Society marks work of history group’s founders, sixty years on - The Evesham Observer

Society marks work of history group’s founders, sixty years on

Evesham Editorial 19th Jan, 2018   0

THE EFFORTS of a group of local historians to leave a legacy for generations of Evesham residents were shared at a recent meeting of the Vale of Evesham Historical Society.

Members and guests met at the Almonry to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of the museum and heard how the work of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ led to the collections residents enjoy today.

Just over 67 years ago, a group of local historians led by Ben Cox decided to form a society to research and promote local history in the Vale and to attempt to form a collection of local historical artefacts, with which to form a museum in Evesham.

Ben’s son Dr David Cox, a patron of the society, was among the guests to hear how the society was formed on September 27 1950 at a meeting in the council chamber in the Town Hall.

Under the stewardship of first president GSD Aldrich, chairman K Gill Smith, Treasurer E Wright and Ben Cox, the society began its bid to celebrate the Vale’s rich past.

The original founders who became known as the magnificent seven were Bob Smith, Joe Robinson, Mike Edwards, Tom Baylis, Ben Cox, Ivor Slocombe, and Tom Keen.

They collected many various artefacts and documents relating to the area, also encouraging the local community to donate items of local historical interest to enable the society to form a museum.

Their next objective was to find a building to house their growing collection.

After some years of searching they were allowed by Evesham Borough Council to have three rooms in the Almonry building to use for their collections.

Unfortunately, these rooms were in a very poor condition, so a small group of members began the task of refurbishing the building.

Working most evenings and weekends in difficult and dirty conditions they met the challenge.

Finally in 1957, after much effort the building was fit for purpose.

The hard-working members were then rewarded for their efforts and told by council chiefs they had just one season to see if the museum was a success.

It was opened on a part time basis with members providing all staffing and upkeep. It proved very successful so the society was allowed to continue.

Over the next 60 years, the society has continued to collect and receive donations, also purchasing items when they became available.

As the collection grew they were given more rooms when they became available, refurbishing them as they went along.

The rooms include the Abbey Room, the Simon de Montfort Room, the War Room, and the Sir Henry Fowler Room.

These particular rooms contain displays and information on local people and events which illustrate the history of Evesham and its Vale.

An external display of equipment donated by local farmers and market gardeners which is based on the Vale’s agricultural and other industries, was formed in the garden.

Much of equipment was collected by members from sites using their own vehicles and manpower to bring the items to the Almonry.

Over the years, the society has continued to contribute to the local community. It has monthly talks on a wide range of topics which are open to non-members.

The society has set up a partnership with the Churches Conservation Trust to provide historical displays and information in St Lawrence’s Church and has provided displays in the Riverside Shopping Area and local care homes.

A recent project has undertaken to provide local schools with booklets about the local community’s contribution in the First World War.

To attract tourists to Evesham there is a web site about the locality, receiving queries from all over the world while members have written books and pamphlets which are on sale at the museum.

The sole surviving members of the Magnificent Seven, Mike Edwards, serves as a vice president of the society.

Well known for his love of poetry, Mike penned a piece to mark the celebrations entitled ‘The Last Man Standing’ which was read to guests by his son Mark to bring the curtain down on a special evening of celebration.

Visit for more information on the society.

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