The Cambridgeshire Association of Local History started as the Cambridgeshire Local History Council under the umbrella of the Standing Conference of Local History in 1952. It expanded rapidly and by 1953 had 140 members and held regular meetings on a Saturday afternoon. From its beginning the council was a county-wide organisation and attracted speakers and participants from across Cambridgeshire, Cambridge and the university. An early and continuing event is its day conference on a local history theme.
In 1983 the organisation changed its name to society rather than council, and joined the British Association for Local History which had taken over from the standing conference. During the 1980s the society organised a number of projects, including the collection of documents and inscriptions from buildings about to be demolished, and a photographic group. In 1987 it was responsible for a history festival held at Impington Village College.
After a decline in membership in the late 1990s, there has been a revival of interest in the local history of Cambridgeshire, and membership and attendance at meetings have increased. In 2005 there was another change of name from the society to association. This was to resume and increase the role of the society in keeping local societies and members in touch with what is happening in the county that will affect local history research. A role especially relevant with the proposed changes to libraries and the record office.
Part of this role as an umbrella group for other local history societies and their members has been the publication of local history articles. First in the Bulletin, now continuing on-line, and later as the annual Review which contain substantial illustrated articles. Another popular feature of the association are its excursions, including guided visits to historic churches; Huntingdonshire (2014) and North Norfolk (2015), while in the early 1990s there were guided tours to Eton College, Cressing Temple and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
Peter Filby who has been a member of the association for the last ten years recommends it for its informative and interesting talks at the monthly meetings and conferences, and for the chance to meet people with similar interests, and exchange views on local history.
Past members of the society have included notable local historians such as Jack Ravensdale and Margaret Spufford, while its present President Mike Petty, its chairman Honor Ridout, treasurer Michael Farrar and secretary Tony Kirby are all well-known local historians of Cambridgeshire. The association continues in the twenty-first century with its programme and publications, and perhaps most importantly it actively encourages a new generation of local historians through its awards to school local history projects.
To read more about the history of our origins click here.