Author Archives: Eric Rayner

Obituary – Pat Spridgeon

Obit Spridgeon

Patricia Spridgeon, always known as Pat, died on March 5, aged 71.

The widow of Morris Spridgeon, Pat died almost two years to the day after her husband passed away.

They had been a devoted couple – they met in Peterborough when Pat was 15 and Morris 17 and married four years later. Together, they kept the village stores in Sandpit Road for 50 years.

Pat had been born in Paddington. London in 1945, but had moved to Crowland at the age of five when her mother became housekeeper to the White family.

When she left school, she worked at Armstrong’s, the haberdashery store in Peterborough, and met her future husband at a cafe in the city. She married Morris when she was 19 and he was 21 and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2014.

Pat moved to Thorney after her marriage and she and Morris ran the shop in Sandpit Road until their retirement eight years ago. For the village of Thorney, they were very much a team serving in the shop and generations of people look back fondly on a treat from Spridgeon’s after school.

Pat and Morris had two children – Marcia and Paul, also six grandchildren (Jemma, Jodie, Abigail, Will, Tyler and Megan) and two great-grandchildren, Elsie, who is 3, and Charlie (18 months).

She loved her garden and also helped work their allotment, which their family are determined to keep going.

The funeral is to take place at Thorney Abbey on Thursday, March 23 at 11.30am. Donations in memory of Pat are being taken for the Firefighter’s Charity and can be sent to Trudy Spridgeon (9 Topham Crescent) or Marcia Brown (2a Tavistock Close).

Everyone is welcome to join the family at the Rose & Crown after the funeral ceremony.

Isabel’s haircut will help others

Isabel Coleman

Isabel Coleman from Thorney is having her long hair cut on Saturday.

But this isn’t an ordinary trip to the hairdressers – Isabel’s hair will be given to a charity which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair through cancer.

She’s also hoping to raise money for the charity – the Little Princess Trust, which has provided more than 5,000 real-hair wigs to boys and girls.

We’ll report on Isabel’s fund-raising efforts (and her haircut) in the April edition of the Thorney Post. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so on-line via:

Room for only one more housing estate, city council told

Thorney can only accommodate one new housing development, the Parish Council has told city planners.

It has thrown its weight behind just one of the four developments proposed in Peterborough City Council’s consultation document on new homes in the area.

Two of these were rejected because they lie within land designated as flood plain and a third site – on land between Whittlesey Road and the new Larkfleet estate – has been rejected by the city council because of previous objections raised by English Heritage.

The remaining site is located between the Larkfleet estate and Park Farm, which already has planning permission for housing. It could see another 80 homes added to the village.

The full response of the Parish Council is detailed below:


Four sites have been proposed for residential development in the Parish of Thorney.

Three of these have been rejected by the City Council and one has been placed in the Preferred Site category.

The general view of the Parish Council is that, with the housing development sites that are under construction together with those that already have planning approval, we are probably close to the total number of dwellings that the parish can reasonably accommodate.

This view seems to be supported by the City Council’s opinion that developing more than your single preferred site would constitute over-development of the village. Our comments on each of the proposed sites are as follows:

SITE: THO001H This is rejected by the City Council as it lies within the high risk Flood Plain and we see no reason to contest that view.

SITE: THO002H This site is also rejected by the City Council as it lies within the high risk Flood Plain. Regardless of this we feel that housing in this location would be inappropriate as it would destroy the rural setting of the village. It is also too close to the heavily trafficked Thorney bypass.

SITE: THO003H/Hi When this site was proposed in the previous Site Allocation procedure several years ago, it was rated by the City Council as a Preferred Site. It was English Heritage that raised objections to it and although the independent Inspector did not cite these objections, he objected to it on the grounds of the access road from the Whittlesey Road and the site was rejected. At the time the Parish Council supported development of this site and did not agree with the comments made by English Heritage. We were aware from the developer that the proposals would include a number of grander, detached, up-market dwellings in keeping with the scale and quality of existing properties in the vicinity, and we felt this housing type was needed in the village. It remains a belief that this higher grade of property is still required rather than just the regular scale and density of typical housing development. The City Council have this time rejected the site for exactly the reasons previously put forward by English Heritage. The primary reason being that it is too close to the Conservation Area of the village. As an aside, this site offers the possibility of the construction of a road across the south side of the village linking the Whittlesey Road with the Wisbech Road at the far end of the village. This may be desirable to residents as its advantages would be to reduce the impact of new development traffic through the village on the Wisbech Road and to perhaps change the use of the Woburn Drive access to the new development to emergency vehicles only. If not on this occasion, perhaps this site can be kept under consideration for future development and the other benefits it could bring.

Thorney Plan

Site THO-005 – gets the approval of the Parish Council

SITE: THO005H This site is rated as Preferred by the City Council. It will infill between the housing being built at the end of Woburn Drive and site THO006H which has already been granted Outline Planning Approval. We have no objections to the development of this site other than to raise concerns about the ability of existing infrastructure to accommodate its development with particular reference to drainage and sewerage, but also to the additional demands on the village school and the increase of traffic through the village. In this respect, we would be grateful for sight of the correspondence between yourselves and Anglia Water and the Duke of Bedford School demonstrating that both are able to accommodate the extra demands of this additional site.

SITE: THO006H To our knowledge this site already has Outline Planning Permission.


  1. Apart from the concerns stated in our comments on Site THO005H we believe that any additional development should bring with it control of traffic speeding through the village in the form of re-instating the speed cameras that at one time were in place along the Wisbech Road.
  2. We also feel strongly that the overall amount of new development in the parish, including Preferred Site THO005H, demands that greater concern is shown by the City Council toward the provision of facilities for the youth of the village. This is already less than adequate and in need of urgent review and improvement. We believe that in authorising development sites and approving planning applications the City Council has an obligation to make provision for matters resulting from their decisions, a major one of which will be the increase in the number of youths in the Parish and the need to provide appropriate facilities for them.

Only a matter of time before someone is killed …

Crash 2

It is only a matter of time before someone is killed or seriously injured by gangs of illegal hare-coursers operating across the fens.

That’s the view of local farmers, who say these criminal groups are making their lives a misery. Crops have been damaged, gates smashed and farmers threatened.

And the problem is moving into the wider community, say farmers, as this week, a Thorney man narrowly escaped serious injury in a crash at the traffic lights by the Rose & Crown (see pictures).

Three men were arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving following the collision between a Subaru Impreza and a Vauxhall Astra. It followed a call to police about a gang hare-coursing on land off Thorney Dyke. Three people aged 17, 18 and 42 were arrested and bailed.

There have been other incidents in Thorney. A car being pursued by police was clocked driving at more than 70mph through the village and there have been two reported instances where cars have been driven at dangerous speeds around village estates. One, on Sandpit Road, was next to the Duke of Bedford Primary School.

“They know that police won’t pursue them at speed through the village,” said a local farmer. “So the first thing they do when police are spotted is head through Thorney to get away. The bypass has made things much worse because they can escape at speed in a number of different directions.”

The Thorney Post has been approached by three local farmers to highlight the problem and all have asked for their names to be withheld for fear of reprisals.

All have direct experience of being threatened by hare-coursers and all know other farmers with similar experiences.

There is a long history of hare-coursing in the fens, but the practice has moved from catching a hare for the pot to big-money betting. Hare-coursing gangs arrange for one dog to be pitched against another with thousands of pounds bet on which dog makes the kill over a number of rounds. The gangs use powerful four-wheel-drive cars like Subarus or Honda CR-Vs to follow the dog and film the hunt.

Gates are smashed to get access to land and damage to crops can easily run into hundreds, even thousands, of pounds.

“The problem is much worse this year. Hares had a successful breeding season in 2016 and there are a lot about,” said one farmer.

“The gangs come from as far afield as Kent and even Scotland. Thorney and Newborough seem to have been the centre of a lot of activity this year. They like it because the land is flat, there are lots of tracks where they can gain access and the soft soil means the dog is less likely to be injured. Dogs can be worth as much as £20,000.”

During November, there were 20 incidents of hare-coursing reported to police and by mid-December another 14 incidents. “These are just the ones that are reported, many more are happening.”

Farmers say police resources are too limited and the laws are not robust enough. “We’re fighting organised criminal gangs with 200-year-old laws intended to stop poaching and there are five policemen throughout the whole of Cambridgeshire who are dedicated to rural crime.

“It simply isn’t enough. These gangs have no respect for property or for people’s safety. If farmers try to intervene, we’re threatened with violence, if they’re being pursued by police, speed limits or red lights mean nothing to them.

“It is only a matter of time before someone is killed.”

People are being urged to report any incidents witnessed. “If you see hare-coursers in action or vehicles being driven dangerously, call 999; if you have other information, call 101.

“Police resources are directly linked to the number of calls being made. It’s only by the whole community acting against this threat that the gangs can be defeated.”

Crash 1 Crash 3

Amelia and Mohammed top names in Peterborough

Road to Whittlesey closed for two weeks

The B1040 road to Whittlesey will be closed between Thorney Dyke and 25 North Side for almost two weeks in January.

The closure will take effect on January 9 and last until January 21.

It is closing to allow for road and footpath repairs and means anyone wishing to go to Whittlesey will have to take a long diversion through Guyhirn or along Willowhall Road and North Bank.

The B1040 (Station Road, Thorney) was closed for four weeks during November and December to allow utility services to be installed to houses being built to the rear of the Rose & Crown.


Listen for carol singers

Listen out for carol singers on Thursday evening (December 22).

Thorney Children’s Community Choir will be carol singing around the village between 4pm and 6pm, finishing up at The Lovely Little Tea Room for mulled wine and mince pies.

“We won’t get round everybody, but we’ll try and work out a schedule his weekend so we can decide where to be at what times,” said leader Matthew Coates.

Water main bursts on Wisbech Road

2016-12-13 09.02.29

Residents on Wisbech Road woke up this morning to find a huge pool of water just inches from their doors.

A water main burst during the night opposite Woburn Drive and flooded the front gardens of half a dozen homes.

It was spotted about 6am and it was about an hour before Anglian Water arrived.

Parish councillor Dorothy Halfhide, who lives in one of the cottages affected said the engineers were at first unable to locate the stop cock to turn the water off and it took almost an hour before the flow of water could be stemmed.

Other residents had called the fire brigade, who said they would not attend because it was not a life-threatening situation. They eventually relented and sent a tender from Dogsthorpe, which was able to pump water across Wisbech Road into the open drain that runs alongside the road.

Water levels were going down from about 8.30am, but it had been a close-run thing. “The water was just an inch or so from flooding into our house,” said Dorothy Halfhide.

“It reached that point and was then running off around the end of the houses and into gardens.”

Some of the houses have solid floors and some have floorboards and a cavity. It’s not clear at this stage whether water has got underneath floorboards in some properties.

Other parts of Thorney were affected by low water pressure due to the leak and shutting off supply.

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