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A different view of Thatcham from 1934, while Newbury freezes 10 years ago

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Old Memories Revived: A look back at the NWN archives

Thatcham was a much different place in 1934. That was 86 years ago and, as the picture shows, nearly all of the High Street was residential.
These days it’s a busy shopping destination with shops, restaurants and banks.
There are also a few more cars around in 2020!

150 years ago - January 6, 1870

SIR – Will you allow me, through the medium of your paper, to call the attention of the authorities (I do not know who they may be in this particular case) to the very disagreeable state of the approaches to Northcroft, near the gates and wall at the town end of it.
Here we have a public footpath, leading to what may not be improperly called a breathing place for the inhabitants of Newbury, in a very filthy, uncomfortable state.
Of course the cattle that take shelter under the wall are the chief causes of the evil; but is there any particular reason why cattle should be allowed to destroy a public footpath in this manner?
It seems to me that the public ought to preserve their rights in this respect most jealously, and not allow their footpaths to be injured in any way.
Can nothing be done to render these approaches more agreeable to the large numbers of those who are in the daily habit of using the path over Northcroft Meadows?
I remain, yours very truly

125 years ago - January 3, 1895

It was lucky to get a meet of the Craven Hounds so near Newbury on Boxing Day, as it is the only chance in the year that many have of seeing a pack of hounds in full cry, and what with the exercise and excitement, it must be just the thing after the Christmas day feastings.
Gentlemen, as a rule, are very anxious to give the pack a very wide berth on Bank Holidays; but through the kindness of Lord Carnarvon, and the wish of Mr Rutherford, the meet was on the Highclere Estate, at Blind Man’s Gate – (but please don’t expect to see either a blind man or a gate, they both have gone years ago) – which is really where the two roads cross.
It was a nice morning, and there was one of the largest musters seen at a Craven Meet for a very long time.
Horsemen, carriages of every description, any number of pedestrians and just everybody who is of a sporting turn of mind that could get a mount by hook or by crook, all looking in the best of spirits and good humour; and here, where everybody knows more game is bred than in any other part of the county, foxes were plentiful, showing very plainly that where pheasants abound foxes may be found.
The Master gave the word to draw the woods close at hand, and Perry, having cleared the crowd, had his hounds soon merrily at work.
Almost at once they found, much to the delight of all, as they were afraid the draw would have been some distance away.
The hounds settled down, and ran hard in the big wood, with splendid music for about 15 minutes.

100 years ago - January 1, 1920

Most affecting was the story of Christmas dinners at Wash Common, told in tragic tones by a resident member.
The joint that was started at eight-thirty was not cooked at one-thirty.
The pudding which was placed in the pot at breakfast time was not ready for dishing up at five o’clock tea.
And all because of an inadequate supply of gas.
It was not a new grievance. There was a time when Sunday dinners were delayed, and rumour hath it that even the chairman had to wait several hours for his own.
He assumed apologetic manner, explained that there had been difficulties, but promised amendment in the New Year.
Perhaps next Christmas Wash Common will get their dinners in time.
The dinner at No.99 was in doubt for a time, owing to the same cause, but happily was only a little late.

75 years ago - January 4, 1945

If numbers testify to the success of a party then the immense crowd on Tuesday afternoon at the Chequers Hotel for the annual children’s party in aid of the Red Cross Prisoners of War Fund was quite overwhelming.
It has always been the social event of the year for the very young and this year with its old and new attractions the large rooms literally seethed with daintily dressed little people of all ages and sizes.
To explain what may have seemed a little “overthronging”, a great number of people arrived unheralded and unsung!
This huge number needed some re-adjusting and there were moments when any kind of order seemed impossible.
However, finally the children were distributed and the entertainment proceeded according to plan.
On arrival, the children presented their gifts of toys and books to Mrs Benyon, Red Cross County Director and Controller.
With Mrs Benyon came Lady Usher (Appeals and Shops Controller) and Lady Dunlop, Newbury’s well-known district vice-president, was also there.
The toys and books, which ran into hundreds, are all on show to-day in the Red Cross window and will be sold in aid of the same fund.

50 years ago - January 7, 1970

Young people in the Newbury area have been quick to take advantage of the new laws entitling them to marry at the age of 18 without their parents’ consent.
Within hours of the “New Adults” laws coming into effect on New Year’s Day, several couples went to local registry offices to give notice of intention to marry by special licence.
Two couples were married at Newbury Registry Office on Saturday — the earliest possible date because of the requirement that one clear day’s notice be given.
Another couple married at Curridge, and there were also licence weddings at Kingsclere and Bradfield Registry Offices.
In one case the bride could have married on her 21st birthday next month when she could have married without parental consent under the old law.
“The new laws have provoked a certain amount of interest,” said Mr Brian Thetford, Newbury registrar.

25 years ago - January 5, 1995

Eighty-eight-year-old Maria Dods has decided to learn how to swim – after making a new year resolution.
“I’ve always wanted to learn, but never got round to it until now,” said Mrs Dods.
When the revealed her ambition to her son, Richard Jessel, at his home in Ashampstead, he took her down to the Northcroft pool in Newbury – and in she went.
Now, she hopes to persuade some of her friends, all over the age of 80, to join her in the water.

10 years ago - January 7, 2010

West Berkshire was plunged into chaos yesterday as the country saw its most prolonged spell of freezing conditions since 1981.
Thousands of people were left without electricity and Southern Electric said that Thatcham, Frilsham, Padworth Common and Bradfield had all been affected.
However, Southern Electric later reported that power had been restored to the majority of properties by 5pm yesterday.
In Newbury, more than 20 town centre shops were closed and supermarkets reported customers had been panic-buying food because of weather forecasts predicting sustained freezing conditions in the coming days, with the risk of more heavy snow over the weekend.
Lambourn was among the worst hit with local people reporting drifts of up to 15 inches.
Several rural villages reported more than eight inches of snow with Cold Ash reporting about nine inches.
Newbury and Thatcham had about six inches of snow.
All district schools were closed yesterday and although more than 30 had confirmed their closure by the time the NWN went to press, council spokesman Keith Ulyatt said that it is likely that most, if not all, will remain closed today.
In addition, Newbury College remains closed today (Thursday) and Newbury’s bus services are likely to remain suspended.
First Great Western is also advising passengers to keep an eye on their website which is updated regularly.
Newbury Market has been cancelled today and there is still major disruption to West Berkshire Council services, with several district libraries closed and waste collections suspended until the weather improves.
The Newtown Road waste tip is also closed and will re-open when weather conditions improve.
The Met Office has warned that temperatures are going to plummet even further.
Spokeswoman Catherine Slatcher said temperatures last night were expected to fall to -5 Celsius and although today was predicted to be dry and sunny, freezing conditions mean there is likely to be widespread frost, making driving treacherous.
West Berkshire Council, which this week announced its salt stocks were critically low, said yesterday that it still had a limited supply, despite being bailed out by Hampshire County Council earlier this week.

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