© Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society & Contributors 2016-7 Registered Charity no. 287289
Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society

Reports of our lectures held during 2015-6

If you would like to write up a report on a particular future talk, contact a committee member as early in the season as possible, as we arrange a rota to ensure that every talk is reported. We have reported our lectures in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard for many years. Each year for some years we have gathered these together at the end of each season and published them in late summer as one of our newsletters. If you should look through our past Lectures page or our publications pages, you can find which Newsletters have reports in them. Back copies of some of our Newsletters may be available on request from our editor. A copying charge may be made. Since 2014 we now only publish these reports online. We will keep paper copies solely for archive purposes. In general reports will appear online about a month after they have appeared in the Wilts & Glos Standard.

Berkeley Nuclear Power Station: Construction, Operation & Decommissioning

by David Brown on 09 September 2015

The combined audiences of Cirencester Science and Technology Society and Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society were provided with a fascinating brief history of the life cycle of the UK’s first fully operational nuclear generating station. The Berkeley Power Station was conceived in the early 1950s as a scaled up version of the trial installation at Calder Hall based on two reactors of the Magnox type with work starting on the site in 1957. The archive film that formed part of the lecture recorded the important stages of the construction process that culminated in plant commissioning in 1961 and full operation in 1962. With a maximum output in the order of 300MW the plant remained in operation, apart from a shutdown in 1983, until final closure in March 1989. During its working life, spanning a little over a quarter of a century, Berkeley Power Station produced approximately 40 billion units of electricity at an initial capital cost of approximately £36m. Most of the lecture described the long process of de-commissioning that started with the de- fuelling operation that took place between 1989 and 1992. This was followed by the “Safestore” period between 1993 and 2010 and the removal of the massive boilers in 2012-2013. The period required for first stage radioactive decay is estimated to be some 70 years after final shutdown in the late 21st century. The speaker stressed the importance of the lessons that should be learned from the careful documentation of the whole process of building, operating and closing down the UK’s first commercial nuclear power station. Not the least of these lessons is the need to retain a suitable number of core staff whose knowledge of the operation of plant and accumulated experience is vital in the final de-commissioning stage in the life cycle of nuclear installations. The lecture demonstrated the important role that Berkeley has played in the development of our knowledge in the management of nuclear plants from start to finish. This report by CS&TS was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 17 September 2015

Tales from Gloucestershire Railways by Tony Conder on 28 October 2015  

Tony Conder has worked for many years in museums and archives and was Curator of the British Waterways Collection for 25 years after coming to Gloucester in 1988 to open the National Waterways Museum in the city docks. He has extensively researched the canal and railway history of the county and used his in-depth knowledge to give a fascinating insight into its railway network.   He showed how the pattern of railways developed, the core part of which survives in use today, explained the competition between the Midland Railway and the Great Western Railway to extend their influence, and in particular the pinch-point of competition between them in and around Gloucester.   Tony also had a good look at the quite intensive pattern of railways throughout the Forest of Dean, intended to exploit the area’s industrial resources, and by contrast the various cross-country routes across the Cotswolds, which have also largely disappeared.   There was a nod to Cirencester’s two stations, Town and Watermoor, serving quite distinct routes, with the town station still standing as a silent reminder of the ways things once were.   The point was well made that the Beeching cuts of the 1960s were not an isolated experience, but an accelerated part of a much longer process of railway closures and contraction as lines became increasingly uneconomic. A good part of this was essentially the legacy of wartime neglect of infrastructure and the changing habits of the population from the later 1950s onwards.   Today’s much slimmed-down railway network nevertheless still continues to represent the county’s transport needs, at least between the major centres of population and beyond. David Viner

The History of Allotments in Gloucestershire by John Loosley on 25 November 2015  

The Society’s final lecture of 2015 was given by John Loosley on a topic he has been researching for a number of years. It is well known that the allotment movement in Britain really took off as a result of both world wars. After the 1914-18 war land was allocated to returning servicemen. In World War Two disruption to shipping necessitated national self- sufficiency in food production, hence the slogan, ‘Dig for Victory’. But the allotment movement goes back much further, with its origins in the late 18th  century. In Gloucestershire in 1797 land for allotments for poor cottagers was provided in Long Newnton and Shipton Moyne by Mr Estcourt.  A few other landowners followed his lead and improved nutrition and a significant drop in applications for Poor Relief was noted. As a result of the Industrial Revolution and urbanisation, malnutrition became widespread.   In 1830 a London surgeon founded the Labourers’ Friendly Society and landowners were persuaded to allocate land to be rented to cottagers, thus enabling them to grow food for their families.   The aim of the Society was to improve the living standards of the poor and to reduce ‘drunken dissipation’.  A monthly publication was circulated and rules drawn up; these included quarterly payment of rent, banning use of a plough, digging with a spade and to keep at least one pig per allotment.   Agents were employed to travel the country, encouraging landowners to subscribe and provide land. In 1833 Mr Perry, the local agent, visited Stroud and Uley, where 33 acres were made available. Gradually the movement gained momentum.   Colonel Kingscote supplied seed potatoes, poles for pigsties were donated, and loans made to provide for purchase of pigs. In November 1833 Mr Perry came to Cirencester.  Mr Blackwell of Ampney Park chaired a meeting and a local committee was formed.   Farmers were suspicious of these developments, fearing their labourers’ independence, but a dramatic reduction in crime ensued as men spent less time in the beer shops. Rent was generally paid regularly and very few gave up their allotments. The Smallholdings and Allotments Act of 1908 placed a duty on local authorities to provide land for allotments according to need but a massive increase occurred at the end of the First World War.   The speaker was warmly thanked on behalf of the Society for a most interesting lecture.   This report by Kathleen Lindesay was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 07 January 2016

 Women’s Suffrage and the Cotswolds by Sue Jones  on 27 January 2016  

The timing couldn’t have been better for the Society’s talk on Women’s Suffrage and the Cotswolds as the popular film Suffragette is receiving glowing reviews.   So Sue Jones’ illustrated talk bringing the subject to the local area was viewed with great interest.   Sue explained that she had developed an interest in the Suffragette movement after hearing stories from an aunt about a lady who had actually tried to poison Lloyd George.   When Sue returned to the Cotswolds, she began to research the Women’s suffrage movement in this area where there were a number of well-educated and often economically independent ladies including the well-known Dorothea Beale at Cheltenham Ladies College.   She explained that not all those in favour of women’s suffrage were suffragettes; the non – militant suffragists often had their peaceful rallies attacked because of the violence of the militants.   There was probably a society in Cirencester at the end of the 19th century, but there is little evidence of this.   However, in 1911 Mrs Pankhurst herself did come to Cirencester, and Sue had a wonderful picture of her in the car she was presented with – decorated in purple, white and green, the movement’s colours, on her release from prison. Her visit had been arranged by Ada Flatman, who lodged in Ashcroft Villas.   Drawing room meetings were held by ladies including Mrs Melville of Stratton House, and Mrs Evelyn Dives of Cecily Hill, and there was a meeting in the Bingham Hall. But as most of the seat cost 2s.6p, it is easy to see that few working people were involved.   So the Suffrage movement soon began to fizzle out in Cirencester, as many of the key figures in the town did not give any support.   It was interesting for us, a hundred years later, to see Sue’s collection of photographs of these often brave ladies, and to hear of their struggles.   This report by Aileen Anderson was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 03 March 2016

 The Croome Memorial Lecture 2016:

Traditional Festivals of England by Prof Ronald Hutton   on 24 February 2016  

This annual free lecture was first held in 1969 and is jointly organised by Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society and Cirencester Civic Society.   This year the venue was Cirencester Parish Church and the event kindly sponsored by the Friends of the Parish Church. Once again it did not disappoint a fascinated audience.   Professor Ronald Hutton of the University of Bristol led us through a calendar of Traditional Festivals of England with eloquence and style, demonstrating his extensive research into folklore and the marking of significant events by pagan and then early Christian communities.   With him we were able to unravel some of the reasons behind modern celebrations, and observe the changes in emphasis as society and priorities changed through the millennia.   He explained how the natural world was the focus of the earliest festivals, with themes that included summer cleansing with fire, autumnal fun and fear with its mocking of the coming dark and communing with spirits, midwinter lights against the dark and gift-giving to welcome the increasing daylight, and then the springtime blessing of produce and animals.   Prof Hutton observed that misrule and a long period of feasting and relaxation could only happen in the mud and dark of winter when communities felt safer from attack, and that romance and love were better celebrated in warmer weather, when more comfortable privacy could be found in the hedgerows and meadows!   Although modern customs retain many of the basics despite the influence of the Victorians and more recently American culture, the speaker concluded that humanity has replaced nature; we put ourselves and escaping the workplace at the heart of our celebrations.   He pointed out as an example that the focus on family relationships at Christmas, and the New Year emphasis on adults and friends, can aggravate loneliness in many instead of bonding us in our communities alongside the natural world that sustains us. This report by Anne Buffoni was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 10 March 2016

Later reports are on the next page

Sep 2015 - David Brown

Oct 2015 - Tony Conder

Nov 2015 - John Looseley

Jan 2016 - Sue Jones

Feb 2016 - Croome Lecture - Ron Hutton

Mar 2016 - Mary Moxham

Mar 2016 - CA Lecture - Richard Buckley

Apr 2016 - Cirencester College Students Prize

Evening

May 2016 - John Putley

Reports for season 2014-5

© CAHS & contributors 2016-7 Registered Charity 287289
Cirencester Archaeological  & Historical Society

Reports of our lectures held

during 2015-6

If you would like to write up a report on a particular future talk, contact a committee member as early in the season as possible, as we arrange a rota to ensure that every talk is reported. We have reported our lectures in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard for many years. Each year for some years we have gathered these together at the end of each season and published them in late summer as one of our newsletters. If you should look through our past Lectures page or our publications pages, you can find which Newsletters have reports in them. Back copies of some of our Newsletters may be available on request from our editor. A copying charge may be made. Since 2014 we now only publish these reports online. We will keep paper copies solely for archive purposes. In general reports will appear online about a month after they have appeared in the Wilts & Glos Standard.

Berkeley Nuclear Power Station:

Construction, Operation &

Decommissioning

by David Brown on 09 September 2015

The combined audiences of Cirencester Science and Technology Society and Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society were provided with a fascinating brief history of the life cycle of the UK’s first fully operational nuclear generating station. The Berkeley Power Station was conceived in the early 1950s as a scaled up version of the trial installation at Calder Hall based on two reactors of the Magnox type with work starting on the site in 1957. The archive film that formed part of the lecture recorded the important stages of the construction process that culminated in plant commissioning in 1961 and full operation in 1962. With a maximum output in the order of 300MW the plant remained in operation, apart from a shutdown in 1983, until final closure in March 1989. During its working life, spanning a little over a quarter of a century, Berkeley Power Station produced approximately 40 billion units of electricity at an initial capital cost of approximately £36m. Most of the lecture described the long process of de-commissioning that started with the de- fuelling operation that took place between 1989 and 1992. This was followed by the “Safestore” period between 1993 and 2010 and the removal of the massive boilers in 2012-2013. The period required for first stage radioactive decay is estimated to be some 70 years after final shutdown in the late 21st century. The speaker stressed the importance of the lessons that should be learned from the careful documentation of the whole process of building, operating and closing down the UK’s first commercial nuclear power station. Not the least of these lessons is the need to retain a suitable number of core staff whose knowledge of the operation of plant and accumulated experience is vital in the final de-commissioning stage in the life cycle of nuclear installations. The lecture demonstrated the important role that Berkeley has played in the development of our knowledge in the management of nuclear plants from start to finish. This report by CS&TS was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 17 September 2015

Tales from Gloucestershire Railways by

Tony Conder on 28 October 2015  

Tony Conder has worked for many years in museums and archives and was Curator of the British Waterways Collection for 25 years after coming to Gloucester in 1988 to open the National Waterways Museum in the city docks. He has extensively researched the canal and railway history of the county and used his in-depth knowledge to give a fascinating insight into its railway network.   He showed how the pattern of railways developed, the core part of which survives in use today, explained the competition between the Midland Railway and the Great Western Railway to extend their influence, and in particular the pinch-point of competition between them in and around Gloucester.   Tony also had a good look at the quite intensive pattern of railways throughout the Forest of Dean, intended to exploit the area’s industrial resources, and by contrast the various cross- country routes across the Cotswolds, which have also largely disappeared.   There was a nod to Cirencester’s two stations, Town and Watermoor, serving quite distinct routes, with the town station still standing as a silent reminder of the ways things once were.   The point was well made that the Beeching cuts of the 1960s were not an isolated experience, but an accelerated part of a much longer process of railway closures and contraction as lines became increasingly uneconomic. A good part of this was essentially the legacy of wartime neglect of infrastructure and the changing habits of the population from the later 1950s onwards.   Today’s much slimmed-down railway network nevertheless still continues to represent the county’s transport needs, at least between the major centres of population and beyond. David Viner

The History of Allotments in

Gloucestershire by John Loosley on 25

November 2015  

The Society’s final lecture of 2015 was given by John Loosley on a topic he has been researching for a number of years. It is well known that the allotment movement in Britain really took off as a result of both world wars. After the 1914-18 war land was allocated to returning servicemen. In World War Two disruption to shipping necessitated national self- sufficiency in food production, hence the slogan, ‘Dig for Victory’. But the allotment movement goes back much further, with its origins in the late 18th  century. In Gloucestershire in 1797 land for allotments for poor cottagers was provided in Long Newnton and Shipton Moyne by Mr Estcourt.  A few other landowners followed his lead and improved nutrition and a significant drop in applications for Poor Relief was noted. As a result of the Industrial Revolution and urbanisation, malnutrition became widespread.   In 1830 a London surgeon founded the Labourers’ Friendly Society and landowners were persuaded to allocate land to be rented to cottagers, thus enabling them to grow food for their families.   The aim of the Society was to improve the living standards of the poor and to reduce ‘drunken dissipation’.  A monthly publication was circulated and rules drawn up; these included quarterly payment of rent, banning use of a plough, digging with a spade and to keep at least one pig per allotment.   Agents were employed to travel the country, encouraging landowners to subscribe and provide land. In 1833 Mr Perry, the local agent, visited Stroud and Uley, where 33 acres were made available. Gradually the movement gained momentum.   Colonel Kingscote supplied seed potatoes, poles for pigsties were donated, and loans made to provide for purchase of pigs. In November 1833 Mr Perry came to Cirencester.  Mr Blackwell of Ampney Park chaired a meeting and a local committee was formed.   Farmers were suspicious of these developments, fearing their labourers’ independence, but a dramatic reduction in crime ensued as men spent less time in the beer shops. Rent was generally paid regularly and very few gave up their allotments. The Smallholdings and Allotments Act of 1908 placed a duty on local authorities to provide land for allotments according to need but a massive increase occurred at the end of the First World War.   The speaker was warmly thanked on behalf of the Society for a most interesting lecture.   This report by Kathleen Lindesay was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 07 January 2016

 Women’s Suffrage and the Cotswolds by

Sue Jones  on 27 January 2016  

The timing couldn’t have been better for the Society’s talk on Women’s Suffrage and the Cotswolds as the popular film Suffragette is receiving glowing reviews.   So Sue Jones’ illustrated talk bringing the subject to the local area was viewed with great interest.   Sue explained that she had developed an interest in the Suffragette movement after hearing stories from an aunt about a lady who had actually tried to poison Lloyd George.   When Sue returned to the Cotswolds, she began to research the Women’s suffrage movement in this area where there were a number of well- educated and often economically independent ladies including the well-known Dorothea Beale at Cheltenham Ladies College.   She explained that not all those in favour of women’s suffrage were suffragettes; the non – militant suffragists often had their peaceful rallies attacked because of the violence of the militants.   There was probably a society in Cirencester at the end of the 19th century, but there is little evidence of this.   However, in 1911 Mrs Pankhurst herself did come to Cirencester, and Sue had a wonderful picture of her in the car she was presented with – decorated in purple, white and green, the movement’s colours, on her release from prison. Her visit had been arranged by Ada Flatman, who lodged in Ashcroft Villas.   Drawing room meetings were held by ladies including Mrs Melville of Stratton House, and Mrs Evelyn Dives of Cecily Hill, and there was a meeting in the Bingham Hall. But as most of the seat cost 2s.6p, it is easy to see that few working people were involved.   So the Suffrage movement soon began to fizzle out in Cirencester, as many of the key figures in the town did not give any support.   It was interesting for us, a hundred years later, to see Sue’s collection of photographs of these often brave ladies, and to hear of their struggles.   This report by Aileen Anderson was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 03 March 2016

 The Croome Memorial Lecture 2016:

Traditional Festivals of England by Prof

Ronald Hutton   on 24 February 2016  

This annual free lecture was first held in 1969 and is jointly organised by Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society and Cirencester Civic Society.   This year the venue was Cirencester Parish Church and the event kindly sponsored by the Friends of the Parish Church. Once again it did not disappoint a fascinated audience.   Professor Ronald Hutton of the University of Bristol led us through a calendar of Traditional Festivals of England with eloquence and style, demonstrating his extensive research into folklore and the marking of significant events by pagan and then early Christian communities.   With him we were able to unravel some of the reasons behind modern celebrations, and observe the changes in emphasis as society and priorities changed through the millennia.   He explained how the natural world was the focus of the earliest festivals, with themes that included summer cleansing with fire, autumnal fun and fear with its mocking of the coming dark and communing with spirits, midwinter lights against the dark and gift-giving to welcome the increasing daylight, and then the springtime blessing of produce and animals.   Prof Hutton observed that misrule and a long period of feasting and relaxation could only happen in the mud and dark of winter when communities felt safer from attack, and that romance and love were better celebrated in warmer weather, when more comfortable privacy could be found in the hedgerows and meadows!   Although modern customs retain many of the basics despite the influence of the Victorians and more recently American culture, the speaker concluded that humanity has replaced nature; we put ourselves and escaping the workplace at the heart of our celebrations.   He pointed out as an example that the focus on family relationships at Christmas, and the New Year emphasis on adults and friends, can aggravate loneliness in many instead of bonding us in our communities alongside the natural world that sustains us. This report by Anne Buffoni was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 10 March 2016

Later reports are on the next page

Sep 2015 - David Brown

Oct 2015 - Tony Conder

Nov 2015 - John Looseley

Jan 2016 - Sue Jones

Feb 2016 - Croome Lecture -

Ron Hutton

Mar 2016 - Mary Moxham

Mar 2016 - CA Lecture - Richard

Buckley

Apr 2016 - Cirencester College

Students Prize Evening

May 2016 - John Putley

Reports for season 2014-5