September 20th 2007: Farmor’s School – in transition

Hugh Dudley, deputy head teacher at Farmor’s School gave an interesting insight as to how Farmor’s made the change from a school of a few hundred when it moved to the Park site in 1961, to a comprehensive school in 1966 and in 2007 has 1094 pupils. It also gave an insight to the great changes in education that were happening when some of the audience were at school and was also an exercise in nostalgia for ex teachers and former pupils present.

Mr Dudley gave the Society a metal box with Farmor’s Endowed School printed on the side which was used as safe storage for registers and also the school cane!

May 17th 2007: Third AGM and Fairford’s Railway

The Society held its third Annual General Meeting at the new venue of Fairford Primary School as the Community Centre is undergoing its refurbishment. The Chairman and Treasurer gave their reports after which the Committee was voted in for another year. The Treasurer divided his report into funds belonging to the Society and funds relating to the Local Heritage Initiative grant. He reported that, as far as the Society’s funds were concerned, expenditure had exceeded revenue and a vote was called for to increase subscriptions from £2.50 to £3. The vote was carried.

After the business meeting Colin Moulden gave a fascinating account of the Fairford Branch Line and its place in railway history. Well illustrated by some excellent photographs, many taken by Colin himself, the talk was very well received as it brought back many memories to some of the Fairfordians in the audience!

February 15th 2007: Along the River Coln in Fairford

Despite technical difficulties Edwin Cuss gave an interesting and informative illustrated talk on views along the River Coln through Fairford. The photographs spanned well over a century, the earliest being 1858. He pointed out important sighting landmarks such as the gas works chimney and the Church and useful dating clues such as costume and the size of trees. One of the more recent pictures was of several youths sitting on the town bridge, one of whom was sitting in the audience much older and wiser!

We were very grateful to the member who lent a substitute projector that enabled the talk to continue. Edwin was very disappointed that his equipment let him down and has offered to give us another talk on a different topic in 2008.

November 16th 2006: Medical Services In Fairford by June Lewis-Jones

June Lewis-Jones gave an informative and entertaining talk on medical practices in the town from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Medical men mentioned during the talk included:

  • Thomas Fayreford who treated people throughout the West Country in the 16th Century including at least one Fairford resident
  • Mr Ducket a licensed surgeon in the town in the mid-18th Century
  • and the Iles, Cornwall and Bloxsome dynasties of doctors serving the town in the 19th and 20 centuries

Also covered were the Retreat lunatic asylum, the Pest House at Burdocks, Fairford Workhouse, Fairford Cottage Hospital and the fundraising efforts of the Carnival for the hospital. The talk was illustrated by pictures from June’s own collection.

Pictures courtesy of June

Fairford Workhouse

Fairford Workhouse

Laying the foundation stone of Fairford Hospital 1887 Laying the foundation stone of Fairford Hospital 1887


June Lewis-Jones gave an informative and entertaining talk on medical practices in the town from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Medical men mentioned during the talk included:

  • Thomas Fayreford who treated people throughout the West Country in the 16th Century including at least one Fairford resident
  • Mr Ducket a licensed surgeon in the town in the mid-18th Century
  • and the Iles, Cornwall and Bloxsome dynasties of doctors serving the town in the 19th and 20 centuries

Hospital Foundation

September 21st 2006: Victorian Fairford by Chris Hobson

On 21st September Chris Hobson gave a talk on Victorian Fairford using a PowerPoint presentation.

He talked about five research tools that he had used to discover the history of Fairford:

  • the national census
  • trade directories
  • the Times Digital Archive
  • the National Burial Register
  • the Internet

    Chris Hobson
    Chris Hobson

Using these sources he then briefly covered four topics: population, transport (coaches and railways), medical and the asylum, shops and services. He then showed an example of what can be found on the Internet by illustrating the career of Alfred Sandling Cowley whose life can be traced from Fairford to South Africa and then to Australia where he became a prominent politician.

Chris then outlined a project that he has been working on that aims to record every resident of Fairford during the 19th Century starting with basic information from the sources mentioned above. When the database is more complete the aim would be to make it available to researchers either via the FHS website or on a PC in the planned Heritage Room of the Community Centre. If anyone would like to assist in finding information to make this project more complete, please contact Chris on Fairford 711768.

May 11th 2006: Second AGM and Yells Brothers

In the business part of the meeting Keith Cottam welcomed the members and outlined the programme for the evening. As an addenda to the Chairman’s report, John Read spoke about the progress of the Fairford Community Play project, for which FHS has obtained a substantial grant. It will be produced in collaboration with Fairford’s schools and FADS over 4 or 5 nights in October 2007 in St Mary’s Church. The LHI grant has also enabled FHS to buy equipment and set up the FHS website and Suzanne Jones of TGN Ltd, who designed the website, demonstrated the contents so far. The business part of the meeting was then concluded, all committee members being re-elected en bloc.

Peter Yells then gave a talk about the family firm of Yells Brothers which was established in 1858 and was involved in the building trade for 120 years. The firm’s first jobs were mainly linked to agriculture there being many large farms in the area e.g Arkells, Cole and Iles. They carried out of lot of work for Dr A C King Turner at The Retreat, one job being to replace all the locks with special asylu

Peter Yells
Peter Yells

m locks at a total cost of £14 which must have been expensive in those days. Another big job was the building of Burdocks, Mr Yells could oversee this from his house as he lived at Vane House in Horcott Road at the time.

When Peter’s father took over more building work was undertaken, houses were constructed on the Burford Road at Lechlade, London Road in Cirencester, Palmer Hall in Fairford (1936), and houses at Blunsdon. The firm often used the designs of Sidney Pile, the architect. Yells employed upwards of 50 men at one time, and during the Second World War some men were able to keep their jobs as it was a reserved occupation but could be called away at short notice to help repairs required by thebombing of London. After the War much of the work involved modernising cottages as grants were then available. Yells converted the Old Farmor’s School into the town library and a youth leader’s flat on the first floor. The firm ceased trading in 1978 due to the general decline in the building market at that time.

Mr Yells brought along many items including company ledgers, day books, customised stationery, and pictures that had been stored in his attic for many year. It was a very interesting insight into another slice of Fairford local history.

February 9th 2006: In Sickness and in Health


a talk by James Turtle, Outreach and Education Officer from the Gloucester Record Office.

James entertained and horrified about 60 members of the Society with information about the plague, remedies and recipes, smallpox and the development of the medical profession. In 1638 all the members of two families in North Nibley died within 1 week and 1 month of each other, their bodies were buried in their back gardens.

In 1714 a universal remedy was ‘snail water’ which was made of snails, earthworms, a ‘few herbs’ mixed with white wine and water. Scrofula was reputed to be cured by the touch of a reigning monarch (this came to an end an end with the death of Queen Anne.

James also explained the development of the medical profession using Dr John Hitchman of Fairford as an example. He was apprenticed to Dr Charles Cornwall for 5 years to learn his profession. He then went to London and gained some qualifications (MRCS, LSA) but in 1858 legislation was passed that doctors had to follow a proper course for a degree and be licensed by the General Medical Council. Dr Hitchman and many other doctors of the time had to apply to the University of St Andrews, provided testimonials and certificates and were then were awarded a degree.

In the 1850s small pox vaccination became compulsory and District Vaccinators were appointed. The Anti-Vaccination League was very strong in Gloucester and in the 1887 the board passed a resolution than no prosecutions of people not having their children vaccinated should take place. However in 1895 there was a smallpox outbreak and 434 people died in Gloucester and the resolution was quickly reversed.

The vote of thanks was given by Colin Watkins.

September 15th 2005: ‘Fairford At War’


On 15th September, over 60 people attended the talk by June Lewis, Fairford’s historian and the Society’s president, on the topic of “Fairford at War”. Among the subjects covered were the Home Guard, the Fire Service, and how Fairford’s residents pulled together to cope with the wartime situation. Mr Hedges at Farmor’s School had to cope with an influx of about 90 evacuee children from London. This was especially interesting for two ex-evacuees as they had travelled from their homes in Wales and Herefordshire especially to hear the talk. They found their names on the list of evacuees attending Farmor’s School and one evacuee, Mr Harris, was able to identify himself in a photograph in June’s book ‘The Cotswolds at War’.

An excellent array of photographs entitled “Fairford at War” from Edwin Cuss’ collection were displayed and aroused a great deal of interest.

Also on display were some nostalgic items (for some of the audience) that had been loaned from the wartime collection of the Corinium Museum. Refreshments included biscuits, which were made according to wartime recipes, i.e. not quite as sweet as we are used to nowadays!

February 24th 2005: St Mary’s Stained Glass Windows

February 24th 2005: St Mary’s Stained Glass Windows

Despite the inclement weather, 40 people attended the Fairford History Society meeting on 24th February to hear Denys Hodson give an entertaining and informative account of the history of the stained glass windows in St Mary’s. The speaker explained how the glass was made and the method of colouring, how it was probably made in London and brought up the river Thames to Lechlade and thence to Fairford. The majority of figures depicted on the windows are in biblical dress of the times, but there are occasionally very well dressed people, who are thought to represent prominent people of the period. One other notable fact is that all the ladies have blonde hair and all the men brown hair! If anyone would like a tour of the windows, Denys is at the church on Saturday lunchtimes.