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2019 Meetings

On 11 January ten of us met at our temporary meeting place at The Conservative Club, while the Abbey Centre is being refurbished. We had a number of apologies, mostly because people had other events to attend. Anyway the 10 of us enjoyed a drink from the bar and recalled our early childhood memories. One member was born in New Street and told us a lot about that street and what it looked like a long time ago before Bowen Square, another lived in Watford village and could remember two coaches of evacuees arriving. Yet another member could remember being in the Anderson Shelter during a bombing raid on Birmingham and a bomb dropping forty yards away. The bomb crater stayed there for years!.

triangOur Treasurer could remember his Tri-ang truck from his second Christmas.

Another member brought along a childhood photo and the teddy bear that has been with them all along. Another member talked about the third family that they stayed with as an evacuee, a marvellous teacher.

knitted swimsuit

Someone else could remember their "crinkly" material swimsuit on a childhood photo and another member brought along a picture that they could remember in their grandmother's house and subsequently inherited it. Finally another member remembered a motor bike and side car and cowslips.

On 8 February over 30 of us at "our Museum" in New Street, Daventry for a talk on Borough Hill, given by Mike Arnold. Mike occasionally conducts guided walks of Borough Hill - Having done the walk last September I found it helpful to hear the "classroom" talk with slides.And we were in the warm and dry! Our Hill is 653 ft high (199 metres) and is bordered by four streams - Southbrook, Northbrook, and another the Norton side and one towards Dodford. In the Jurassic period our Hill was a shallow tropical sand bank as before continental drift Daventry was in the Tropics.

Then came the ice ages of which there is little evidence on Borough Hill, unlike Cracks Hill at Crick where there is an ice age drumlin. When the ice melted for the last time there was a big sheet of water near Crick which burst out creating Watford Gap, and our Hill became Artic tundra. With the passage of time our Hill became birchwood and hazelnut scrub and the streams started cutting through. Elks, bears and deer provided the hunter gatherers with their food. There is evidence of seasonal camps on the Hill and flint tools.

So how far can you see from our Hill? to the south east - Woburn Hills (34 miles) and aircraft taking off from Luton Airport (44 miles) to the west - Malverns 425 metres (50 miles), Clee HIll 533 metres (80 miles), if the sun in right direction tower blocks of Birmingham (45 miles) to the North - Copt Oak/Charnwood Forest 228 metres (36 miles) Because of this visibility the Hill became a hill fort, or perhaps two forts, in the Iron Age.

There is a lot of evidence even now of steep banks and deep ditches which would have been hard work to negotiate especially with the weight of your spear. There is some evidence of a "goods in" field near Burntwalls Farm. Mike said the term was pro-castra. {castra from the Latin, meaning a building, or plot of land, used as a fortified military camp; and pro meaning in front of}

In between the Romans arriving in 40AD and 1925 life went on, on and around the Hill. For instance in 1645 Charles 1's troops camped here meeting Cromwell's New Model Army at Naseby. From 1724 to 1742 it became the town racecourse. In 1925 the BBC arrived, establishing the first commercial radio station in the UK, and stayed until 1992. The Hill was an instrumental site in the development of radar and there was a G station during the war.

This is a very potted version of Mike's excellent hour long talk. There is there is a self guided walk guide available from the museum or on-line. Borough Hill walks Or ask Mike when he will be leading another walk around the hill