The Newbury Society celebrates 50th anniversary with special event at Shaw House
Half a century of The Newbury Society was celebrated at Shaw House, when members and guests gathered to mark the anniversary.
At the event, which was held on a balmy summer evening on Saturday, June 10 in the now fully restored Tudor buiding, current chair David Peacock looked back at the history of the society, which began with a petition in 1973 to create an organisation that would be devoted to saving the town’s best feature.
Dr Peacock said: “I would like to thank all committee members, past and present, for their work over many years – with Dr Bryant and Mr Handy having served for over 25 years.
“I would like to pay a particular tribute to the work of long-serving society secretary Graham Smith, who has kept the society going through difficult times.”
Guests at the evening included the Deputy Lieutenant of Berkshire and chair of the Reading Civic Society, Richard Bennett; the chairman and leader of West Berkshire Council, Jeremy Cottam and Lee Dillon; and the mayor and leader of Newbury Town Council, Nigel Foot and Gary Norman.
Mr Cottam gave a short address where he acknowledged the important role played by civic societies such as The Newbury Society.
A key role was played in that first year by Maureen Jobbins, who started the petition and became the society’s first chair.
Mrs Jobbins continued to be involved until her death at the beginning of 1974.
Many other people have made important contributions over the years, and although Dr Peacock acknowledged that he could not name them all, among those mentioned were Hilary Hinchliffe, Peter Davies, Christopher Hall, Jack Donovan, Frances Berry, Ernest Paul, John Gould, Bob Willis, Gwynneth Bullock, Mike James, Jeremy and Elke Holden-Bell, and Anthony Pick.
He said that Mr Paul and Mr Holden-Bell had “scrutinised every planning application for Newbury and adjacent parishes over many years, and their comments helped to avoid some of the worst development proposals completely, and soften the effect of others”.
Committee member Chris Marriage was MC for the evening, with vice-president Garry Poulson reading out a message of support from the society’s president, Lord Benyon.
Committee members John Handy, Graham Smith and Mike Hood were also closely involved in organising the event.
At the celebration, the society also launched a new competition to find the best and the worst – the Beauty and the Beast – of Newbury
As the civic society for Newbury, the Newbury Society has also planted trees, organised garden parties, town walks and “Discover Newbury” Heritage Open Days.
It has run numerous campaigns including those to save the Luker building on the Andover Road from demolition, and, most recently as highlighted in this newspaper, against the latest development proposals for the Kennet Centre.