At the Nursteed Centre, Devizes
The Devizes Branch regular meetings are on the third Tuesday of each month (except December) at 7.30pm. Some meetings may be on Zoom. See below for contact details, details of topics, venues and any changes. Everyone is welcome, and there is no charge. Tea/coffee available and time to chat or ask questions. Please keep an eye on this page for any changes.
Tuesday 21 November - Brilliant Brunel - Barry Edwards. As a tour manager with Great Rail Journeys and Rail Discoveries, Barry has plenty of relevant knowledge to take a quirky look at the triumphs and struggles of the great engineer Brunel in the Southwest.
Tuesday 12 December (the second Tuesday, not the third) - our traditional Branch Christmas get-together with in-house entertainment, nibbles and drinks to contribute to the Season of Goodwill. We will meet in the small meeting room.
Tuesday 16 January - "The First Christmas Presents" - Andrew Campbell. A historical, not religious, exploration of the gifts brought by the Magi at the birth of Christ: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Where they came from in the ancient Middle East, who might have brought them, why they were valuable and what they were used for.
Tuesday 20 February - "The Mourning Brooch" - author Jean Renwick reveals the research behind two novels inspired by an inherited mourning brooch. In particular she comments on the fortune of the women she encountered in her research which covers Yorkshire, the USA and Europe.
Tuesday 19 March - Branch AGM and Members' Evening. A relaxing chance to share successes and problems. Visitors especially welcome.
Tuesday 16 April - "Writing Your Family History" - Jackie Depelle. Done all that research and wondering what to do with it? The obvious answer - write it up to share with family and friends. Move on from record sheets and charts to create a narrative account to be treasured by future generations. Includes ideas for both content, style and supporting contextual sources.
Recent meeting - October - "H . . .is for Heritage" - Ann King invited us to look up, look down, and look around! She took an alphabetical look at some of the features of our heritage, mainly along our streets which may be missed in passing. Examples were as small as boot scrapers perhaps hidden as part of a rainwater downpipe. More obvious were mile markers and signposts, while less obvious but even larger were "ghost signs, the names of long-gone traders painted on buildings and perhaps fading to invisibility. Each could have a fascinating story to tell.
Past meeting - September - "The Poppy - Symbol of Remembrance" - Bill King. As a battlefield and military historian, Bill led us easily through the century of warfare leading up to industrialised Great War and the destruction of the towns and countryside of the Western Front. The emergence of the poppy flowers from the disturbed soil was reflected in the epic poem "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian physician Lt Col John McCrae. Wide publication resulted in the poppy becoming one of the world's most recognized memorial symbols for warriors who have died in conflict. Bill showed us different designs of poppy badges and pins from various countries, and also the French equivalent "Le Bleuet" which was chosen because the extensive French battlefields were more often on soil which favoured cornflowers rather than poppies.
Past meeting - August - "Devizes - A Walk through the Wild West" - on a fine summer evening Nick Baxter took Branch members on a tour that started and finished in the historic Market Place. With his immense knowledge of history in general, he was able to point out details of interest at every turning. We are lucky that so much evidence of the different phases of the town's history has survived. Although much of it is from the days before most of the known branches on our own family trees, Nick added plenty of colour to our knowledge of the lives of our ancestors, whether or not they lived in or around Devizes.
Past meeting - July - Judy Rouse "Researching Railway Records and the various sources available to family historians." Before nationalisation in 1947 there were over 900 railway companies in England and Wales. Judy showed how some of their staff records survived the massive nationalisation amalgamations and are available to researchers, in many cases on line. Others were not retained or transferred and are lost. She introduced us to the multitude of different departments such as hotels, ferries ports, police, fire brigades and so on as well as the more familiar activities more usually associated with railways. Finally Judy added colour by telling us about family members who worked on the railways: their work, uniforms, health and personalities.
Past meeting - June - "The Battle of Bedwyn and the Rise of Wessex". Nick Baxter, with his depth of knowledge and enthusiasm, set Crofton and Great Bedwyn in geographical and historical context. The works of early historians and chroniclers and modern evidence revealed the ebb and flow of power across the land after the Romans left. Most of us had little prior knowledge of those centuries, but by the time Nick was telling us about 675AD and beyond, we were well placed to understand his pre-meeting notes: “ Aescwin of Wessex fought Wulfhere of Mercia near Great Bedwyn in 675AD. War raged for 150 years ending when Ecgberht of Wessex defeated Beornwulf's Mercian Army at Ellendun.” A complex tale that was well told.
The Nursteed Centre - our usual meeting place
Meetings: Nursteed Centre, Nursteed Road, Devizes SN10 3AH, (Click for map) third Tuesday of each month, 7.30pm
Access: 800 yards along A342 towards Andover: signed on the right by the pedestrian crossing.