Bedford Architectural Archaeological
& Local History Society

Bedford bridge 1824.
Putnoe Heights Church Centre

AUTUMN & WINTER 2019 - 2020

All meetings are held at Putnoe Heights Church
& Community Centre, Putnoe Heights, Bedford MK41 8EB.

Visitors welcome (£3 donation requested)


Wednesday 11th September 2019 at 7.30pm.
The BAALHS Annual General Meeting followed by a talk.
Stuart Antrobus “Popular Songs of the Second World War: what they tell us about life in WW2 Britain.”

Sunday 22nd September 2019.
Coach trip to the Museum of East Anglian Life at Stowmarket.

Wednesday 9th October 2019 at 7.30pm.
Nick Da Costa: “Live Forever! The Magic of Egyptian Hieroglyphs”.

Wednesday 13th November 2019 at 7.30pm.
Dr.Denise McHugh: “Bedford and the Raj: Victorian and Edwardian Social Life Locally.”
Joint meeting with the Bedford branch of the Historical Association. Book sale.

Wednesday 11th December 2019 at 7.30pm.
Bridget Flanagan:"Artists along the Ouse at St Ives". Christmas refreshments.

Wednesday 8th January 2020 at 7.30pm.
David Fowler: "The Pyghtle Works, Baillie Scott & Sir Albert Richardson".

Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 7.30pm.
Dr.Jonathan Rodell: "Bedfordshire's non-conforist culture".

Wednesday 11th March 2020 at 7.30pm.
Speaker to be confirmed: "Archaeology on our doorstep".

Wednesday 8th April 2020 at 7.30pm.
Bob Ricketts: “Jolly Boating Weather – Pleasure Boats, Bedford Regatta & Rowing.

----------------- FOR MORE DETAILS OF THE ABOVE EVENTS SEE BELOW -----------------

Wednesday 11th September 2019 at 7.30 pm.
BAALHS Annual General Meeting will be followed by" Popular Songs of World War Two.

Stuart Antrobus will play extracts from period recordings and show what popular songs can tell us about life in England during the war. A chance for members of a certain age to relive their childhood or youth through popular music and for the rest of us to understand the pressures of life at that time of uncertainty. You can even have a singalong at the end!

Wednesday 9th October 2019 at 7.30 pm.
"Live Forever! The Magic of Egyptian Hieroglyphs."

Nick Da Costa will introduce us to the magic of the Egyptians! Hieroglyphs, the written language of Ancient Egypt, were the world’s earliest writing system. But the secret to understanding them was lost for almost 2,000 years. This talk tells the fascinating story of how the ‘code’ was finally broken and provides a lucid and entertaining introduction to reading and understanding hieroglyphs, covering the more common phrases to be found on monuments and in museums. The great interest of these messages lies in the unique insight they give us into the beliefs of a people who lived over 5,000 years ago; how they taught about their country, their many gods, their Pharaohs and – most fascinatingly – about life and death. Nick,for most of his career, worked in advertising, but later moved into video production and documentaries, creating videos for historic sites such as Bodiam Castle, Ironbridge Gorge Museums, The Nothe Fort and the Tank Museum. Hieroglyphs have been a passion for years and he is currently preparing a book on the subject for publication.

Wednesday 13th November 2019 at 7.30 pm.
“Bedford & the Raj – Vtctorian & Edwardian Life Locally."

Dr. Denise McHugh will explore a key period in Bedford’s development and the strong links to the Raj. Denise’s thesis for the University of Leicester was on “The Victorian County Town: Bedford and Lincoln, 1860-1910” makes for fascinating reading. She will explore such issues as servant keeping – Bedford’s level of female domestic servants at 310 per 1,000 to the number of households was over double that for urban districts nationally (149) and only just below that of resort towns such as Cheltenham! She also examines how county town shops changed rapidly from the 1850s encouraged by changing consumer behaviour. As Bedford sought to reposition itself as a prime residential area, civic development focused on health, the provision of ‘respectable leisure’ (‘Bedford by the River’) and support for its high calibre independent schools, laying the foundations for own town today.This will be a joint meeting with the Bedford branch of the Historical Association. There will also be a book sale during the interval.

Wednesday 11th December 2019 at 7.30 pm.
“Artists Along the Ouse at St Ives."

Author, Bridget Flanagan will talk about and illustrate her ground-breaking research on the artists’ colony concentrated along a stretch of the River Ouse around St. Ives from 1880 to 1930, who produced some delightful town and country scenes. Most of the artists didn’t just spend a few weeks working in St. Ives and neighbouring villages, but settled there, resulting in an amazing flowering of artistic talent. Well over 100 artists are known to have worked along this stretch of the Ouse, and around 40 were resident as part of the colony. One family of artists, the Frasers, moved to St. Ives from Bedford (and The Higgins has a good collection of their work), and once in the St. Ives area they concentrated their work there.

Wednesday 8th January 2020 at 7.30 pm.
"The Pyghtle Works, Baillie Scott & Sir Albert Richardson."

Senior Bedford Tour Guide and BAALHS Committee member David Fowler will tell the story of the Pyghtle Works, founded by John P. White in 1896 for the manufacture of architectural joinery. John White initially purchased a small plot of land from W. H. Allen, but acquired further pieces until the site eventually covered over three acres. With the addition of larger premises, White added the design and manufacture of garden furniture and ornaments, building a national reputation. From 1906 White had showrooms and offices in Bond Street, London. With the declaration of war in 1939, the firm practically closed down, but the craftsmen became employed making aircraft parts, including rudders and doors for Spitfires. In 1960 the firm merged with Samuel Elliott Ltd of Reading, the works closed and the land was sold back to W. H. Allen. The work the firm produced can be seen in abbeys, cathedrals, churches, hospitals and universities across the country. Examples include some of the internal fittings for the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon (1932); a memorial table to John and Agnes Clarke in St. Paul’s Church, Bedford; a pulpit sounding board, also in St. Paul’s Church; an altar table for the Battle of Britain memorial chapel in Westminster Abbey (1947); fittings and furniture for St. Margaret’s at Westminster and churches at Hitchin, Woodbridge and Henlow; screens, seating, panelling and doors for the newly restored Church of St. Bride in Fleet Street, London (re-dedicated in 1957); panelling, an organ screen and doors for Queen’s University, Belfast; as well as work for Cambridge, Durham, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield universities. The Pyghtle Works had a long-standing relationship with Sir Albert Richardson – exemplified by the altar table for the Battle of Britain chapel, which he designed and the 1959 memorial in York Minster to the Most Reverend Cyril Forster Garbett. Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865-1945), one of the leading lights of the Arts & Crafts movement was also associated with the Works. Baillie Scott lived and worked for 12 years in Bedford, collaborating with John White.

Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 7.30 pm.
"Bedfordshire's Non-Conformist Culture."

Dr. Jonathan Rodell, author of “Rise of Methodism: A Study of Bedfordshire 1736-1851” (BHRS 2014), will trace the development of Bedfordshire’s strong Non-Conformist culture during the 18thC and 19thC. Non-Conformism heavily influenced religious, private and civic life in Bedford and has left a lasting legacy. Methodism, in particular, was the 19th century’s largest popular movement, playing a significant role in awakening the political consciousness of ordinary men in a rapidly-changing century, and its contribution deserves to be more widely recognised.

Wednesday 11th March 2020 at 7.30 pm
A talk on a topical aspect of local archaeology. Details will follow shortly.

Wednesday 8th April 2020 at 7.30 pm
“Jolly Boating Weather - Pleasure Boats, Bedford Regatta & Rowing."

Bob Ricketts, BAALHS President and editor of the Bedford Local History Magazine, will tell the story of ‘Bedford by the River’, focusing the growing use of the River Great Ouse and its banks for leisure and pleasure from the early Victorian period. As the commercial use of the Ouse Navigation declined, the riverside was developed by civic leaders as a ‘pleasure ground’ – the creation of the Embankment, Russell Park, St. Mary’s Gardens, the Suspension Bridge – a place to see and be seen. In parallel, the popular recreational use of the river itself grew – Bedford’s first Regatta in September 1848, which by the 1860s had become a major and boisterous annual social event. School boat clubs were established (Bedford School in 1861, the Commercial School – BMS – in 1888) and amateur rowing clubs, starting with the Argonauts from the 1850s, followed by the Bedford Ouse Rowing Club in 1870. All were enabled, of course, by Bedford’s growing boat-building and boat hire industry – Henry Layton by 1854, Chetham, Sons & Biffen from
1862-64, Richard Goatley and the Bryants.


For any queries about the programme,
contact Bob Ricketts, 68 Mendip Crescent, Bedford, MK41 9EP, telephone 01234 313608
or e-mail Bob, info@baalhs.org.uk.