Village History

History 1984 Onwards

Further details for this page are being researched. We will be updating over the next 20 years!

This page contains the most recent updates to the history. More are always welcome, so do, please, get in touch.

The 2003 January Floods Once again the village flooded, seriously, and was featured on ITN in January 2003.
The Vicarage Bungalows Fire December 2002 saw the three Vicarage Bungalows suffer a serious fire.
Sam Hart dies In early December 2002 saw the death of Sam Hart, one of the original author/editor's of the village history.
The Millenium Flood The year 2000 saw the River Bourne flood once more. This section holds a record of progress and a small photo library of the floods.
The Battle of the Bean Field A Summer Solstice conflict between New Age travellers and the police [being researched]
Work More expansion of the Work and business in the village
The Village Centre More details of the village centre updates
The PoW Camp There are suggestions of PoW camp being within the Parish boundaries or nearby. [being researched]
Snippets & Contact Details How to provide details about the village history.

January Floods in 2003

Late December 2002: the Bourne starts rising following copious rain. On the 1st it burst its banks and flooded the road and on the 2nd January it had flooded the High Street again, almost blocked off Bulford Road and had prevented easy access through Watery Lane. The A338 at the entrance to the village was blocked off by police for being too dangerous, as were parts of Tidworth, and diversions were in operation.

The floods this time appeared worse than before, gain several inches on 2002 - and this despite some clearing out and unblocking of basic drainage ditches over the previous 2 years.

Pictures from January 2003 and the comparison with the December 2000 floods.

This time, Shipton made the National and local News on both BBC and ITN, leading in the mid-day Meridian News on the 2nd: fame at last! Pictures were even seen on news bulletins in Canada and Australia: relatives called back home to check. But it was at a price: the High Street looked grim indeed with the floods all down its length and, as rain continued, the flooding showed no signs of stopping - a remorseless rise indeed. Lindsay Marsh was interviewed expressing her fears about the floods, with many locals in the background heaving sandbags for her, these being continuously brought in to the village by the local council throughout the day until they ran out. Others in the village were also interviewed. Later in the day, the Marshes re-erected their "The Rapids" sign on the bridge over to the Limes: a thankful sign that some humour, at least, remained.

This was important as houses began to be flooded along the High Street, with water 24" deep in places. Once again, the older houses were flooded - Bramble, Parsonage Farm, the Thatched cottages, the old butchers, Vigo's house.... even Eveline's was more threatened this time than last. This flood, however, the environment agency arranged for a lifeguards to come with their raft to evacuate anyone potentially at risk in the High Street. One resident was shown on BBC News being gently loaded into the raft. The lifeguards taped off the deeper part of the Bourne as, by evening, there was no way of identifying the shallower parts of the road from the Winterbourne itself.

With the announcement that the rain was to ease up over the weekend, many breathed a sigh of relief. To coin a cliche, only time will tell whether such relief was well-founded.

World Fame! The news - and Shipton - was shown around the world. On the 3rd Jan, ex-residents in Australia, Jackie Watkins, nee Read, was watching the 6am News in Brisbane and was surprised to see and recognise a flooded High Street! She immediately phoned her sister in Shipton....

The weekend brought different problems. The floods subsided, at the rate of a few inches a day, and the A338 was re-opened on the 4th January. However, in the High Street this still left around 18" of water. And frosts settled, leaving the pavements treacherously icy. Wisely, the local council decided to salt the roads throughout the village, all of which were saturated with water.

But the hard frosts brought a different problem, causing the A338 to be closed again on the 6th at the junction with the A303. Water, pumped out and flowing across the road, had frozen solid, covering the A338 in a sheet of ice, almost invisible under the A303 flyover, just on the corner of the bend into the Parkhouse road roundabout. Whether or not there was an accident is not known, but trafffic was diverted for miles around. On the 8th the sanding/salting was effective again and the road was re-opened. In the High Street the water level dropped further, though ice was making walking and driving difficult in places.

By the 13th, after serious ice over the weekend (up to an inch thick along the High Street for a long stretch) the weather became much milder, but potentially more damp. The ice has gone, melted, but the onset of warmer weather raises the possiblity of further rain.

More Rain: 19th January 2003

There was more serious rain overnight the 18th-19th January, with yet more predicted for the next few days. The Bourne once more overflowed into High Street from Red Villas down to the Boot, mostly only half-way across except outside Astor Mews, where it reached across to the pavement. The High Street was partially blocked off again, but this time a culvert was dug from the flooded field (which normally drained into Bulford Road) into Watery Lane and the water drained very well.

By 22nd January, with intermittent rain and dry periods, the Bourne was only just spilling out into the road, with the only bad patch outside the Boot.

"The Floods" Parish Council Meeting Jan 6th 2003

This was one of the best attended Parish Council meetings for some time: all the councillors, Tim Southern (TVBC Cllr) and many villagers affected by the floods attended. After routine business the meeting discussed the goods and the bads about the floods. Much praise was given to TVBC who, after a shaky start (no one could be contacted over the holidays!) were considered to be excellent, and the local environment officer was singled out for particular praise.

Of more concern was the Environment Agency and the Floodline: the EA considered Shipton minor, even with 21 houses flooded and 5 with water under the floorboards. Given the difficulties surrounding meetings with the EA and any improvement in flood defenses (we are now around 40-200 years "in credit", apparently, given the probable flood statistics) the council recommends that anyone concerned write to their local MP, personally, to ask him to ensure the EA does its utmost to prevent further flood damage along the Bourne.

Overall, though, the tone of the meeting was remarkably calm, Tim Southern calling the village reponse very "phlegmatic". A decision for next year is to distribute a "Floods" leaflet to all in the village, containing information about what to do in the floods, with treatment and saving of water being a worry, especially as some houses were forced into "portaloo's".

Overall it seemed that whilst the level remained the same at the top end, and mid-way along the High Street, the "lower end" - that abutting onto the A338 - and lower-middle end were much deeper, water seeming to pool there whilst it still flowed further up. The significance of this is that it suggests that when we have more flooding, it could spread backwards up the High Street like a gradually filling reservoir...

Vicarage Bungalows Fire

12th December 2002: the Vicarge Bungalows caught fire around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, apparently starting from a kitchen at one end (number 1). Some visitors to the village saw the fire at one end and alerted the occupants and calling the Fire Service: with such an early warning, the occupants of the other two managed to evacuate a few of their belongings. Unfortunately, the houses were mostly wood and, apparently having no separation between each in the roof void, the fire rapidly spread through roof void into all three. Half an hour later the fire was raging in the roof above all three bungalows with 4 fire appliances in the high street.

By around 16:30-17:00 there were 6 appliances dealing with the fire and the High Street was blocked off from Kingfishers up to Bulford Road. Electricity within the village was flickering as overhead power cables collapsed into the roof. Whilst there was a (very) small crowd of onlookers, those villagers who turned out to check if anything could be done soon went home.

Originally an army hut in Bulford, it was bought off the army after the end of the Second World War, re-erected in Shipton and divided into three. Bathrooms and kitchens were added. For years the bungalows were used as intermediary housing for people on their way to other council houses. Then, around 1970-1980, they were sold off.

Now, though, the bungalows are destroyed, just a shell and some internal partitions still standing. Though one resident may have had relatively slight burns, thankfully no-one was seriously hurt, the ambulances leaving the scene very early. Few, though, can fully empathise with the distress caused by the loss of a home - and just 12 days before Christmas.

Further pictures from the day after the fire

Sam Hart Dies

Early December 2002: Sam Hart, one of the original authors and editors of the Shipton Bellinger Village History, died on his way to hospital. He had been suffering with deteriorating lung problems for a while and had just come home from hospital before having to be rushed back in. He had been born and bred in the village (photo's are on the site), had served as a Chief Engineer during the war, become a school teacher in the village and nearby, and was shared an interest in horses with Sylvia. He regularly led or acted as a guide for the New Years Day village walks.

There is little we can do or say but to offer our condolences to his wife and family. And remember a wonderful character.

The Millenium Flood

The year 2000 saw the Bourne flood once again. All year the river (or stream) has never been empty, always having at least a little water in it, but on the night of the 7th-8th December 2000, in common with many other streams in Hampshire, the Bourne burst its banks and once more flooded the High Street. Only once before since the waterway had been dug out and the boreholes sunk had the Bourne flooded: in 1996 and that only a slight breach.

The houses originally in peril from the flood were "Evelines", once the fish shop, the oldest house in the village "Bramble Cottage" (built 1603), and "Parsonage Farm". On the night of the 7th, many of the residents living either side of the Bourne were in the street, looking worriedly at the rising river. Sandbags were delivered by Test Valley Borough Council by a team of services guys in their tip-up: they remained in good humour throughout the night and the following day ,despite undoubtedly being moaned and complained at by many on their rounds. They have to be commended for being helpful, co-operative, and for keeping their good humour.

Once they realised no-one could discern the edge of the river and the road, the police eventually closed off the High Street, only letting a few residents through. They had also received a great deal of complaints about cars driving too fast through the swiftly-flowing flood water. Several villagers stopped and talked to the drivers themselves: many immediately responded, particularly the minibus driver transporting diners to "The Boot" who hadn't appreciated the amount of damage the wash actually did when it broke over the sandbag walls. Once informed however, he noticeably became the most careful regular driver up the High Street: well done!

Over the next day the water rose approximately 25-30cm(10-12 inches) and more up the walls of Rosemary Henderson's "Evelines" on the opposite side of the street from the Bourne; her patio garden was under 10-15cm (4-6 inches) of water. Colonel and Mrs Peecock in "Parsonage Farm" had to place a board up over their front door to prevent it getting swamped by cars driving too fast. The "Old School House" is on slightly higher ground so was relatively safe. Ironically, opposite them the houses right on the side of the Bourne itself were on slightly higher ground, the main houses in danger were "Brookside", which saw the water reach within 3m of it's front door (perhaps 10-15cm or 4-6 inches in height away), and "The Limes" which was built closer to the bank than most of the other houses. But it was in Charles and Yvonne McDonald's "Bramble Cottage" that the worst damage was done.

The Flood and "Bramble Cottage"

Around 23:30 - midnight on the 7th Charles approached the group setting sandbags and watching the flood outside Astor Mews and asked for people and buckets - urgently. minutes later a group of 8-10 turned up with buckets to see his back garden and a sunken terrace completely swamped, with water in his dining room (an extension built in the mid-70's). Several chains were formed to empty the water from the sunken terrace and the garden. After a back-breaking hour the water appeared to be under control and a solid sandbag wall built. With the water now only 5cm deep, the helpers took a rest. Commenting on the help he had afterwards, Charles said that "...there was a real Dunkirk attitude amongst the villagers".

Fifteen minutes later the helpers returned only to find the water - remarkably clear water- now 10cm (4 inches) deep. Thinking it was seeping in from the rest of the garden, it was almost completely emptied of water. But the terrace kept on filling with very clear water, in complete contrast to that pouring down the High Street. It was then that Charles guessed that the rumoured old spring in the back garden of "Bramble Cottage" may have reactivated - and that perhaps the extension or the terrace had been built partly over it!

The fire service were called but nothing could be done: the water would keep coming. Charles had to run out at first light on the 8th to buy two pumps: one to empty his sunken terrace into his drive and the other to pump the water from his drive into the flooded high street. In the meantime the dining room and kitchen were flooded and continued to flood through the next few days.

The High street during the floods on the 7th-21st December 2000 Further pictures of the flooding along the High Street

Deeper and Deeper

Over the next few days the rain was intermittent, but on the 11th the rain was heavy - 20mm in a day. The river rose another 15cm or more and partially flooded "Parsonage Farm", the "Old Shop" and the old Farthing/Frog cottages. It even threatened "The Limes" and the five houses in Red Villas. The older residents mentioned that it was the worst flood since 1947. For many in the village, however, it was now becoming tedious and, perhaps, a little scary, espacially when the Borough Council admitted that they were only barely keeping up with demand for sandbags.

By the 16th December the river was just lapping at the edge of Kingfishers and was only right across the road in the deepest part (by the Boot, Bramble cottage, Parsonage and Evelines) and by Hamble House. The dip in Bulford Road SW of the bridge was still a 30-yard ford 15-20cm deep. The weather was very cold, and mist was coming off the water in the evening. The weather? Just a slight, freezing drizzle during the day. Maybe with a few more days of little or no rain the floods would subside....

But finally, after four days of lust light drizzle and cold mist the river had receded. By 21st December the levels were back such that the Bourne had pulled back from the houses opposite but was still breaking it's banks. It was posible, once more, to walk the length of the High Street without wellies! It is still, however, reaching well over the road and the fields are still draining into the "ford" along Bulford Road. Another week later and the Bourne had receded to it's boundaries, though it was still abnormally high.

The "Brookside Measure" or "Humour in adversity"

One of the more light-hearted facets of what was otherwise a disaster for some was the measure of depth used by many villagers: the height of the water against the "Brookside" sign outside Wendy and David Sperry's house. This was a useful and readily visible constant! Was it deeper? Then it had risen above the "B". Was it getting shallower? Then it was, perhaps, below the "o".

The "Brookside Measure" "The Rapids"

Humour continued throughout, however. Once Brookside's sign was covered, they renamed it "The New Ford"; the bridge up to the Limes and the Vigor Bungalows, which had an impressive cascade of water pouring over it, was renamed "The Rapids".

Floods Photo Library

In addition to the photo's on the main page, we have a few others in this Photo Library which will be extended as more pictures are brought in.


In the last fifteen years, a lot has changed. The laundry has now closed. According to residents in the village during the years it was open it employed 40-60 people, a large number of which (maybe 30-40) were temporary and mostly women, the rest of the permament staff mostly men. The flats in front of the Laundry on the High Street, called Astor Flats, have been demolished. In place of the laundry and the flats a new estate has been built of around 34-36 houses comprising "Kingfishers" and all that is left of the original name: "Astor Mews". The buildings on the ''pop'' factory site are still there, though it is now used as storage for hospital equipment. And, of course, we still have The Boot Inn and the local shop/post office. We still have a second-hand car lot and a few farms within the parish, the School and the Sports and Social club - still an important part of village life. However, that is all that remains of a once busy High Street in the village.

Still in the parish, but not in the village, at the junction of the A338 and the A303 and often referred to as Parkhouse, is a motel and hotel. There are a few who work from home, and a great many who now commute to the surrounding towns and cities of Salisbury, Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester, and not a few who commute regularly to London from the nearby mainline station at Grateley.

The Battle of the Bean Field

This occurred in the late 1980's between police and New Age travellers trying to reach Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. From around 2000 the world heritage site was opened to visitors every Midsummer's solstice, and attracts crowds of up to 30,000 people - with remarkably few arrests, though the police presence is high.

The battle, though, is being researched and more details will follow: the Times has extensive reporting. If you have any information contact the keepers of the village history under contact details.

The Village Centre

Since being built, the village centre has had an extension and showers added, the old pavilion being destroyed. It is now in regular use by the school and many societies in the village, including the WI and Bellinger Players. Next door is a small children's playground and an all-weather tennis and basketball court were laid in 1999-2000, though by 2002 the surface was suffering from vandalism. The village fete is still held on the playing field surrounding the centre.

Out front is ''Tom's Folly'' - a small shelter built to provide a shelter and centre where teenagers in the village can gather: this is still in regular use fulfilling exactly the purpose for which it was built!

Sadly, during 2000 the centre suffered serious vandalism, particularly during October and November 2000. No-one saw the perpetrators commit the vandalism. A camera was installed, and the centre committee considered hiring security guards. However, one perpetrator was caught attempting to vandalise the camera coverings!

The Second World War: the PoW Camp

(29/12/2000) For some months now, the following advert was placed in these pages:

We have recently come across details of a PoW camp in Shipton and have been collating information.

Connie Magee (nee Green) sent in the following:

I was a child during the War, when the Italian POWs were billetted at Vicarage House, corner High St.

We were told to stay away from them as they were the ENEMY. However, being children used to try to chat to them when they first arrived. After a few months of hanging over the top of the Vicarage House fence and us kids never leaving them alone, they'd picked up quite a bit of English. They taught us to sing, count and swear in Italian.

They wore a maroon uniform - zip up top with a big circle beige coloured circle on the back.

Jack and Pete [Ed: Green] had Italian POWs as farm labourers on Perrins and Mundy's farms. About 20 years ago, one of these POWs visited Mrs Green (my mother) at Hedges Close, bringing gifts for the two little girls - myself and my sister Pam, and Jack and Pete.

When I was 10, I used to deliver Mr Martin the Grocer's groceries to his customers, receiving as payment sixpence and a packet of broken crisps. One day I was walking past the POWs and shared these crisps with ENZO, the chef. Then, each Friday night I used to go to the POW cookhouse, and exchange my packet of crisps for a PINEAPPLE TART which was a great luxury as we were rationed at the time!

They seemed happy in the village and I remember the gate was left open during the day very soon after they came and closed at night.

There were no escapes and one pregnancy....

John Hogan sent in the following:

Italian POW’s were first accommodated in the old vicarage. Later there was a POW camp established in the land, on the left-hand side of the road to Tidworth, immediately past the woods where Donny Andrews' family home was situated. I believe that some of the buildings later were to become public housing. The Italian prisoners were allocated work locally, some worked on Charlie Perrins and Harold Mundy's farms. They wore distinctive uniforms of dark brown army battledress with large coloured patches of various size and shapes sewn on the jackets and trousers. The colours were usually blue, grey or yellow.

Can anyone else add to these? Please contact Tim (details below).

Village History Snippets and Contact Details

If you have any more information about any of the above topics, or any other interesting fact about the village and it's history, contact the keepers of the history:

Tim Bancroft (844167) (use for history only)

or send an e-mail via the Contact Page.

We also have had a few comments about a boy being drowned in the old cess-pit (1960's), the nissan huts along Salisbury road and around the village, and the americans living nearby. Some villagers even remember playing on a ruined old tank (a Sherman?) in the 60's.

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Page Last Updated: 21st September 2005