Author: Vanessa White, Chair of Powerstock & District CLT
I don’t know about the other parts of the U.K. but Royal visits to Powerstock are relatively rare. The last one appears to have been in 1236. So when the word got around that the Prince of Wales wanted to see the new affordable homes in Forge Orchard, there was considerable anticipation.
The Prince arrived by helicopter and landed on the nearby playing field where he was met by Victor Crutchley the local Landowner, without whose generosity none of this would have happened. For members of the wider community who waited along the country lanes for a glimpse, first of the helicopter overhead and then of the limo swinging up and into the new development, it was all over in seconds.
But in Forge Orchard, largely it seemed because of the Prince’s genuine interest in such schemes of rural housing, time seemed to be no object, and his attention to detail was everywhere apparent. After formal greetings, by the Lord Lieutenant, the Chair of Dorset Council, directors of Hastoe and several other people in suits, as Chair of the Community Land Trust, I had the honour to introduced the Prince to the architect, Adrian Morris of Etchingham Morris Architecture Ltd. and then to Steve Watson and Alison Ward of Wessex Community Assets who had taken us through the complexities of setting up this project with admirable skill, and patience.
Then the business of the visit began. The Prince did not just meet and say a few words to many of the new families, he held them in conversation, went into their houses - and for considerable periods of time. While visiting Patrick and Susan, the eldest couple living in the bungalow, Patrick was able to present the Prince with the two volumes of A Dorset Village Remembers, our memoir of those of the parish who had died in the World Wars. Meanwhile, the place seemed to be swarming with photographers, and during periods when their quarry was out of sight they used all their known techniques - poking a long lens through the window, running round to the back to see if more could be gathered there, changing cameras, scratching their heads.
There had been just enough rain in the past few weeks for the new plantings of lawn and shrubs in each garden to begin to flourish, helped in many cases by the efforts of the residents, so the site as a whole was beginning the settle; the colour begins to drain from the western red cedar cladding, and even the unmade-up patch at the end of the access lane had been quickly re-surfaced in the last week so that what the Prince saw was in every way as good and as complete as we had all hoped.
He planted a cider apple tree to commemorate his visit. He shook a branch and wished it ‘ Good luck’; apparently something he likes to do. We don’t know the detail of what he actually said to those he met; he has a way of ensuring that his conversation is heard only by those to whom it is intended. I received a final handshake and ‘Congratulations’ as he left. A great end to seven years of hard work.
And now, I suppose, we’ll have to wait another 783 years.