You are in [History of the HHA] [Formation of the HHA]
Soon after I came to Hungerford in 1973, I recognised what an enchanting and historical town I was living in. I soon started to learn about The Town & Manor, and about John of Gaunt – but I also realised that there was so much more to local history – I was interested to learn about the development of the town over the ages, the transport, the trade and industry, the great estates around the town, the people, and so much more.
In 1979 I conceived the idea of starting a local historical group, and arranged a meeting of several local people to discuss the idea. I am grateful to all those people for their support and encouragement, and through the summer we arranged a Steering Committee, who together set up the first year's program.
In the first year, we invited people to join as Vice Presidents (for £2.00 with free entrance to all meetings), or as Members (for £1.00, paying £0.30p entrance fee), and £0.70p entrance to non-members. There were 50 Vice Presidents, paid-up prior to the inaugural meeting in September 1979.
We decided to hold meetings in the Town Hall – it being a central and historic building in its own right. We expected about 40-50 people to attend – but were overwhelmed when over 100 people came to the first meeting – by Bryn Walters on the Roman Excavations at Littlecote House. We soon moved to the larger Corn Exchange!
We held only three meetings in the first year, but about 100 people attended each – and it was immediately clear that The Hungerford Historical Association was to prove a popular and well supported by its members.
The Committee soon decided that in future years we would simplify the membership scheme, inviting Members for £2.00 per year (with free entrance to all meetings). By the end of its first year there were no fewer than 148 members – and membership has since continued to be between 150 and over 200.
A key feature of the HHA in its early years was the formation of research groups – covering Buildings, Great Estates, Pre-History, Town & Manor, Communications, Trade & Industry, Churches & Schools, and Kintbury, The chair of each group was automatically on the committee of the HHA, along with Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and an additional non-group member.
For many years the individual groups carried out significant pieces of research into Hungerford's past, and presented many interesting talks.
Once the HHA was established, it was agreed to ensure fresh ideas were brought to the committee by changing all committee members' posts every three years in rotation. This plan has served the Association well over the years.
The HHA remains very well supported – 2003 saw a record 226 members, and usually between 90 and 140 members attending each meeting. I look forward to watching its development over the next 25 years.
Dr. Hugh Pihlens