Events 2024 


The NHS: Reform or Privatise?

Park Hall, Leyton Green, Harpenden AL5 2LX

Background Information:

BACKGROUND INFO: Marmot and Wanless Reviews 2020/21

Fiona Bruce knows a thing or two about Skateboarding.

TV presenter of Antiques Roadshow and newscaster Fiona presented a section recently about  Skateboarding from Clissold Park in Hackney.

A local veteran explained how it all began for him and friends back in the 60’s when roller skates were attached to wood boards, graduating on to Go Carts before making individually designed boards as forerunners of those today, Many of these are now ‘vintage boards’ as seen on the programme.

The art of boarding took place originally in industrial sites when closed before the demand for Park sites became the norm.

Skateboarding now isn’t just for the younger generation, there’s quite few oldies still on the scene,...Harpenden take note.

AT Society Golf Day – 18 April


Harpenden charity the AT Society is very excited to be holding a fundraising Golf Day at the championship Luton Hoo Golf Club on Thursday 18 April.  Fourball entry, on course competitions, raffle, auction, breakfast and hot buffet as well a fabulous day of golf!  Full details and sign up on the AT Society website or email We look forward to welcoming you!

Saturday April 13

United Nations Association  Harpenden.

The problems of governing a neoliberal Britain by Professor Gwyn Bevan, London School of Economics and Political Science, at the Salvation Army, Leyton Green, Harpenden AL5 2TG. After the talk, a few of us will be going for lunch with the speaker at Pasta Cibo. Register at

Harpenden History Society Announces Harpenden Local History Day on 20 April

With kind permission of the Eric Morecambe Centre, Harpenden, the Harpenden & District Local History Society, a charity, will be utilising the entire EMC for the day as Harpenden Local History Day, on Saturday 20 April, marking both the Society’s 50th anniversary and the official opening of our new Museum.

The event will be presided by Annie Brewster, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire 2024-25 (in Nomination).  Highlights to include exhibitions on the history of Harpenden and district, other local society exhibitions, a special children’s competition, and history talks throughout the day.  Further details will be released in due course.

2023 was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Harpenden & District Local History Society. It also, in December, witnessed the first opening to the public of our new Museum, amazingly with roots going back 100 years.  The first proper history of our Town was written, in conjunction with that of Wheathampstead, about 50 years ago and prompted the pioneers at the time to set up the Society, and later first Museum.  That Museum came to an end in 2003, testing the resilience of the small band of enthusiasts.

The continuing commitment and dedication of those enthusiasts, then without a publicly accessible repository for artefacts and archives, is most remarkable.  We benefited from the generosity of Les Casey, a local history enthusiast and stalwart of the Society.  He left a significant bequest to the Society, which enabled us to take out a lease on part of the lower floor of the Eric Morecambe Centre and fit it out as a Museum and archive.

This is not only significant in its own right, but gives us a platform to relaunch the Society in recognition of its wide charitable remit to educate the public on the local history of Harpenden and district.  It can again, after artefacts and documents having been nurtured for 50 years, share with residents of Harpenden and surrounding communities the Museum and archive of which the Town can be proud.

Further details of the

event to be announced...

See above

Seniors Fair 10th April - Eric Morecambe Centre

The Harpenden Trust is hosting the popular Senior’s Fair at the Eric Morecambe Centre in Rothamsted Park, Harpenden, AL5 2FR on 10th April from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Over 30 exhibitors will attend, including charities, voluntary and commercial organisations offering a range of support, health, medical and welfare services, and social activities of interest to Seniors. The Harpenden History Society will provide a preview of their new local history Museum.

Entry to the Senior’s Fair is free. Refreshments & cakes will be available from Harpenden Village WI (donations to the Rennie Grove Hospice). Come and discover what is available for yourself, a family member, friend or neighbour.

Medieval Harpenden, The Plague and the Office of High Sheriff.  Meet the Experts on April 20 at Harpenden’s Local History Day

The Local History Day includes a free Mini Conference with local experts showcasing Harpenden’s fascinating history.  Speakers and talks include:

An Introduction by Annie Brewster, JP

High Sheriff of Hertfordshire 2024-25 in Nomination

A Brief History of the Office of High Sheriff

Dr Alexander Thomas

Independent Archaeological and Historical Researcher

Grain, Trade and Pilgrims: Harpenden from Prehistory to the Medieval

Amanda J Thomas

Author and Historian

Medieval Harpenden, The Plague and its Consequences

Dr Tony Berk

Scientist, Author, Local Historian and Tour Guide

Was Harpenden Important even before the Railways?

Stephanie Reynard

Vice-Chairman, The Arts Society Harpenden Evening (TASHE)

Francis (Frank) Owen Salisbury of this Parish (1874-1962)

The talks will explore the surprisingly ancient origins of Harpenden and how the foundations for our prosperous commuter town were put down far earlier than you might expect. 

Author and historian, Amanda J Thomas, who organised the Mini Conference says:

“The talks will definitely inform and educate, but we guarantee they will also leave you open-mouthed with the realisation that in over two and a half thousand years, nothing much has changed!”

More information on the speakers and their talks in Editor’s Note below.



Dr Alexander Thomas is a researcher and web designer.  His doctoral degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Bristol examined the archaeological and manuscript landscapes of the late 9th century AD Danelaw Boundary. This work is currently being expanded into a major new book for Amsterdam University Press.  Alexander is a regular chair, panellist and speaker at international archaeology and medieval studies conferences.  For more information, see Alexander’s website at

Amanda J Thomas is an author and historian with a particular interest in social and medical history.  She is a regular on Channel 5, contributing to tv documentaries such as The Great Stink of 1858, London’s Greatest Bridges, and London 2000 Years Revealed; she has also worked on several series of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?  Books include The Nonconformist Revolution, Cholera: The Victorian Plague, and The Lambeth Cholera Outbreak of 1848-1849.  For more information see Amanda’s website,

Dr Tony Berk’s background is in science and engineering, with a PhD in maths and theoretical physics.  For much of his working life he has run his building and property development company, nurturing a keen interest in the history of the built environment.  Tony is on the Council of Arc & Arc (the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society) and in 2018 became a St Albans Green badge guide.  Tony says, “Any guide will tell you that children ask the best questions.  A favourite is, ‘What did the Romans wear in bed?’  Answer that if you can!”

Stephanie Reynard is the Vice-Chairman of The Arts Society Harpenden Evening (TASHE).  Following a career in IT and business, and with a passion for modern languages, she became a self-confessed culture vulture.  A good friend of Stephanie’s is the great niece of the artist Frank Salisbury, one of Britain’s greatest, yet most unrecognised, artists.  Talking about her research into Frank Salisbury’s life and work, Stephanie commented, “The Harpenden Local History Society recognised his importance but hardly anyone else did.  I knew something needed to be done!”

Speakers photograph Above:  From left to right: Anne Brewster, Dr Alexander Thomas, Amanda J Thomas, Tony Berk, Stephanie Reynard.

Photograph below: Amanda J Thomas, author and historian, organiser of the Harpenden Local History Day Mini Conference.

Roger Butterworth ( Chair of the Society)

at the Museum entrance

Harpenden History Society showcases Fighting the Roman invasion at Wheathampstead

Cassivellaunus, the tribal leader

believed to have fought the Romans

at Wheathampstead is just one of

many characters to be found at

the Harpenden Local History Day

on 20 April at the

Eric Morecambe Centre.

Caption: ‘AI creative image of Cassivellaunus,

the tribal leader believed to have fought the

Romans at Wheathampstead’. 

Using rarely seen maps and images from its archive, the History Society will track the history of the area we now know as Harpenden from pre-Roman times to the present.  From Cassivellaunus to steam trains, to the Rothamsted Ramblers Ladies Hockey Club, you will see the town’s development from rural village to thriving town.

You will be able to track Harpenden’s growth on historic maps showing the spread of new building and communities over the centuries.  Notably, the dramatic expansion over the period 1879 to 1939.

The exhibition on April 20 will be accompanied by short talks on key features of Harpenden’s past:

Dr Alan Punter – Victorian Village Life

Dr Alexander Thomas – Railways

David Kendall – Sports

Rosemary Ross – Harpenden Schools

The Harpenden Racecourse Re-Discovered by Drone!


One of the highlights of the Local History Day will be the presentation of a new drone film of the Harpenden racecourse created by local residents David Thomas and Peter Wilson, assisted by Dr Alexander Thomas.(Pictured below)


For 67 years (1848 to 1914) an annual horse racing meeting took place on Harpenden Common on the last Friday (and later the last Saturday) of May, the week before the Epsom Derby.  In its heyday, the Harpenden Races drew up to 20,000 racegoers, outnumbering local residents several fold, and also attracting a fair number of undesirables and petty criminals!  Horses were transported by train in special carriages, though the establishment of the Childwickbury stud in 1888 meant there was also excellent local representation. The Jockey Club oversaw the organisation of the races but following the outbreak of World War One in 1914, the popular meeting came to an end and racing never returned to Harpenden Common.


David Thomas and Peter Wilson decided to become a part of Harpenden’s history.  Some considerable research was undertaken by David to establish once and for all the exact outline of the racecourse, and the precise position of landmarks such as the grandstand and finishing post.  Much of the landscape has changed on this stretch of common between Walkers Road and Ayres End Lane, and which follows the line of the A1081.  Impeded by the growth of trees, the fairways, greens and bunkers of the golf course, not to mention the extensive crop production which took place during World War Two, it took David several weeks to piece it all together.  Help was on hand with old photographs and notes, many of which had been brilliantly put together by the Local History Society’s Eric Brandreth in the 1980s.  The new research will be archived by the Harpenden & District Local History Society.


Throughout the changeable weather of February and March, and with the permission of Harpenden Common Golf Club and the Town Council, the drone completed a high-level pass of the two-mile course.  The heavily wooded areas which didn’t exist 110 years ago were captured in multiple sections, and then later edited together.  The final days of filming involved flying the drone at a much lower level to give an idea of what the course would have been like to follow on horseback.  


David Thomas says, “We have recreated a moment in history, but in doing so, we have become a part of Harpenden’s history ourselves. My thanks to everyone involved, including Max Sullivan and the golfers at the Club, many of whom wondered what we were up to looking skyward and shouting at each other through our walkie talkies!”