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Newmarket Local History Society (page 3)


Frederick Archer Probably the most famous jockey in Newmarket's racing history shot himself in 1886 at the age of only 29, during a fit of depression after the deaths of his baby son and then his young wife.
Fred Archer became a national hero due to his personality and remarkable riding career. He rode 2,748 winners in 8,084 races between 1870 and 1886, including 21 classic winners. His death caused grieving across the land as well as abroad.
The family grave and memorial stone are in Newmarket cemetery.
A special Personality Page of this website is devoted to Fred Archer
select here
More information about Fred's remarkable career and the circumstances surrounding his death are available online, thanks to the research done by Cambridgeshire families historian Mr. Geoffrey Woollard. To access select here

Captain Barclay and Richard Dunwoody
In 2009 Champion jockey, explorer and BBC presenter Richard Dunwoody met a challenge first taken on by Captain Robert Barclay in 1809, which was to walk 1000 miles in 1000 hours. Capt. Barclay did it for a wager of 1000 guineas but Richard Dunwoody raised money for various charities. Both walks were carried out in Newmarket town over a repeat course. More about this remarkable feat is available on the internet by searching for 'Captain Barclay'.

Newmarket Congregational Church
The Church used to stand in the middle of the High Street but in the mid 20th century it amalgamated with Christchurch, the Methodist Church at St Mary's Square. The building is now ocupied by The Stable, a meeting hall and morning cafe, although it is still church property. We have a history of the Congregational Church compiled by George Ginn and this can be accessed on application to Newmarket Local History Society via this site.

The Tragic Burwell Fire of 1727
Eighty persons died when a barn caught fire in Burwell. To read about it select here

Crime and Punishment in the 19th Century
Mark Jeffrey, once described as 'the great English burglar' was a local lad who turned to crime early in his life but spent the remainder of his days paying for his sins. Read about Mark's tragic life
select here

The Newmarket Poor Law Institution (Workhouse), Exning Road. The old workhouse closed in 1942 and became the White Lodge Hospital. The old residential block has been turned into modern apartments.
For an account of life as it was select here

Alex Henshaw MBE This famous aviator lived in Newmarket for the last 20 years of his life, for a profile select here

The Carlton Hotel During its various phases this distinguished building dominated Newmarket's High Street for more than a hundred years, until it was demolished in 1977. To read about the Carlton's chequered history go to The Slicentime website

Memories of the Home Guard
Out of the original 30 odd strong Wood Ditton & Saxon Street Home Guard platoon, not one survives to this day. To read Francis (Sonny) Cates memories of those wartime days
select here


    "Newmarket Remembers" Tony Pringle's major work launched August 2014 giving names and details of all known Newmarket casualties in two World Wars.
    January 15th 2018. At this date only one copy of this publication remains for sale - at Tindalls booksellers Newmarket, there are no plans for a reprint.
    "Exning Remembers" A NLHS publication launched November 14th 2013, compiled by Tomy Pringle and edited by Sandra Easom. This is a very detailed record of those from the village of Exning who lost their lives as a result of two World Wars.
    A number of copies have been donated to local organizations and all spare copies have been sold
    Feb 2016. Tony's research has now been brought together under one website
    Undying Memory

    "The Bombing of Newmarket" a major work by our Society published in 2011, edited by Sandra Easom. This is a well researched and illustrated book, A4 size 87 pages, containing many first-hand witness accounts of the 1941 bombing.
    January 2018 update. All copies of this original print have now been sold but it is hoped to produce a new version with some updating, Watch this space.

    June 2008. The Society's publication 'When Newmarket went to War'. This is an interesting little book well illustrated with pictures nd with personal accounts of people who remember Newmarket during WW II. It gives a real feel for the times and is available from Tindalls, High Street Newmarket.

    'The History of Newmarket & its Surrounding Areas'.
    July 2001 saw the launch by The Society of this major publication, compiled and edited by Sandra Easom and funded by a grant from the Millennium Awards for All (National Lottery). A condition of the grant was that copies would be distributed free to all local schools to provide a work of reference for studies on local history, now part of the national curriculum. Local libraries, Records Offices, relevant museums, personal contributors etc. also received copies.
    The two volumes that make up the book are packed with historical facts from earliest recorded times though to the 20th century, covering the origins of horseracing in the town and the influence of the royalty. The book is copiously illustrated with reproductions of old drawings, records, advertisments, photographs and has many personal reminiscences charting the people, the events and the buildings that have shaped the history of Newmarket and district. This is a unique work that took three years to compile and will continue in the future to form a valuable record for anyone interested in local history.
    Two complete sets of the two volume book are held by Newmarket Library for reference by the public and in addition one set is available for lending. For Society members a reference copy is also available in the Society's study room at the Memorial Hall (by appointment).
    Please note the book was not produced with the intention of going on general sale to the public. The two volumes are now out of print but n updated edition is being considered as is a version on CD. Watch this website for the latest position.

    Two other publications by The Society are included in The Schools Pack. 'One Afternoon in February' an illustrated booklet about the tragic bombing of Newmarket on February 18th 1941, and 'A Look at Five Newmarket Buildings' by Joan Shaw features five of the town's historic buildings. Both books are now out of print but may be borrowed from Newmarket Library.

    'A Racing Lad Steps Out' - the life and times of Newmarket character Billy Blythe published by the NLHS on 11th August 2006 and only available from our Society, price 4 (plus 2 if sent by post)
    Billy Blythe was born in Newmarket in 1893 and spent his early life working in local racing stables as a stable lad and jockey. This took him to Australia where he worked with sheep and horses and came to love the life.
    During the Great War he served with the Aussies in France where he survived the terrible fighting during the Somme offensive of 1916 and right up to the armistice. Perhaps it is indicitive of Billy's optimistic nature that he makes light of of this awful period and picks out some of the lighter incidents that came among the death and destruction.
    After the war ended he would have returned to his beloved Australia but for his wife 'Beat'(Beatrice) who did not wish to leave Newmarket.
    He had an eye for business and seeing that he could buy fresh fish very cheaply straight from Grimsby or Hull he decided to go into the fish trade. Over the next decade he set up several fish and chip shops in the locality, including perhaps the best remembered one in Market Street. Little Billy became a well known local character, very much in with the horse racing scene, and later greyhound racing.
    Before he died in 1988 he wrote an autobiography for his family, and his son Bob has passed it to us. It contains fascinating material about the life and times in Newmarket.

    Published November 2003. 'News from Newmarket 1800 - 1860' by former Society Vice Chairman David Occomore. Half a century of newspaper accounts of Newmarket, portraying life in the town in Victorian times. ISBN 0 86025 51 31. 9.95 plus 91p P&P from Ian Henry Publications Ltd, 20 Park Drive Romford Essex RM1 4LH Tel. 01708749119. On sale at Tindalls Newmarket or available through all good bookshops.

    June 2010. 'Along the Line' - A book on old local railways by former NLHS Vice Chairman David Occomore. It covers the rail connections between Newmarket, Cambridge, Ely and Bury St Edmunds over the period 1846 - 1914. Available from Tindalls Newmarket, or the Anglesey Abbey bookshop, price 8.50

    'The Changing Face of Newmarket' (1600 - 1760) by Peter May. 'Newmarket - Town & Turf' A pictorial tour of the town as it is today, containing many colour and monochrome pictures plus some historical background, edited by John Worrall and Rodney Vincent. Available from W.H.Smith 84-86 High Street Newmarket

    'Newmarket a photographic history of your town'. This book, edited by Society member Joan Shaw, contains many nice b/w pictures of Newmarket from the Frith Collection, mainly from the twenties and fifties decades, also available from W H Smith, 84-86 High Street Newmarket,Suffolk price 5.99.

  • The Society's book 'One Afternoon in February', about the 1941 bombing of Newmarket is now out of print, but members might be able to borrow a copy from the Society's library, open on meeting evenings.

    April 24th 2014. Sandra Easom has discovered on the internet a valuable document by Peter May, the well regarded Newmarket Historian. It is a potted history of Newmarket 500 years ago and was written prior to him publishing 'Newmarket Mediaeval & Tudor'. The document can now be read online select here
    Please be aware that this is a pdf. document so you will need Adobe Reader installed on your computer and it could take a while to load, depending on your connection speed.

    "A Tanner Will Do" by Newmarket Local History Society's Webmaster Rodney Vincent. A factual, but often humorous story of how the unchanging pattern of village life in the nineteen thirties faced up to the profound changes brought about by WWII. The village was Woodditton but it could have been any rural East Anglian village details here

    Mystery Places (or Things)

    Mystery No 26. Here we have a real puzzle picture. It was taken by a Newmarket photographer (Parr's of Palace Street) 1906 or earlier and is
    therefore likely to be a local scene. Two ladies seem to be the centre of interest and pose the question - could they have been women's rights activists?

    Auugust 2013. Local historian David Turner has come up with this answer: I can safely say that the mystery photo in which you say was taken locally and in which you suggest the women may be activists is actually the last toll being payed at Ness Rd Toll Burwell. There is another photo from a different perspective showing a marker post with an inscription giving its exact location in between Burwell and Fordham.

    Mystery No 27. Undoubtedly somewhere in Newmarket, but where?
    In the cafe garden at the rear of the Horseracing Museum, High Street

    Mystery No 28. Was this originally one of Newmarket's fine old houses, now very much part of the town's business world?
    Answer: The present day Lloyd's Bank building, High Street

    Mystery No 30. Another Newmarket clock tower, obviously a stable, but which one?
    See Correspondence pages May 2013

    Mystery No 31. Another horseracing venue
    Tony Pringle correctly identified this as taken from the Cafe at the National Stud

    Mystery No 32. Tony has sent this one in, an example of the interesting and varied Newmarket architecture of the late Victorian period.
    The old Gas Works house Exning Road, due for demolition.

    Mystery No 33. This building disappeared in the late 20th century, should be an easy one.

    Those who can remember Newmarket in the 1960s should have no difficulty in identifying the erection on the Clock Tower roundabout island seen in this picture select here

    Newmarket Local History Society - Committee Members (from 18th April 2017)
    Chair - Sandra Easom; Secretary - Abigael Brand; Treasurer - Joan Watkinson; Committee Members - Peter Norman, Joan Shaw, Wendy Walker and David Rippington
    Other supporters (non-committee members): Archivist - William Smith; webmaster - Rodney Vincent, researcher Tony Pringle.

    Contact Us
    E-mail your comments or queries to the Recorder/webmaster
    Please note if your PC does not have an e-mail link programme it will be necessary to send a normal e-mail.

    If you prefer to write please address any correspondence to Newmarket Local History Society, c/o Newmarket Town Council, Memorial Hall, High Street, Newmarket, Suffolk.

    Links to Related Sites
  • Sites of Local Interest

    And for some sites of National Historical interest...

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