Banbury Guardian review of the year

As we settle into 2020 we take a look back at some of the highs and lows of a news packed 2019 which has featured ancient treasures, world record attempts and celebrity visits.
We started the year off with the Hornton HoardWe started the year off with the Hornton Hoard
We started the year off with the Hornton Hoard


The new year kicked off like it always does – the Queen’s New Year Honours List. Chipping Warden fundraiser Barbara Bartlett received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community and a former chairman of governors at Frank Wise School, Douglas Seymour, was made an MBE.

In the same month, Banbury received word that the Hornton Hoard – a collection of Anglo-Saxon jewellery – was to be brought back to the town for an extended exhibition. The jewellery, which was retrieved from the ‘tunnel grave’ of a high-status Anglo-Saxon woman, had spent years at the British Museum.

In April we bid a sad farewell to a true Banbury legend - Mr Brian LittleIn April we bid a sad farewell to a true Banbury legend - Mr Brian Little
In April we bid a sad farewell to a true Banbury legend - Mr Brian Little

Plus new plans for employment space at Junction 11 of the M40 made a return – but without the motorway services component.


Our first edition for the month revealed a Banbury Pride event was in the works, with a Brazilian theme. The event was cancelled in the end, but there are plans to run one in 2020.

For our February 14 edition, the Banbury Guardian got an exclusive look at the Castle Quay 2 development when artist’s impressions were released and Banburyshire’s reputation for being a source for historical artefacts received a boost.

June saw the announcement of Lock29 in Castle Quay due to open in MarchJune saw the announcement of Lock29 in Castle Quay due to open in March
June saw the announcement of Lock29 in Castle Quay due to open in March

A hoard of 440 silver denarii coins was discovered in a pot buried under a building in Edge Hill in 2015, but was made public in February.

A fundraising campaign was launched by Warks County Council to have it displayed in Warwick.


TV presenter and Radio Horton president John Craven gave a rousing speech about the importance of the Horton Hospital during a visit. He said: “I can’t imagine what this community in Banbury would be like without this hospital.”

Jack Ramsay, son of Gordon, stayed in Bretch Hill for a week in AugustJack Ramsay, son of Gordon, stayed in Bretch Hill for a week in August
Jack Ramsay, son of Gordon, stayed in Bretch Hill for a week in August

A bowling alley which was the result of a decade-long campaign closed its doors. The bowling alley was owned by MFA Bowl Ltd, and has since been bought and has re-opened.

MPs and doctors spoke out against the outsourcing of the county’s specialist cancer scanning service to a private company.

Plus the residents of a terraced home on Bloxham Road had a bit of a surprise when they found a bus shelterhad been installed in their front garden. The shelter was eventually moved.


Stuart Connor went for a record in SeptemberStuart Connor went for a record in September
Stuart Connor went for a record in September

Tributes were paid to the BG’s nostalgia columnist Brian Little – also known as Mr Banbury – when he passed away. His wife, Margaret, said: “You could never go anywhere where you wouldn’t be stopped by somebody – going to Sainsbury’s was a nightmare as someone always wanted to talk about one of his articles.”

NHS England’s plan to hand the region’s cancer scanning service to a private firm was referred to the health secretary. Oxon County Council’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee made the decision after a meeting.

Plus Freya Darby was lucky to survive after she was born in the front seat of a car while her parents tried to reach Warwick Hospital. She was born with the umbilical cord around her neck.


Thousands of well wishers came out in support of Ella Markham after she was trolled for dancing. Her father Neil’s video of Ella, who has Down’s Syndrome, enjoying a band in Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium received over 30,000 replies on Twitter – as well as some negative comments. But she received an outpouring of support and was invited to be a mascot at Spurs’ last game of the season by Harry Kane.

Banbury United launched a community lottery to raise funds for the club’s development and for the Keep the Horton General campaign group.

After the Katharine House team visited Downing Street in the summer they announced a funding shortfall in DecemberAfter the Katharine House team visited Downing Street in the summer they announced a funding shortfall in December
After the Katharine House team visited Downing Street in the summer they announced a funding shortfall in December

Plus a bench honouring renowned musician Dave Swarbrick was vandalised in Cropredy. A Justgiving page was set up to raise money for a new bench, which was to be made by Hornton blacksmith Tom Gibbs. Dave’s music career included a 10-year stint with Fairport Convention.


It was good news in June after Cherwell District Council, which owns Castle Quay Shopping Centre, announced the section of the centre previously occupied by BHS was to be turned into a unique food and leisure complex called Lock29.

Due to open this March the ever-changing space will offer food vendors, demonstrations and even secret cinema events.

In other news tributes were paid to Peter Burrows who died at the age of 81. Peter was a fierce campaigner for the Horton Hospital and a senior member of the Keep the Horton group.


From tragedy came the touching story of hero neighbour Alex, who saved 78-year-old Pat Newman from certain death by carrying her out of her burning home. The blaze at Stan and Pat Newman’s property in Mascord Road destroyed their home of more than 40 years.

Pat was stranded on a stair-lift but Alex managed to carry her out to safety.

Both Stan and Pat continued to feel love of the Banbury community with donations of essential food and clothing as well as a GoFundMe page for cash donations.

In other news Cropredy was ‘under siege’ as more than 2,000 Sealed Knot re-enactors descended on the village to recreate the Battle of Cropredy Bridge to commemorate its 375th anniversary.


The month of August got off to a tragic start as vandals broke into Hook Norton Primary School and set fire to their recently installed playground set and climbing feature.

News turned to a lighter note the following week as the son of TV chef Gordon Ramsay, Jack, spent a week living in Bretch Hill as part of the Channel 4 programme Born Famous.

Jack followed resident George, who receives Universal Credit and sofa surfs among friends. They visited the maisonettes where his father lived and the shop on the Bradley Arcade formerly owned by Jack’s grandfather.

In other news representatives from the Katharine House Hospice visited Downing Street to campaign for more government funding for the UK’s hospices.


In one of the more unusual stories of the year Little Bourton sheep shearer, Stuart Connor, attempted to break the world and British shearing record.

The gruelling nine hour attempt was in memory of Stuart’s daughter, Grace, who had passed away in April 2018, from mitochondrial disease. Stuart’s target was to beat 867 sheep sheared while raising money for mitochondrial research.

Later in the month Banbury marked the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the pivotal WWII air battle, with a town centre procession viewed by hundreds of onlookers.

It was also the month in which it was announced that the former BG offices on North Bar would finally get a new lease of life after laying empty for almost five years.


October was the month dominated by the tragedy of the Harry Dunn case, and, specifically, his family’s quest for justice.

What began as shocking case of a fatal collision quickly evolved to an international political storm with the alleged driver of the car that struck Harry, American Anne Sacoolas, fleeing the UK under diplomatic immunity.

October saw the quest for the truth reach government ministers and even the US President, Donald Trump. Harry, 19, was knocked from his motorcycle on August 27 in Croughton and died at the scene.


November saw the annual Remebrance Day services, paying respect to the men and women fighting for our country, in town centre events in both Banbury and Brackley.

Banbury’s service featured wreath laying at the People’s Park memorial and was attended by veterans, the town mayor, Cllr John Colegrave and High Steward of Banbury, Sir Tony Baldry.

Brackley’s featured wreath laying at the town centre memorial led by mayor Anthony Bagot-Webb.

The month was not a particularly good one for good news as the front pages were dominated by crime.

Incidents included assaults in Banbury parks, district councillor abuse which had escalated to possible criminal levels and the jailing of Kineton burglar Marc Lelli.


The winter is always a tough month for our health service providers and this one has proved no different with two health related stories featured in the BG.

The first was one of financial hardship being felt by the increasing need for end of life care at Adderbury’s Katharine House Hospice.

Representatives had met Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to outline the financial realities of hospice care; KHH are facing a £400,000 shortfall with the possibility of cuts to its services now an increasing reality.

We also reported on the case of Woodford Halse man Rob Johnson, who had waited hours for an ambulance after a suspected heart attack. Mr Johnson survived his ordeal and praised staff at the Horton Hospital.