WHAT a year it is has been!

These past 12 months have been unlike any other - and maybe it's just us, but 2020 felt like an awful lot longer than the 366 days the calendar claims it has been.

It can be hard to recall what the world was like back when people could shake hands, not have to guess how far away two metres is while out and about, and the sight of a crowd was not cause for concern.

So the Chronicle has taken a look back at some of the highs and lows of this year. First we look back to the first half of the year.


THE year had only just begun and we report the final journey of a local institution. After three decades of taking passengers between Winchester and Micheldever, Mervyn’s Coaches is forced to end

the service.

Operator Joshua Annetts, grandson of owner Mervyn, says the whole company are upset. “It has been going since 1986. We are part of the community, we still would like to do it for the community as it keeps us in touch with the community, but it has become unviable for us to do it."

But there is some good news in Micheldever with news that two villagers, who wish to remain anonymous, have bought the Half Moon and Spread Eagle pub which had been on the market for a year by Greene King.

The future of a festival celebrating Winchester’s heritage hangs in the balance as dedicated volunteers Becky Brown and Nicky Gottlieb scale back their commitment. Winchester Heritage Open Days (HODs) has been unlocking buildings usually closed to the public for 25 years. Later in the year it will go online.

Plans for a “high-end gourmet food festival” that has been compared to Boomtown come under fire as thousands are envisioned to descend on The Grange in Northington, with organisers suggesting that almost 20,000 people. Opponents fear the food festival with music will become a music festival with food.

The Church at the Hospital of St Cross is packed for a special service to mark the retirement of the Master of St Cross, Reg Sweet after more than 55 years in the ministry.

Winchester rapist Liam Foard, who showed no remorse after attacking a vulnerable woman, is jailed for 13 years.

Star-spotters are out in force as The Crown, the drama about the Royal Family, was being filmed in Winchester. Glimpses are caught of Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Colman.

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FOUR people are killed in separate crashes within four days on roads in the Winchester district.

Two men die in a collision on the A272 near Cheesefoot Head and two motorcyclists die on the B3035 Corhampton Lane, near Corhampton.

TV presenter Alastair Stewart, 67, who lives near Alresford, resigns from ITN after “errors of judgement” on social media. In a Twitter exchange he quotes the word 'ape' from Shakespeare when the other person is black. The Chronicle describes his treatment by ITN as "ludicrous".

The derailment of a goods train at Eastleigh station brings weeks of disruption to travellers.

The Chronicle reveals proposals to build hundreds of homes on the site of the Army training camp in Winchester are being discussed.

Winchester City Council and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), part of the Ministry of Defence, are working together to develop a scheme for the future of Sir John Moore Barracks. The training base is due to close in 2024. A proposal for 800 houses is being explored. But some local organisations are calling for a business park on the site near Littleton.

Hampshire is battered by Storm Ciara. Prominent local businessman Ken Macartney, 58, is killed when a tree falls onto his car as he returned home near Micheldever. Fallen trees and flooded roads caused widespread travel disruption. Gale-force winds of up to 80pmh swept across the county.

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Coronavirus features in the local news for the first time. A priority assessment pod has been set up at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital to assess potential cases at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Winchester man Stephen Vear, 57, who died in a fire at his flat on Whiteshute Lane in November 2019 which was likely caused by an electric heater being too close to a sofa, an inquest heard.


COVID-19 makes the first of many appearances on the front page of the Chronicle for the first time with news that two school pupils, from Oliver's Battery Primary School, are in quarantine, after they travel in a taxi that had been used by a person with a confirmed diagnosis of the virus. Throughout the month we report on its economic impact locally.

Tributes are paid to former mayor and city councillor Sue Nelmes who has died aged 83.

Quick-thinking Jacob Corrie is swift to capture fire engulfing a van on Hockley Link near South Winchester park and ride.

A city councillor is disciplined after leaving a Twyford resident feeling “unwanted”. Emma Dipper submitted a complaint against Cllr Sue Cook accusing her of bullying, harassment and victimisation, breaching data protection policies and failing to treat people with respect. Cllr Cook was cleared of bullying but been told to attend code of conduct training and apologise in writing.

Abbeyfield Winchester Society has announced the closure of a sheltered housing scheme Orchard Close in Twyford, affecting 16 residents and 15 staff.

The city council is reconsidering its partnership with the City of Winchester Trust after it took it to judicial review and scuppered the latest plans for the £150million Station Approach scheme. Senior Lib Dem councillor Kelsie Learney said: "It is difficult to develop a deep partnership with somebody who takes you to judicial review without notifying you first.”

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The Chronicle reports the first death from Covid-19 the city council unveils its latest public planning initiative with a call for a new vision of the city.

The newspaper is packed with reports of public events attended by hundreds of people. Few realise that it would be months before restrictions are eased and that most events will remain impossible to organise.


AMID the extensive Covid-19 coverage there was always space for good news. The summer of 2019 was the best year for butterflies since 1997, according to Butterfly Conservation. Just over half of UK species showed higher numbers compared with 2018, making it the eighth best year in the 44-year series.

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Conservationists are hopeful 2020 will be another successful year for the peregrine falcons nesting on Winchester Cathedral. They colonised the heights of the cathedral after the police headquarters on Romsey Road was knocked down in 2017. The falcons are keeping in check the feral pigeons in the city centre.

Estate agents in Winchester are seeing a sharp increase in the number of rich people from London seeking to flee the capital to move to the local area since the coronavirus crisis, prompting the ire of MP Steve Brine: “I really don’t know which part of ‘stay home’ some people are struggling to understand. It is not OK to have a Covid holiday at your second home and it is not OK to retreat from London to an expensive house let in


For the inmates of Winchester Prison Covid-19 prompts fears of an outbreak in the crowded conditions. Many inmates are doubled up in cells designed to hold one person. A person close to an inmate, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Terrible conditions since lockdown, poor quality food, less food. No sanitation, prison staff have no PPE. Inmates feel like they are on a death sentence.”

The lockdown leads to a big increase in fly-tipping mainly on quiet country lanes.

The city's biggest department store, Debenhams, goes into administration, a victim of changing customer habits.


VILLAGERS are left “angry and frustrated” at the manager of a popular village pub over unpaid debts.

Andrew Caldwell took over The Chestnut Horse in Easton last August, which left many locals excited to have the previously-empty pub back. But not everyone has been impressed, with people complaining of being owed large sums of money. According to official County Court Judgements, Mr Caldwell has been sued three times since November. One debt is for £28,929, and the others for £408 and £535.

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It isn’t quite what people had expected a few months back, but people celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe in some style. There are no church services, public wreath-laying or crowded street parties but instead people mark the day the best they can within the social distancing rules. There are ‘street parties’ of a kind: the tea and cakes are there, the makeshift tables, the bunting and Union flags - just more spread out.

The £150 million redevelopment of Station Approach is mothballed. The city council says the economic uncertainty over the pandemic means that proposals for the site, also known as Carfax, are halted. In a report before the Cabinet, the council says: “The future demand for office accommodation and new ways of working mean that it is appropriate to pause the development of these employment mixed use sites (Carfax and the Cattle Market) whilst the impact of the crisis is better understood.”

Retail bosses across Winchester begin drawing up plans to reopen, two months after the lockdown started.

With a raft of safety measures from hand sanitiser stations, personal protective equipment (PPE) and limiting the number of customers, shops were put in place to allow retailers to start trading again.


MULTI-MILLION pound plans to revolutionise healthcare in north and mid Hampshire, including Winchester, are taking a step forward. A new hospital is now the centrepiece of the biggest modernisation programme of services in the area in 50 years

Hospital chiefs reveal plans to build a health campus with the new hospital as a “centre of excellence” at its heart. It could see the likes of partners in mental health, primary health, social care and more accommodated.

It is revealed that the Winchester district has registered more coronavirus-related deaths then the whole of Australia. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 103 people died in the city council district as of May 29. That compares to 102 in Australia – a country of some 25 million people. Winchester district, by comparison, is home to around 124,000 people.

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A Winchester city councillor is being investigated after allegedly posting Islamophobic opinions on social media. Cllr Judith Clementson is suspended from the Conservative Party after the tweets are exposed by the Hope not Hate group. One tweet says: “When will you snowflakes realise that Islam does not listen to compromise; they see as weakness and will just keep coming! That is why they are overrunning our cities. The only way to deal with a cancer: cut it out or zap it fast.”

Health chiefs reveal a milestone in the fight against coronavirus. Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, which runs Winchester hospital, announce that they were Covid free at all of its sites. On June 19 the trust confirms that there were no Covid positive patients across its hospitals for the first time since lockdown in March.