Published: 03/03/2013 09:00 - Updated: 11/03/2013 13:33

The independent streak of Ampthill

Written byKATHRYN CAIN

I HAVE passed through this beautiful Georgian market town on several occasions before but never have I truly had the time or opportunity to truly appreciate the things and people that make it so unique.

I started off at The Albion pub in Dunstable Street, a traditional no frills, no fuss establishment which is not masked by games machines and snooker tables but provides an enjoyable environment to have a quiet drink or hear some live music.

As I spent the day wandering around various parts of the town I spoke to a pub landlord, a ukulele player, a Baptist and a picture framer among others. It sounds like a bad joke but I promise you it was far from it.

On my travels one of the things which struck me most was the distinct lack of High Street chains. The coffee shops are independent, and there are small boutique shops offering everything from sweets to jewellery. I can also atest to the fact that you can pick up some tasty treats, including a lovely apple turnover, in a shorter distance than you can swing a cat.

 

AMPTHILL Baptist Church in Dunstable Street has in recent weeks undergone a makeover on its historic sun dial.

The site was built in 1822 and enlarged again in 1870 when a new dial was put on. It is not clear if another one was added after that date.

After noticing the old dial was badly faded church staff decided it was time for a revamp and spent £1,700 bringing it up to scratch.

Church administrator, Rachel Lewis, said: “When we took it off we found the old one was still underneath and was in a pretty sorry state.”

All the work was carried out by Flitwick based KG Knowles Building Services.

 

AWARD winning pub The Albion certainly has a lot to boast about.

In the two years since it opened in April 2010, under landlord Russell Fletcher, the establishment already has two titles to its name and has as of last week just earnt itself another.

For the second year running the Albion team have been given the coveted South Beds CAMRA pub of the year award for 2013. They will now go head to head against the North Beds and East Beds winners to be crowned Bedfordshire Pub of the Year later this month.

Part of what makes it special is that it only has 12 beers, some of which are B&T specialties, and it doesn’t serve any ‘alco-pops’.

Russell said: “I run it myself with a team of eight staff on various shifts. It is hard because although pulling pints is quite easy, there is a lot more to it than that.

“Before this I wasn’t in the pub trade I was actually a psychiatric nurse. I was helping out at a pub in Shefford and jokingly said to the owners to keep me in mind when they opened their next one, when they approached me I thought; ‘oh God what have I agreed to!’

 

YOU meet all sorts in the local drinking hole but I can honestly say I have never met someone who plays the ukulele.

‘Chucklefoot’ as he likes to be known is a street entertainer who has been dazzling the community and the world at large with his musical delights for more than 40 years.

The ‘one man band’ comprises of a banjo, harmonica, kazoo, bass drum, tambourine, cymbals, ukelele, guitar, and many other weird and wonderful items.

Chucklefoot has even made some notable appearances on children’s television in recent years featuring on CBeebies’ programmes ‘Zingzillas’ and ‘Justin’s House’.

He said: “I do all sorts and regularly play around Ampthill from time to time.

“I don’t really like to go out busking in the winter as it is too cold! Some things I do just for fun and some are festival performances and things like that. I’m always doing something different which is what I like.”

The musical Jack of all trades plays pretty much everything from a bit of jazz, a dash of skiffle, some blues, comedy Songs, sing along, and lots of his own material, which are all played with oodles of get up and go, and plenty of humour!

Chucklefoot can be booked solo for various events or as is more often these days, with his partner ‘Stompie’ and their unique and experience.

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