Forgotten Newbury— Blog from Monday 29th October

Our small meeting room was packed with nearly 30 people to listen to Nick Young’s illustrated talk on Forgotten Newbury, snippets of which are below.
Newbury, by that name did not exist in the Domesday Book, the area was part of the hundred of Thatcham but local historians disagree where the 120 people recorded lived. The boundaries of Speen Newbury and Greenham have moved many times over the years.

The archaeological evidence suggests that, at the 1100’s, the oldest area of Newbury is around The Argylls and Enborne Road. The Black Death figures for London rose from 43 deaths in 1664 to 40,000 4 years later. This gives an idea of the devastation that would have been caused in Newbury by the plague. However the plague pits that must have been created to cope with scale of death somewhere around Newbury have not yet been found.

Victoria Park, which until the 1800’s was known as the Marsh, was the site of a Civil War encampment where an old woman was reportedly seen walking on water she was later killed as a witch. It is probable she was using plank type shoes to cross the marsh and the soldiers had never come across this phenomenon before.

Many changes have taken in the shops around Newbury and it was interesting to see the photographs of the old shop and business frontages. The site of the Globe Inn now Lloyds Bank on the Northbrook Street water bridge dates back to at least 1611 and was the site of the town’s ducking stool. It was at the Globe that the great and the good of the town met to make business deals .

Lord George Sanger was born in a poor area of Newbury and rose to be the most famous circus owner in the country. In 1901 he gave to Newbury the statue of Queen Victoria with her 4 lions and the small statue of Fame. It was unveiled to a huge crowd in the Market Place and moved to Greenham Park in 1933, it spent time in storage and now lives in Victoria Park.

We saw photographs of many places that have now changed or disappeared many of them between 1950 and 1980. Quite often the upstairs windows of a building haven’t been changed and that can help identify the building. The wharf area has changed greatly it was the site of the corn stores now the museum, the large dilapidated Doulton barn and the voluntary fire station. It was the Bus Station in the 1950’s and will be again soon.

The story we heard only scratched the surface of the history of the area and we look forward to hearing another history at a future date.