A good time was had by all at our Spring Conference at Bromham Social Centre on Saturday, 7th May.
As you may know, the topic was a thirst quenching ‘Ale & Beer in the Community’.
Our Editor Mike Marshman, aka the County Local History Librarian at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, kicked off with an interesting look at the origins of brewing in the UK. We discovered how it changed from very much a home, female-centred task into a trade occupation.
The story then turned to inns and public houses in the 18th century with Robert Jago providing some fascinating and often highly amusing details of Wiltshire pubs from archival sources. You’d be surprised to hear that the entrepreneurial landlord was very much in evidence 300 years ago!
Our AGM was held during the first part of the lunch break, where Claire Skinner was inaugurated as Chairperson. We also welcomed Mary Ross-Gower as a new committee member and I was elected as the new webmaster (many thanks to my predecessor Allan Francis). Claire is Principal Archivist at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, and advised that her appointment would necessitate more dovetailing between WLHF and the Centre, as already happens in other counties such as Dorset. It was agreed by those attending that this would be the best way forward to ensure the long-term survival of the society.
After lunch, Colin Oak the Head Brewer at Wadworths in Devizes kindly gave us a pictorial guide around the brewery whilst providing an interesting explanation of the brewing process. He did such a good job, we were all keen to try some of the brews, but unfortunately samples were only available at the local pub…
The finale was another enlightening talk by Mike, this time on the origins of pub names followed by a question and answer double act with Robert.
Many thanks to Alderbury & Whaddon Local History & Research Group who brought along some of their recent publications, including one on brewing which was extremely apt, to former WLHF Treasurer Sandra Bates of the Warminster History Society who provided us with some hop samples and photographs of the Warminster brewery, to Denis Powney of the Bromham Area History Group who brought along his new publication 'Their Name Liveth for Evermore: Remembering the Men from the Bromham Neighbourhood of Wiltshire Who Died in the Great War, 1914-1921’, and to Jane Howells who manned a stall for the British Local History Society and the Sarum Chronicle, with the chance to purchase a range of publications.
It was great to get together with people from all over the county; to catch up, share news and learn more – can’t wait for the next event in autumn!