Shared learning: Thatcham history

Many will know I love my local (Thatcham) history, that I run the website for Thatcham Historical Society and have several publications on local history. It still amazes me just how many queries we get from local school children (or rather the parents) when the shared learning comes around. It is nice to see the local schools keeping the children in touch with local history and seeing some of the children getting really enthused on the topic is fantastic. I do my best to answer all queries, I help where I can, I respond as fast as I can but be aware I do so for free, am a volunteer and so can't gaurantee a fast reply.

If you are researching the history of Thatcham there are a lot of resources in both Thatcham and Newbury libraries. Look for:

  • Thatcham, Berks and its manors by Samuel Barfield
  • A History of Thatcham by Peter Allen
  • Thatcham a changing community by Peter Allen
  • Thatcham: an historic town in a changing world by Nick Young, Sue Broughton, Peter Allen and Tony Higgott
  • Thatcham Then and Now by Nick Young

If in doubt ask the librarian. As I said I will do my best to answer emails but they may take a while. I will reply but also put common queries up here. So the first two are:

1. Why is the railway station not near the town centre?

Miss Fromont is credited with the location of the station. She used to run the King's Head Inn and then moved to Thatcham farm. The land associated with the farm stretch a considerable way towards the canal/river. Miss Fromont didn't want the railway closer for a number of reasons. I dare say it would have meant a part of her land would be one side of the railway and the rest the other. There was a worry about it scaring animals as well. Miss Fromont is the person directly responsible for having it placed do far away.

2. When did Thatcham cemetery open?

Thatcham parish churchyard closed for burials as it was getting full in the 1880s and thus a new burial ground was looked for. Land was purchased for a new cemetery in June 1886 and should have opened soon after. However there were major problems. The Church graveyard closed in March 1887 (with a few special exceptions) but the new cemetery did not open until September 1887 meaning there were no burials in Thatcham between April 1887 and September 1887. To make the problem worse the land was not consecrated until July 1888.

3. When was the first burial in the cemetery?

The earliest burial, that I am aware of, is for John Denness in September 1887. Others such as a child, called Dewe, and a Mr George Pearce were buried in November 1887.