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Author documents changing face of Newbury

Former museum curator Tony Higgott chronicles changing face of town in his new book

John Garvey

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John Garvey

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Author documents changing face of Newbury

WRESTLING at the former Plaza, Swampy the bypass protester, diesel railcars, Cruise missiles and Beynon’s thriving clothing store – all form part of The Changing Face of Newbury.

Local author and historian Tony Higgott has drawn on more than 100 photographs to document the changes to the market town since the 1960s.

The former curator of the West Berkshire Museum wrote his first book, The Story of Newbury, in 2000.

This was followed by Newbury In The 1950s in 2004.

Publisher Countryside Books asked him to write his latest instalment to complete the trilogy and to bring the works up to the present.

In a foreword, fellow Newbury author Sue Hopson writes: “Some of the images make their point almost instantly while others, especially the aerial views, reward detailed study as so much is shown.

“There are many images of town centre businesses, but he hasn’t forgotten the other ways in which Newburyians are employed, for example, engineering still continues its long history.”

She adds: “The relatively new businesses such as electronics are now well established.

“They bring a whole, new, very modern set of skills to the town.

“Vodafone has obviously made the greatest impact, not only by the number of staff employed, but also through its headquarters building at Shaw.

“It puts the name of Newbury firmly on the international map.”

Mr Higgott, of Ashmore Green, said: “I’ve always felt that history finished yesterday and isn’t always about what happened thousands or even hundreds of years ago.”

He said he was inspired to begin writing the history of Newbury after reading Newbury During the Victorian Era, 1837-1893 by a former editor of the Newbury Weekly News, Frank Stilman, whose book was published in 1893.

Mr Higgott will be taking part in a signing session on Saturday in WH Smith in Northbrook Street, Newbury, between 10am and noon.

The Changing Face of Newbury is available, priced £9.95, from the publisher’s website at www.countrysidebooks.co.uk

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