Mayor of Warminster, Paul Batchelor visit to Warminster PA, 11th and 12th September 2013
Our arrival to Warminster PA was to be welcomed by a very warm reception from both the Director and the Manager of Holiday Inn Suites, coupled with the waiting Chair of Supervisors Leo Quinn III, Richard Manfredi the Township Manager and his assistant Jessica.
We set off for the Township offices where in the entrance hall is our framed letter accepting the invitation to twin. From there we toured the building being introduced to the many staff. Interestingly the Township has three cameras and a production box in the committee room as they broadcast all of their public meetings which I was assured is well attended. Unlike our parish council status, they operate a local police force of 45 officers and are also responsible for schools and education.
My second stop was at the library building where they have installed a Warminster UK cabinet displaying a few mementos which Nick Pitcher took with him in the spring coupled with details of Stonehenge etc.
Stop three was the John Fitch Steamboat museum and Craven Hall (1790-1845) a Georgian house. In Warminster in 1785 John Fitch invented the first type of mechanised transport which was a steam driven paddle propelled boat. The museum holds a 1/10th working model of the original boat which had canoe like paddles rather than the later barrel versions we are used to seeing in films set in New Orleans. Craven Hall has been restored to a very authentic and high standard. Both of these buildings we were escorted by enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable guides. My daughters and I wished we could have stayed a lot longer.
From the historic we went to the ultra-modern with a visit to Vertical Screen World Headquarters, whose clients include many British organisations. The tour was personally conducted by the CEO who had been intimately involved with the design of this corporate headquarters. Ranked as the seventh most efficient building in the world, the goal was to have minimum impact whilst under construction coupled with self-sufficiency in power and water consumption. The construction of the building utilises Structured Insulated Panel (SIP) roof deck, Recycled materials even in its furnishings, FSC wood and rapidly renewable materials. The carpeting was made from used car tyres, countertops from discarded and recycled glass, staff cafeteria tables are comprised of scrap metal shavings coupled with chairs made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles. For its running systems it boasts Solar Array, Geothermal HVAC System, Rainwater harvesting plus Daylight harvesting. And if all this wasn’t enough there is a garden to the rear of the building which has been divided up and used as a type of allotments for the staff!
Our final visit of the afternoon before the 9/11 service at the fire station was to the Fuge. This was part of the Naval Air Development Centre and is a centrifuge with a space capsule designed to allow astronauts to experience G force. In 6 seconds it can reach almost 200mph progressing to replicate up to 30G (humans can only tolerate around 12G) and can stop instantly. ALL astronauts up to the Space Shuttle had trained at this facility so it was an awe inspiring day when I was told I could sit in the capsule seat where all those heroic people had been. The building has now been decommissioned and is used as a conference space with most of the original equipment including some early computers still in place. So while we in Warminster UK had UFOs in the 60s they had astronauts.
The following day we were taken to their new park which was given to the township five years ago by the Naval Air Development Centre and centres around half of the disused runway (being very long the other half is in the neighbouring township). They have already built a model town of Warminster to teach children road safety, this was funded in part by their Rotary club which is very active and volunteers doing a lot of the work. Many other things are planned including a small museum.
Our final destination was the Five Ponds Golf Club which has been built around a flood prevention scheme, hence five ponds which I’m told becomes one when they have heavy rain. As a municipal facility they have reiterated the offer for any golfers visiting them from Warminster UK can have FREE use of the course and loan of clubs.
The kindness and hospitality offered to us was unsurpassed.