The Heavy Brigade

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The Wednesday ad hoc group are a small select band of volunteers with a characteristic in common – some serious manpower.

The gate guarding the entrance to Golden Valley adjacent to the Mansion having been destroyed, the team were assembled to install a rapid replacement. This latest gate is the third one in as many years on this spot, so it is hoped that it will stand the test of time.

The gate was constructed in the Estate Wood -Yard to the usual specification by Phil Penn and Bob Spooner.

Although understrength – four of the team were absent – Arthur Whiting, Mike Keen, Martin Arnold and John Gartside, the group completed the installation in five hours, with staff member Matt Bond leading the team with the tractor mounted auger to dig out the three post holes up to a metre deep. Then enter the team to erect the oak posts and back-fill with type one slate chippings brought out from the Estate yard, and then hang the gate. No mean achievement for the team of Andrew Reeve, Andy Neill, Tony Deighan and Tony Smart.

This is a good example of the new N T policy of getting volunteers to carry out challenging technical work normally undertaken by the staff.

Today the roadway is used only for access by the N T and the tenant from the Dairy Farm when visiting his cattle.

Winding the clock back to the 1800’s, the roadway was the main access for carriages visiting Ashridge from London, the route coming up from Water End through Nettleden Lodge. The mode of transport in those days during the summer months for the Brownlows (after 1849), was their barouch. The head coachman wore a plum coloured livery, grey wig and three cornered hat, with two footman standing at the rear wearing blue with white stockings for special occasions like the State Opening of Parliament. They had gold buttons emblazoned with the initial “B” on their tunics. The local villagers they must have regarded them as demigods, whilst they had but their dreams!

Sorry Tony we forgot to give you credit for your contribution and pictures – nice one

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