Midnight hit-and-run smashes into historic cottages and drives off

hurst cottages
Diane Pilgrim and Robert Stothart whose cottage moved when smashed into by the midnight hit and run driver
hurst hit and run
Destruction left by the midnight hit and run driver

A midnight hit and run driver smashed so hard into two ancient cottages they moved. The car was then driven off, leaving a trail of destruction.

The shocked and frightened Hurst residents are now appealing for people to help the police hunt for the heartless driver.

Less than two years ago about 500 people signed a petition asking Wokingham Borough Council to improve safety on the road, a treble bend by The Castle Inn at Church Hill, Hurst. The speed limit is 60mph.

One of the Church Cottage residents, Robert Stothart, 63 and an IT trainer, said: “At about 12.15am (on Tuesday) I was sound asleep but then heard a car roaring up the hill [from Winnersh direction]. The road bends here are like a mini chicane, giving some people the feeling of being on a race track.

“I heard a screech of brakes, then a big thump and the whole house moved. Things on top of the wardrobe fell off.

“I looked out of the window – no car there. It had bounced off the wall and I don’t think actually stopped. It must have been foot down to get away, across our front garden, taking out our fence to get back onto the road.

“The builder said if our cottage was a new-build it would have gone right through the wall. But these cottages are hundreds of years old with walls a foot deep. An hour or so earlier I’d have been sitting by the window and covered in broken glass from smashed ornaments.”

Hurst hit and run
Paint scrape which may help track the midnight hit and run driver

The vehicle left blue paint scraped along the front wall, and cracks inside and outside the sitting room wall. The cottage next door also had cracked walls. Mr Stothart appealed for anyone seeing a blue car with damaged left and right head light areas and passenger door to contact the police.

Thames Valley Police are investigating the incident. Yesterday they said: “No arrests have yet been made. Anyone with information which could relate to it should call us on 101, quoting reference number 43210389918.”

Mr Stothart’s partner Diane Pilgrim, 67, a counsellor, said: “Three police cars came very quickly, the officers were very supportive. It’s really upset me. We’re terrified, so nervous now. We couldn’t get back to sleep all night, worried it’d happen again. I’m not sure I want to stay here after living here for 22 years.” 

The fence had been knocked down 12 times to her memory.

hurst hit and run
Part of the Church Hill chicane bends by The Castle Inn in Hurst

Next door neighbour Simon Davies, 29, a landscape gardener, said: “I’d just fallen asleep when I heard an almighty thud. I shot out of bed but they were so quick getting away.”

His front garden was the first victim of the swerving vehicle which smashed through his front fence, his front door porch and the side fence, into his neighbour’s front wall.

“The police were here before the beads on our window sill candelabra stopped swinging,” he said.

Mr Davies found a small car part afterwards. From online research he believes it shows the vehicle was a 2002-5 Subaru Forester. He hopes this will help police track the driver.

Over the road at The Castle Inn supervisor Cameron Hopes said: “We went out to make sure everyone was OK. Everyone was rather shaken up.”

Sue Payne, from St Nicholas Church, Hurst, said the damage had been reported to Oxford Diocese who own the cottages on behalf of the church. “It was a real shock for the residents. We’re so grateful they weren’t physically injured,” she said. 

Repairs will be arranged.

hurst hit and run
Simon Davies looks at the damage

She shared the concerns about speeding traffic in an area used by many including church goers, almshouse residents, Hurst bowling club, pub customers, and also children and young people.  

Mr Stothart added: “We’ve been campaigning for the 60mph speed limit to be reduced but they would still speed. All we got from Wokingham Borough Council were warning signs, white lines on the road sides and white arrows on the road.”

Hurst’s borough councillor Wayne Smith was hoping to meet the area’s police officer yesterday to discuss possible safety improvements.

“Based on that I will raise it with the borough council,” he said. “The only way may be to create some kind of width restriction to slow traffic.” He said it was important any accidents were reported to the police.

hurst hit and run
Car part which victim of midnight hit and run smash hopes will help track the driver

Less than two years ago Hurst parish councillor Mac Stephenson presented a petition signed by nearly 500 people to the borough council asking for better Church Hill safety.

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