Wednesday 13th December, 7.30 pm - St Mary’s Church Hall, Roade

An Evening of Christmas Cheer
With archive displays, presentations by members, refreshments and carol singing with Roade Community Choir.
Non-members are very welcome.
Refreshments will be available.
Entry is £3.00 per person for non-members or £2.00 for members
Telephone enquiries 01604 864498

Scroll down for some pictures and information
about our recent events.

Our calendar of forthcoming events is available on the What's On page.

Projects  - help needed!
"Projects" are an important part of our activities and we welcome help with these.
Please see our current list of ongoing and future projects for more information.



Memorial to Dr John Gwilt, MBE

A display cabinet in memory of Dr John Gwilt, MBE will be unveiled by his son, Dr David Gwilt, at a ceremony at Roade Library on Friday 8th December at 2.15 pm. 

Representatives from local schools, Roade Parish Council, the Police, Neighbourhood Watch and Roade Local History Society will be there as well as friends and family.  The ceremony will be at 2.15 so that children from Roade Primary School can attend.

Dr Gwilt was awarded the MBE for services to the community in Roade.  He was a member and Chairman of the Parish Council, governor of both schools, leader of Neighbourhood Watch for many years, a popular member of Roade Local History Society and supportive of both churches in the village.

Here's an important date for your diary:

On the 8th and 9th of September 2018, at Roade Village Hall, there will be an Exhibition and Celebration of the 180th Anniversary of opening the London to Birmingham Railway.

Look out for further details.

Since 2007 we have been interviewing local residents as part of our Oral History project and we have made these available for purchase on CD.
The interviews each last about an hour (though some are much longer) and can make excellent gifts. Income from these sales helps us to fund our various projects and exhibitions.


Benches and Memorials

RLHS is compiling a database of memorials

such as benches etc in the village, and details

of people so remembered. If you know of one, or have details (especially photos) of these villagers, please contact us.


Recent Events

22nd November 2017
Domestic Order:  Families, Wives and Husbands

Dr Cathy Smith's talk was her third to the Society.  She gave us a fascinating account of the domestic life of ordinary people in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Marriage was not private and communities interfered when behaviour was considered out of order.  They would  bang pots and pans outside the houses of offenders and humiliate men who were dominated or cuckolded by their wives.  A nagging wife might be made to wear a scold's hat. Divorce was not available but there was a practical solution - unfaithful wives could be sold to their lovers.      

25th October 2017
ERNIE (His word is his Bond) The story of the first Premium Bond machine

Roade resident Phil Hayes is the chief engineer of the Colossus Rebuild at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.  He gave us a very interesting and evocative talk about the development of ERNIE 1 (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) and the first Premium Bond prize draw in 1957.  It brought back many memories.


27th September 2017
The fall and rise of the country houses of Northamptonshire since 1880

Neil Lyon’s very accomplished and entertaining talk outlined the many difficulties faced by landed families since the start of the agricultural depression. Houses have been lost and estates have been broken up but a surprising number survived and prospered.


Saturday 22nd July - Roade Village Hall
Exhibition at 1st Roade Scout Group Family Fun Day

In spite of the changeable weather the exhibition was well attended and people greatly enjoyed seeing the Now and Then photographs.  Some former residents had travelled long distances to see it.
Many thanks to Ron Johnson and family and everyone else who helped to re-create the photographs.

Andy and Ron Johnson

Lucy and Sam of Roade Post Office

The Find the Treasure competition was also well supported.  The booty (£5) was won by Nigel Elliott and the second prize (chocolates) was won by Kristy Stoneman.
Many thanks to Peter Mawby, who organised the competition, and Izzy Mawby, a member of 1st Roade Scouts, who helped.

Many thanks are also due to 1st Roade Scouts for providing all the village organisations with an opportunity to meet the wider public.           

1st July 2017 - Visit to the Church of St Neophytos
(formerly St Crispin’s Hospital Chapel)

The former St Crispin’s Hospital Chapel has been converted to the Greek Orthodox church of St. Neophytos, the Recluse of Cyprus. Members and guests (including four Art Group members) enjoyed a very interesting visit guided by Mario Toouli. As well as learning about the Greek Orthodox religion they saw many beautiful icons and some fantastic murals which were done by Northampton artists Henry Bird and GHB Holland in 1953 and were based on studies of various well-known local residents and members of hospital staff.

17th June 2017 - Visit to Delapré Abbey

41 members and guests enjoyed a very interesting private tour of Delapré Abbey, which was not yet open to the public. The main reception rooms have been splendidly restored and there is much fascinating information about people and events. Visitors are encouraged to handle items, sit on chairs and generally get a feel of what it would have been like to live in the house - highly recommended.

After lunch 22 people went on a delightful sunny walk round the grounds led by Peter Mawby. They saw at least 50 new-born blue damselflies, all the usual song and water birds, heron, a wagtail (not pied) and a tree creeper. One person, Terry Deane, even saw an otter, which ran out of the brush across his feet

24th May 2017 - AGM followed by
A History of Leather and the National Leather Collection

Our AGM went well and the Committee were re-elected en bloc.

The Chairman’s Report included thanks to the many members and supporters who have helped us during the year: Alan Atkinson for designing our new logo, Pat Brittle and Denise Calder, who have recently restarted interviewing people for our oral history archive, Patrick Barlow and Alan Mott for their assistance with the development of a forthcoming new website and all those who help with our events. We still need help with projects and archiving our growing collection of documents and memorabilia.

We then enjoyed an excellent talk by Philip Warner, Curator of the National Leather Collection.

Philip is developing a museum and leather craft centre in the Grosvenor Centre, Northampton and would welcome assistance from volunteers. If you are interested in helping, please email: Philip’s talk was inspirational - lively and informative with illustrations we could all relate to. The museum promises to be fascinating and a great asset to the town and we look forward to visiting it when it opens.

26th April 2017

Victorian Gardens - ingenuity and hard work

This was a very successful event shared with Roade Gardening Club.  Christine Stones is an excellent speaker and her lively, entertaining and informative talk was much appreciated by a large audience.  One visitor who happened to be staying in the area enjoyed it so much that he gave a generous anonymous donation towards the cost of the wine. He is a keen gardener and was impressed by the co-operation between the two groups. We have always been well supported by other village organisations and look forward to some more enjoyable shared events in the future.

22nd February 2017

The Cooper Collection: Three Generations of Northamptonshire Photographers.

Another entertaining talk by Gary Shaeffer with

many photographs of Northampton town and county.


22nd March 2017

Charles II and the Dukes of Grafton with emphasis on their Northants connections.

A very interesting talk by Charles FitzRoy, who brought a variety of rare maps and documents.


28th January 2017 - Members’ New Year Lunch


Our New Year Lunch was again held at Roade Bowls Club with excellent food provided by popular chef Martin Brown and his team.  Many thanks to all who helped to make this such an enjoyable occasion.  The raffle was well supported by donors and punters and helped to make the event viable.  Particular thanks are due to Chris Hillyard, Marian Barber, Alastair Inglis and Sheila Fitchett for their entertaining readings and to Marian Barber, Jean Balderstone and Sylvia Mawby for the beautiful table arrangements.






Chris Hillyard

Martin Brown & Alastair Inglis

Chris Denton




Our recent talks have been well attended by both members and non-members and we hope to see even more people at our events in the coming year. If you haven’t been to one, do come along – you will be very welcome.

14th December - An evening of Christmas Cheer

Many thanks to everyone who took part in and helped at our lively Christmas event, which was very well attended and packed with displays and presentations. Excellent presentations were given by:

Stuart Shrubb re 1st Roade Scouts who have been celebrating their 60th birthday

Elizabeth Dyke re Roade Secondary Modern School (now EWS Academy), which also recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, and Jay Mainprize who gave us a student’s view of the school today. There was also a popular display of memorabilia kindly lent by the school.

Peter Mawby re the history of Pianoforte Supplies Ltd. Lack of time prevented him from completing his talk and it will be continued at a future occasion. Peter also showed a film of the PSL site from the air by drone kindly lent by a member’s son-in-law.

A display of PSL items recently donated to the Society.

Other displays included items from the recent exhibition about Claude Grahame-White, artwork sent home by Vic Johnson during World War 2 and a replica of the AA Roade road sign that was originally located in the area of Roade Secondary School.

The evening finished with some very enjoyable carol singing led by members of Roade Community Choir, joined by two members of Hartwell Heart and Soul Choir and Village Technician and Jinx singer Andy Johnson- many thanks to all.

23rd November - The NHS Then and Now

There was a very good turnout for Dr Alan Sutton’s talk - a personal reflection of over 40 years of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ in the NHS.  He gave us an entertaining account of his training, work at Northampton General Hospital and recruitment as a Roade GP following a chance meeting with Dr Bull outside Brierleys (a fore-runner of B&M).  He reflected on the many changes in the NHS during his career and commented that if you don’t want to work at weekends and nights “don’t become a doctor”.  He was warmly applauded and thanked by many appreciative ex-patients who flocked to speak to him.

26th October - My Father's Journey Through WWII

Andy Tennet gave us an excellent and absorbing account of his father William's experiences during WWII.  He was unable to reach Dunkirk and had to find his own way back to England.  After witnessing the sinking of the troopship Lancastria, which he had tried to board, he returned home in a French fishing boat.  Later he travelled through France, Belgium and Germany with Montgomery's staff, ending up in Berlin.  William kept many interesting documents, such as Montgomery's strongly religious letters of encouragement to the troops.  We also heard about William's family life and were touched by this warm tribute to a likeable man who had served his country well.  No wonder his release papers recommended him as "a very useful man" who had met "in a willing spirit, all demands made upon him".

28th September - Joined at the Hippo

In September Kevin Varty gave a very entertaining talk about the lives and music of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, who first worked together at a school revue in 1939 and gave their last performance in1967.  As promised it was a gnight of gnostalgia and gnus and we all joined in the chorus of "Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud" at the end.

17th September - Visit to Hyde Farm House

Hyde Farm House originated as a 14th century hall house and is the oldest secular building in Roade. The Hyde estate then belonged to the Augustinian abbey of St James, Northampton, and had its own openfield system, water mill, fish ponds and dovecote.


Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Nola for a delightful visit and to Mr and Mrs Stockdale for letting us see the dovecote.

23rd July - Exhibition celebrating the World's First Night Navigation Flight
(combined with Roade Scouts 60
th Anniversary Celebrations and Family Fun Day)
at Roade Village Hall

Claude Grahame-White made history when he took off from Roade early on 28th April 1910 during an air race from London to Manchester. He had landed in a field by the railway the evening before and took off at about 2.50 am with the aid of lanterns and car headlights. Crowds flocked to Roade and it was said that the pubs remained open all night.

Grahame-White was a celebrated pioneer and entrepreneur in the early days of aviation and motor vehicles. The exhibition included a rare Grahame-White car, various classic cars, a model Sopwith Camel and a display about Roade in 1910 and 1911, including information from the 1911 Census.

Our May speaker, Roy Smart, gave a very lively and entertaining account of the life of David, 1st Earl Beatty and his central controversial part in the battle of Jutland.  This was well-timed as the centenary of the battle was on 31st May and Roy’s talk gave us a good background for the many articles and debates about the event.

Beatty had great charm, courage and panache and was constantly promoted over men of senior rank and much wider experience.  He became a great celebrity but we know now that he was less than honest about his conduct of the battle, which might have gone better if he had been more experienced.

In April Dr Cathy Smith gave an excellent talk on ‘Lunacy and the Victorian Asylum’ including details of the often surprisingly enlightened treatment patients received at Northampton General Lunatic Asylum (now St Andrew’s  Hospital) which opened in 1838. 


The talk drew a large audience, including18 non-members, and the number and variety of questions they asked showed how interested they were.

Our March speaker, Angela Malin, is known to many, as she lives in Hartwell and is a supporter of our Society. 


She is Vice-Chair of Northamptonshire Family History Society and gave a very informative, helpful talk on researching family history and the surprising variety of resources available.  Many of the sources mentioned are also useful for local history.


Information about the Northamptonshire Family History Society can be found on their website:

Our New Year Lunch in January was held at the Bowls Club with food provided by highly regarded chef Martin Brown.  It was a great success, which we hope to repeat next year.

Sheila reading a poem by Pam Ayres at the New Year Lunch

In February we were given a very erudite talk on ‘The Recorders of Northampton’ by His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo.  A packed hall listened to the ups and downs of the various Recorders since 1478, and were fascinated to learn of the development of the role, and the ‘dangers’ faced by the post-holders if they fell out of favour with the monarch of the day. He also explained the roles of the different courts, and gave an insight on how important our county town had been in days gone by.

We are very grateful to him as he had researched the subject specially for our event.

Future Events

 Unless otherwise indicated, all events take place at 7.30 pm at St. Mary’s Church Hall, where refreshments are available.  Admission charges for talks and visits are £2 for members (annual subscription £5), £3 for adult non-members, 50p for children (up to 16) of non-members.  Members’ children up to 16 are admitted free.



Royal Canadian Air Force

Roade Local History Society has installed a small memorial to commemorate six Canadian airmen who lost their lives when their Wellington bomber was struck by lightning over Roade 70 years ago.

Full Circle - connecting people with the screen heritage of the Midlands.

Tucked away in boxes in attics and sheds, cupboards and garages are the filmed records of families and communities which are a uniquely important window into our local and community history.
The Media Archives for Central England (MACE), the regional moving image archive for the East and West Midlands, is seeking 60 partner organisations to look for this valuable material in their own communities as part of a project to find and uncover the hidden filmed heritage of the midlands.
The project will provide new copies of film for depositors and for community use in local schools, community archives and local collections.
It will ensure the long term preservation of the materials found so that it can go on being used by future generations. Roade Local History Society has received several films that qualify for free copying for the owners. We will be holding a film show in the New Year, but meantime would welcome talking to anyone who has potentially suitable films that they may no longer be able to view and would like converted to DVD.  This covers films of such things as public events, shows, gatherings, scenes, etc in Northamptonshire, but does not include films of holidays or family.

If anyone has film that should be preserved or you would like copying to DVD, please contact our Secretary (see the Contacts page).

The launch, in September 2009, of our publication ‘Roade Through the Camera’ was very successful and currently over 900 books have been sold. Copies can be purchased in the village at T & H Newsagents in the High Street or by post – please see our Publications page for further details.
We are building a comprehensive archive of photographs and documents about Roade for research and publication. To date we have produced 'Roade Roll of Honour’, ‘Roade Through The Camera’ and 'Roade Village Scrapbook 1953'.
We also have a library of back issues of various local history magazines and publications available on loan to members.

We have been organising events related to local history since May 2005. These normally cover Roade and its environs and sometimes the wider county. A feature of events has been 'Sons and Daughters of the Village": presentations by residents, past and present, who have created  history in their lifetime or have interesting reminiscences about their life in Roade.

Events take place every month (except August) and start at 7.30pm in St Mary"s Church Hall, unless otherwise stated. Non-members are very welcome. Entry is £3.00 per person for non-members or £2.00 for members and refreshments are available.

For details of our next event, please see What's On or Roade News or the Notice Boards around Roade.