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Blewbury Collage

11 March 2023

Village cleanup and litterpick

The big spring clean-up of our village cleared a lot of rubbish, mainly from the sides of our roads. Some of the roadsigns were also cleaned.

litter litter litter litter

25 February 2023

New Projects Launch – Blewbury Nature Reserve and Quaker Wood

To celebrate these major initiatives, and to explain about how they’ll benefit our village for generations to come we held a very well attended afternoon and evening event.

It started at with a guided walk to the sites, and exhibitions in the Village Hall, followed by tea, cake and talks by some of the people who are making this happen.
In the evening there was a specially written musical show (by Catie Flye), performed by Blewbury resident Catie Flye, with Garth Bardsley, Ian Clarke, and Rosa Lamoreaux.

Nature reserve Quaker site reserve site reserve site
reserve site Talk musical musical

28 April 2022

Annual General Meeting

We described what we’ve been doing and discussed some of our newest projects: a new nature reserve and our Blewbury chalk-streams group. We re-elected current officers (see 2021 AGM, below).

In addition to the essential business of the AGM, we showed an excellent, award-winning short film about Watlington’s chalk stream, The Chalgrove Brook. Watlington, like Blewbury, is a spring-line village at the foot of a chalk escarpment – in their case the Chilterns. Groups in and near Watlington are working to restore their local chalk stream and its environment.

20 and 26 March 2022

Village Hall car park clear-up

Working parties trimmed vegetation, bushes and trees around the car park to allow tidier planting and minimise intrusion on parking spaces. Impacted leaves and mud around the edges was cleaned up in the second session.

Car park cleanup Car park cleanup Car park cleanup Car park cleanup

12 March 2022

Village cleanup and litter pick

Many thanks to everyone who helped with our village litter-pick on 12 March! We had an excellent turn-out and collected a huge amount of litter, with the most from the ditch on the east side of Bessels Way. Star finds were £5 and £10 notes, an old camera trap and an old boot (possibly matching one found last year!). Thank you to the Red Lion for giving drinks afterwards and to Biffa and the District Council for providing the equipment and collecting the rubbish.

litter pick litter pick

April through September 2021

Blewbury Garden Market

This year (our 12th running the Garden Market) we started earlier in the garden planting season (April rather than May) and got a huge boost from the Blewbury Bread Company that resulted in record sales – by far our best year ever.

August through October 2021

apple juicing

Apple juicing

We had five fortnightly public sessions at Blewbury Manor, including one very busy session at which we had to deploy all three of our pasteurisers. We also has five private hires, so it was a pretty good year.

20 April 2021

Annual General Meeting

Our 2021 AGM was combined with the postponed 2020 AGM via Zoom. We reviewed what we have been doing in the past two years and discussed ideas for future activities beyond our ongoing ones like the Garden Market and apple juicing. These include tree planting, more repair cafes, self-guided nature walk(s) in and around the village, improving the health of the Cleve and monitoring the health of our streams, a working group to advise on low-carbon heating, and activities around COP26 in connection with Blewbury Climate Action. The following officers were elected:
Chair – John Ogden;
Secretary – Jane Kinniburgh;
Treasurer – Moray Inglis;
Trustees – Hugh Osborn and Glen Meadows.

January 2021


Thermal imaging 2021

In January 2021, probably due to the pandemic, we imaged only five houses but they were interesting, particularly one very old house which had had much work done but still has much left to do.

August through October 2020

Apple juicing

apple juicing

In 2020 we had five public sessions at Blewbury Manor, at fortnightly intervals from late August to mid-October. Attendance was good, but private hires were much fewer than in past years, probably due to the pandemic. One of our pasteurisers developed a fault, so we bought a new one for 2020. The faulty pasteuriser has been repaired, so we now have three, which should help to improve throughput at our public sessions.

September 2020

Blewbury Garden Market

In 2020 we could not operate normally. We only ran the stall for five Saturdays in September, without the gazebo, and did quite well, attracting a lot of interest.

January 2020

Thermal imaging 2020

This year we imaged 13 houses and Milton Methodist Church. Four of the houses were ones we couldn't do last year due to the exceptionally warm weather. Of special interest this year, we imaged a mid-20th century house that had been extensively rebuilt with extra external wall insulation, triple-glazed windows and other green features. We had imaged the house before it was done, and the comparison showed a huge improvement. We also imaged an earlier 20th century house with solid walls that had been retrofitted with external wall insulation and good windows – it looked very good. The pictures below are from other houses that we did.

House   New house

August through October 2019

apple juicing

Apple juicing

We had another successful year, despite a very mixed crop that meant many of our ‘regulars’ had few apples. In our six public sessions we pressed and pasteurised hundreds of bottles of juice, and the people who hired the equipment to take home made hundreds of bottles more. The sessions were enjoyable and many people saw how easy it is to make delicious, pure juice with distinctive tastes from the different varieties.

May through September 2019

Blewbury Garden Market

Our tenth year broke all records. We had far more lovely local fruit and veg, home-made baked goods and bread, honey, preserves, flowers, etc. than ever before and there was a real ‘buzz’.

February 2019

Thermal imaging 2019

This year we imaged 13 houses. Unfortunately, a extraordinarily long spell of very warm weather meant that we could not image six houses remaining on our list – we will do them next year. Several of the houses we did image were being re-imaged to evaluate improvements that had been made, and others were a challenging mix of very old and new: one very old building turned out to have modern cavity walls, rebuilt in the 1960s.

House New house Old house

January 2018

Thermal imaging 2018

This year we imaged 12 houses. Two were quite new – in Chailey Gardens and Cossicle Mead – and one was a very extensive renovation of a bungalow including greatly improved insulation. It was good to see that none of these had any serious problems. Two houses had been surveyed previously, in order to verify that improvements were working, which they were. And two houses were very complex mixtures of very old, fairly old and new sections that were a challenge to analyse.

House New house Old house

March 2017

Tree planting and start of a ‘wildlife corridor’

We were awarded 100 saplings by the Woodland Trust, including rowan, silver birch, hawthorn, hazel, dogwood and wild cherry. They will provide berries for birds and beautiful blossom for everyone to enjoy. On 11 March they were planted by enthusiastic volunteers on a triangle of land on the downs near the Chalk Pit. This is the start of a project to make a continuous ‘corridor’ for wildlife, made up of trees and hedge bushes across to the Cow Lane footpath and eventually to Woodway Road.

Corridor planting  Corridor planting

January 2017

Thermal imaging 2017

This year we imaged 21 houses, including some large and complex older buildings. About a third of these were re-surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of improved insulation, windows and doors. The first image shows an old timber-framed wall – to cover it all we had to combine seven images, with some distorted perspective. The second and third images show the effect of insulating the inside of a door and adding secondary glazing to a window.

Old house BeforeAfter

March 2016

Tickers Folly after

An orchard for Blewbury – the Mike Edmunds Community Orchard

Sustainable Blewbury has been awarded a grant of over £2000 by the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment to create a community orchard on Tickers Folly Field. The grant will allow for the planting of a wide mixture of fruit trees down the eastern edge of the field, along Rubble Pit Lane.

A community orchard in the village was a dream of Mike Edmunds, and in his booklet 'Orchards in and around Blewbury’ he concluded: ‘as the opportunity arises, we would like to find some land which could be set aside as a new Blewbury orchard for all to share’. That opportunity has arisen thanks to the Trust and to the active support of the Parish Council, and it is named for Mike as a fitting tribute to his huge contribution to the village’s environment.

September 2016: We recruited a group of volunteers to investigate all aspects of the project and to design the orchard itself: its layout, the types of trees, and their sizes (as determined by choice of rootstock). Soil samples were taken and were encouraging. We planned to have everything ready to begin planting in the late autumn and to arrange for a group of villagers to receive training in tree care and pruning to look after the orchard in the long term. There is a full description on our community orchard page.

December 2016: On two Sundays an enthusiastic group of volunteers planted a total of 47 trees, with mesh to protect against rabbits, muntjacs and roe deer. The layout and a list of the varied types we planted may be found here (pdf). If you are interested in taking part please contact John Ogden:John.

Winding Way

February 2016

Thermal imaging 2016

In February the Blewbury Energy Initiative once again borrowed one of the Vale’s thermal imaging cameras to do surveys of people’s houses. This year we imaged 20 houses, writing short reports that can help to pinpoint any places where the house is leaking heat badly. The houses varied greatly in age, style and size; some surveys were for people who had just moved in, others to evaluate improvements in insulation. This service is completely free and is available every winter.

June/July 2015

Mike Edmunds memorial exhibition and footbridge

On 21 June 2015, on Blewbury’s Open Gardens day, we presented an exhibition showing Blewbury Village Society Environment Group and Sustainable Blewbury projects inspired by Mike’s ideas and leadership over 22 years. The posters we showed can be viewed and downloaded as a pdf file here.

A week later the Watery Lane footbridge, now called the Mike Edmunds footbridge, was rebuilt as Mike had wanted using timber. It's much more sympathetic to the surroundings. Oxfordshire County Council was asked to do this by Lydia Inglis and Mike. The photos show the transformation.

Edmunds footbridge  Edmunds footbridge
Edmunds footbridge

February 2015

Thermal imaging 2015

For 2015 we:

thermal image
willow workshop

April 2014

Willow workshop

Sustainable Blewbury has added another R to its RRR theme – Reskilling. A willow workshop was held at Hall Barn on 25th April, with a small group making willow garden structures. This event will be repeated, and move on to basket-making, but next time with locally grown materials. There is more information here.

thermal image

February 2014

Thermal imaging 2014

For 2014 we limited our imaging to:

We imaged 24 houses in all; due to a warm and exceedingly wet winter we had problems completing even this programme in sufficiently cold and and dry conditions.

October 2013

Blewbury Garden Market and Garden Market ‘Extra’

The summer season of the Blewbury Garden Market was our best yet, with good and varied crops of fruit and vegetables as well as home-made bread, pastries, preserves and flowers. During the winter break we are again selling bread, pastries, free-range eggs and preserves at the Blewbury Post Office on Saturday mornings.

willow shelter

February 2013

Living willow shelter on permaculture site

A group of people guided by visiting expert Lawrence Graham installed (in very cold weather) a living willow shelter on our permaculture project site (photo at right). This will grow to provide a very attractive, green amenity with a nice view of the downs.

New Transition Together groups started

Three new groups have now started on the programme. Two groups are based on where they live, and one group has a special interest in common – they all live in old houses, either timber framed, stone or brick. This is important for them because the materials and building methods used in older houses mean that they can’t use modern materials and methods to insulate their houses. A specialist in renovation of old houses is advising them on how they can improve the efficiency of their houses without changing their character.

January 2013

thermal image of house

Thermal imaging

The Blewbury Energy Initiative carried out its biggest ever programme of thermal imaging. A total of 53 houses in the village were imaged on cold evenings, and each one received a thorough report on what was good and what needed doing to improve energy efficiency. Some of the houses had been imaged in previous years and could compare images in order to see whether the measures installed had been effective. A typical image is shown at right.

December 2012

BGM extra bread and pastries

Blewbury Garden Market ‘Extra’ at the Post Office

During the winter break of the Blewbury Garden Market, we have started to sell home-made bread, pastries and preserves at the Blewbury Post Office on Saturday mornings from 9.30 am. The varied, freshly baked bread is being made by the enthusiastic Blewbury Bakers group.

October 2012

Lottery grant for Transition Together – Blewbury

Big Lottery logo

We applied for lottery funding from Awards for All ... and were successful! We officially launched TTog – Blewbury on 24 September, and this gives us enough funding to build on the success of our two pilot groups and keep the project running for the next 12 months. The generous grant will provide free workbooks for every household that joins the project, energy monitors, celebration events, and the support needed to make this project a success. A member of one of the pilot groups said: I’m really getting to know my neighbours. We share ideas at our meetings and are talking to each other more than we have for years. I wasn’t sure about joining the project, but now I’m enjoying it! I’m glad I joined.

September/October 2012

Blewbury Garden Market – grant for new tent and tables and successful season

RWE npower’s Didcot Power Stations have very kindly given us a grant to improve the Garden Market’s weekly produce stall (see photo below). We have used it to buy a sturdy new tent and tables to replace borrowed ones – the photos show them in use.

Despite this year’s unfavourable growing conditions, the Garden Market had by far its best season yet. Sales were boosted by honey and regular supplies of a variety of interesting home-baked breads from the newly formed Blewbury Bakers.

Grant from Didcot Power Station
Blewbury Garden Market  Blewbury Garden Market  Blewbury Garden Market
herb planting

April–May 2012

Permaculture project – herbs and ground cover

Beginning in April, and continuing with a working party on 7 May, we planted a wide variety of perennial herbs and other ground cover plants in the cultivated areas, as well as making a start on the omnipresent task of weeding. See our permaculture page for more information.

April 2012

Our first Annual General Meeting

On 27 April we held our first AGM as an organisation independent of the Blewbury Village Society. It started with a very interesting talk by Dan Betterton of Cultivate. We formally approved our new constitution and elected the following officers: Chairman: Mike Edmunds, Secretary: Mike Marshall, Treasurer: John Ogden. Other members of the Core Group are: Ian Bacon, Eric Eisenhandler, Angela Hoy, Jo Lakeland, Hugh Osborn, Anita Rendel, Ange Barton and Richard Farrell. Our accounts will be audited by Jane Moreton.

January 2012

Transition Together – Blewbury

TTog logo

We have started an exciting new project based on the prize-winning Transition Streets Project. This originated in Totnes, Devon, and a survey of the households who took part in this project showed that they saved on average £570 a year on their energy bills, shopping, travel, etc., as well as saving carbon and helping the environment. We are beginning with two pilot groups, and after that we will be recruiting more Blewbury households to take advantage of this project.

[Update, June 2012] The first pilot group, in Bridus Mead, is up and running. The second, in Grahame Close, will start soon.

How does it work?

The programme is very flexible. Each group arranges a number of sessions when they will make their way through a workbook. A member of Sustainable Blewbury will come to the first session to explain the programme and start them on their way.

The workbook

Each household gets their own practical workbook, which helps them explore practical ways to cut their bills in five key areas: Energy, Water, Food, Waste and Transport. The workbook provides a great range of ideas and actions, each supported by lots of local information, hints and tips.

To find out more, or to register interest in starting or joining a group, call the project co-ordinator, Jo Lakeland, on 07466 708 030, or email Transition Together – Blewbury at ttog@sustainable-blewbury.org.uk.

Thermal imaging 2012

As in the past three years, the Blewbury Energy Initiative carried out a programme of thermal imaging. This time we borrowed the camera that was bought last year by the Vale of White Horse District Council on our advice. A record number of 37 houses and the new Recreation Ground Clubhouse were surveyed, some to assess what improvements to their insulation were needed and others to check the effect of work already done. Sample images are below.

thermal image   thermal image   thermal camera

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fruit planting

December 2011

Permaculture project – planting of fruit trees and bushes

On a cold, drizzly afternoon in December we planted a dozen fruit trees and an interesting variety of soft fruit bushes, followed by soup, cake, and mulled wine and apple juice. The area had already been mulched with cardboard and local horse manure. Herbs and ground-cover plants will be added in spring. See our permaculture page for more information.

October 2011

Feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

URGENT! On 31 October 2011 the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced proposals to cut the level of the Feed-in Tariff for new (not existing) solar photovoltaic systems by about half starting in April 2012. Systems installed and registered after 11 December 2011 (!) would get the lower rates. In addition, only buildings with an energy rating of at least C would be eligible. A consultation on these proposals is now in progress, closing on 23 December. However, there is a strong impression that the decisions are already made, and the manner in which this is being done is sudden and very disruptive. Contact a member of the Blewbury Energy Initiative if you want more information. Note added later: The High Court and then the Court of Appeal have ruled that the proposed date is illegal. The situation is very confused.

Apple Juicing

We used a borrowed apple crusher and a juice press to evaluate plans to purchase our own kit next year (photo). See our events page for more information.

apple juicing   apple juicing
Manure spreading

Permaculture Project

To prepare for planting fruit trees and bushes in December, we mulched the area with a layer of cardboard covered with horse manure kindly supplied by the neighbouring farm. See our permaculture page for more information.

July 2011

Renewable Heat Premium Payments

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced grants, called Renewable Heat Premium Payments (RHPP), to run from from August 2011 to March 2012 (or sooner if the money runs out or the maximum of 25,000 grants is exceeded). These are for solar hot water panels (for all houses), and for ground-source heat pumps, air-source heat pumps and biomass boilers (for houses without mains gas heating).

Festival opening day

May 2011

Sustainable Blewbury Produce Stall

We resumed our weekly Produce Stall on 7th May. It ran through 15th October, from 10am to 12 noon at Blewbury Garage. Please see our food page for more information.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

At the end of the month it was announced that global CO2 emissions during 2010 were a record 30.6 billion tonnes, a rise of 1.6 billion tonnes on 2009 despite the recession. Although roughly three-quarters of the increase came from developing countries, much of that was due to rich countries doing more of their manufacturing in poorer countries. This increase is close to so-called ‘business as usual’ projections, and is bad news if we are to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 °C. See our global warming page for basic information.

March 2011

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has finally published its response to the consultation on the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive to encourage solar hot water, heat pumps, and other sources of heating. This is starting up during 2011 for large-scale systems. For domestic users the full scheme won't start until October 2012, but an interim scheme called Renewable Heat Premium Payments will run in the second half of 2011 and early 2012.

thermal imaging

February–March 2011

Permaculture Project

We made a start on our permaculture pilot project by planting a hedge along the south and west sides of the plot. It is meant to act as a shelter belt, to produce some hedgerow fruits, and to serve as a habitat for wildlife. There is more information on our food page, as well as a new permaculture page and a photo gallery of the hedge planting.

January–February 2011

Thermal images, again

For the third year running, during a cold weekend in January thermal images were taken of about a dozen houses using a borrowed camera. A number of these were done as follow-ups, to evaluate improved insulation or secondary double-glazing added as a result of seeing earlier images.

Following on from this, we were asked by the Vale of White Horse District Council to advise them on a possible purchase of a thermal imaging camera, based on our experience. We borrowed and tested some demonstration models, and recommended a suitable model. This has now been purchased by the Council for use by local groups.

thermal imaging    Red Lion thermal    Thermal imaging

November 2010

Presentation at CAG workshop

An overview of our activities under food and farming was presented by Mike Edmunds at the CAG ‘Runaway Climate Change’ workshop, held in Oxford on 13 November.

Apple tasting

October 2010

Apple Day

On 16 October 2010 we held a very successful and well-attended Apple Day. See our events page for more details of the programme; there is also a gallery of Apple Day photographs showing many of the activities.

Orchards survey

In connection with Apple Day we carried out a survey of fruit trees in the village, concentrating on apples. A summary of the results, which found 57 varieties of apple in Blewbury, is given on a separate page.

Grahame Close PV panels

July 2010

Green Energy Initiative – group purchase of solar panels

The Blewbury Energy Initiative coordinated a group of orders from Blewbury and Upton to obtain a discount on solar photovoltaic panels. Under the new Feed-in Tariff these have become an good investment, as well as contributing to a low-carbon future. In addition, the planning situation has become easier. Quotations were obtained from local installation companies. A well-attended information meeting about solar panels and the possible arrangements was held on 5 July – it resulted in orders for a substantial number of new systems.

Note added in November: The offer was valid to the end of October. About a dozen new systems were installed (10 in Blewbury, 2 in Upton). This more than doubled the number of photovoltaic systems in Blewbury.

May 2010

Produce stall

Surplus Produce Stall

Our Saturday morning stall for selling surplus produce started up on 22 May and ran successfully through the summer to 25 September. We plan to do it again next year. See our food page for more information.

Community orchard

The Blewbury Village Gardens Association (otherwise known as Blewbury allotments) started a community orchard, planting apple and greengage trees.

Orchard survey

As part of our Apple Day celebration in October, we conducted a survey of apple orchards and other fruit trees in the village. There is more information on our orchards page.

Rubbish collection and recycling

There is more information about the new collection arrangements on our waste and recycling page, and full details on the Vale of White Horse website.

April 2010

Sustainable Blewbury plenary meeting

A plenary meeting of the project was held on 12 April. The minutes have been sent out by e-mail. If you expected a copy and have not received one (or would like to be put on the list) please contact Mike Marshall: mike m

Recycling and rubbish bins

February 2010

Rubbish collection and recycling

The Vale of White Horse has announced a major change in rubbish and recycling collections starting on 4 October 2010. Each house will have a grey rubbish bin, a green recycling bin, and a smaller green bin for recycling food waste.

Battery recycling

On 1 February 2010 recycling used batteries became easier – you can now do it in many shops. For information on safe disposal, and why you should be using rechargeables wherever possible, see our batteries page.

January 2010

Solar thermal and photovoltaic panels

Feed-In Tariff

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has initiated a substantial programme of Feed-In Tariffs for small-scale electricity generation, starting in April 2010. This aims to encourage installation of renewable technologies: solar photovoltaic panels, small wind turbines, small-scale hydro, etc. by making them good investments as well as good for the environment. There is a summary of the scheme and tariffs on the Blewbury Energy Initiative website; the full document is available on the DECC website.

Renewable Heat Incentive

At the same time as the Feed-In Tariffs, DECC also proposed a Renewable Heat Incentive. This would help owners of solar hot water panels, ground and air source heat pumps, and various other renewable technologies. The plan is to finalise the proposals after a consultation that is now underway, and have it all running by April 2011. It looks like a big encouragement to install renewable heating systems. There is a summary of the scheme and proposed tariffs on the Blewbury Energy Initiative website; the full consultation document is available on the DECC website.

Thermal image

Thermal images

As a follow-up to last year's campaign of thermal imaging of houses in Blewbury, during the cold weather in late December and early January a thermal imaging camera was borrowed and used to image about 18 houses. The owners have been given the results so they can see and act on inadequate insulation and other possible problems.

December 2009

Boiler scrappage scheme

The scrappage scheme for inefficient old boilers, announced at the end of 2009, was run by the Energy Saving Trust. There were an estimated 4 million eligible boilers but only 125,000 grants, and they went quickly – by the end of March they were all gone and the scheme was closed.

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