The installation of the Basketball/Netball Courts at Heyford Playing Fields was
brought a stage nearer over the weekend of 7/8 September by the efforts of local
Archaeologist Dr Dennis Taylor.
As part of Nether Heyford Playing Fields Association’s (NHPFA) aspirations, the
construction of the new courts was planned on the recently purchased land adjacent to the existing playing fields. The project was estimated to cost £30,000 by Sports Courts UK. Funding has been obtained by a grant of £20,000 from the London Marathon Charitable Trust and a £10,000 Capital grant from South Northants Council. Planning permission has been requested, however the County Assistant Archaeologist applied for a condition to be placed on the application. This meant that an archaeology investigation needed to be undertaken to identify the age and character of crop marks which showed on aerial photographs held in the County Archives.
The cost of this investigation had to be borne by the Planning Applicant. NHPFA
had no funding for this, consequently the whole project was in jeopardy of being
cancelled. The only solution was for the investigation to be undertaken, at no cost, by volunteers. When approached, Dr Den Taylor of South View Nether Heyford, despite being retired, agreed to supervise the investigation. Mr Daryl Welsh of Flore offered to loan and operate his digger for a weekend and Mr Dan Musson of Bugbrooke also offered plant assistance. A further crew of 6 able bodied volunteers was formed and the investigation was organised and carried out 7/8 September.
The County Assistant Archaeologist Liz Mordue and Cllr David Harries visited the
site on the Sunday morning and Dr Taylor showed them the excavations. After
discussions, Liz Mordue agreed that the particular area was of no further
archaeology interest and that the County Environment Records could be updated
This was the second time that Dr Den Taylor had come to the assistance of NHPFA,
as he carried out a similar investigation in 2012 to enable the Bowls Club to build their changing rooms.
Dr Den is an interesting village character. After leaving university with a degree in archaeology, he joined the RAF as a navigator. He flew in De Havilland Mosquito and Super Sabre planes with the 58th Squadron and is now one of two surviving members of his time in the Squadron; he says ‘it makes reunions easier!’. With 14 years service, he left the RAF as a Squadron Leader and worked at several jobs, including being a bricklayer.
On retirement, Dr Taylor returned to Archaeology and after several projects earned his doctorate. He has 4 children who paid for him to pass his Pilots Licence as a 86th Birthday present. Dr Taylor is now a very spritely 92 and serves on the Village Hall Committee.
Thanks again Dr Den, the Basketball/Netball Courts project is now back on track.
Submitted by Geoff Thorneycroft on behalf of NHPFA