Pershore Heritage and History Society
The Society was formed in 1993-4. There is a programme of regular meetings with guest speakers, and excursions for its members (see News and Events).
Annual subscription: £12 plus £1 per meeting.
Visitors: £2.50 per meeting.
Formation of the Society
[The following has been put together from various accounts and notes in the HC.
If you have any additional information, please contact Sue Atkin]
The first attempt to form a local history society was in the mid 1980s, but although the response was good, nothing else happened.
In 1991-2, Marion Freeman and Win Summerton (a member of the Town Council) both wanted to form a society. They liased with the town clerk and council members and a meeting was held to seek response from the public, and Chris Neale, the town clerk, put a notice in the local paper requesting material for a proposed heritage centre.
In 1993 a meeting was held at St Agatha's Hall in Head Street and the two societies were approved: Pershore History Society, and Pershore Heritage Centre. It was thought some people might be interested in one and not the other, and this duality continued into the following year. On 30 November it was agreed to use No.5a Bridge Street as a Heritage Centre. On 2 December, the first meeting of the History Society was held, which might have been a talk on ghosts at St Agatha's that was so popular that they ran out of room. Other talks in 1993-4 included the history of privies, and a 'Victorian' social for Christmas.
1994 began with visits to Ledbury and Bromyard Heritage Centres. As the year went on, it became clear that having two societies was not working very well, and in October they were merged as Pershore Heritage and History Society.
The new committee was: Shirley Newman (Chair), Jean Glazebrook (Vice-Chair), Marion Freeman (Secretary), Les Tacy (Treasurer), Julian Palfrey, Win Summerton, David Shaw, and John Hemming. The town clerk provided much assistance to the society.
1995: Win Summerton became Chair of the Society, and monthly meetings were held in the Working Men's and Old Comrades' Club on the High Street. [This building was sold in 2017 and is now a bar.]
Heritage Centre: it was opened to the public by the mayor, John Grantham, in May (5th or 8th - accounts vary), the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War. The Town Council had allowed the Society to use No.5a Bridge Street as a Heritage Centre, next door to the Council Offices in No.5 [now Belle House restaurant, and formerly the fire station]. At first only the ground floor could be used for displays, but during the next couple of years the first floor came into use, then the top floor was renovated to make it safe for the public. During renovations to the top floor, the workmen discovered a small purse underneath the floorboards, and inside it was an account to Moira Checketts for £1 6s 8d, dated 1816 [the purse is on display in the Centre].
May 1995: Barnwood Industrial Archaeology & Transport Society was given a guided walk around the town.
August: two students from Gloscat investigated the history of the town's public houses as part of their studies.
16 October 1995(?), Scimitar Day: John Hemming had undertaken research into the history of HMS Scimitar, adopted by Pershore in Warship Week during the Second World War, and he organised a visit to the town by members of the crew and their families and other interested people. [Ship's bell, photographs, paintings and other items are on display in the HC, plus folders compiled by John Hemming.]
1997-2000 The Heritage Centre 'continued to thrive'.
In 2000, the Town Council decided to buy the old post office site on the High Street that was for sale, but to do so it had to sell the office at No.5 Bridge Street and No.5a attached to it. The Heritage Centre was promised space in the new Town Hall on all three floors, but later it had to downsize which also involved paying for storage of items.
In 2003 the Centre closed in Bridge Street and moved into the Town Hall 'with the help of Committee and members (mostly senior citizens)' involving 'many weeks of hard labour under extremely trying circumstances', and enduring 'several false starts'. Several people remember the move as being 'extremely traumatic'. The Centre opened to the public, again, on 24 May 2003.