Fringe Box



The Ash Aspect: Five Things To Celebrate Here

Published on: 12 May, 2017
Updated on: 15 May, 2017

By David Reading

By pure chance I came across a piece on the internet this week written by a young resident of Ash.

It turned out to be a 250-word vicious rant against the village, fuelled by obsession about certain sections of the Ash community and containing a list of unsupported allegations against them.

By the end of the piece you got the feeling that the whole village, including Ash Vale, was a kind of hell on Earth.

Of course, no town or village is perfect. There are always people we don’t get along with and some who make trouble. Ash and Ash Vale are no different from most other places in that respect. But let’s appreciate the positives.

In an attempt to redress the balance, here are five things about our local area that we can celebrate.

The Lakeside Nature Reserve

Ash Nature Reserve.

This is one of Ash Vale’s best kept secrets. Originally the area was a wet pasture and meadow, but gravel extraction in the 1950s transformed the landscape.

Several lakes were created and the rest of the land became a habitat for wildlife, including dragonflies, herons, kingfishers, moorhens and other water birds. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot to visit, especially on a summer’s afternoon.

Ash railway station

What? Isn’t this a feature of Ash that we all find irritating? If you’re a driver, the traffic tailback caused by the level crossing barriers is one of life’s great frustrations. If you’re a passenger on foot, there’s always the risk of getting stuck on the wrong side of the barrier and missing your train.

But you can forget the negative stories about the railways when you meet Chris, the Ash station master.

Chris helps to make travelling by train a pleasure. If you were wondering who placed books in the waiting room for passengers to read, that was Chris.

Chris, the helpful station master at Ash railway station.

When my wife missed her train and had a long wait he made her a cup of tea. Now that really is going the extra mile.

And when a passenger who’d just bought a ticket was in danger of missing her train, he rushed on to the platform to make sure it didn’t pull out without her.

One of Chris’s colleagues has also got the feel-good spirit. Not many people are at their best first thing in the morning, I’m sure, so well done to the guard on the 8.45 train from Ash to Guildford who made the journey a little brighter.

Over the tannoy, he gave passengers an anagram to solve: FINE ACT, FUMING JOHN. The clue was that it was the name of a railway station. I’ll leave it to you to solve, but would like to congratulate the guard concerned in his attempt to brighten up our day.

The Ash Music Festival

OK, so it’s not Glastonbury but it is a big annual event in the Ash calendar and it’s all for charity.

Paul Taylor and friends cycled from Hull to Ash – around 230 miles – to visit the Ash Music Festival two years ago and raise money for charity.

Every year the organisers, Mike and Lyndsey Armitage of the Lion Brewery pub, get together a great line-up of local bands and there are also stalls, games and other attractions. The action takes place at Harper’s Recreation Ground, Guildford Road.

The line-up at this year’s festival, on Saturday July 29, will include the Imposters, Nursery Cryme, Rattling Catflaps, Crash ‘n’ Burn, and the Marcus Praestgaard Band. Last year £7,500 was raised and this year’s proceeds will go to the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and C.R.Y. (Cardiac Risk in the Young).

To find out more go to

Collections for refugees

While many of us watch our TV screens in horror at the plight of displaced people of Syria and other tortured parts of the world, a group of people in Ash and Ash Vale are taking action.

Initiatives to help refugees have been happening in the villages since 2015 when there was a collection at the chapel at Ash Wharf.

Collections of food, toiletries, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, torches children’s shoe boxes with toys have been made periodically. The donations are sorted and then taken to whatever organisation is able to use them. All this is thanks to the people at St Peter’s and St Mary’s churches.

And finally St Peter’s Church itself

St Peter’s Church, Ash.

This magnificent local landmark is perhaps taken for granted. The original church, probably wooden in construction, is recorded in the Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon owner is said to have gifted his lands, including the church, to the Abbot of Chertsey in return for prayers for his soul.

During the reign of Henry VIII, St Peter’s was confiscated by the Crown along with other church properties. But during the reign of his son, Edward VI, there was a land swap deal and the Ash parish became the property of Winchester College. The college is still the church’s patron to this day, even though it is part of the Guildford Diocese.

St Peter’s is a socially active part of the Ash community, having a Mothers’ Union, a craft group and a dance club. And the summer fete is always an event to look forward to. This year’s will take place on Saturday, June 10.

Have I missed anyone or anything?

Feel free to email me at

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Responses to The Ash Aspect: Five Things To Celebrate Here

  1. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    May 12, 2017 at 10:50 am

    The biggest asset to the area is missing from the list, Ash Ranges.

    If you plan to visit it be aware that when the red flag is flying the inner area is not open to the public due to the ranges being used for live firing. Another thing to note is that there is a steep hill to reach it which ever way you approach it from.

    But when you do get up there it is unlike anywhere else in the south of England. Mile after mile of nature. Surrey at its brilliant best and virtually unknown.

  2. Harry Eve Reply

    May 12, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I don’t visit frequently but would add the canal and Snaky Lane nature reserve which I hope is still attracting community involvement.

  3. Matt Smith Reply

    May 13, 2017 at 7:50 am


    -The Basingstoke canal restored and in great condition through Ash. Travel by bike, kayak, run, …. all the way to London and more – without any roads.
    – The Ash ranges provide an incredible playground for mountain biking, dog walking, running, and picnics.
    – Right on the door step of the South Downs national park.
    – Direct trains from Ash to Gatwick for your holidays.
    – Great quality, value and friendly service from the local restaurants. Highly recommended; Spice of India and Curzon Indian.
    – Best quality care from the Ash Vale health centre.
    – Well connected by motorway in any direction north, south, east and west without high traffic, congestion, or noise.
    – There’s so much more…. we moved here two and a half years ago and found something new every weekend that confirmed what a great place this is.

  4. John Lomas Reply

    May 14, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Answer – Effingham Junction

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