Solent Branch

Midweek visit to Newtown River – 23rd August 2017

Coordinators: Allan and Liz Howlett

I have been trying to see inside the Newtown Old Town Hall (built in the 17th Century) for more than 20 years, and it has always been closed or unmanned. It is managed by the National Trust. This time success!

Travelling from Chichester, Liz and I had agreed to sail in company with Geoff and Val on Moon Shadow, spending Tuesday evening at Shepards Wharf in the River Medina. Not one of my favourite marina locations as it sits on the bend in the river opposite the Red Funnel Ferry terminal.

Early on the Wednesday we took advantage of the westerly tide to enter Newtown River during the high water stand.  We passed several Moody yachts as we made our way upstream to find a vacant visitor buoy.

We were six boats in all Liesel, Partita,blank Imogen, Moon Shadow, Magic Mood and Halyards, occupying four visitor buoys.

Late afternoon we all met on Halyards for a cream tea and a glass of Prosecco.  Richard and Duncan, Partita had managed to fit in a visit to the Old Town Hall ahead of the cream tea as they needed to leave Newtown during Thursday morning.

We agreed to venture ashore at 11.00am the following morning. We took our dinghies across to the old boathouse, crossing the disused salt evaporating basins and passing the old ovens where salt was dried for many years. We made our way into the picturesque village of Newtown and – success at last, the Town Hall was open.

blankIt is not a large building and was restored in 1813 and again in 1930. A group of ladies called the Ferguson’s gang collected £100 to have the Old Town Hall restored; they mysteriously hid their identities behind masks. The gang went on to collect more donations, and amongst their projects, the funds were used for the restoration of the Shalford Mill, near Guildford in Surrey.  Inside the Old Town Hall were some interesting artefacts, and historic documents and lists of past Mayors, from when the town had parliamentary presence.  Next to the Town Hall is a small visitors centre and Museum, including prehistoric relics found in the vicinity.

blankWe said our farewells to Liesel who were planning to leave on the afternoon ebb tide and made our way back to our dinghies to motor to the small wharf at Shalfleet.

We tied our boats to the small quay and enjoyed a walk to Shalfleet to enjoy an al fresco lunch in the garden.of the New Inn.  In the evening Liz and I hosted supper for the crew of the remaining four boats.

We had all enjoyed a couple of sunny warm days on our boats, messing about on the river, and relaxed yarning till late.

The following day, David and Jennifer Shepperd of Magic Mood headed to Southampton Town Quay tprepare to coordinate the August Bank Holiday rally (look out for their event report).  Imogen and Moon Shadow joined Halyards for a night on the River Hamble en-route.

My thanks to those who turned up for a glorious few days in the Solent during which we witnessed some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Allan Howlett
Solent Branch Captain and Midweek Events Coordinator