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History Month Fact 26: Open Fields

Around 1820 the last of Thatcham's open fields are enclosed under the Enclosure Award of 1817. The Award is made mainly on the basis that it will lead to better farming practice. However, the enclosures become one of the main causes of rural unemployment and depopulation...Read more

History Month Fact 25: Bluecoat Boys

In 1819 Forty boys in the Bluecoat School are clothed and educated under the terms of the Lady Frances Winchcombe trust. A further 40 to 50 boys are educated on payment of a small subscription. All are taught reading writing and arithmetic.Read more

History Month Fact 24: Local Industry

A rather specialised local industry was that of making sacks, rope and twine. This was carried out in a small factory of Carter and Son at Newtown along the Bath Road to the west of the village near St Johns Road. Here Albert Carter employed a total of ten (three men, two boys, three women and two girls).Read more

History Month Fact 23: Local Government

Local government in the 1880's was a rare source of employment, so much that the only full time representative was W M Draper who lived in The Broadway. He was Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages. He was also Relieving Officer, which meant that he was personally involved in distributing charity to those in need, as well as being Vaccination Officer and School Attendance Officer...Read more

History Month Fact 22: Charles Wheeler

During the 1880’s there were about half a dozen smithies in the parish, probably the largest was that of Charles Wheeler near the King's Head in the Broadway (or Broad Street as it was then known). He employed three men who were probably members of his family, Charles, George and William...Read more

History Month Fact 21: Building Firms

In 1881 the census lists only two building firms in Thatcham. One was run by the Bailey family of Crown Street. It comprised Mrs Jane Bailey, a widow, her daughter and two sons. They employed nine 'mechanics', three boys and seven labourers; and is described later as 'builder, undertaker, contractor and timber merchant...Read more

History Month Fact 20: Starving Children

To aid the children in the hard times of 1886, some 250 children were fed at a special children’s dinner party with cold boiled beef, hot potatoes, hot carrots and bread at the Infant School-room. They devoured 130 lbs. of beef, four bushels of potatoes, a bushel of carrots and twelve gallons of bread.Read more

History Month Fact 19: Hard Times

The winter months of 1886 not only being harsh with the weather but also economy created problems for the people of Thactham. One extract from the NWN (28th January 1886) shows to what extent – “A man, his wife and four children were last week endeavouring by singing in Chapel Street to induce the villagers to extend their charity towards them. Three Bluecoat boys came along, Carter, Wells and Maccabee by name. Two of the three gave a copper to the singers, and the third sacrificed his dinner for the benefit of the apparently starving children.”Read more

History Month Fact 18: William Northway

William Northway, in his will dated 25th November, 1820, left to the churchwardens and overseers of the parish of Thatcham a large the sum of money. The income from this, he directed this should be divided in two halves and paid out annually; one half was to be distributed equally between the three oldest single poor men of the parish, and the other half was to be spent on providing bread for the poor of the parish.Read more

History Month Fact 17: Population and employment

By 1851 Thatcham had a population of 2,861, and although many of its inhabitants still worked on the land, others were now employed in such industries as wood-turning (carried on by firms like Brown's and Pinnocks in the Broadway) and paper-making (carried on at Colthrop Mills)...Read more