History of the Newmarket Local History Society

Prior to our Society there was a History Workshop in the town, co-ordinated by Joan Shaw. This had come about by way of a meeting at Belstead House entitled "History Circus". The organiser, David Penrose, the County History Advisor, "volunteered" Joan Shaw for the task of organising a Newmarket History Workshop. It appears they had their first meeting in 1976. By November 1977 they sent out their 1st newsletter, having held 7 meetings. Mostly consisting of members of the teaching profession, others were able to join. Some resources were available for a half term loan and were held at the Teachers Centre.

The origins of our current Society however originated as the result of an Adult Education Evening Class run by Suffolk County Council held at Scaltback Middle School in Sept 1983.
The tutor was Mary Basham with 18 folk signed up for her East Anglia Social History Course. They were given projects to research and write about.The articles were considered good enough to produce a book, "A Look Back at Newmarket". It was published with the help of sponsors obtained by Peter Lee, the then head of Adult Education at Foley House.
The book was launched at Foley House on May 8 1984. The pupils efforts were acknowledged by the Newmarket Journal 10 May 1984 and the Newmarket Weekly ( same date) also the East Anglian Times 10 May 1984.

back row -Diane Jones-Beryl Mason-Joe Moore-Ian Nelson
middle row - Christine Rawlinson-Tim Sayers-Robin Herridge-Joan Walker
front row - Eric Dunning-Mary Basham (tutor)- Elaine Lee

So the idea of forming a History Group was born - The Newmarket Local History Group
Several people who were in the class expressed interest in forming a local history group. They met at Robin Herridge's house in Pump Alley, Park Lane. They were Robin Herridge..Eric Dunning..Diane Jones..Elaine Lee..Beryl Mason..Joe Moore..Ian Nelson.. Christine Rawlinson...Joan Walker
Peter Norman was not a member of the class but was asked if he would like to join.

They met at Robin Herridge's house every month.

Robin was voted Chairman with Eric Dunning as vice chairman. Joe Moore was treasurer and Beryl Mason was secretary. A constitution was drawn up and a bank account opened, 2 signatures (Chairman and Treasurer) to sign cheques. The Committee to be kept small to avoid prolonged delays.

One of the aims was to promote Newmarket's unique history and to contact and interact with other local history groups. There were to be indoor meetings in winter months and outdoor visits in summer. Committee meetings were held in members homes, helped by the fact that it was a small Committee

Peter Norman was invited to join the committee as official Photographer as he had been collecting Old Photos of Newmarket, he accepted and has played a part in the Society ever since giving his first slide show from his collection of Old Newmarket pictures to the club in Oct 1985.

The first meeting took place at the Cricket Club but that was soon outgrown and the move was made first to the British Legion Club in Park Lane and then to the Stable in the High Street, where it remains to this day. The Annual General Meeting and presentation of the audited accounts took place every autumn

Robin Herridge was the driving force behind the formation of the group not to say the others have not made great contributions too. Joan Walker was a stalwart in running the raffles, she never missed any one. Not forgetting the tea ladies working behind the scenes

1994 celebration of founding of Society
Eric Dunning.. Joan Walker..Peter Norman.. Tim Sayers..Joe Moore.. Diane Jones.. Robin Herridge..Beryl Mason

When Robin Herridge left the town, Eric Dunning took over until he retired in 2012 when Sandra Easom became the Chair. Sadly Eric died in August 2013
When Joe Moore retired as Treasurer, Les Jewell took over and when he retired Joan Watkinson became treasurer. When Beryl Mason retired as Secretary, first Gillian Brown and then, for two years Rosemary Jones (née Bonham) took over, followed by Rosemary Foreman and now the present Secretary is Abigail Brand. Wendy Walker is now the Vice Chair.

The Name was changed by popular vote to the Newmarket Local History Society on 19th April 1994

In 2002 Rodney Vincent, a "silver surfer" designed a website for the Society, spending many hours over the years to keep this self same website running, until his death at the age of 93 in April 2020

Bill Smith was researching for the Society when that meant travelling to Bury Records Office for much of the time, and scouring the pages of the Newmarket Journal. Now it is he and son Andrew who look after the raffle at each meeting.

Websites seemingly are the forte of David Rippington who is still working on his history of the High Street shops (www.newmarketshops.info) and Tony Pringle, before taking over this website from Rodney Vincent, had produced www.undyingmemory.net (a record of the history of every name on all the war memorials from Brandon down to Ridgewell and Timworth across to Lode) and a compilation of members research into all the pubs, clubs and hotels in Newmarket (www,newmarketpubs.co.uk)

Sadly much of the archived minutes and artefacts have been lost. Perhaps due to the lack of permanent storage, the Society still has not got a permanent home. We do have the use of several cabinets in the Memorial Hall and recently a room behind the stage. This has resulted in people having to store things at home, ending up in a shed or garage. When they move or die usually it is a mad rush to move things and some get lost.

There are few original committee members still alive. It would be a fitting tribute to their early work if their principles of the constitution and monthly meetings and interaction with other History Societies devised in 1984 were to continue. One problem with the interaction with other local Societies is the fact that they all seem to have elected to hold their meetings on the same evening

Beryl Mason and Peter Norman..... Founder Members

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