October 31, 2020|Reports

Wickham History Society: Annual Report 2019-2020 – Updated October 2020

Chair’s Introduction
2020 will certainly be remembered, and not just as our 60th Anniversary! The Covid-19 virus has had a huge impact on our activities. We circulated the 2019-2020 Annual Report in May but this year our AGM had to be delayed. For the first time in our history, we will hold a ‘virtual’ AGM on 1st December 2020.

Since the end of the 2019-20 year we have been restoring ‘business as usual in the new normal’ as much as we responsibly can. Many of our planned speakers have agreed to give on-line talks and it means we have been able to have speakers from further afield. Members have rejoined and we have had new members and ‘visitors’ from further afield, who can benefit from ‘Zooming’. Nonetheless we do hope that sometime in 2021 we will be able to meet face to face again!

AGM papers, including our financial report, the minutes and the constitution, as revised last year, have been sent to members. Please contact the secretary if you did not receive these or a meeting invitation.

Membership, Talks, Walks and Summer Visits
We organised two outings last summer.  On 9th July there was a guided tour around the refurbished Eling Tide Mill, one of only two working tide mills in England.  We also had a guided walk along the Lee on the Solent waterfront on 23rd August, led by a member of the local Residents’ Association.  These were joint activities with the Wickham Society.  We led four Wickham Village History walks (free for WHS members).  As well as history walks for other societies, we organised four for Wickham Music Festival.  Altogether 95 people came on our walks. Thanks to our guides and chasers, and also to Dennis Boylan who joined us as a walk leader this year.

It was our second year when all the meetings were on the 4th Tuesday of the month and this seems to be working well.  We held six talks before March, when we had to suspend our programme.  Our most well attended was the second Cotswold Archaeology talk on the archaeological finds from the South Glebe excavations off School Road. The meeting, which was held on 24th September, was attended by over seventy members and visitors.  We are looking forward to hearing from Cotswold Archaeology again.

Other talks included a historical murder mystery with retired Chief Superintendent Paul Stickler, Mike Hollis’s ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ talk on the career of Admiral Cochrane – the inspiration for the Hornblower and Jack Aubrey novels – and talks from returning popular speakers Andrew Negus on Portsmouth’s early history and Dr Bob France on Uppark with photos of the fire and the impressive restoration work.  Our joint Christmas event with the Wickham Society featured a Tudor Christmas introduced by Dr Cheryl Butler.

330 people attended our six meetings (including 55 visitors) so we were on course to exceed our 2018/9 attendance (407 for 8 meetings) if Covid-19 had not intervened.  Our membership is 81 with 22 new members joining the Society.  Thanks again to Olive Hathaway and our tea and coffee volunteers for our refreshments and to Jane Painter for organising the programme.

Exhibitions and Archives
We again put on exhibitions at the Parish Assembly, the Wickham Fete and Taste of Wickham where we showcased information on our local farms – including a list of Mayles Farm cows by name!

Much of our effort this year has been on cataloguing the Woodford Slides.  Those of non-Wickham locations are now safely with the Hampshire and Portsmouth Archives or with local history societies.  Thank you to the many volunteers who helped view these.  The Wickham Drama Society tapes, programmes and plays donated by Neale Fray are also now deposited on loan with the Hampshire Archives; we also have much of the material digitised, thanks to Neale’s work.

Thanks to those who have donated or loaned books, photos, deeds and other material including Ian Knight, Mike Dennis, Jane and David Soulsby, Chris and Norman Beckett, Malcolm Frost, Celia Haydock and Barrie Marson.

Wickham History Society on the web
We continue to add to our website with meeting reports, new articles and archive materials.

Sad News
Members were told of the sad loss of Doreen Barrett, committee member of the History Society for many years and wife of Brian our former Chair. We also marked the loss of Barrie Marson, Secretary for many years and active village historian. We were saddened to hear that Brian Edgworth, village photographer and expert mulled wine maker, had passed away. They are all much missed.

The Committee
Chair: Geoff Phillpotts; Secretary: Vanessa Burlingham; Treasurer: Jane Soulsby; Website Editor (and Talks Programme): Jane Painter; Brian Barrett, Doug Copeland, Mike Hollis and Martin Rogers.

Do you have something to contribute to the society?