the P pod – 21 January, 2020

The team is at the Petersfield Physic Garden this week to find out exactly what happens in a physic garden.

Petersfield’s weekly news, views and interviews led by Claire Vennis and Joff Lacey.

John Welsman speaks with Cllr Sean Woodward regarding the possibility of reduced hours at the library, Stephen Martin goes wassailing, and Robert Sansom gives you the inside story of Petersfield Bookshop’s brush with international fame.

Presented by Claire Vennis and Joff Lacey, with Dave Bowers, James Robbins, Suzie Wilde, Martin Bamford, Jon Walker, and special guest Jenny Hill, from the Physic Garden.

Recorded at Petersfield’s Physic Garden on Monday 20 January, 2020.

Next week we’re at Sew Creative on Lavant Street. Just get in touch for details. To contact the P pod, call Petersfield 01730 555 500 or email

Wassailing in the community garden

The traditional sound of wassailing rang around the Petersfield Community Garden on Sunday 19 January when its members sang to the health of the trees in the garden’s orchard.

Wassailing was believed by our Pagan ancestors to encourage a good harvest. Today, it’s a way to bring the community together with mugs of warm cider around an open fire.

Our reporter Stephen Martin was in Steep to meet the participants – including the chair of the community garden, Sue Edberg.

Have your say on the future of Petersfield library

Hampshire County Council says it wants to cut the cost of providing library services.

It is consulting on several options which include closing smaller libraries and reducing the opening hours of libraries like that in Petersfield by up to a quarter.

County Councillor Seán Woodward is responsible for libraries across Hampshire and spoke to our reporter John Welsman.

Petersfield Library in the Square

Cllr Woodward says the way we use libraries is changing with fewer books and more digital engagement with library services.

He pins the blame for these cuts on central government which has reduced the funding it provides councils like Hampshire and says this leaves the council with tough choices to make.

Have your say

The consultation runs until 18 March at

Passengers report burning and smoke on a train at Petersfield

Emergency services on platform 1

Emergency crews from the fire service and police attended Petersfield railway station today after passengers reported a fire on board a Northbound train.

South Western Railway staff stopped and evacuated the ten-carriage train at Petersfield after passengers noticed smoke and a smell of burning in the fifth carriage.

Fire crew members told us that nobody was hurt.

We spoke to these eyewitnesses and passengers affected by the incident.

The train on which the fire was reported is one of the recently-refurbished “Class 442” units which are 30-years old. They entered service on the London Waterloo to Portsmouth line this month.

The affected service was the 10.15 from Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo.

It arrived into Petersfield just one minute behind schedule at 10.48 but didn’t leave the station until 12.51 when it was driven to Haslemere. The onward service to London was then cancelled.

Portsmouth News journalist Tom Cottterill was in Petersfield when the train was evacuated

Control point in the car park

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service deployed four vehicles including three fire engines and established a control point for the incident in the car park off Frenchmans Road. We counted 18 fire service staff at the railway station.

South Western Railway organised replacement buses to take passengers to their destinations. Some trains started to run after one o’clock but delays and cancellations continued to show on the station boards into the afternoon.

Eyewitness tells of smoke and smell

Sarah was one of scores of passengers on the train who were caught up in the drama. The disruption meant Sarah had to reschedule a hospital appointment. She told Petersfield Community Radio what happened to her.

I was on the carriage in front of where it happened and apparently it filled with smoke and there was a smell. Most people left the train because of an electric fire smell. Then we were all told to get off, and all told to steer clear of the train and then we were all told to evacuate the platform.

What could have caused it?

We know Fire and Rescue Service personnel used heat-detecting equipment to identify an overheating brake. The brake would have caused a lot of firey smoke and heat but nobody has reported seeing flames.

Railway experts who have spoken to Petersfield Community Radio suggest that the brakes in the fifth carriage could have been locked because of a fault or even human error. We understand this train was in for overnight maintenance last night.

While modern trains will alert the driver to a locked or “dragging” brake, our experts say the only indication a driver would have of such a fault on these older ‘442’ units would be if they could feel the train not pulling properly, or if somebody raised the alarm.

Another bad day for train users

In addition to the fire scare in Petersfield, a piece of railway track was damaged between Rowlands Castle and Petersfield today. This meant that trains had to travel through that area Northbound as slow as 5 miles per hour at one time.

There is no suggestion of any connection between the damaged rail and the overheating brakes that caused today’s evacuation.

Three fire engines were in the station car park
Railway workers closed the line in both directions