Good to meet up with people that want to preserve and promote the GOVT.
For my part I was born at Little Paxton in 1951 and have lived all my life within a mile of where I was born. The Great Ouse valley was my play ground in early life, with many happy memories of the area. My Dad was a lengthman on the railway between Sandy and Huntingdon and I was often allowed to go to see my Dad at work from over the river. My Dad was a Parish Councillor for Little Paxton for many years.
I am Chairman of Southoe and Midloe Parish Council and have always championed environmental and outdoors things. Indeed I have personally hacked my way through overgrowth of many footpaths in our Parish when they have become overgrown.Southoe and Midloe Parish is larger than most parish areas: with over twice the area of Little Paxton, we cover about 3 km of the Great Ouse Valley path at the very east of our parish. Then we stretch to Grafham Water to the west by some fantastic paths, where indeed about a third of Grafham Water is actually in the Parish of Southoe and Midloe. There is more of Paxton Pits reserve in Southoe than there is in Little Paxton and once the gravel extraction is finished, the whole area is destined to be a SSSI - then there will be three times more in Southoe than Paxton.
We also have the major cycle path that runs from St Neots to Grafham (part of the national cycle route) - this to the west of our parish.
In my youth I watched barges deliver timber to the woodyard in St Neots, and I watched large fossil bones and tusks being pulled out from the gravel excavation sites. I swam in the river and gravel pits when I was a teenager after being taught to swim by my ex-commando father. He also taught me how to respect the countryside where we lived. I had boats and rafts on the river with fishing and outdoor pursuits taking lots of my time.
The willow from the osier beds near Little Paxton/St Neots was cut and used for cricket bats that were made in Little Paxton. The tall oak trees next to the road in Mill Lane Little Paxton/StNeots were planted to provide new timber to replace the wood as needed for Westminster Palace and Abbey. The theory was that beams would need renewing every 300 years, and thus these trees could be felled and transported by river/sea to the heart of London.
In 1963 when the new St Neots road bridge was built, the old one was demolished and all the spoil was dumped where the Paxton Pits carpark is now. All the old stonework is now covered with tarmac.
Up until the 1920s there was a foot-ferry that operated between Great Paxton and Southoe. This I was told was hand-operated and worked on a demand basis.
But, Southoe and Midloe Parish has just a small population (approx. 320). We don’t have the money to all the things that smaller parishes with larger populations can do. Our precept is only £12k and a large part of that has to pay for renting our play/maintenance area which takes over a third of our income.
I would love there to be signage and information boards for users along the Great Ouse Valley Way footpath where the path crosses in and out of the respective parishes.