The Leicestershire Archaeological Society.
Some fifty years ago, The Leicestershire Archaeological Society in its 110th Annual Report published a list of some 450 ‘ordinary’ members, seemingly people who were in some way interested in or connected with learning of the history and archaeology of this East Midlands county. What did strike me as I glanced through this document which is currently held at the Leicester University, was the quite impressive – and somewhat surprising, I have to confess – number of people listed who lived in my county town of Melton Mowbray. Some of the names are easily recognisable as former teachers from the town or other local historians and two of the more obvious names which stood out were those of local historian Jack Brownlow, noted especially for his book, ‘Melton Mowbray Queen of the Shires’ (1980) and Philip E. Hunt, amateur local historian/newsagent in the town who wrote, ‘The Story of Melton Mowbray’ (1957, revised 1979). Both men are now passed on and as far as I am concerned, they and their knowledge of our local history are sadly missed. In a preamble to his book, Mr Hunt echoes my thoughts of today in this 21st Century with words which are as relevant today as they were then, when he writes;
‘It is nearly 80 years(1878) since any book was written on the past of Melton Mowbray, and the sole reason for this present work is to foster interest in our local history, which is in danger of being lost sight of in this age of rapid transition. I hope it will prove a welcome addition to our knowledge of this very ancient and interesting market town.’ (1957)
If he was talking then of an ‘age of rapid transition’ all those six decades since, then I wonder what he would have made of todays rate of progress.
But of course as we now know, Philip Hunt was making a plea which he did not live to see fulfilled as many of the town’s architectural treasures have indeed conceded to defeat in its battle with the bulldozers and as the town population increased greatly from the 1960s up until the present time, a related need for sustainable and affordable housing ensued to more than fill the gaps.
Just this week we read in our local newspaper of the not unexpected demise of our local Civic Society when its readers were informed that:
‘The Melton Mowbray and District Civic Society’s membership had dwindled to 34, and with only four members of the committee it wasn’t possible to continue. Sadly the society was formally wound-up at a special general meeting on January 21. With great regret the vote in favour of closure was carried unanimously.
Read more at: http://www.meltontimes.co.uk/what-s-on/arts-leisure/civic-society-closure-is-big-blow-for-melton-1-7193288#ixzz40BBWPUCO