IT IS interesting to look back on the mid-1960s when the borough council was dealing with the early stages of the Town Development Scheme.

Let us look through the minutes of the council meetings of those days, when the council offices were in the building which is now the registrar’s office in London Road.

Other meetings were held in the Town Hall, which is now The Willis Museum.

The council chamber at the municipal buildings in London Road was where the main discussions and decisions were made.

READ MORE: History of Basingstoke's Willis Museum

Basingstoke Gazette: Willis Museum, 1950Willis Museum, 1950

Some of these were of great importance to the town, while others were of a minor nature, and Development Group members attended.

On one occasion, the group architect demonstrated the advantages of using a rotary clothes dryer for use in small gardens, as it gave more hanging space than normal clothes lines. The cost of such a line was £4.19 (now £4.95). Evidently, small gardens were being planned for the new houses going up on the estates around the town!

The town clerk, Roger Purvis, on another occasion, submitted details from the General Post Office about the provision of telephone kiosks, as more were needed in the town.

Basingstoke Gazette: Willis Museum todayWillis Museum today

This was long before the invention of mobile phones.

In the town centre, during the demolition of much of the shopping area, car parking became a problem, so the council decided to acquire the old cattle-market meadow in Vyne Road for that purpose.

Tenders were invited for the layout of the area, which was next to Phoenix Park Terrace.

Basingstoke Gazette: The Cattle Market meadow in Vyne Road in the early 1960sThe Cattle Market meadow in Vyne Road in the early 1960s (Image: Newsquest)

The meadow was used in the past to hold cattle, prior to them being herded down to the cattle market in front of the railway station. The market closed down in May 1966.

In 1966, the finance committee looked into supplying annual concessions to old people to allow them to travel on the local buses. These were later issued in the form of £2.12 worth of bus tokens and a bus pass, which was valid between October 1, 1966, to September 30, 1967. They were to be used on the Wilts and Dorset buses, which were based in the new bus station, that was opened in June 1962.

Basingstoke Gazette: Aconductor stands by his bus in the late 1950s at the Victoria Street GarageAconductor stands by his bus in the late 1950s at the Victoria Street Garage

During the year, a communal television aerial system was fitted into homes at South Ham, but two tenants objected to their flats being wired for the system. The local council’s reply was that if they did not agree then “notice to quit would be served”, which seemed rather drastic action at the time.

In June 1966, a tree was blown down in the War Memorial Park, so the borough surveyor arranged for an inspection of all the trees in the park, and they were found to be mainly sound in structure.

Twenty-one years later, in October 1987, a large number were blown down in the night storm, while, in 1990, another storm blew even more down.

Nineteen sixty-six was a year for many decisions in the town by local councillors, and the health committee carried out a questionnaire about the proposed open-air swimming pool at West Ham, to replace a smaller one that was built in 1906 close by.

Basingstoke Gazette: The West Ham swimming pool c1940The West Ham swimming pool c1940

They stated that the site should be near areas with a fairly high population and with “good transport services in the vicinity serving other parts of the town”.

The swimming pool was built, but for the first few years hardly any buses travelled that way, especially from the housing estates.

In June 1966, the town clerk reported that more than 60 applications had been received to become stallholders in the proposed New Market Place, next to the bus station. Unfortunately there was only room for 46 stalls, so the decision was a difficult one as to whom to pick.

Basingstoke Gazette: The new market place with its many stallsThe new market place with its many stalls (Image: Newsquest)

The New Market Place opened in September 1966 and closed in September 1999. Although several stalls were allowed in the Banjo area, next to the Halifax building society, these were later closed down. Now the only stalls in the town are in the Old Market Place, and these, at times, only number around 10 or 12.

SEE ALSO: Flashback: Robert Brown writes about the Station Hotel

Keeping a record of the council meetings can be very useful at times. One example of this was in December 1987, when an enquiry was asked about the paintings that used to hang on the walls of the old Town Hall.

The Gazette published the query and the answer came quickly from a local man who had kept the minutes of the council meeting for March 1965, during which an announcement was made of the sale of the 10 paintings at Sotheby’s auction rooms in London. They raised the total sum of £1,225 for the council.

In this age of the computer you still can’t beat the printed word!

This article was first published May 7, 2004.