Following on from his talk last year on the Boer War, Michael will explore the wider life of late Victorian and Edwardian Henley. He will examine how the town grew, developing a more complex local economy and social structure as it extended physically. He will examine how changes to the town were reflected in its social life and local politics - in tensions between brewers and builders, between non-conformity and the established church, in loyalties to town and county and the contribution of the town and its surrounding villages to South Oxfordshire’s unprecedented election of a Liberal Member of Parliament at the general election in 1906. He will examine some of the key figures in the town at that time, and the contribution made by Henley to the life of the region and the nation in the years up to the First World war.
The twin villages of Goring and Streatley grew up on either side of the Thames where it cuts a passage through the hills to make the Goring Gap. The river played a huge part in the development around this crossing place, but other communication routes were important too - Icknield Way, the Ridgeway and the turnpike road through Streatley. The Gap was transformed by the coming of the Great Western Railway in 1840, but one village stood still and the other grew large. This talk traces these developments and examines the factors and people involved.
An Introduction to the MERL (The Museum of English Rural Life) and the University of Reading Special Collections followed by the story of the Swing Riots exploring the causes, events and aftermath with an emphasis on how they unfolded in Berkshire in 1830-1831.