The Towcester and District Local History Society was founded 35 years ago. On a cold evening with snow falling (March 15th 1982) thirty-three people were keen enough to go to a meeting at the Parish Room of the Vicarage in Towcester when it was decided to form the society and to produce a “Towcester Trail”. It was reported that:-
“The particular interests of those attending the meeting were many and varied - archaeological surveys; industrial archaeology of the area; history of particular parts of the town including Watling Street, Moat Lane and Bury Mount; History of Education and of the Schools; geographical aspects of the area; interest in particular buildings; and attention to the tree population.”
The aims of the society are still the same, to find out about the history of Towcester and to publicise what has been discovered. We are particularly interested in finding out new and interesting things.
Members have different interests. Some like to be outdoors in the fresh air with a trowel in hand on an archaeological dig. Others prefer to be indoors at a library or the Record Office looking at old papers. Others prefer to discover things about Towcester from the internet. The society supports and helps members with their particular local history interests.
Members keep in touch with each other through the monthly meetings , and the quarterly newsletter. In addition there are occasional evening outings to local villages and museums and an annual whole day coach trip to a place of historic interest. Our programme is advertised around Towcester, including in the Towcester Town Crier and on our notice board at the Towcester Centre for Leisure.
We publicise what has been found in our books and publications , our website, Facebook and Flickr and in giving guided walks and speaking to local organisations. Our publications can be bought at one of our monthly meetings or at Towcester Museum. We also inform, and learn from, the organisations that we liaise with.
Our members include an American living in New York whose family left Towcester for the New World in 1635 and a member in Sydney, Australia whose family was connected with Towcester Railway Station in the nineteenth century.
We fund a prize for history at Sponne School, and were very pleased that the first winner of the prize became an archaeologist who worked on one of the digs at Bury Mount.
Our website includes some family history and this has led to many contacts with people around the world. For example all the gravestones in the Victorian part of Towcester Cemetery were recorded, and the inscriptions were checked against the official burial registers. The photographs and lists have been put on our website, and proved useful to the Towcester Town Council, as burial space is short, especially with the future Towcester expansion.
As a Millennium project, members of the society researched and designed the green plaques on significant buildings in Towcester. These were launched in 2002, after two years of effort in getting permissions from the various tenants, landlords, local councils and English Heritage.
Through historic research and volunteering, society members support local organisations, such as the Towcester Museum and the Towcester 917 project. Towcester 917 is to commemorate the Battle of Towcester 1100 years ago between the Saxons and the Vikings and there are major events on 17th June and 23rd July 2017.
When funding for the Towcester Reminiscence group ceased, it was able to continue due to support from our society and Towcester library.
Our retiring chairman, John Morris, is also chairman of the Towcester Area WW1 Commemoration Committee, founded in October 2013, whose members have been organising events, the most notable of which is the talk on the Somme given last September in Towcester by Dan Snow, the well-known and popular TV historian.