, presented by then Councillor David Walker, can be seen here.

In the context of representations concerning HS2 made on behalf of Sulgrave, the dedication and hard work of former Parish Council Chairman Ken Christy should not be forgotten. Newer villagers may not be aware of his appearance before the Select Committee as a petitioner. See here for the very comprehensive case made in the petition.

There will be a number of preparatory schemes in advance of the main construction work, notably the improvement of the Greatworth Junction with B4525, as shown below. Villagers will remember the fatal accident involving a much loved Sulgrave resident a few years ago and the early improvement of this junction must be welcomed.

Proposed improvements to the Greatworth turn off the B4525 Welsh Lane.

It is difficult to estimate the probable noise impact upon the village of the works in progress. The best that can be said at the moment is that working hours will be restricted to 08.00 to 17.30 on weekdays and up to noon on Saturdays.

The design will attempt to minimise the noise of passing trains by the use of earth bunds, even on the edge of cuttings. Noise screens are not ruled out but are generally an unattractive last resort. With 16 trains per hour, each 12 carriages long, the measures will need to be robust, to say the least!

HS2 Senior Project Manager Dave Williams and the contractor’s representative, Interface Manager Simon Matthews, will be keeping in close contact with the Parish Council and will be submitting regular updates for display on this website.

Colin Wootton

Publication of South Northamptonshire Local Plan, Pre-Submission Draft for Consultation. Read and comment upon the policies and proposals affecting your village. Deadline: Noon Friday 10th November 2017

October 3rd, 2017

District-wide Local Plans contain policies and proposals which guide decisions on the use and development of land during a prescribed period. They are prepared by District Councils in accordance with relevant National and Regional planning policies, in consultation with all interested parties and organisations and the general public.

The current Local Plan for South Northamptonshire was adopted by South Northamptonshire Council in 1997. The Council is preparing a replacement plan for the period up to 2029 which will, amongst other things, establish a Rural Settlement Hierarchy for settlements within the District; propose amendments to existing town and village confines lines, beyond which expansion will not normally be permitted; identify areas of important open space within settlements and address local development needs.

In 2016, the Council published a consultation document inviting comments on the various options then under consideration in respect of these matters.

Numerous responses were received, including those from Sulgrave Parish Council. After due consideration of these responses, the Council has now published its Pre-Submission Draft Plan for Consultation.

See next page for further details, including links to the relevant documents.

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Construction works will soon commence on the High Speed Rail Line (HS2) which will be less than1500 metres from the nearest house in Sulgrave. Visit Sulgrave Manor on Thursday October 12th to find out more.

September 26th, 2017

A team from HS2 will be available to explain the proposals and answer your questions, between 4.30 pm and 7.30 pm at Sulgrave Manor on Thursday October 12th. A representative of the Parish Council will be present, together with Councillor Peter Davis of South Northamptonshire Council (Councillor for the Washington Ward which incorporates Sulgrave). Tommy Gilchrist, Parliamentary Assistant to our Member of Parliament has also been invited, as he leads on HS2 matters for Ms Leadsom and she is unable to attend due to a prior engagement. Please put the date in your diary – if you are at all concerned about or interested in the construction of the new line, this is your chance to learn more.

Any queries please contact Lucy Apperly at

Members of the public are now able to contact the HS2 helpdesk team using a new Freephone telephone number. All calls are free of charge from UK landlines and mobile phones. The new number is 08081 434 434. This number can also be found on the government website

There is also a new Freephone mini-com number for callers with hearing and speech difficulties. This number is 08081 456 472.

As previously published on this website, the line of HS2 in the vicinity of Sulgrave is shown on the map below:

Click here for details of the route between A and B.

Click here for details of the route between B and C.

Annual Vintage Ploughing Match at Sulgrave

September 18th, 2017

Colin Russell with his 1939 Fordson Standard

Compared to the bright sunshine of the previous year, September 17th 2017 was a rather grey, cool and cheerless day. However, the air was soon full of the nostalgic sound of tractors from 60 to 80 years ago (when they were small and travelled at a walking pace!) As usual, the venue was Dial House Farm, courtesy of the Cherry Family. Comments in italics for the rest of this entry are by Richard Fonge, village website agricultural correspondent.

More pictures on the following page:

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Last days of summer……..

September 2nd, 2017

Brackley Morris at the Star Inn

More pictures on the next page, including the Pimms and Fizz Party at the Corner House and goodbye to Village Shop supervisor Jeanette Smith who is moving to Australia (temporarily, we all hope!)

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Castle Hill History Day Cancelled

August 29th, 2017

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Castle Hill History Day scheduled for Sunday 10th September, has been cancelled.

High Speed Rail Line (HS2) – Public Notice

August 9th, 2017

Members of the public are now able to contact the HS2 helpdesk team using a new Freephone telephone number. All calls are free of charge from UK landlines and mobile phones. The new number is 08081 434 434. This number can also be found on the government website

There is also a new Freephone mini-com number for callers with hearing and speech difficulties. This number is 08081 456 472.

As previously published on this website, the line of HS2 in the vicinity of Sulgrave is shown on the map below:


Click here for details of the route between A and B.

Click here for details of the route between B and C.

When there were petrol pumps in Sulgrave….

July 30th, 2017

Photograph taken by Jim Oakley in about 1986. The pumps were in the forecourt of the then village shop, in approximately the position shown in the map below:


SWAGS “Aunt Sally Challenge” and BBQ at The Star Inn

July 23rd, 2017

Undeterred by frequent heavy rain showers, competitors gathered in the Star Inn gardens for the annual “Aunt Sally Challenge”, organised by the Sulgrave Women’s Activities Group. The Star has a regular group of enthusiasts making up a team which competes in the Banbury and District Aunt Sally League. The stars of this team were on hand to demonstrate the necessary skills but did not have things entirely their own way. Future stars, both young and old, were discovered, often to their own amazement, as can be seen in the pictures on the next page. A first class BBQ was provided by the Star in conjunction with SWAG members.

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