The following reports of meetings in 2009-10 season are available:
23 Sep 2009: Dr Hugh Pihlens "400 Years of Schooling in Hungerford"
A packed house gathered for the first Hungerford Historical Association talk of the new season by the ever-popular local historian Dr Hugh Pihlens. This fascinating talk took us from the first grammar school, located in The Croft area in 1635, through the many small private schools to the first national school in 1814, and finishing with the founding of the Hungerford Primary School in 1910 and John O' Gaunt in 1963.
The occasion also marked the launch of the late Norman Hidden's book 'Aspects of the Early History of Hungerford' published by the HHA. Norman's widow Joyce had travelled to Hungerford for the launch and was no doubt pleased to see how many of the members bought the book on the night. Copies are available at £8.95 at any of the HHA talks or from The Hungerford Bookshop.
28 Oct 2009: Dr Hugh Pihlens "Victorian Hungerford"
The intended speaker for this talk had to pull out due to illness, luckily the chairman only had to look as far as her husband, Dr Hugh Pihlens, who also happens to be the HHA archivist and a highly respected local historian, to find a late replacement.
Hugh gave an excellent talk on Victorian Hungerford, revised from an earlier version used in 2004. He led us through the changes that affected Hungerford in the Victorian era, from a time when it had over 20 coaching inns due to its position on the London to Bath, and Oxford to Salisbury roads, to the arrival of the railway in 1847 and its extension in 1862. Five churches were built during this time, plus a new town hall, when the old one was damaged by the new clock tower.
This era also saw the arrival of the police in 1864 and not long after the famous double murder in 1876, a bad time for Hungerford, but a good one for the Newbury Weekly News, whose circulation increased by a third while covering the story.
Finally Hugh talked of Queen Victoria's diamond Jubilee in 1897, and the earlier jubilee in 1887, which saw mass celebrations in Hungerford, including a seated meal for 3000 people in The Croft!