Newnham History Research Group
Newnham History Research 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. Our publications and activities are described below.
Events and exhibitions
We hold regular events in the Armoury Village Hall, including picture evenings and talks. We put on exhibitions occasionally, one 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). Some of these plaques are still in place. Our most recent exhibition was ‘Newnham in the 1950s’, held in 2022.
Newnham History Research Group has a large collection on file of photographs of Newnham, dating back to the early 20th century. Many of these photos have been donated by people who live (or have lived) in Newnham, and we are most grateful to them. From time to time we hold ‘picture shows’ on different themes. The next of these shows will be:
NEWNHAM HIGH STREET BEFORE THE FIRST WORLD WAR
When? On Thursday 25th January 2024
Where? In the Armoury Village Hall, in the library
Admission: By free ticket, available from The Shop@TheShip from 1st January 2024
Refreshments will be available
Please note that numbers will be limited, so please be sure to collect a ticket.
The Newnham Censuses
The long list to be found by following the links below is a record of all the census entries for Newnham from 1851 to 1911. The censuses were taken every 10 years and involved recording the name of each occupant of an individual house together with their position in the household, their marital status, their age, their birthplace and their occupation. This is fixed information. In addition, however, we have been able to add to that list an estimate of where they lived.
Due to the hard work of one of our past members, Anne Lloyd, who, over a twelve-year period, copied, in longhand, every line of six of the censuses, we started with a remarkable record of every entry over the 50 years then involved. The 1911 census was then copied from the Internet by Sandra Champken, another of our long-serving members, to give us the complete set up to that date.
Over a period of four or five years we managed to transcribe all that information on to computer, and while we were about it, studied the census entries very thoroughly to identify, as far as we could, where most of the people lived.
The people that compiled the censuses in the first place were generally logical in their approach and it has therefore been perfectly possible to compile a list that offers three degrees of probability about who lived where.
The first of these involves the houses that were named in the census or, for other reasons (perhaps, for instance, by studying long-term occupancy), we were able to place exactly. These are noted in bold type.
The second category involves those houses that calculation suggests were where we say they are, but at a reduced level of certainty. These are noted in standard roman type.
The final category contains those properties whose position is uncertain but which can be tentatively placed in a general area within the whole. These are noted in italic type.
There have been many hands involved in this complex task and so we must accept that the list contains errors. Please take it as a useful guide as to where within the parish of Newnham your forebears lived.
The census data for the years 1851 t0 1911 have been set out on a Google spreadsheet follow this link – Data from Newnham from the Censuses taken in 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911
An alternative PDF version is available here:- Census spreadsheet for Village website
The Churchyard Map
In 2019 Newnham History Group completed the project to create a detailed map of St Peter’s churchyard. This project was researched by Sandra Champken and produced by Sandra and Graham Champken in a four-year project of mapping and cross-referencing the available data. We hope the map will enable visitors with Newnham links to find their ancestors’ graves more easily. The main map is complemented by a number of enlarged sections of the map and a spreadsheet name index (arranged in alphabetical order of surname) that contains the names of over 2,000 people commemorated on gravestones. These items are now on permanent display in the church.
To find a person look up the name of the person here. Take a note of the grid and section reference.
To find the location of the grave click on this link which will display an overall plan of the churchyard.
These links and pages are under development. For the time being there is only an overall plan. We hope at a later stage to be able to provide a link to more detailed plans of each grid square.
See also details of the Newnham Graveyard Walk, listed below under Publications.
To date we have published the following books and articles:
- The Newnham Historical Collection
This comprises three loose-leaf volumes:
- Volume 1, comprising Part 1 (published 2013) and Part 2 (published 2015)
- Volume 2, comprising Part 3 (published 2017) and Part 4 (published 2019) and
- Volume 3, comprising Part 5 (published 2019)
All three volumes are available to buy from TheShop@TheShip or by mail order from Newnham History Group.
Each volume costs £10.00.
These volumes are all available to read at Newnham Community Library. But they may not be borrowed from the Library.
- Newnham Houses Unravelled
This comprises two loose-leaf volumes (to date). It is a collection of in-depth studies of individual Newnham houses and of the families associated with them. It developed from the study of individual houses in The Newnham Historical Collection. A third loose-leaf volume is being prepared.
Volume 1 contains 10 studies: Castle House, Victoria Hotel, Church House, Merton House, Manor House, Mansion House, Wilcox House, The Red House, The Beeches and Unlawater House. Volume 2 contains 12 studies: Riverdale, Sparkfield House, Streetfield House, Clumber House, The Paddocks, The Sanctuary, Bentley House, Highfield Villas, The Lower George Hotel, Mornington Terrace, Newnham House and The Old House.
Each volume costs £15.
Both volumes are available to read at Newnham Community Library. But they may not be borrowed from the Library.
- Newnham News in the papers 1840-1890 by Anne Lloyd. This may be borrowed from Newnham Community Library.
- Guide to St. Peter’s Church, Newnham, Third edition (2015). Available in St Peter’s Church
- The Newnham Millennium Heritage Walk (2000). (Out of print.) This was superseded by a new walk booklet in 2020 (see below)
- An article for the Forest of Dean Local History Society’s journal The New Regard, No. 16, 2001, entitled ‘Newnham on Severn: A Century of Change’ (available to borrow from Newnham Community Library)
- Newnham Village Walk 2020 by Quincey Hobbs (2020, reprinted several times), is available free from d TheShop@TheShip
- Newnham Graveyard Walk by Steve O’Leary, based on research by Sandra and Graham Champken, and with map by Graham Champken (2020), is available free in St Peter’s Church.
We also have for sale a few second-hand copies in good condition of Newnham-on-Severn, a Retrospect by Mabel K Woods.
In addition we 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: Nigel Haig 01594 516545 or email@example.com
Here are five pictures that give a snapshot of Newnham’s past.
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.)
Other History Links
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!