Clubs & Societies

LOCAL HISTORY GROUP – ADVANCE NOTICE

May 1, 2016

On June 30th we are planning for a talk by Mark Palethorpe about the eve of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago.

If you have any mementoes of your father/grandfather dating from that time, please let Mark know and we would be pleased to either display them that evening, or to find out from you the story attached to the item. You can contact either Mark or Audrey (850427). The next ordinary meeting is on May 10th in the history room, Parsonage Lane at 8pm.

CAMPANILE APPLICATION
The owners of Spring Cottage thank many people in the village who reacted very encouragingly to the idea of a campanile. We particularly appreciate the offer from the Church bell ringers to lay the bricks for the tower, from the Parish Council whom The Clerk predicts will be delighted with the improvement a campanile will bring to the village, from the Flying Squad who commented how it would improve the appearance of Greater Didcot, from two somewhat more mature village members who want to bungee jump from the top when it is finished. Other residents have asked if they can build one too – “Of course you can”, we say, “as long as ours remains the tallest.”

♫EWS FROM THE BLEWBURY BRASS BAND

Blewbury Brass Band is entering its busy summer season and both the Main and Learner Bands have been working hard rehearsing new music for our concerts and fete programme.

The Learner Band recently entertained shoppers in Didcot with a performance outside the Cornerstone. We played a lively programme of pop tunes, marches, spirituals and more and were treated to a fine display by some of our young soloists. We were joined by Dawkes Music and our Main Band musical director Ian Barlow, of brassinclass.com, who encouraged local youngsters to try an instrument. This proved very popular and will hopefully have attracted a few new players.

On Saturday 23rd April, both bands can be heard at our annual Spring Concert in Blewbury Village Hall at 7pm. This year, the concert falls on St George’s Day so we are playing music with an English theme including Floral Dance, the Standard of St George, Eleanor Rigby, the Vicar of Dibley and many more popular pieces. Tickets are available on the door priced £7 (adults), £5 (seniors), £1 (children).

This year, for the first time, the band will be competing at The Oxfordshire and District Brass Band Association Festival in Woodstock on Sunday 24th April. The band has developed and progressed over the last few years and the festival gives us a great opportunity to show other bands in the area what we have achieved. Our young players are competing in many of the junior sections and some of our experienced adult players will be representing the main band in the duet, quintet and ensemble classes. Hopefully, we should have a trophy or two by the end of the day.

If you would like to see the band, please come to our concert, or come and support us at Brightwalton fete on 1st May, at Wallingford Castle Gardens on 29th May and at Ticker’s Folly, Blewbury on 11th June. For more details, please visit our website on blewburybrassband.org.uk.

For details about joining the band, please visit our website: www.BlewburyBrassBand.org.uk

or contact Julian Gallop (chairman@blewburybrassband.org.uk, 07984 046731).

For tickets for any of the events please contact Lindsay Lott 07749050886.   Lindsay Lott

BLEWBURY’S SECRET SUFFRAGETTE?

March 21, 2016

In one corner of the Blewbury’s old cemetery in Boham’s Road are two fairly ordinary graves, which are the main reminder that the village has of two women, Gladys Hazel and Dr Gertrude Austin, who retired to Blewbury in the 1930s and lived in a newly built bungalow in Westbrook Street, with Gladys’s school age nephew, Peter Waterfield.

They lived there for over twenty years during which time Peter grew up, went to Oxford University, married the daughter of the Vicar of Didcot, and then left the village to pursue a career as a school teacher and head teacher. Peter, now in his 90s, lives in Cornwall. Just last year, to his amazement, he came across an old manuscript which turned out to be his Aunt Gladys’s memoirs. These memoirs reveal that, in her earlier life, she had been a very active, militant Suffragette. She was born in 1880 and had become a school teacher in Birmingham, when she was invited to a tea party, which was addressed by Emmeline Pankhurst sometime around 1908. Fairly soon after that she became heavily involved in the Suffragette movement, working in their offices in Birmingham, Leicester and Bristol over a period of several years. Passive campaigning led to more militant activity. On one occasion for example, she describes stepping into the middle of a road to obstruct a troop of mounted police during a visit to Birmingham by Asquith. The cavalcade was forced to part either side of her to great cheers and laughter from the assembled crowd. She calls it her “first taste of heady power” and writes: “I was immensely exhilarated”. Not all acts of defiance were as enjoyable. During the time she was in Holloway Prison, Gladys took part in a hunger strike and was force fed. In her memoirs she describes the occasion when the now famous Emily Wilding Davison attempted suicide in Holloway, trying to end the suffering and force feeding of others. “My cell door was open and a warden hurried to me calling: ‘Come quick!’ I followed her out to the gallery. And there was Emily Davison. She was sitting with her feet hanging down over the stairway her face closed and set. The warden said, ‘Speak to her and stop her doing it.’ I felt suddenly full of [emotion] and in a sort of rage and I said, ‘Why? She’ll be well out of it.’ And I turned away. I heard her fall and saw her lying across the steps as they hustled me into my cell.” Earlier in 1912 she had been involved in a demonstration in New Bond Street in London. She was arrested after smashing several windows of Asprey’s store, but while being led away by a burly policeman still managed according to his account in court to ‘break two more windows’. So this quiet old lady living in Westbrook Street from 1939-1959 had quite a colourful past campaigning for women’s rights, and it seems that no-one living in Blewbury at the time knew anything of her past. Her nephew has very fond memories of his time in the village, and is collaborating with the Local History Group to ensure that his aunt’s exploits on behalf of such an important cause are not forgotten. Anyone else with relevant information about Gladys and Gertrude is encouraged to contact the group. Roger and Elizabeth Murphy