Newnham History Group
Newnham History Group is a small band of members interested in researching the history of Newnham.
We each have our own particular interests and meet in each other’s homes fairly regularly to compare notes and to discuss future projects. Between us we have a large collection of photographs, press cuttings, Census returns and other items.
We put on exhibitions occasionally, the most recent being on World War One and Newnham in August 2014. In conjunction with the exhibition we created plaques that we placed on buildings throughout the village to indicate the family homes of Newnham servicemen (blue plaques for those who returned and black for those who did not).
To date we have published the following books and articles:
- The Newnham Historical Collection. Volume 1 (comprising Part 1, 2013 and Part 2, 2015) costs £20 and Part 2 alone costs £7.00. Both are available from Newnham Post Office and Cottonwood and by mail order from Newnham History Group (see below for phone and email details); Volume 2 (comprising seven new chapters) will be published in June 2017 – price to be confirmed;
- Guide to St. Peter’s Church, Newnham, Third edition (2015). Available from Newnham Post Office or in St Peter’s Church;
- The Newnham Millennium Heritage Walk (2000), available from Newnham Post Office;
- An article for the Forest of Dean Local History Society’s journal The New Regard in 2001, entitled ‘Newnham on Severn: A Century of Change’;
- Our late member Anne Lloyd published two booklets ‘Newnham news in the papers’, the first covering 1840–1870 and the second 1871–1890. In 2000 she combined these into one booklet, ‘Newnham News in the Papers, 1840–1890’. We reprinted this in 2013, and it is now on sale at Newnham Post Office at £3.99.
We also have an extensive digital record of Newnham material, including Census records, photographs, and information on gravestones in the older part of the churchyard. We are working to make this more accessible.
We meet every month or so and would love to welcome more members interested in studying the history of Newnham.
For further information please contact: Barbara Griffith 01594 516327 or email@example.com
Some snippets of local history
The marriage of Mr Russell James Kerr, the eldest surviving son of Dr Kerr of the Haie, took place at Eastbourne. His bride was Rose Mary Anne Griffiths of Castle Hill, Egham, Surrey.
1860 saw some house building going on in the town; the land on the right-hand side of Passage Lane, between the Bear Hotel and the High Street was offered for sale as building land. This seems to pinpoint the date of the erection of the cottages that are in what is now known as Severn Street.
The following year, 1861, more land was offered for sale at the lower end of the High Street. The result of this sale was the creation of the row now known as Mornington Terrace, but for a short time it was called Claremont Terrace.
Below are five photographs taken from the collection of Barbara Griffith, one of our founder members.
Newnham owes its existence to its favourable position on the River Severn, and has been an important river port and a centre of ship-building and fishing. A fee-paying ferry to Arlingham, carrying passengers and livestock, existed from 1802 until after the Second World War, when it gradually went out of use. The photo of passengers waiting for a ferry is dated approximately 1920.
The railway (the main line from Gloucester to South Wales) came to Newnham in the 1850s and there was a station (of which there is now no trace) at Newnham till 1964. There was also a railmotor service to Cinderford and Drybrook (1907–1958) and a branch line to Bullo Pill (closed 1968). This photo from about 1910 shows a train standing at platform 3.
3. The river sands
In the early 20th century day-trippers came by train (often by the railmotor from the Forest) to Newnham to play and picnic on the sands. Care had to be taken with the incoming tide due to the speed of the water. Constant changes to the current and flood defence schemes in the 1980s have removed the sands but made the area safer.
4. St Peter’s Church
St Peter’s Church is now the only place of worship in the village, but in the early 20th century there were several others. The present church (the latest of a succession of churches) dates mainly from 1881, a fire having destroyed all but the tower of the previous building. The house in the foreground of this photo was demolished in 1911 and a new churchyard was built
5. Lower High Street and clock tower
This 1950s photo of the Lower High Street shows the clock tower, which was erected by public subscription in 1875. This photo was taken before the Surgery was built (in the 1980s), and before the substantial building known as The Beeches was demolished (in 1968) to allow the road to be widened. (The name is retained in a street name and in the popular name of the grassy area beside the main road at the entrance to Newnham.)
There are many organisations and societies for people interested in all aspects of local history.
British History on line – Victoria County History, Newnham entry. An excellent Web site for what is says – British History!