A row of cottages, known as Potash, stand at the south end of the village (10) They were built from bricks of a kiln that fell into disuse over 100 years ago (ca 1827). This kiln stood in the farmyard opposite Te-traka Cottage (see Tetarka Cottage on the map, possibly 66 Pembroke Lane?) and potash(13) was made in it by burning bean straw.
The ballast hole is the name given to a pond on the south end of the North field. It is a pleasant spot surrounded by trees and reeds, the home of wild duck and occasionally visited by swans from the Thames. It serves a useful purpose in helping to drain neighbouring fields.
The soil taken away from this place was used to make embankments for the railway. We have heard from a person who remembered a man say that he had seen this place full of tip carts and wheelbarrows which had slipped back into the hole when filled with soil, and were left there. Perhaps some day these remains may puzzle an antiquarian. An old resident of Potash tells that her father remembered that at the age of 6 his mother took him to see the first train pass along this same railway, opened in 1840 (When the GWR reached Steventon). The train went so slowly that they could keep up with it at walking pace. Then came a signal box at the level crossing, and about 1871 we hear of a signalman who would open the railway gate, leave 2 small children in charge of the flag which signalled that the train might pass, and then go up the village to play skittles. No accident ever occurred, which is evidence to a more leisured time than our own!
Next came the bridge, and a diary entry records "Sunday September 5th 1907, opening of the new bridge across the railway" (14), the crossing discontinued. Soil was brought from Steventon and Challow to make the high embankment for this bridge, and the steep pitches on either side were thought so dangerous that it was said that a hospital would be need at Potash.
In 1914 the bridge was picketed by soldiers, who challenged passers-by. 'Who goes there, friend or foe' so bringing the war nearer to us than it had been since William of Orange marched this way with his troops. A tall iron post still stands near the post office (then in the central High Street), and it is all that remains of the old village pump which was formally enclosed by a low brick wall. Most people fetched their water from this pump, but some dipped it out of the brook. People living in Potash fetched water from a small pond near the present depot gates. It was known as the dipping pond, and was a favourite haunt of cats and dogs It is said that the water was often a very bad colour, but 'that it never seemed to hurt us' and it takes very little to upset people these nowadays.
In 1898 waterworks were constructed and water was brought down from the downs to a reservoir half way up Milton Hill, and it to the great boon of an ample supply of pure water that we attribute the general good