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Monday, June 11, 2018

43rd ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF BERKSHIRE FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY followed by 'MORE THAN THREE MEN IN A BOAT: the rise and fall of pleasure boating on the Thames. (Mon. 11 Jun, 2018 7:15 pm - 8:15 pm)

We are delighted to have secured Dr. Simon Wenham as our speaker in the historic Crown & Thistle hotel, a stone's throw from the River Thames, the water artery of Historic Berkshire. Simon is an expert on the Victorians and particularly in the growth of pleasure boating as a leisure activity. He is the author of Pleasure Boating on the Thames: a History of Salter Bros 1858 - Present Day (updated in 2017). The Victorian period is often described as the 'golden age of the Thames', as it was during this time that the river was transformed into a vast conduit of leisure. It was the era of steam launch trips, Venetian fairs, regattas, picnics, carnivals and 'three men in a boat'. This talk covers more than 150 years of pleasure boating and shows why some common perceptions about the river's history are misleading.

We do hope that you are able to arrive well before the meeting so that you can experience some of the history and uniqueness of Abingdon. To help you get the most out of your visit we will be offering two different guided walks. Our first walk on offer is about one hour long and within the town centre. It will start from the courtyard of the Crown and Thistle Hotel at about 4.30 pm, members of the Vale of White Horse branch will lead you on a gentle stroll, pointing out various places of interest. The walk will take you to see the only remaining parts of Abingdon Abbey, a Victorian folly and the old County Hall. Don’t worry if you miss the guided walk, we will also have a self-guide version available.

The second guided walk available on the afternoon is a little more strenuous. It will be led by Martin Buckland, a member of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and takes approximately 3 hours. ‘The River’s of Abingdon Walk’ will start  from under The County Hall) at approximately 2.00 pm, you will be taken through the Abbey meadows and over Abingdon weir and lock and onto Swift Ditch and the ancient lock remains, then back along the eastern bank of the Thames back towards the town. Much of this walk is along tow paths and uneven ground and appropriate footwear is a must Martin has led guided walks for many years and his walks are always interesting; this walk will show you the other waterways within Abingdon as well as the River Thames.

Whichever walk you choose, you will be given plenty of time to get a meal or refreshments before the meeting. Abingdon has many good tea rooms, restaurants and pubs. We are pleased to say that Berkshire FHS members will be entitled to a 10% discount at ‘The Kings Head & Bell’ which is at the end of our guided walks and only a short distance from the AGM venue.

You may wish to see the full AGM notice with directions to Abingdon and parking information.

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