Welford is a village and parish in south-west Berkshire, in the valley of the river Lambourn, six miles north-west of Newbury on the road to Lambourn. The parish stretches more than five miles from north to south, bounded at its southern tip by the London to Penzance railway line. Bisected by the rivers Lambourn and Kennet, and the Kennet and Avon Canal, the parish is also crossed by the M4, the A4 and the B4000 (the Roman road known as Ermin Street).
The parish consists of six separate settlements: Welford (the largest, and which has the church), Wickham (separated from Welford village by the M4, and which has a chapel, the school, the village hall), Easton, Weston, Hoe Benham and Halfway.
From the late 1890s the village was served by the Lambourn Valley Railway. Welford had its own station until 1960, when the line closed to passengers and regular freight, although a spur to RAF Welford continued to be used until 1973.
It is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Most notably is the Estate Welford Park, which is home of the snowdrop trail. It is also the location for The Great British Bake- Off.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: AMENITIES & FACILITIES
Wickham Village Hall provides a venue for many local activities. It is run by a Hall Committee. Events include whist drives, weekly bingo, Parish Council meetings, exhibitions and a lively Women’s Institute programme every month. The hall is hired out to people outside the parish. The Wickham Handbell Ringers are an active group which benefited from a grant from the National Lottery ‘Awards for All’ scheme enabling them to buy a set of new handbells.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: FOOD & DRINK
There is a public house in the parish; the Five Bells in Wickham. Whereas, in the past the pubs catered for mostly local trade, increasingly they have catered for people outside the area, attracted by good food and the rural settings. Like most rural pubs they are no longer the centres for local community activities that they used to be.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: COMMUNICATION
There is a parish council website
The first Parish Magazine with articles and adverts has recently been published.
Wickham is by far the largest of the villages in the parish having the school, a pub and church. However, economic considerations have led to the closing of the local shop and post-office. The postal service in the parish has declined over recent years, again due to economic realities, with only one collection and one late morning delivery each day.
There is a partial Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in operation in the parish
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: CHURCH
The two churches in the parish, St Swithun’s in Wickham and St Gregory’s in Welford continue to be available for worship. Diminishing congregations, mirrored in the country as a whole, have made it difficult to maintain the fabric of the churches and necessitated the rector having to cover 6 different churches.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:ENVIRONMENT
There are plans to increase the recycling facilities available to villagers.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: HEALTH
The nearest GP Surgeries are in Hungerford.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:TRANSPORT
There is an irregular bus service along the Newbury Road through Welford and along the A4 stopping at Halfway. However, there is no bus service through Wickham where roughly half the parish lives.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: SCHOOL
Welford and Wickham C.E. Primary School is a flourishing school with a high reputation based on teaching excellence. It attracts many pupils from outside the catchment area. The current pupil population is 60. Two major extensions have been made to the school; an infant classroom and more recently an upper-floor classroom with a computer suite attached. This has greatly improved the school’s capabilities and made life very pleasant for all in the school. The Friends of Welford and Wickham School are active in raising money to support the school.
WELFORD & WICKHAM | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: PARISH COUNCIL
Welford Parish Council