top of page
Search
  • DCHP

Before the website



Long before the Denham Community History Project began posting and publishing articles, maps, research, and photographs on this website, members and guests of the History of Denham Society had been meeting and sharing historical information about our community.


Pamela Reed, and her husband Roger, are well known members of the wider Denham community. Their home is in Denham Green. Their daughter was married in St. Mary’s Church and now she and her family live nearby.

With a technical college background in metallurgy, Pam helped produce and test aircraft instruments using precious metals that did not corrode.  For a time, she worked in the London Borough of Hillingdon for the local authority. 


In 1992 Pam and Roger's interest in the history of Denham began with their collection of postcards of old buildings which they then compared with new photographs then of the buildings as they had been changed through the years. Pam soon found herself chairing a group of local history enthusiasts which formed the Denham History Society. Pam remained in the chair for the nearly 25 years that the Society remained in existence. This is her story and the story of the Society she led.



Beginnings and aims


Pam described to us how “the group began with conversations in the Vestry among a dozen or so who turned up to express their interest in historical topics.” Her own personal interest began when she took a course in family history, but then extended her interest to researching the names on the War Memorial outside St. Mary’s as well as memorials inside and outside the church.  


By October 1994, the History of Denham Society had a constitution with commendable objectives:


·      To collect as much historical information as possible on a topic,

·      To record that information for future use by others,

·      To search and identify accurate background information,

·      To encourage questions and participation at every meeting,


The Society was also committed to sustain enthusiasm in its leadership and to planning for Annual General Meetings at which its findings and activities would be reported.


In addition to Pam Reed as the Chairman, other well known Denham residents filled the society's officer positions:  Terry Skelton was its secretary, Shirley Lachau treasurer, followed by Mike Dymott, Peter Temple and Graham Cooke.  All served with devotion for years, and were joined later by Marian and Lewis Gollop and Pam Cook, who became treasurer after Mike Dymott. 



The Society and the Marshall Murders


When dealing with a large project, members divided the responsibility for research into smaller more specific parts.  Pam remembers “The Marshall project about the murders of the Marshall family in 1870 by an itinerant blacksmith who was later hanged, is an example of our big projects. There was a lot of missing information about this tragedy to be uncovered."


After about a year, the History of Denham Society members had collected much of that information, including that researched earlier researched by Gerrards Cross resident Colin le Mesurier.  Finally, they searched the archives in Aylesbury and went through some disorganised papers in the Denham archives in the Uxbridge Library, and when possible, the prison records. 


By chance in St. Mary’s church one Sunday, a member of the Denham Wives group met Neil Watson, a now former police officer who had served at Pinner Police Station. He was also researching the 1870 Marshall murders.


The History of Denham Society shared their research with Neil who subsequently authored The Denham Massacre published in 2018.  Pam remembers that Neil had a photograph which he thought was of a gravestone that he could not find.  Pam identified the photograph as a Victorian Memorial Card which had been used as a memento of the deaths.  As a result, it was not to be found as a tombstone in St Mary’s churchyard as Neil had expected. 


On February 15, 2007 with the History of Denham Society members and the Denham Parish Council members in attendance, the Rector, of St. Mary's Adrian Hirst, dedicated a new, small marker stone.  






This new marker is adjacent to the large and detailed 137 year old Marshall family tombstone. Although listed on the tombstone as a victim of the murders, the grandmother of the Marshall family, Mary was actually buried in a separate grave in St. Mary's churchyard with her husband who had died some years before.



Activities


Over the years, the History of Denham Society met in various venues around Denham parish: the Vestry at St. Mary’s, St. Mark’s Hall Denham Green, Denham Village Memorial Hall, and the Higher Denham Community Centre.  Eventually, St. Mark’s Hall became the permanent venue for its meetings and many of its events. 

  

The society's early membership and guests frequently numbered 50-60, sometimes more. Communication with members was through the society's newsletter.   


The Newsletter included a summary of previous activities, a schedule of upcoming events and often an inquiry from someone who had emigrated from the UK and was looking for ancestors in the Denham area.  The Newsletter reported that quiz nights were often very successful with fish and chips served halfway through the proceedings, along with a raffle and box of wine to the winning team. 


Other times, for example, the Society hosted a BBC-style antiques roadshow in the Village Hall charging only 50p as an entrance fee.  Members and guests were encouraged to “Dig out your family heirlooms and come and join us.”  Charging only £1 per item, auctioneers and valuers from Academy Auctions in Ealing would value the item and also advise for how much each treasure should be insured .  In addition, there were various side shows and refreshments. Pam said "The Society filled the programmes with a mix of speakers as well as other ways to interest people with histories of all kinds." 


All profits from the Society's events were donated to charities - in 1994 to the Red Cross. 


Pam herself was a proof-reader for One Thousand Years in a Village Church: The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Denham whose author was Hazel Harries.  The book was published in 1998 and Pam is understandably proud of her two copies signed by Hazel as well as her ‘working copy.’ 






Disbanding


Why then did the History of Denham Society disband ?  There were a number of reasons. Pam described how members of the group were ageing and it was becoming increasingly difficult for some of the members to get to the meetings. She told how "Younger people were often very busy with their families, and were not joining."


“Speakers began to be more expensive, and although our membership fees increased over the years, it was becoming difficult to afford speakers without charging our members more than many could afford. The membership fees were always less than £10 per year but some speakers were charging £250 for a talk that lasted an hour."

Charges for the venues also became too expensive for the Society, which by this time in 2018, was down to 16 regular members.”


Pam really misses everything about the Denham History Society. "I still have a lot of the work we did and it would be nice if others could look at it, use it and enjoy what we did.  After sorting, it will all be donated to the archives in Aylesbury.”


Legacy


Though the Denham Community History Project does not provide a forum for conversations about historical topics in the same way that the Denham History Society did, having research outcomes posted here at www.denhamhistory.online  offers an excellent medium to give access to fascinating memories, photographs and even maps of Denham – sometimes including our wider communities as well.  It’s interesting to note the number of viewers that each article has had – several hundred for many of the articles, with 728 viewers for the most-viewed. We are indebted to the Denham History Society for the valuable legacy of research it has left. So thanks to Pam Reed for sharing a few of her valuable memories of the Society.



Sources


Photos


Marker stone dedication: Press photo by Tony Bell, from Pam Reed collection.

Marshall tombstone: Press photo by Tony Bell, from Pam Reed collection

Newsletter cover: Logo design by Terry Skelton, from Pam Reed collection

 

 

 

105 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page