Monday, 23 November 2020

Christmas card shows high street when it was buzzing

Christmas card shows high street when it was buzzing

A SNOWY scene depicting Wargrave high street almost 15 years ago is to be used to raise money for the village’s heritage trust.

The watercolour was painted by artist Sally Castle, who used to live a short walk from the shops, and was used by the trust for its Christmas card in 2006.

Now the trust is to use it for the same purpose this year with the permission of 67-year-old Ms Castle, who moved to Ruscombe 10 years ago.

The high street looks very different today with many of the shops featured in the painting having closed down.

Ms Castle, who still visits Wargrave regularly as her father, Ken, lives at the Mount care home in School Hill, was delighted to have her work used again.

She said: “I used to live in Wargrave high street and when I painted it all the shops were actually in use.

“I can remember just being able to walk down to get my shopping and not having to go to Twyford. There are a lot of empty units now, which is very unfortunate, but it is nice to see there are some new ventures. I know on the corner you used to have the estate agents and there was an antiques shop. There was also an electrical shop and a curry house where the Weir Grove restaurant is now.”

Ms Castle, who is a professional illustrator and works for Two Rivers Press, a publishing company in Reading, was asked by trust chairman Neill Pitcher for permission to re-use her work.

She said: “It is a watercolour with pencil drawing and it took me about a day or so to finish. I lived just up the road from the shops and it was nice to do something for the village.”

The trust was established in 1992 to preserve and improve public buildings in the village and it was registered as a charity two years later. 

Recent projects have included the restoration of the front of Woodclyffe Hall in High Street and Rebecca’s Well in Crazies Hill. The trust has been producing packs of Christmas cards to sell since 1998. Last year, it sold more than 250 packs and raised £1,500.

Mr Pitcher said: “Since our inception, we have covered or contributed to the cost of over 30 projects amounting to in excess of £60,000.  The new clock for Woodclyffe Hall is eagerly awaited and further improvements to Rebecca’s Well are envisaged. 

“The pandemic has severely restricted our fundraising activities but also emphasises the relevance of the trust in straitened times.

“The card reflects a busier time in the high street but comes when there are positive signs of a resurgence — hopefully it will be well supported and contribute to another active year for the trust.”

He added: “I think there is only one shop in the picture that’s still there and that’s the hairdressers.”

The cards would normally be sold at the Old Pavilion but the Cards for Good Causes event has had to be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Packs of 10 cards cost £4 and are available from the A&I Convenience Store in Victoria Road or call Wendy Smith on 0118 940 2920. 

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