Face-to-face talks resume

With additional precautions in place including mask-wearing, social distancing and good airflow we have managed to hold two face-to-face meetings this year.


Our October speaker meeting, the first face-to-face speaker meeting held since February 2020, was presented by Sue Ellis on the topic of Dunkirk. It was noted that although everyone says Dunkirk the actual evacuation covered a wider area. The evacuation of soldiers used a range of vessels including 17 from the RNLI. Others included the Sundowner, a yacht formerly owned by Charles Lightoller, the second officer of RMS Titanic. The Sundowner alone brought back 120 soldiers. The SS Clan Macalister was the largest vessel to be involved although sank in shallow waters. The operation managed to rescue 98,780 soldiers from the beaches and a further 239,446 from the harbour areas with some 70,000 soldiers left behind, many becoming prisoners of war.

History of Cold Ash

Our final face-to-face meeting of the year, saw local historian Tony Higgott present the history of Cold Ash. Tony started the talk by showing the parish boundaries. There has been human activity within Cold Ash going back thousands of years. Evidence of this can be seen in Ramsbury Corner, a Hill Fort along with Bronze Age finds near the Castle Pub. Activity from the Roman period has also been recorded.

Thatcham parish boundaries. From S. Barfield, 1901.
Thatcham parish boundaries. From S. Barfield, 1901.

Cold Ash itself was within the Thatcham Parish boundary and was served by Thatcham Parish Church. Although it is known people were in the area the first known mention of Cold Ash itself is from the 16th century. One of those records is in the Thatcham parish records where it notes the burial of Richard Brown, Gent of Cold Ash, on 13th June 1594. At the time settlement in the area was sparse.

The Rev. Bacon and his daughter Gertrude were discussed, both science pioneers often taking dangerous adventures in gas balloons. Collaroy Road was shown to appear in the 1841 Tithe map but then was simply labelled New Road. Photographs from around Cold Ash were shown including Northcroft Farm, perhaps a mistranslation as it was once Northway’s Farm. The Children’s hospital, used for those with respiratory problems was shown and Hill House which became a children’s home.