2014-5 Chairman's Report

Post date: 24-Jun-2015 22:01:11

The past year has been a relatively unexciting one for the Society as we have, ingeneral, seen a decline in membership and a lower attendance at some of our

meetings. This, along with the abrupt halt in our archaeology project, has been

disappointing. On a more cheerful note we have enjoyed a number of interesting and entertaining presentations as well as the annual trip organised by Barbara which was in July last year and involved a guided tour of Haddenham followed by a visit to their village museum.

We've continued to work on our publications list and have reprinted at least two of

our titles during the year. We have also produced a small booklet which we like to

call the 1800's pub crawl. It's an inexpensive, short guided tour of the village pointing out eleven sites that are, or have been in the past, occupied by pubs or alehouses. Tessa Taylor's book on the history of the Reservoir remains a work in progress as it has been more difficult than anticipated to retrieve and reset the text. We were hoping, in fact, to expand the book with more illustrations and an additional section on the reservoir today as we felt this would improve the chance of selling it to other interest groups and present day users of the reservoir. This remains a possibility but it won't happen unless we get more help and assistance on this one as it involves a certain amount of leg work along with research.

As reported last year we still have our archive split between here, at the Village Hall, and in Wendover, at the John Collet School. During the year we took the archive inventory to Wendover and spent some time checking the items held there. It's still our aim to combine both halves of the archive but we are still struggling with the logistics as, although some of the material is duplicated and could therefore be discarded whilst holding on to the original, it would still need more storage room than we can, at the moment, find.

Our website continues to expand. New material includes further photo's of village scenes, along with postcards some of which have been transcribed giving an interesting perspective on the lives of our predecessors. Speaking of which another very recent addition is a living archive of the spoken word. This can be accessed on You Tube via a link on the website. It consists of a series of interviews carried out some years ago by Elaine Gibson with, I understand, the help of Linda Downey. Elaine interviewed some of the older residents of the village who can be heard recounting their memories of past times, the village and some of it's characters. The website is now our principal means of communication with the outside world and we are constantly surprised by the volume of questions and comments it creates. We continue to owe a huge debt to Adrian, our webmaster, for all the work he puts in to keep the website up-to-date and operating.

As you are, I'm sure, aware we now rely upon the internet to communicate with you, our members. I hope this is satisfactory to you all as it saves the Society quite a lot of money in terms of postage etc. but please let us know if it's a problem for you. We continue to publicise our activities in the Weston Turville Times, Horizon, Bucks Herald, Mix 96 etc.

Although we are not in any way a pressure group I would like to comment on a couple of issues about which we have had some input. Since our last AGM the Hampden Fields planning application was turned down. We, as a Society, were asked to give our opinion on the plan and made representation at the hearings in Aylesbury objecting to the proposal as we felt it would be detrimental to the village and destroy it's individuality. Much of the presentation relied upon the unique history of the village and I like to think that we helped, in some small way to see off the plan. We need to remain vigilant, however, as it may well reappear in another guise. We are less likely to have any success with HS2 and this project seems destined to go ahead. The impact of the project on our area is, I think, well understood but having attended the conference in May entitled 'HS2: Heritage on the Line' I am aware of the amount of archaeological and architectural heritage we will lose. The conference was held by the Buckinghamshire Archeological Society and the main thrust was to make sure we have a plan in place to preserve as much of that heritage as we can. Clearly as the project is rolled out the amount of material that will be exposed is likely to be enormous and we may well be able to assist in some of the work. It would also be a good time to join the Buckinghamshire Archeological Society in order to keep up to speed and informed.

It is a matter of concern that we've lost four committee members in the last couple of years and only had one addition. If this continues the society will no longer be viable. I've mentioned this a number of times at the monthly meetings and asked for volunteers but to no avail. If we wish to keep this society alive we must have new

members. Please think carefully about this and come forward if you are able to help or if you know somebody who you think could serve on the committee.

Finally, as we close another year, I would like to thank my fellow committee members for their contribution to the Society. Specifically: Glynn White for keeping us in order as Secretary. Adrian Randall who, as mentioned, created and looks after our website. Barbara for dealing so efficiently with our visits. Odette for looking after our finances and consequently keeping us afloat. Mick who has contributed his book of memoirs and is a mine of information and, of course, John Caudery who has provided us with tea, coffee and biscuits for so many years. I purposely left mention of John until last as he is not standing for re-election to the committee and I wanted to add particular thanks to him for his commitment, help and advice over his long period of service. He will be missed on the committee as he is a life long resident of the village. His unparalleled knowledge of local affairs has been extremely valuable to the committee. So from us all - thank you John.