Fairford History Society 2021-22 Programme
Please do not attend meetings unless you have had both Covid vaccinations. Social distancing in the Farmor Room is not practical, but there will be as much ventilation as possible. You may feel more comfortable wearing a mask. All meetings start at 7.30 pm in the Farmor Room except for the February meeting which is at 10am
January 20: The Legacy of the Cotswold Wool Merchants by Chris Hobson (Chris has been asked to give a talk to the Richard III Society in June 2022 this is a rehearsal and will include the Tames of Fairford)
February 24; the fourth Thursday – daytime meeting at 10 am as half term is not the 3rd week in February – Edwin Cuss on Fairford Farms
March 17: Lechlade History Society, Marian Winckles: History of Lechlade
April 21 Eric Jones: The Grand Drain: Fairford’s contribution to agricultural historyMay 19: Liz Davenport: Woodchester Mansion – an Unfinished Masterpiece
June 16: AGM followed by Show and Tell
No meetings in July and August
Meetings from September 2021
October 21: Frank Hornby: the story of Hornby and Meccano by David Nathan
David Nathan gave an interesting and informative talk on the toy manufacturer Frank Hornby (1863-1936), the inventor of Meccano and Hornby Trains and subsequently Dinky Toys.
Frank was a bookkeeper but his passion was to create educative toys for boys. He started making a construction toy for his sons out of metal and soon realised if the parts were made interchangeable then the building of complex mechanisms was fairly simple. His first toys were marketed as Mechanics Made easy but the name was change to Meccano in 1908.
What came across in the talk was that he was a brilliant entrepreneur, starting off small in the early 1900s and gradually building the business until he had large factories and sold his products all over the world. He was able to see the change in markets adapting to different social circumstances of the early decades of the twentieth century. He worked out that it was more profitable to have only one retailer per a certain proportion of the population and to these retailers he ‘sold’ good-looking display cases to show the products off to the best effect, which was very appealing to small boys and their parents. It is interesting that Meccano has still kept to Imperial measurements of the early pieces but today is being made in France and owned by a Canadian company.
Around 1920 the Hornby clockwork ‘O’ Gauge enamelled trains and accessories were introduced which later developed into electric train sets. These train sets were very popular but required a lot of space, post-war houses were not so large and in 1938 the table-top Horny Dublo ‘OO’ model railway system was introduced.
In the early 1930s Dinky Toys die cast miniature model cars were produced. There were difficulties with the type of metal being used and during the Second World War metal toys were not made due metal being required for armaments so Dinky Toys did not really take off until after until after the war.
Frank died in 1936 and his son Roland took over the business, however he was not such a progressive thinker as he is father and was slow to convert to plastic materials. The firm went from a healthy profit to a serious debt and was sold in 1964 to Tri-ang.
David Nathan brought along a number of items for members to look out, including books and the very interesting Meccano magazines. It was certainly a talk that brought back memories of childhood for many of the audience.
September 16: AGM followed by The remaining treasures of Fairford Park by Syd Flatman See Fairford Flyer No 34
Meeting reports September to November 2019
James Harris from the Corinium Museum opened the season with a very interesting talk of the archaeological finds in the area. There is a wide range of finds in the local area from Early Mesolithic, Early Prehistoric, Neolithic (the only Neolithic burial in the Cotswolds was found at the Home Farm site) through to Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Anglo- Saxon. At Horcott Quarry there was evidence of an Iron Age Settlement, a Roman homestead, with a c AD 250–350 cemetery nearby and also an Anglo-Saxon settlement with a hall and sunken feature buildings. This corresponded with the Anglo-Saxon Graves found mid-19th century near the Quenington Road. Post-meeting James queried the site of the Fairford Anglo-Saxon graves marked on the OS map as an SSSI. The more likely site is west of the Quenington road in a field called Waterslade and under West End Gardens. In 2007/8 members of FHS were able to visit the Horcott Quarry site while it was being excavated. Archaeological evidence was also found on the former Coln House School lands and the field west of Horcott road, including evidence of a round barrow.
In October Edwin Cuss took us on a tour of the former shops in the town when Fairford was far more self sufficient that it is today. Edmonds the department store was in the High Street, with H M Powell, draper and Baldwin’s hardware shop, which later became Peymans. The talk had been given before in 2009. At that time the road through Fairford was closed and members were able to enjoy a traffic-free tour to see the sites of the former shops. As always it was a pleasure to see the old Fairford pictures.
There was a change of topic away from Fairford in November when the excellent speaker Paul Barnett took us on a whistle stop tour of the Sharpness to Gloucester canal describing the former industrial buildings at the Sharpness end of the canal and how and why they were built. The canal itself was built because of the tidal nature of the River Severn with its changing sandbanks and dangerous currents. Along the canal we saw the remains of the Severn Railway Bridge which was demolished after two barges collided with the bridge in very bad weather in 1960, resulting in 5 fatalities. Then up to Purton where is the phenomenon of the ‘Purton Hulks’, boats that were driven on to the banks of the river to help prevent erosion. Then on to Gloucester showing former warehouses, boats and the rejuvenation of the Gloucester quays. It must be an impressive sight to see the tall ships at the annual Gloucester festival.
Fairford Carnival: the final years 1953-56 21 February 2019
Edwin Cuss gave an excellent PowerPoint presentation to about 50 FHS members and visitors at the February morning meeting. There was also some audience participation which involved the singing of ‘Daisy, Daisy’ and ‘Tom Pearse, Tom Pearse’. Both songs were portrayed by carnival floats.
After World War 2 the National Health Service came into being and funded Fairford Hospital, so there was no longer the urgent need for raising money. However, it was Coronation Year, 1953 which gave impetus to restart the Carnival and there was as much dedication, inventiveness and ingenuity as before. The Band Contest continued with bands coming from all over the country. The arena events continued with the many participants such as the USAF Drum and Bugle Band and the Household Cavalry Musical Ride for example.
Members enjoyed the carnival floats and other pictures with some of them owning up to actually being in the photographs, albeit somewhat younger!
However in 1956 it rained and rained, the crowds did not come and there were some pictures of very bedraggled performers and floats. For the first time the Carnival made a loss, which was difficult to recoup, so as a result in 1958 the Carnival Committee sold off the equipment and the Carnival never restarted.
- Show and Tell – 18 January 2018
- Craftsman’s Art and Music’s Measure – 14 September 2017
- Fairford Heritage Open Day – 9 September 2017
- May 19 2016: The Young Laurie Lee by Howard Beard and 16 June 2016: AGM followed by Highwaymen by John Putley
- April 21 2016: The Bells of St Mary’s by Peter Harris, Tower Captain
- March 17 2016: Tudor Medicine by Cherry Hubbard
- February 17 2016: Along the River Coln by Edwin Cuss
- November 19 2015: Those adventurous Cowleys by Chris Barrett
- October 15 2015: Magna Carta by Tim Porter
- September 17 2015: The Upper Thames Patrol
- Thursday April 16th 2015: Letters from St Helena
- Thursday March 19th 2015: On the run behind the lines (WW2)
- Thursday February 19th 2015: Fairford in close-up
- Thursday November 20th 2014 : House Deeds
- Thursday October 16th 2014: The Black Death comes to England
- Thursday September 18th 2014: Industrial Heritage of the Cotswolds
- Thursday June 19 2014: AGM, Show and Tell and FHS’s 10th Anniversary
- Thursday May 15th 2014: From Swinedown to Swindon
- March 20th 2014: Dad’s Underground Army by Bill King
- February 20th 2014: Fairford Farms by Edwin Cuss and Chris Peachey
- Novenber 21st 2013: The Gloucestershire Regiment in World War 1 by Graham Gordon of the Soldiers of Gloucesershire Museum
- October 17th 2013: Anglo Saxon Gloucestershire by Carolyn Heighway
- September 19th 2013: Fairford Park: a lost treasure / The Tames of Fairford
- June 20th 2013 : AGM 2013 Early postcards: a local history resource?
- May 16th 2013 : Old Paths of Gloucestershire
- April 18th 2013: Chedworth Roman Villa by Dr Nick Humphris
- March 21st 2013: Come and meet Mr Therm! by John Lang
- February 14th 2013: Churches and Chapels by Edwin Cuss
- November 22nd 2012: In ffaireforde aforesaid by Alison Hobson and Sue Middleton
- October 18th 2012: Aviation Heritage in the Cotswolds by Graham Pitchfork