Category Archives: News

Post office closes doors as Gill retires – now we’re off to the pub

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Thorney’s sub-post office closes its doors this week as postmistress Gill Taylor retires after 14 years.

She’s now looking forward to a nice holiday with husband John.

The post office is moving to the Rose & Crown (it opens there on Thursday, March 19) and the current premises will be converted into a cottage and sold.

“It’s a shame as it is the last shop to go in this part of the village, but I’m pleased that the pub has taken it on,” said Gill. “It would have been so sad if the village had lost the post office completely.”

She has enjoyed her time running the business and says she has met some lovely people. “I will miss them, but after running the place single-handed I’m really looking forward to a rest.”

She became postmistress just as the post office was being computerised and has seen the business branch out into lots of different areas. “There are now so many things you can do at the post office – we could offer credit cards, arrange mortgages, you could even book tickets for National Express coaches on the computer.”

Other changes were less welcome. The loss of TV licensing took away a chunk of revenue and other services have gone on-line, bypassing the need to go into the post office.

“It’s almost as if the government has been strangling small post offices; it’s become harder and harder. With everything now commission-based, I don’t think anyone would be able to buy a post office as a business and make it pay.

“It’s lucky Steve at the Rose & Crown can incorporate into that business. I hope people support him and it does well.”

Gill was born in Elstree, Hertfordshire and her first job was in a bank just across the road from the Elstree film studios. She and her colleagues were able to do a little celebrity spotting between customers and she saw Roger Moore when he was filming James Bond, also Cliff Richard making Summer Holiday.

She moved to Thorney 40 years ago when husband John came to work for an agricultural machinery specialist. They have three sons, one daughter and two grandchildren.

She and John were members of Thorney Abbey choir for many years.


Gill Taylor, says she has been absolutely “blown away” by the number of good wishes, cards, flowers and gifts she has received from individuals; as well as a large bouquet of flowers from the parish council.

“Through the Thorney Post, I’d like to thank everyone for their good wishes and kindness, it’s been really lovely. I didn’t expect anything like the response there has been, it’s been wonderful.”

“I’m not on Facebook, but my daughter showed me how many people had posted their good wishes on the page. Thank you everyone.”

New campaign aims to Keep Thorney Beating!


A fund-raising campaign has been launched to buy a defibrillator for the village.

The equipment could save the life of someone who has suffered a heart attack and the plan is to put it on the wall inside the porch at the doctors’ surgery so it’s available any time of day or night.

Behind the campaign are Mick and Lynn Batterbee of St Botolph’s Way. Mick and Lynn, backed by their family, have set themselves to task of raising £2,500 to buy the equipment and install it.

The campaign — called Keep Thorney Beating — kicked off with a fund-raising fashion show at the Bedford Hall in March and there’s a coffee morning planned at their home – 3 St Botolph’s Way – on Saturday, May 16.

The group is keen to hear other ideas for raising money and from anyone willing to help. They are also on the look-out for people willing to act as first responders to help if someone has suffered heart failure.

Mick had the idea of providing a defibrillator after a friend’s life was saved by one sited in John Lewis in Queensgate. The machines (like the one pictured) are now quite common in public places – stations, shopping centres and also at strategic points in towns and villages.

The machine is designed to restart the heart after an attack and is simple to use, being designed to be operated by untrained people. It sits inside a special case, but would be accessible 24 hours a day.

“We thought the doctors’ surgery would be the best place for it and they were kind enough to agree to put it inside the porch,” said Mick. “It’s the obvious place, people will know it’s there and it’s pretty central for the village.”

The group has a Facebook page which you can find at For more information, or if you’re willing to help, call Lynn or Mick Batterbee on 270670.

Post office opens in village pub

The Rose & Crown

The post office opens in the Rose & Crown on Thursday, March 19.

There’s an official opening at 1pm, with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire covering the event live.

Landlord Steve Shreeve is putting finishing touches to alterations to accommodate the post office, which will have extended opening hours and a new cafe alongside.

To start with, it will be open from 9am to 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, although Steve may open later if there’s a demand. Sunday hours are 9.30am to 3pm. The Rose and Crown is closed on Mondays.

It will be offering most of the facilities previously available, but is a “Post Office Local” rather than a Sub-Post Office, so will have a slightly cut-down service. There will be pensions, personal banking, foreign currency and letter/parcel post.

“With NatWest closing in Whittlesey, it will mean people can do their banking more easily in the village,” said Steve. “It will be a lot more convenient too. Because we’re open until 7pm, it means people will be able to pop in after work.”

We’ll still be able to collect parcels from the post office in the pub and Steve thinks that undelivered catalogue deliveries will also be able to be left there for later collection.

The post office counter is in the public bar and this is being fitted out with tables and chairs so people can have tea or coffee, sandwiches and cakes. The cafe will be open from 9am for breakfasts ranging from a full English or a bacon roll to tea and toast. In the winter, Steve promises a roaring fire in the adjoining Hunt Room.

“A lot of people in the village, especially at weekends, go out for breakfast to different cafes, so they’ll now be able to come in and get a full breakfast here,” said Steve.

A ramp has been built at the front of the pub so there’s easy access for wheelchair users and other alterations to the outside have seen the hedge lowered to provide more light and a patio laid by the side entrance, which will have cafe tables when the weather is warmer.

During the summer, the front of the pub is having major alterations. The existing access points for car parking are being blocked and a new entrance created from the road between the Rose & Crown and the Village Store. This will cut across what’s now the side garden and will mean there will be easier access and more parking for both pub and post office customers.

French Farm inquiry – people have their say

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The people of Thorney had their say when the planning inquiry into the proposed construction of four wind turbines moved to the Bedford Hall on Thursday evening (March 6)

The session was a stark contrast to the previous sittings at the executive suite at Peterborough United. The language was less technical – instead of talking about impacts on visual amenity, we were hearing about “the view from my home”.

For the previous two days we’d heard landscape architects talking about setting up viewpoints and assessing visual impacts, rated on a sliding scale; here people were talking about their view of open sky now being interrupted by large wind turbines and the silence of the night – one man said he could hear his father-in-law coughing in his farmyard almost a mile away – potentially gone forever due to the noise from the turbines.

There was no open anger, no raised voices – people spoke calmly but passionately about the effect they fear the development will have on their homes and lifestyle.

Planning inspector, John Braithwaite allowed everyone who wanted to speak to do so and seemed to find many of the points raised useful ahead of his site visit on Friday (March 7).

It was clear that the decision by the Ministry of Defence to drop its objection to the development was a major blow. Several speakers, including MP Stewart Jackson, had prepared their case assuming that the RAF’s precision approach radar at Wittering would be affected by the turbines.

Mr Jackson wanted to know what the agreement reached between the MOD and the developers said. The inspector said the document had not been placed before the inquiry; all he knew was that the MOD had withdrawn its opposition and had taken no part in the process.

“It’s not acceptable that some kind of sweetheart deal has been done between the MOD and the applicant and that the public does not know what that is,” said Mr Jackson. “The public and the planning authority deserve to be fully conversant with that mitigation and it is important that it is in the public domain. It is only that way that we can measure the efficacy of that decision by the Ministry of Defence.”

Mr Jackson was highly critical of Peterborough City Council planning officers and the planning committee that voted to approve the additional wind turbines last year. “The report sent to the planning committee was incomplete and inadequate for a decision of such local significance and therefore the decision was made based on inaccurate information.

Other speakers included:

Duncan Godber of French Drove, whose home is 1500m from the proposed wind-farm. He said he had been brought up on a farm in Derbyshire and since he moved to the fens he had enjoyed looking out at the huge skies and views across the landscape.

“I like to think that my environmental impact on the area has been positive because I purchased three acres of land around my home and have restored hedgerows by planting 3,000 native hedge plants and nearly 70 native trees. The amount of wildlife that this has given haven to is fantastic. We have a barn owl box, which is regularly used. Turbines kill raptors. In the last few years wind turbines have started to surround us: we now have turbines in our view to the south at Whittlesey, to the north-west at Deeping to the west on Hundreds Road and soon to be the east with the new site at Nutsgrove and Wryde Croft. The north-east view is the only horizon which is yet to be darkened by wind turbines. If these are constructed, this view will be devastated.”

Julie Turner of Bell Drove was also critical of the city council. She said “I didn’t have any personal experience of planning matters before this but had supposed that the planning department would ensure that every piece of relevant data would be checked thoroughly on our behalf and that they would be working for us.

“I am very disappointed and extremely frustrated by the way we have been treated. Our questions have not been answered, we have been ignored, what we’ve said has been discounted and often we could see no good reason why this has happened.”

She criticised the way noise assessments had been carried out and said that she believed wildlife reports were incomplete. The access roads were incorrectly described on early submissions and a whole chapter and its appendix had to be resubmitted, an error described by the planning office as a typo.

“I actually spoke to the highways department because I was trying to find out what was going on and I was told it would be the same route for the two turbines which were already in place and turning round. She tried to argue with me until I said I’m looking out of the window at the site and they’re not actually built yet.

“That, for me, describes the expertise and ability of some of the council staff that we had to deal with who did not even know that two turbines were not actually at the location. So this person was making a decision about the highways situation when she didn’t even know what was in place.”

Margaret Long of French Drove was concerned about access to the site. She said that according to the developer access would be via the A16, Falls Drove and French Drove.

“This will require considerable alteration to the road system to accommodate loads of up to 120 tonnes. At the A16 junction, the plan shows the ditch filled in so that Falls Drove can exit directly onto the A16 instead of looping round. However, while Lincolnshire Highways Authority confirm they have been consulted about weight limits and structures, which were deemed capable of carrying the load, the principal highways officer was not asked about the suitability of the roads themselves.

“Moving south along Falls Drove to the double bends, the plan shows how the bends need to be modified to allow more sweep, however Bedford North Level Drainage Board have no knowledge of this even though there is a ditch on one side of the road and a sluice gate on the other. Consent to alter a watercourse, even for 24 hours, is required by the Land Drainage Act 1991 and no such consent has been applied for.

“I would urge the inspector to drive along Falls Drove to see the proposed access route for himself.”

Steve Lyons, who lives on Dowsdale Bank, said his home (a renovated chapel) was 700 metres from the nearest turbine and he was worried about flicker and also potential damage to the foundations of his home during piling work when turbine bases were being constructed.

“Because the sun comes up behind us, we will get considerable flicker. They say it will only be once every 13 seconds, but because there are six it will be considerably more.

“We have just rebuilt the chapel; I’m in the construction business and piling for the turbines will give us vibrations which could damage my foundations, which are not good.”

Mr Lyons said he was also worried about wildlife. There were barn owls, bats and marsh harriers in the area.

“In the evening you can sit outside and it’s perfect; you can hear a pin drop. The birds come in and roost and it’s literally perfect. I’ve moved from the other side of March where there are some massive wind-farms. I drove past one today between Huntingdon and Warboys, there are now 12 there where there were four. They’ll build more, what’s to stop them and it will spoil the landscape.”

David Harrington, Peterborough City Council representative for Newborough and Peakirk, said he was a member of the planning committee which approved the original application for an additional four turbines, although he’d voted against it.

He didn’t feel that the committee was able to make a decision because the heritage and wildlife officers, who had noted concerns in their reports, were not present to answer questions. “I asked the principal planning officer why we had not got those officers present so we could get some more information and he said there was enough information in those reports to make a decision. I did not think that was the case.

“To put it in context, I sat on the planning committee on Tuesday and the leader of the council had a holly bush that was in his garden in a conservation area and we had to have the tree officer there, at the committee, to make a decision; yet for a planning application of this significance we hadn’t got the relevant offers that had made those reports there so we could question them.”

David Sanders, councillor for Eye and Thorney, said he agreed with Mr Harrington and also supported the arguments put forward by Stewart Jackson about the harmful effect the turbines could have on the radar guidance systems at RAF Wittering.

“What concerns me, as a councillor, is that this area has already had three major air crashes – two Harriers, a Tornado and a Starlifter. I do not want to see another.”

John Bartlett, chairman of Thorney Parish Council, said his council was completely opposed to this development, which was only the start, with a great many more in the planning stage.

John Kitchen of French Drove said: “I live in an ex-farmer-worker’s cottage and there is no way on this Earth we would dream of wanting to live anywhere else because of the stunning fenland countryside that it’s a privilege to live in. When people come to visit our house, they stand in our garden and they invariably say ‘wow’.

“We’ve stood in our garden and watched a barn owl fly within two metres of us, we’ve watched buzzards soaring in thermals over the house, we’ve seen hares, foxes in the fields, even deer.

“I’ve got one figure for you and that’s 800. That’s the number of metres the proposed nearest wind turbine would be from our house. If somebody mugged somebody walking down the street, they’d be accused of adversely affecting their quality of life and, with a bit of luck, they’d go to prison; well I feel I’m being mugged.”

Angelo Convertino of Dowsdale Bank spoke about the amazing wildlife he can see from his home. He accused the city council planning committee of not properly looking at the area. “Not one of these councillors came down our road. Andy, who lives on the corner, said they turned up in a van, turned round, ran over his grass and drove off. Not all the councillors were even in the bus and that’s as much as what they did to investigate the area.

“It’s absolutely disgusting; the council is just not fit for purpose. They’ve overridden our lives basically.

“On a nice quiet night I can hear my father-in-law cough. He’s a farmer and lives over a mile away. When it’s windy and blowing in the right direction, I can hear him cough and shut his garage door and these turbines are going to be a lot closer.”

No unbroken line of wind-farms – inquiry is told

Land at French Farm, French Drove - site of a proposed six-turbine wind-farm.

Concerns that wind-farms will merge to form an unbroken line across the fen landscape were refuted on the second day of the planning inquiry into the construction of four additional turbines at French Farm, to the north of Thorney.

Landscape architect Marc van Grieken said the six wind turbines at French Farm would have no cumulative effect on the landscape when viewed against other wind farms in the area.

He had been questioned in detail about the effect the additional turbines would have on both the character of the landscape and on the visual amenity of residential properties.

He said that within a 5km radius of French Farm, there were two existing single wind turbines, one at Poultry Farm and one at Hundreds Farm. The new wind farm at Wryde Cross, which is under construction, would be right at the border of the 5km. “I don’t believe there is any cumulative effect between Wyrde Cross and French Farm and I have no concerns about the single turbines.”

Mr van Grieken had carried out landscape and visual-impact assessments on behalf of developers REG Windpower, including detailed reports of how views from homes around the proposed wind-farm would be affected. He told the inquiry he had written to 42 homes, but only 11 had agreed to co-operate. He’d speculatively visited four more homes while in the area and so had carried out 15 home assessments.

“At none of the properties the turbines would be unpleasantly overwhelming and an unavoidable presence in main views,” he said. “In my view the effect would not be such that the property would become an unattractive place to be.”

His report identifies “significant landscape and visual effects” but says these were limited and in proportion to the scale and size of the development proposals.

The inquiry took written evidence from Dr Simon Collcutt, a professional archaeologist, who said that boreholes had discovered no archaeological features. He said there would be minor impact on views of Crowland Abbey, with the turbines appearing in the background when the abbey was viewed from Crowland Common.

Summing up the case for the developers, planning expert Paul Singleton cited Peterborough City Council’s ambition to become the “environment capital of the UK” and said the proposed turbines conformed to the development plan. “It is also consistent with government policy and objectives with regard to renewable energy capacity and reducing greenhouse gases.”

He said that planning permission should be granted without delay.

The planning inquiry closed this afternoon (Thursday) and will reconvene with a public meeting at the Bedford Hall in this evening. Planning inspector John Braithwaite will undertake a site visit tomorrow (Friday) and report back to the Minister for Communities and Local Government with his recommendation. This is likely to take some months.

REG Windpower already has planning permission for two wind turbines at French Farm and construction has started on those, but stopped pending the application for four more. If planning permission is granted, the wind-farm is committed to paying £60,000 per annum into a community fund.

MOD withdraws objection to French Farm wind turbines

Wind turbine

A key objection to the development of wind turbines at French Farm has been withdrawn.

As the planning inquiry opened in Peterborough today (Wednesday), it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence was no longer objecting to the development.

The RAF had originally raised concerns about the effect wind turbines would have on precision-approach radar, which guides aircraft into RAF Wittering, also surveillance radar at RAF Cottesmore.

However, Cottesmore has now closed and Wittering’s role is much changed, although the base remains operational and is a diversion airfield and also a logistics hub, with massive Boeing C17 Globemaster transporters using the runway from time to time.

Both Wryde Croft wind-farm at Thorney – which is under construction – and the two wind turbines at French Farm which already have planning permission (a total of 15 turbines) fall within the vision of Wittering’s precision-approach radar but at 13 nautical miles from the base, the effect is not now thought to be severe.

Developers REG Windpower met with the Ministry of Defence in late January and agreed a condition which the RAF is happy with.

John Taylor, a retired Royal Navy Commander and director of Wind Power Aviation Consultants, acting for the developers, said the fact that the MOD has now agreed a condition is a very positive development which protects operations at RAF Wittering and enables this issue to be removed from consideration at the inquiry.

The news dealt a blow to groups opposing the development as the RAF objections were an important part of their campaign.

The inquiry is looking at a planning application for four wind turbines at French Farm, French Drove, to the north of Thorney. Planning permission has already been given for two wind turbines on the site and REG wants to build four more. The turbines have a height of 60 metres to the central hub and 100 metres to the tip of the blade at its highest point of rotation.

Peterborough City Council approved the application, but because of the strength of feeling and local opposition to wind-farm developments around the village, the decision was “called in” by the Department of Communities and Local Government. Effectively, this means that the city council’s decision was blocked and the decision on whether to grant planning permission would be made by a government planning inspector following a public inquiry.

Opposition to the development is led by Thorney North Landscape Protection Group and their case is being put to the inquiry by Ian Kelly, a chartered town planner and head of planning at Graham & Sibbald, chartered surveyors.

In his opening statement, Mr Kelly said that Peterborough City Council had not applied the correct level of informed and independent scrutiny to the initial application. He said Thorney North Landscape Protection Group would present evidence to show that the development was not consistent with government planning policy and guidance for renewable energy developments in that the assessed harm outweighs the benefit; also that the development is not consistent with the development plan for the area.

City Council criticised for sitting on the fence

Peterborough City Council came under fire for adopting a neutral stance at the inquiry.

Marcus Trinick QC, who is representing developers REG Windpower Ltd, said the council had granted planning permission, yet now its position was declared as neutral. “In my view this cannot be,” said Mr Trinick. “It is in favour of the proposed development.”

He pressed Louise Lovegrove, senior development management officer to re-affirm the council’s support, but she would not do so.

“We voted to grant planning permission, but then the decision was taken away from us,” she said. “In the light of this we have taken a neutral stance. It is up to the inspector to decide.”

Ian Kelly, representing Thorney North Landscape Protection Group (TNLPG), was no happier with the council stance and demanded a decision. “Is the council happy for the decision to be approved – yes or no?”

The planning inspector, John Braithwaite, said Ms Lovegrove did not have to answer that question.

“Is your professional opinion neutral as to the outcome?” asked Mr Kelly.

“Yes,” said Ms Lovegrove.

“So you have changed your professional opinion since you recommended the application be granted?”

“Only in the extent that the decision making process has been taken away from the council,” replied Ms Lovegrove.

Part of the Thorney group’s argument is that Peterborough City Council didn’t properly assess the application, in particular that more up-to-date environmental information was ignored and that Ms Lovegrove’s report as the case officer did not include a separate report from the council’s landscape architect. Ms Lovegrove said that the application had been considered by a landscape architect, but that his findings had been included in her report.

It was a bruising morning for Ms Lovegrove, who was forced to admit that this was her first wind-farm case and her first public inquiry.

There was also some scrutiny of her report into the impact of the development on local homes where Ms Lovegrove has used the so-called Lavender test. This is named after a planning inspector who ruled:

“When turbines are present in such number, size and proximity that they represent an unpleasantly overwhelming and unavoidable presence in main views from a house or garden, there is every likelihood that the property concerned would come to be regarded as an unattractive and thus an unsatisfactory (but not necessarily uninhabitable) place in which to live. It is not in the public interest to create such living conditions where they did not exist before.”

Ms Lovegrove said this test had been applied in the Treadwell Farm planning inquiry in South Holland District, which had been published shortly before the city council were to consider the French Farm application. Mr Kelly asked her how she would define the tipping point of visual effect that would make somewhere an unsuitable place to live.

“I believe this would be where turbines reach such an extent that they become the dominant feature. I appreciate this is a subjective matter and residents may set the bar higher than I do.” She did not believe this was the case with regard to French Farm.

The inquiry adjourned for lunch

Landscape architects clash on visual effect of French Farm wind turbines

During the afternoon session, two landscape architects submitted somewhat different assessments regarding the impact of the French Farm wind turbines.

Mark Steele for Thorney North Landscape Protection (against the proposal) and Marc van Grieken for developers REG Windpower, submitted evidence that differed substantially in its conclusions.

Mr van Grieken’s evidence stated that: “at none of the properties assessed residents will experience impacts which could be said to be overbearing or dominant, or to dominate.

“The development will not affect the outlook of these residents to such an extent that the property would become an unattractive place to live.”

Mr Steele’s evidence was picked over by Marcus Trinick QC for REG Windpower who savaged a number of findings.

He claimed the evidence had mixed up some properties so incorrect visual impacts had been reported; evidence on the design of the wind-farm had considered only two-thirds of the development; the same wording had been used to describe views from different points and there was no proof to support an assertion that high levels of visual impact would be present up to four kilometres away from the site.

Fashion show rebooked

The fashion show to raise money for Keep Thorney Beating – the campaign to buy a defibrillator for the village – had to be cancelled on Monday evening.

Lincs Fashion, who were providing clothes and models, had to pull out at almost the last minute.

The show as been rebooked for March 16 at the Bedford Hall (7.30pm start). Tickets are £2.50 in advance or £3 on the door. Anyone already with a ticket from last night’s show will be able to use it on the revised date.

Work on track at Wryde Croft wind farm

Work is on track at Wryde Croft wind farm, a development of 13 turbines to the east of the village.

Turbines are scheduled to be delivered in June and July and will be erected during the summer.

The wind farm, which is costing £5 million to develop, should be generating electricity by the end of the year and has the potential to power more than 13,000 homes.

Alison Jones, Community Relations Manager for developers RES, said additional work to strengthen culverts and resurfacing on New Cut had put the project a little behind schedule, but they were back on track now.

Work at the site currently involves laying roads for work to begin on the turbine bases and Alison was keen to stress the efforts being made to lessen impact on the environment. Contractors R G Carter, a Peterborough-based company, is using existing farm roads where possible and where new access roads need to be laid they will be put on a membrane so they can be taken up and the land restored for agriculture once work is finished.

Around 30 people are employed on the site at present but once complete RES will monitor operations from Scotland. Turbines turn themselves automatically point in the direction to get the best wind.

RES is committed to giving £130,000 a year to the local community. Of this, £78,000 will go to homes and businesses through the Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS). Alison Jones said it wasn’t yet known which properties would be eligible, but the company would be writing to the properties later in the year. LEDS gives discounts on electricity bills of around £100 a year.

The remaining cash will be available in grants to local organisations and RES will be setting up a panel to determine who gets what. Parishes within six kilometres of the wind farm are being invited to nominate representatives to sit on the panel.

Grants in other areas have ranged from a few hundred pounds to buy football strip for a local youth team up to thousands for a new floor in a village hall.

RES has a website for the development at


Inquiry starts on French Farm turbines

Wind turbine

A planning inquiry starts on March 4 into the application to build four wind turbines at French Farm, French Drove to the north of the village.

The application was being dealt with by Peterborough City Council last year, but was “called in” by the Department of Communities and Local Government and will now be decided by an inquiry.

The application, by REG Windpower, is for four turbines with a maximum height to blade tip of 100 metres; also vehicle access tracks, hard-standing, construction compound and ancillary development. Planning permission has already been granted for two turbines at French Drove and work has started on the bases for those.

As part of the inquiry, a public meeting is being held at the Bedford Hall on Thursday, March 5 starting at 7pm, where members of the public are invited to give their views.

The planning inquiry itself is being held at the Executive Suite, Peterborough United Stadium in London Road, Peterborough and is scheduled to sit for 12 days, starting on March 4. It will run March 4-6; March 10-13; March 17-20 and March 24, although if it has heard all evidence, the inquiry will close earlier. The inquiry opens at 10am and after the first day sittings will commence at 9.30am.

Details of both the planning inquiry and public meeting are listed in the events section on this website.

The French Farm site is one of five sites around Thorney where planning permission has been granted or is being sought in order to build wind turbines. To the east of the village, RES is currently building 13 turbines at Wryde Croft and these will be operational at the end of the year.

There are also applications for turbines at Willowhall and Gores Farm to the south and west. These are being considered by Peterborough City Council.

Thorney photo book snapped up!

John Clarke and Margaret Fletcher selling copies of Thorney in Focus in the Rose & Crown.

Thorney in Focus – a new book of photographs of Thorney and surrounding fens sold out within five-and-a-half days of its launch.

“This was beyond our wildest dreams!” said Margaret Fletcher one of the team who produced the book.

For anyone who missed buying a copy, there’s good news – a reprint has been ordered and there are now more books on sale at £22 each.

Copies are available at Ancarig tea rooms, or ring 01733 270634.

The book was inspired by a photographic book of Peterborough and surrounding villages, produced by the city’s civic society and photographic society. John Clark, who worked on that book, helped with Thorney in Focus and the book was designed and produced by Christopher Lane of Artinfusion, which is based in the village.

Michael Sly, Dorothy Halfhide and Margaret Fletcher of the Thorney Society worked on content and Bert Brookes was final proofreader.

Most of the photographs in the book were taken by John Clark, but others were provided by a number of local people, including Morris Spridgeon, Janet Rook, Michael Sly, Michael Stevenson, Kathie Williams, Darren Grigas, Del Millard, Chris Boucher, Sean Riches, Susan Morris, Mary Herdman, Margaret Dewing, Marion Peacock, Margaret Fletcher and Janice Gordon. A number of images were also supplied by the North Level Drainage Board.

The book has a foreword by His Grace Andrew Russell, the 15th Duke of Bedford, who said: “A most impressive work, quite stunning photography.

“I think it’s a wonderful document which completely captures the essence of the village. It made me homesick for the Fens.”

As well as the book itself, people can also buy mounted prints of any published image. These are available from Christopher Lane at in several sizes, mounted. Prices are: 7×5 £4 each or three for £10); A4 £6.50 each (two for £10); A3 £9 each (two for £15).

A spokesman for the Thorney Society said: “An idea, even coupled with enthusiasm, doesn’t guarantee success. This project involved a certain amount of financial commitment and uncertainty, which was taken on board by friends of the Society. It’s lovely to feel that their trust and kindness have been rewarded.

“The generosity of the small team involved were central to the project. Nothing could have been achieved without the huge choice of stunning photographs by John Clarke and the skills of Chris Lane, our graphic designer.

“Nostalgia and curiosity may be encouraging sales, but some of the books have already gone to connections abroad. We hope that people whose family roots are in Thorney will be interested when they make family history enquiries in the future.”

Christopher Lane (of Artinfusion) presents Maurice Spridgeon with a print of Whittlesey Wash, one of Maurice’s photographs for the book.

Christopher Lane (of Artinfusion) presents Morris Spridgeon with a print of Whittlesey Wash, one of Morris’s photographs for the book.

Thorney in Focus is launched at the Christmas Fair at Pigeons Farm. Left to right: Chris Clarke, Michael Sly, John Clarke, Margaret Fletcher, Christopher Lane, Dorothy Halfhide, Susan Morris.

Thorney in Focus is launched at the Christmas Fair at Pigeons Farm. Left to right: Chris Clarke, Michael Sly, John Clarke, Margaret Fletcher, Christopher Lane, Dorothy Halfhide, Susan Morris.

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