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Woolhampton author publishes new book on Berkshire history in the late Victorian and Edwardian era

A Woolhampton author has released a new book about a period a great change and innovation in Berkshire.

The latest title by local historian John Trigg, Late Victorian and Edwardian Berkshire: 1860-1910, captures this unique era covering milestone events from the Boer Wars, the founding of Newbury Racecourse to the advent of the motor car.

Some of these changes shaped the royal county’s future for the better, but not all of them straightaway, says the author, whose past publications include A County at War, The Mounts of Wasing and Austerity to Affluence.

John Trigg with his new book
John Trigg with his new book

At least two years in the making and referring to local press cuttings, around 75 copies of the new book are now up for grabs.

So what were some stand out discoveries from his research?

Mr Trigg said: “The Boer War never featured a great deal in the textbooks.

“And yet it was the be all and end all of Berkshire at that time. It was quite unbelievable.”

Mr Trigg recalled one incident he read during his research where a shellshocked Woolhampton man, returning from the brutal fighting in South Africa, entered the former signalbox in the village armed with a rifle.

Thankfully, no one was harmed.

Another important development covered is the evolution of the Suffragettes, whose campaign under the ‘Votes for Women’ movement gained significant traction in the early 20th century.

“Anne Monroe walked from Scotland to Reading as part of a campaign and she married a Thatcham man,” added Mr Trigg.

“She had her honeymoon in Holloway Prison. He smuggled a letter in a banana, would you believe.

John Trigg with his new book
John Trigg with his new book

But the local area had another interesting connection said Mr Trigg — to His Majesty.

The mistress of King Edward VII, who had her own keys to the Buckingham Palace gardens, was the sister of Charles Edward Keyser, a British stockbroker and later lord of the manor of Aldermaston.

Mr Trigg also explained the idea of Empire was prevalent during this period and closely taught in schools.

The coming of the bicycle and motor car also boosted trade and travel in the locality, enabling residents to travel to London and beyond.

Speaking about putting the book together, Mr Trigg added: “The hardest thing actually is not the research, that’s fun. It’s putting it all together.”

When asked what aspects he would say have improved or gotten worse in the county since this period, Mr Trigg said speeding still remains as much of an issue on West Berkshire’s rural roads now as when cars were first introduced.

Mr Trigg’s new book is available to buy at The Corner Shop in Woolhampton, at the monthly Woolhampton Village Market or by contacting him online using johntrigghistory@hotmail.co.uk.

And he has already started work on his next book.

Though he cannot say much, Mr Trigg revealed he has already produced more than 100 pages of notes.

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