Potters Bar & District Historical Society

The BACKGROUND by Brian Warren (president 1999-2000)

It was in 1934 that the South Mimms Rural District Council became the Potters Bar Urban District Council (UDC). Twenty-five years later in 1959 the UDC celebrated its Silver Jubilee by staging an exhibition, at Oakmere House, which comprised materials of local historical interest. Details of the exhibits do not concern us here, but anyone who is interested may consult the catalogue which is in the Society’s library.

So great was the interest generated by this exhibition that the UDC was prompted to call a public meeting to consider the formation of a local history society. This meeting, which was chaired by Councillor E.T. Allen J.P. (Chairman of the UDC), was attended by between forty and fifty people. These people were in agreement with the proposal and so the Potters Bar Historical Society was born. A list of objects of the Society was drawn up, and in this record, we shall look at these individually and, using the minute and scrap books as our source, see how well the Society has kept to them.

The Beginning

The inaugural meeting referred to above and the first committee meeting which immediately followed it were both held at Oakmere House, on 14th of July 1959 In addition to Cllr. Allen one other member of the Council was present, Cllr. W.F. Newland. Also present was Mr. W.A. Stevens, Clerk to the UDC. Officers and a committee were elected. Cllr. Allen was the first President, and this started a precedent – from then until the abolition of the UDC in 1974, the Chairman of the Council was always the President of the Society. Cllr. Newland became the first Treasurer, an office which he filled for four years (he left the district in 1963). Miss C. Relph, Branch Librarian, Middlesex County Library, was elected Honorary Secretary with Mr.E. Alty as assistant. Subscriptions were fixed at 5/- (25p) for adults and 2/6d (12 1/2 p) for those still at school. A committee of six people was also elected but none of its original members (including officers) are with the Society today. One member (Mrs. Le Gros) became the Society’s first honorary life member. She died in 1987.

With only one dissentient, the following objects were adopted:

to encourage the preservation of things of local interest or likely to be so in the future
to study local history
to arrange for papers to be read on matters of local and general historical interest and to organise meetings of members for these purposes.
to arrange visits to places having historical associations
to undertake excavations of historical sites within and around the district.
The First Committee Meeting

According to the minute book the President called an emergency meeting immediately after the public meeting. Mr. Sturges became the Chairman of the Society at this meeting.
Plans were made for future activities. There were to be two public meetings in the Autumn and two more in the Spring. No meetings were to be held in December or January because of the Christmas holidays, but an outing was proposed as a possibility for April (1960).

Possible speakers were discussed and venues for outings were suggested. The Middlesex Archaeological Society was to be asked to provide a list of speakers although there appeared to be a sufficiency of local talent available to fulfil the needs of the first season. Enfield was favoured for the Society’s first outing.

The Silver Jubilee

In 1984 the Society celebrated its 25th birthday and it was at that time that the first edition of this work appeared. The events planned were a historic walk from Potters Bar to South Mimms, a Social Evening at Ingham Lodge by kind permission of Mrs. Muriel Brittain, our then President, and a visit to Cliveden. The latter took place on the 7th of July during the time of the Cliveden Festival, which meant we were able to complete the day with a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ acted out of doors by the Weber Douglas Academy. During the interval there was a recital of Elizabethan songs which heightened the pleasure of the entertainment. During the day members were able to tour the house and visit the beautiful gardens. For many however the highlight was the walk through the hanging woods above the Thames valley.

The grounds of Ingham Lodge looked beautiful bathed in the warm summer sunshine as the guests assembled for the Jubilee Social, on the evening of the 28th of July 1984. Chilled wine or iced orange juice (the gift of Muriel Brittain and Brian Warren) was presented to each guest on arrival. To get people mixing and talking Terry Goulding had arranged a picture quiz in the garden using old and new photographs of Potters Bar and district. The winner of this event was Dr. Arnold Lynch. During the evening talks were given by Muriel Brittain (who also gave guided tours of the house) and Ken Rutherford Davis.

Sixteen members turned up at Wyllyotts Manor for the 40th Anniversary Talk in September 1999 where, before starting off they were given a talk on the outline history of the manor by Helen Baker. The party proceeded along the line path to Cranborne Road end then by way of Footpath 15 (probably the oldest right of way in the area) to Minims Hall, where they were met by the then residents, Mr. and Mrs. Herring. After a tour of the house the party left by way of Cecil Road for South Mimms Church. Here a talk about the church’s history was given by the vicar, the Revd. Robert Gage. Members were able to look around the church and, if they so wished, to ascend the tower and photograph the motorway construction on Ridge Hill, the final phase of the M25.

So now in 2020’s the society has been proudly collecting the history of Potters Bar and District for over 70 years, our use of the word district means we cover, Potters Bar, South Mimms, Bentley Heath, Northaw and Little Heath

And now another date to add to our list is, 2022 we have our own dedicated web site,

thank you for visiting us.