Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Strange Neighbours of Hutton Magna (NZ127124)

© Copyright Oliver Dixon and licensed for 

Hutton Magna’s two most curious items are located within a few feet of each other in the centre of the village. Both are contained in the image above and they are very different in their nature.

The first is, obviously, the red telephone box – or the ‘News Box’ as it is affectionately known. It is always a delight to fall upon one of these distinctive and well-loved landmarks, especially as they have been disappearing from our landscape at an alarming rate of late. When the same fate threatened to swallow up Hutton Magna’s specimen in 2009, the villagers asked if they could buy it from British Telecom – and they did… for £1. Unfortunately, it then cost them £250 to have the phone disconnected!

Suitably phone-free, the locals decided to turn the little box into their very own multifunctional village ‘News Box’, complete with community notice board, lending library (books and DVDs) and newspaper distribution point – together with any other bits and bobs which folk are happy to pass on. Nice.

Just behind the ‘News Box’ can be seen an old water tap and commemorative tablet. The latter pays tribute to one Cuthbert Watson of nearby Ovington, who, in 1858, laid a water pipe from Warden Hill to the spot in order that the villagers might at last have a fresh water supply. It ran for 1,200 yards and was initially a great success … until, twelve years later, the iron that the pipe was made from rusted up and, well, that was the end of that. They should have seen that one coming.

An 1890 account tells us that the supply had still not been reinstated. One assumes that the problem has now been rectified.

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