Tag Archives: Radley History Club

175th Anniversary of Didcot to Oxford railway line

There were events on Saturday 15 June 2019 at all five stations along the line to celebrate the event – with the excitement and added bonus of two steam engines (Clun Castle and Flying Scotsman) passing through on excursions.

The celebrations at Radley began with the unveiling of a permanent board with a timeline of the history of Radley Station on the railings at Radley Station (on platform 1 for trains to Oxford and beyond). Radley History Club is very grateful for the grants from the Greening Lamborn Trust, Radley Village ShopRadley Parish Council and GWR to cover the cost of the board. Entikera Limited provided extensive and indispensable support in kind.

Information board featuring a timeline of Radley Stationory of Radley Station
Information board featuring a timeline of Radley Station

Events then moved to the garden of the Bowyer Arms where there was:

  • a display of railway pictures and artefacts by Radley History Club, Friends of Radley Station and former railwayman and Radley resident Vic Gackowski, and the reminiscences of Harold Gasson, a former GWR fireman
  • storytellers Polly Mountain and Ed Blagrove in costume relating tales about Radley and the railway line
  • a display of work by children from Radley Primary School about the railway
  • copies of Radley People and the Railway 1843-2013 and other Club books for sale

More details and photos of the celebrations at Radley

Presentation of new list of vicars to Radley Church

Presentation by Richard Dudding of Radley History Club of a new list of Radley's vicars to Rob Genny, vicar of Radley
Presentation by Richard Dudding of Radley History Club of a new list of Radley’s vicars to Rob Genny, vicar of Radley

Before the 11 am service on Sunday 18th February 2019, Club chairman Richard Dudding presented the Revd Rob Glenny with a framed list of the known incumbents of St James the Great from the middle of the 16th century to the present day. The new list replaces one that has hung near the church door since it was presented to the Church by the Club in October 2005. The replacement list adds some new names and corrects some minor errors found during research for the Club’s book, The Story of a Village Church: St James the Great, Radley published in October 2016. The book contains details about all the names on the list bar the last one, that of Rob Glenny who was appointed after the book’s publication.

The new list is in memory of Stanley Baker, the Club’s long-serving archivist who did much research into Radley vicars and was a committed attender at the Church. The Club is very pleased to have been able to use a bequest from Stan towards the cost of the replacement list.

In memoriam: three Club stalwarts

In the first four months of 2017, Radley History Club sadly lost three long-standing and loyal members. Read about the contribution of David Buckle MBE to public life, the contribution of Robert Sephton to local history, and an appreciation of the work of Stanley Baker, who was the Club’s archivist for many years.

David Buckle MBE

David Buckle MBE lived in Radley for many years. He served on Radley Parish Council for 51 years from 1951 to 2002, being chairman from 1995 to 1997, and again from 1999 to 2003. He was also a county councillor from 1989 to 2001 (chairman 1996-1997) and served as a magistrate in Abingdon for over 30 years. David was awarded an MBE in 1988 for public services and an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in 2001 for services to society, politics and justice. Sadly David died on 21 January 2017 aged 92. Read his obituary in the Guardian and in the Oxford Mail.

David’s books
Following a talk in September 2010 to Radley History Club, David was encouraged by fellow members to write about his experiences as a production line worker, a shop steward and a full-time union official at the Cowley car works who was involved in local, regional and national negotiations. The book, Turbulent Times in the Car Industry: Memories of a Trade Union Official at Cowley, Oxford, is the result and is his personal account of important events affecting the car industry during the second half of the 20th century. It also includes memories of his visits to German and Russian car plants in 1978 and 1984 respectively. This book was preceded in 1999 by the publication of David’s autobiography (written with Jan Greenough) entitled Hostilities Only – an autobiography.

Robert Sephton

Robert, who died in February 2017 aged 90, had been a member of Radley History Club since at least 2005/2006 and a regular attendee at meetings until the last few months. He lived for many years in Kennington, travelling by bus to and from RHC meetings, only moving to Radley in 2013. He was also an active member of the Oxfordshire Local History Association (OLHA). The news came through between Robert’s death and his funeral that he had received an award from the British Association for Local History for published research and in Robert’s case was for the article ‘The Striking Women’ which was published in the Winter 2015/15 issue of Oxfordshire Local History. Read his obituary in the Guardian and in the Oxford Mail.

Originally from Lancashire, Robert was a Bevin Boy and later moved to Oxfordshire, where he was for many years Librarian at what was then the College of Further Education in Oxford. Robert was a very unassuming man but he made a valuable contribution to local history research, having a particular interest in Kennington and the development of the railways in Oxford. He wrote the RHC publication, A Brief Account of Oxford University Golf Club, contributed to the Club’s farms and church books, and published extensively in his own name. List of books and articles by Robert Sephton

On hearing of Robert’s death, Chris Hall, editor of the OLHA journal, wrote: “Robert was an apparently insignificant person (rather small and very deaf) who was in fact a scholar with a probing mind, and the ability to expound clearly his findings. A serious loss to local history. To my knowledge, he made two original and definitive contributions: (1) through his work on railways and (2) through his examination of district nursing in Radley and Kennington which demonstrated the move towards publicly-funded health care several decades before the NHS was born.”

Stanley Baker

Stanley Baker, known to most people as ‘Stan’, passed away on 27 April 2017 aged 92. Below is an appreciation of his life by Club chairman, Richard Dudding.

“Stan was a remarkable person who, despite serious disability, made a major contribution to local history both in his village of Radley and more widely across Oxfordshire.

Stan was born on 27 August 1924 in Ashmore, a small village near Shaftesbury in Dorset. The family moved to Oxfordshire in 1935 and he won a scholarship to the City of Oxford High School for Boys. He left at 16 to help the family earnings, but by then he had learnt enough Latin to stand him in good stead later. After wartime employment in a factory making aircraft parts and service as an air raid warden, he worked for Oxfordshire County Council as an assistant archivist, a job well suited to his talents. He continued in that role until 1960, but, remarkable though it might seem, the rules prevented him progressing further as an archivist because he lacked an honours degree. He trained instead as a legal executive, working in local government until retirement. Meantime he had married, had two sons and a daughter, and moved to Radley a few miles south of Oxford.

Stan’s wife Mollie died in 1987, and then in 1996 he contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder of the nervous system, which initially manifested itself in falls and severely limited his mobility for the rest of his life. It did not, however, limit his mind and the less able he became to move around the more he seemed able to extract meaning from the most unpromising of documents. He embraced the new world of Information Technology, which enabled him to visit electronically what he could not visit in person, to zoom in on difficult texts and to generate material of his own.

Radley History Club was formed in 1997. Stan was one of the first members and joined the committee. After a spell as programme secretary, he took charge of the Club’s archive – what was at that point a grand title for not a lot. He continued as Club archivist until his death, by when he had built up a very rich and diverse repository of knowledge, all ordered and catalogued with meticulous care, building on his early professional expertise. As well as manorial records, estate records, maps, wills and probate documents, and Victorian photographs there is much about everyday life in more recent times and also a collection of discs on which are recorded the early memories of older Radley residents. At the same time, Stan found time to help his old employer, Oxfordshire County Council, which was creating an electronic catalogue of its photographic archive, so that it was searchable online. He processed some 70,000 items, over half the collection.

In 2007 Stan’s work for village and county was recognised by the British Association for Local History, which gave him its annual Award for Personal Achievement. Despite his failing mobility, he was able to receive this in person in London. The award was accompanied by an appreciation of his work in Local History News (on which this piece draws) aptly entitled ‘A Tower of Strength’.

But he did not stop there! In his last few years Stan turned his attention to the transcription of Radley manorial records, wills and probate documents – most from the early sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. These had been sitting in national and county archives, but largely unexplored and unexploited. Some were in a terrible state, with much of the parchment eaten away by time. What could be read was often faint, in the unfamiliar handwriting of the time, and not only in Latin but in the coded version of that language which was used for such documents. His brilliant deciphering of this rich material enabled life in the village to be reconstructed and was crucial to the Club’s book, Early Modern Radley 1547-1768, published in 2014.

Also published by Radley History Club in 2014 was The Changing Boundaries of Radley and Sunningwell, a book which Stan himself co-researched and co-authored with Peter McWhirter (another Club member of the same vintage as Stan). This again demonstrated Stan’s ability to focus on fine detail and unconsidered fragments of evidence to unravel the past.

As well as being a key person in local history circles, Stan was a well-known and popular figure in his home village of Radley. In 2006 he received a Contribution to the Community award from his local MP. Many recall the monthly brain teasers which he set for Radley News and he was a leading light in the Radley Retirement Group. He was to be seen out and about on his mobility scooter, which he drove a little too rashly, in the pub near his home and at local events. He was normally wearing a boyish smile as in the photo which accompanies this article.”

Stanley Baker at the Radley History Club Christmas DInner, 2004
Stanley Baker at the Radley History Club Christmas DInner, 2004

Club celebrates its 20th birthday

The first meeting of Radley History Club was held on 14 May 1997. Before the main meeting on 8 May 2017, some 55 members and guests enjoyed a glass of bubbly and a piece of specially commissioned birthday cake to celebrate 20 years of Radley History Club. Chairman Richard Dudding called on Barbara Wootton, one of two of the founder members who is still a member today, to cut the cake which featured various aspects of Radley and Radley History Club. Barbara was assisted in this task by Rita Ford, who while not present at the first meeting, joined what was then a small group of enthusiasts in September 1997 and has been a stalwart of the Club ever since.

20th birthday cake enjoyed by members on 8 May 2017
20th birthday cake enjoyed by members on 8 May 2017
Cake by Mandy Collingwood, Photo by Ian Collingwood
Barbara Wootton, on the left in the pink jumper, and Rita Ford cut the cake
Barbara Wootton, on the left in the pink jumper, and Rita Ford cut the cake

There was also a display, put together by Rita and Brian Ford, about the Club’s founding and events over the years. Copies of the Club’s many publications were also on show for members to look at while they enjoyed their drink and piece of cake.

Display about the Club's history
Display about the Club’s history at the celebrations

Read about the exhibition to celebrate the Club’s 10th Anniversary

Exhibition and launch of Club’s book about Radley Church

When: Saturday 1 October: 10.30 am to 5 pm and Sunday 2 October: 1.30 pm to 5 pm
Where: Radley Church, Church Road, Radley
About the book: The Story of a Village Church: St James the Great, Radley
Price: £12 plus P&P – available to buy online or at Radley Village Shop

Front cover of the Radley History Club book, 'The Story of a Village Church: St James the Great, Radley'

Carefully researched and recorded by various members of Radley History Club, the book tells us about the building itself, the church history which influenced it, and the people who were involved in it, right up to the present day.

Some 150 people visited the exhibition at Radley Parish Church over the two days/ The pews and chairs were cleared away to the sides of the church to create a welcoming space containing a series of displays based on various aspects of the Church and its history. Refreshments were kindly provided in the adjourning Church Room by Radley Women’s Institute.

‘Fascinating’, ‘excellent’, ‘informative’ and ‘very interesting’ are words that crop up time and time again in the comments in the visitors’ book at the exhibition.
Wonderful exhibition – so much we didn’t know. Thank you History Club.

What a fantastic display and I found out something I didn’t know about my grandfather.

View from the balcony of the church set up for the exhibition
View of the church set up for the exhibition

Topics covered by displays included:

  • Parish boundary
  • Origins and buildings
  • Patrons of Radley Church
  • Inside the Church
  • Clergy who have served Radley Church
  • The churchyard and cemeteries
  • The life of the Church today
  • Radley’s bells
  • Radley Church Choir

A timeline from 600 to 2016, which compared events in Radley with linked events in the wider world, attracted particular interest.

The exhibition was opened on the Saturday morning by Revd Pam McKellen who was presented by Club chairman, Richard Dudding, with a copy of the book signed by all the authors. On both days Radley Church’s bell-ringing team rang a short peal before the exhibition opened.

Richard Dudding and Revd Pam McKellan
Visitors study the display material

Floral arrangements around the Church illustrated key aspects of the life of a village church.

Adding further colour were the Sunday School banner and banners dating back to the late 19th century belonging to the Mothers’ Union in Radley and the Girls’ Friendly Society.