Chairman’s Report 2016/17 presented at the AGM on 16th March 2017

The Society has continued its bi-monthly programme of meetings with good attendances and a variety of interesting subjects. Our year started on 17 March 2016 with the AGM which followed a fascinating talk by Alan Standish on Metal Detecting around Northamptonshire. Alan brought samples of some of the artefacts which he has found. On 19 May Colin Pendrill, a former head of History at Oundle School, gave an informative and detailed talk on Elizabeth Woodville, entitled The White Queen. Elizabeth, born at Grafton Regis, was secretly married to Edward IV. The talk explored the complexity of the Wars of the Roses and the Woodville significance in this turbulent period of our history.

On 5 July the Society visited Burghley House and on 16th August Elton Hall, both very successful visits. On 15th September Gary Schaeffer gave a delightfully amusing talk on An American View of Northamptonshire. On 17th November Michael Brailey gave a very interesting talk on the History of the Royal and Derngate Theatres. The annual Drinks and Nibbles Party was held at the Village Hall and was the most successful to date with a large number of members attending and enjoying Jane Treharne’s lovely refreshments. At our meeting on 19 January 2017 Philip Warner gave a superb talk on Leather and details of the archive of artefacts, materials and manufactured items relating to the leather industry which have been long-stored in Northampton and which are going to be the core of a new Leather Museum in the town.

Our website continues to be well-used, with 14,000 visits this year and 38,800 pages read by visitors - an increase of about 3% on 2015. Visitors from the UK make up about 57% of the total, with significant numbers also from the USA, Germany and the Russian Federation. This year for the first time, our Programme proved to be the most visited page, narrowly beating the Photo Archive into second place. As ever, some of the search phrases that lead folk to our website amuse and puzzle in equal measure; this year’s included: “milton’s three daughters when born?”; “cycle speedway old boilers”; and “wheelbarrow bomb disposal malcolm deacon”;

Membership stands at present at 54 and the annual subscription remains unchanged at £10 per annum. We were sorry to lose Mick Tack from the Committee during the year but we gained Sarah Fraser and Ray Maguire. Thanks to all the committee, Kathy Sargeant, Edith Sharp, our Treasurer David Brogden, our Secretary John Brice and Website Manager Steve Hunt. Thanks, too, to the members who continue to support our endeavours.

Malcolm Deacon