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.

We were all part of Harpenden's Local History Day on 20 April

Over 1,200 were at the Local History Day at the Eric Morecambe Centre; the contributors, exhibitors, marshals, etc. were joined by over 1,100 members of the public, making the event a great day for Harpenden and district.  The venue was rocking!  

Annie Brewster at the close of the Day, for which this was her first public event as High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, said “When you asked me last summer about the idea for this event, I would not have believed what a success it could be, thanks to the legion of volunteers. We have learned so much about our past. We have also witnessed our future with the young children on stage.   Hopefully, this is the first of many such spectacles the Society will create for us.”

Below: The official event opening with High Sheriff Annie Brewster, Town Mayor Fiona Gaskell and Society Chair Roger Butterworth

Cllr Fiona Gaskell, Mayor of Harpenden, says, "The Day was a memorable event. There was a real buzz throughout, with enthusiastic residents enjoying the museum, talks and exhibitions. Many people appeared to stay throughout the day as there was so much to see and do.  Warmest congratulations to the team who worked so hard on the event, and I look forward to seeing and hearing a lot more of the History Society in future."

I heartily thank the High Sheriff, the Mayor and all contributors, including those from other organisations, and the children who entered our competition, plus all marshals and other volunteers, together with the staff of EMC, who shared in the excitement, all of whom made a vital contribution to the overwhelming success of the day.  Not only was the total number, 1,200, pleasingly surprising, but the vitality of those attending throughout the four hours was tremendous.  And thank you to all those who came; your interest and excitement was itself a tremendous for the team.

Owing to limited space the High Sheriff cut the ribbon at the Museum doorway at a private gathering some time prior to the public being in the building.(Below with Chair Roger Butterworth and  School Arts competition organiser Pamela Doran)

Laura Bull, our 500th visitor on the day, (Above) was awarded free membership and was photographed with the Mayor and our Chairman.

The Herbert family including our 1,000th visitor, also receiving free membership, and were photographed with our chairman, Dr Alexander Thomas, one of the speakers, and Kate Barton, EMC manager.

Numerous people visited the new Museum for the first time.(Above) From 27 April the museum will open 11am-3pm every Saturday and as many Tuesdays and Thursdays for which we have volunteers.

Comments received included: “The talks, which were excellent, attracted queues, so the room could have been filed 3 times over!”

(See above Talk by Dr Tony Berk ) “The quality presentation of the maps and old photos was impressive; people lingered so long to take them all in!”  “Children were really getting stuck into being creative at the art table.”  “Wasn’t the Roman soldier wonderful.”  “So good to see the villages represented here, as well as Rothamsted and St Albans.”  “Surprisingly, more people had heard of Frank Salisbury than expected and were showing a real interest.”  “Good to see the children involved and on stage as their reward.” (Below right: Town Mayor Fiona Gaskell awarding prize in the My Harpenden art competition. Below left;People looking at the Growth of  Harpenden exhibition boards)

We put on this event to relaunch the Society, now we have our museum, to educate the public on our local history and to make a contribution to the cultural life of Harpenden. We also aimed to significantly increase membership, which was fulfilled – on Saturday alone our membership increased by 50%. 

If you enjoyed the event, or have simply heard about it in the magnificent press coverage, why not join the Society.  The special offer of membership up to end 2025 (20 months) at same rate as 12 months’ membership will be honoured to 30 April.   Details of joining on our website.

Also, why not participate in our activities and volunteer for the museum rota or other vacant roles in running the Society.

Report from Roger Butterworth. Chairman

Speakers from the recent Harpenden Local History Day reveal extracts from their talks you may find interesting:

Dr Alexander Thomas

Independent Archaeological and Historical Researcher

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

“The landscape of Harpenden has been shaped by grain trade, pilgrimage, and human activity spanning millions of years. In the Stone Age, hunter-gatherers roamed this area, while in the Bronze Age, farmers built permanent structures near the River Lea. During the Iron Age, the Catuvellauni tribe and incoming Belgic settlers created an agricultural network. The Romans later integrated these prehistoric farms into large villa estates. Harpenden became part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia around the AD500s and converted to Christianity in the AD600s. Political and ecclesiastical disputes over land and money persisted, leading to the creation of St. Nicholas’ Church and various inns that facilitated pilgrims traveling to St. Albans Abbey in the 1200s and 1300s.”

Amanda J Thomas

Author and Historian

Medieval Harpenden, The Plague and its Consequences

“Amanda is perhaps better known for her work on cholera, having written two books on the subject, the latest of which, Cholera: the Victorian Plague is now in its second edition.  She is the go-to expert on the disease for the BBC and Channel 5 and has appeared in numerous documentaries; the latest with (national treasure) Jay Blades is yet to hit our screens. 

“The plague is discussed in Amanda’s latest book, The Nonconformist Revolution.  The outbreak in the mid-14th century was a turning point in history, and in her talk, Amanda explained how our local area was just as badly affected as the rest of the country. The Black Death killed about half of the population and Amanda gave a fascinating overview of the way in which disease is triggered by climate fluctuation, and how the plague mutated and spread. There isn’t a huge amount of evidence about what happened in Harpenden, but Amanda was swift to point out that had Harpenden not been affected, this would be reflected in our folklore.  The plague swept through the monastic community of at St Albans Abbey and wiped out some of the surrounding villages.  Nevertheless, this medieval apocalypse created some unexpected opportunities, and Amanda hopes to be able to to expand on her research into how it affected land ownership in the town.”

We are gradually building up a photo archive as a memento of the day on

Roger Butterworth