Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society
The Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society is actively involved in exploring and researching the history of the Basingstoke area. Its aims are to investigate the history and pre-history of the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane, and to stimulate interest in archaeological and historical studies.
The Society holds regular monthly meetings focused around a programme of lectures from September to May. The Society organises a number of on-going projects including practical field work, excavations and an oral history project. It also organises visits to places of archaelogical and historical interest.
‘Basingstoke Talking History’ is a project run by the Society, with Basingstoke’s Willis Museum, to record, transcribe, research and where appropriate publish memories of Basingstoke’s past. To date, we have recorded over 200 interviews, which cover many aspects of Basingstoke life. We hear from people who came to the town from elsewhere. Some came as evacuees during the war, others for new homes and jobs during the town’s 1960s redevelopment, as well as for other reasons. We hear from townspeople who saw their town totally transformed and had differing reactions to the newcomers. There are many accounts of childhood, school and games, of growing up, leisure times and work at Thornycrofts, Burberrys, Wallis and Steevens as well as many other employees. Sometimes recollections impinge on national history. There are descriptions of soldiers invalided from the front to Park Prewett after D-Day, and how a Basingstoke woman escaped with her family from France as the occupying Germans advanced. Some of these memories have been transcribed and entered into the ‘WW2 People’s War’ section of the BBC website. (Entries under ‘babstoke’ and ‘evercreech’).
The original recordings, with their synopses and transcriptions, are held by the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at the Hampshire Record Office, while copies are available in the Resources Room of the Willis Museum.
With the permission of the people who are interviewed, some excerpts have been used to illustrate talks, in exhibitions or in newspaper articles.
- The first book in our series, Basingstoke Talking History, is Going Down Church Street To The Felgate Bookshop by Mary Felgate and Barbara Applin. It combines Mary’s childhood memories of the Grandmother’s Church Street bible bookshop in the 1920s with research into the history of every property in that street.
- The second book in the series is Taking The Pulse Of Basingstoke , giving people’s memories of health matters in the town before the coming of the National Health Service right up to the present day.