Local Blue Plaques unveiled

posted 10 Oct 2016, 11:44 by Newbury Society

Fourth Blue Plaque unveiled: The blue plaque to commemorate the first mobile phone call in the UK was unveiled on 4th August by Sir Christopher Gent, former Chief Executive of Vodafone. He was welcomed by the Mayor of  Newbury, your chairman and Anthony Pick of Newbury Town Council.

The plaque is on Thames Court on the Broadway and commemorates the first call on 1st January 1985 - a key event in the history of Vodafone. But even Vodafone didn't forsee the vast expension of mobile phones - perhaps not surprising when the first ones weighed 5Kg and cost the equivalent of £5000 today!

Pictured left to right: The Town Mayor Julian Swift Hook, Newbury Society Chairman Jeremy Holden Bell, Sir Christopher Ghent and Cllr Anthony Pick of Newbury Town Council

Welcome new members!

posted 6 Jul 2015, 08:09 by Newbury Society

We are pleased to be able to advise you that the Society's Executive Committee has been joined by two additional volunteers, Yolande Fothergill and Tony Vickers, and will not now be proposing the dissolution of the Society at the AGM in October; however it is important that the Society adapts to changing times so that the Committee does not feel it necessary to come back with a proposal to dissolve it in another year or two - your input will be a key factor in achieving this

We'd also like to advise you that there's an opportunity to participate in a "Community Planning Event" next weekend which will look at options for the redevelopment of the area between Newbury Railway Station and Market Street.  It takes place on Friday & Saturday 10th & 11th July in and around the West Berkshire Council Offices - full details includng a downloadable flyer are at 
The following Thursday, 16th July, there is to be a presentation of the outcomes at St Nicolas Church (or the Church Hall?) at 7:00pm - we understand that there will be the opportunity to make comments via the Project website after this.   

As already advised, some talks that may be of interest are being held at West Berkshire Museum during July.  The remaining ones are as follows (admission to each is £2.50):
Wed 8 July 1pm-2pm: Thomas Dolman, Tudor Cloth, and Shaw 
A talk by Dr David Peacock centering on Thomas Dolman who, in the Tudor period, made a fortune from producing dyed woollen cloths for export. These cloths were processed at water-powered fulling mills at Greenham and Colthrop. Details of his dyehouse in central Newbury provide evidence of large-scale production. He bought the manors of Shaw, Speen and Colthrop, with more land further from Newbury. He died in the 1570s, and it was with the proceeds of the cloth trade that his son, also called Thomas Dolman, built the Elizabethan mansion Shaw House.
Wed 15July 1pm-2pm: Victoria Park Newbury: An Early Mesolithic Playground. (Part of the 2015 Festival of British Archaeology)
Predictive mapping of the early prehistoric landscape in the Middle Kennet Valley by the University of Reading and Wessex Archaeology in partnership with West Berkshire Council and funded by Historic England has led to the recent discovery of a new and pristine Early Mesolithic site in Victoria Park. Dr Catherine Barnett will present the initial findings of a research excavation carried out there summer 2014 and will outline new data gained under the wider project on chronology, changes in environment and human activity around Newbury and Thatcham area in the centuries immediately following the end of the last ice age. 
Wed 22July 1pm-2pm: From Cold Climes to the Cold War: The Archaeology of West Berkshire. (Part of the 2015 Festival of British Archaeology)
West Berkshire has a rich and varied past, dating from the Palaeolithic (-500,000 BC) right up to the Present. This is illustrated by a fascinating range of sites, finds and landscapes which can be explored and realised through archaeology. This talk by the West Berkshire Council’s Archaeological Officer will give an overview of West Berkshire’s archaeological resource, along with a discussion of recent discoveries that have contributed to our understanding of our past.

The next Society meeting (at the Church Room at St John's Church, St John's Road) will be on 10th September, when Linda Connell will give us a talk about The National Needlework Archive.  The AGM, at which the future direction of the Society will be reviewed, will be o8th October and we will also have a talk from Mark Cole of West Berkshire Council about its Traffic Services. 

LAST CHANCE - Your society needs you!

posted 1 Jun 2015, 14:47 by Newbury Society

In the Society’s newsletter of a year ago, we described the current vacancies
that exist on our Committee. In summary, we do not have anyone to take
care on a longer-term basis of (in no particular order):

- Talks;
- Publicity;
- Heritage Open Days;
- Our web site;
- Social media;
- Excursions;
- Refreshments at meetings;
- Transport policy;
- Liaison with Civic Voice.

Moreover, the lack of sufficient active Committee members means that we
cannot rotate the officer functions of Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer, as
is the generally recommended practice for voluntary bodies of our type. The
present Committee members are fully stretched fulfilling all their present
commitments. It is the same few Committee members who offer articles for
publication in our newsletter.

We have also publicised this lack of Committee participation at our AGM in
October, at our subsequent meetings, via the Volunteer Centre, in a letter to
the Newbury Weekly News last June, and in discussions with many individuals.
Despite these actions, no-one has come forward to fill any of these positions.
This does not appear to be due to a lack of membership, which has
remained at about 150 (with a burst of new members during the period that
we ran Heritage Open Days) throughout the history of the Society since it
was formed in 1972.

A Society such as ours depends entirely on enthusiastic and active volunteers
to keep it going. The rationale for the Society has always been to promote
the wellbeing of Newbury, through its architecture, planning, transport, heritage,
and amenities, with the advantage that we are a voluntary body independent
of elected authorities. If volunteers do not come forward to serve
the Society, the only conclusion that we can reach is that its function, however
desirable, is no longer necessary. This may be due to the establishment
of Newbury Town Council in 1997, or for some other reason. There is an
obvious circular cause-and-effect - more active Committee members will
enable the Society to provide more services, which will attract more members,

It is sometimes argued that this is a general situation for all voluntary bodies.
The evidence of (for instance) the Newbury and District National Trust
Association and Newbury Twin Town Association, which have large and
active Committees, shows that this is not necessarily so.

In any case, we cannot go on as we are doing at present. The Committee has
to make clear to members that, if these vacancies are not filled, we will not
be able to carry on and will be recommending closure of the Society at the
AGM later this year.

The Committee

Victory in Europe 70th Anniversary Celebrations

posted 6 May 2015, 12:07 by Newbury Society

As part of the Victory in Europe 70th Anniversary Celebrations (VE70) this weekend, Newbury Town Council is holding a 'Picnic in the Park' event in Victoria Park on Sunday (10th May) from 12 noon to 3pm. The Town Council will also be holding a Service of Commemoration and Celebration at the Town War Memorial at 2:45pm on Friday (8th May) - this will include a two-minute silence at 3:00pm.  

Mike James

posted 25 Feb 2015, 03:00 by Newbury Society

We are very sorry to have to advise you of the death on 19th February of Mike James who was active in local politics and in the Newbury Society for many years.  Latterly he had been the Society's President, retiring from the post at the 2013 AGM.

Heritage Open Days

posted 4 Sep 2014, 12:29 by Newbury Society

Heritage Open Days Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September 2014

Although the Society is not involved in the organisation of Heritage Open Days this year, we'd like to draw your attention to the properties in the area that will be open with free admission under the scheme:

  • St Nicolas’s Church Bell Tower, West Mills, Newbury RG14 5HG: 
    Pre-booked guided tours only at 14:00 and 15:00 on Friday and Sunday - call in to the Church Office or telephone 01635 47018 to make a booking.
  • Shaw House, Church Road, Shaw, Newbury RG14 2DL:
    Saturday & Sunday 11:00-16:00
  • Inglewood House, Audley Inglewood Retirement Village, Templeton Road, Kintbury RG17 9AA:
    Pre-booked guided tours only at 11:00 and 14:00 on Thursday and Friday - see for booking information.


posted 13 May 2014, 14:46 by Newbury Society

CANAL BOAT TRIPS on the Narrowboat Jubilee from Newbury Wharf...

Board The Kennet & Avon Trust's 29 seat narrowboat for a relaxing trip through historic Newbury with their enthusiastic, knowledgeable and fully-trained volunteer crew. There’s plenty of interest to be seen as you rise up a lock and cruise through a swing bridge .  Tea, coffee and light refreshments available. Enjoy a glass of wine or beer from their licensed bar.

The City

posted 12 Feb 2014, 16:17 by Newbury Society   [ updated 12 Feb 2014, 16:29 ]

The Society is supportive of projects to enhance the City area of Newbury (Argyle Road and its vicinity) and members are being invited to attend an open day at the old Wesleyan Chapel, Hampton Road, Newbury RG14 6DB (next door to the Red House pub) this Saturday 1st February between 10am and 4pm.

The building has recently been purchased along with the adjoining former Sunday School by a group of local residents who are keen to refurbish it as a community-orientated arts hub.  They'd like to involve the local community in its refurbishment and future use - if you can't make the open day but would like to be involved you can contact the group via email at 

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