About the Society
Who We Are
The Bishop’s Waltham Society is a registered charity (No. 1170683) and is a Civic Society. Many such societies have been formed over the years – normally as a reaction to threat or decay, or out of a desire to improve the quality of life within a community.
The Bishop’s Waltham Society was started in 1986 as a response to the scale and pace of change at that time. In the 1940s and 1950s Bishop's Waltham had a sad air of decay and dereliction (it was the subject of an article entitled 'The Town that is Dying' in 'The Illustrated' in April 1953). In the following two decades many old properties were demolished in the town centre to make way for new development and car parking. New estates were built around the edges of the town. Gradually Bishop's Waltham began to thrive. By the mid-1980s it was a very popular place, and property prices and development pressures were increasing substantially.
The pressures at the time included some major development proposals which threatened the historic and semi-rural character of the town, and it was in response to these threats that a small group of people — including Trevor Harvey, Judith Fairhurst, Alan Inder, John Hayter and Alan Bretherton – held a public meeting at which the decision to form the society was taken.
Amongst their early successes was to save Southbrook House from demolition to make way for a new Co-operative supermarket. Although outwardly a Victorian house its walls concealed a much older building. The Society fought for the building's retention and restoration as part of a development scheme which permitted some new houses and small shops within its grounds.
They also planted the trees and shrubs along the B3035 road to Corhampton, worked with Hampshire County Council to turn the disused railway line into a public footpath (now the Pilgrim’s Trail), surveyed the entire Parish by dividing it into 40 separate sectors and recording the character and individual environmental features of each area. In the interest of local wildlife, they started a Barn Owl Box Scheme to try to maintain the local population of barn owls.
Over time, the Society hasd donated several thousand pounds to projects, such as the purchase of the Moors, Claylands and Dundridge local nature reserves. Substantial donations were also made to the purchase and erection of the town clock in St George’s Square.
Today, the Society has several hundred members in a town that has grown to nearly 7,000 people.
And we are keen to re-kindle that energy and enthusiasm that hall-marked the Society’s early years. As of 2017, the Society has its largest committee for some years and there are many new plans.
Please look at what we do as well as our current projects, our events and activities and decide if you’d like to join the Society. We think there are many residents of Bishop’s Waltham who share our cares and concerns and would like to put something back into the community. If you feel like that, then please join us as a member!
What We Do
The Society works to accomplish the following:
- Ensure that new developments and plans are appropriate to our area
- Preserve and enhance the town, countryside and villages within Bishop’s Waltham Parish
- Protect wildlife and natural features within the area
- Hold meetings, walks, talks and visits as well as organise events to encourage interest and increase knowledge of our local environment
- Conduct research and survey the area as well as publish books and material of local interest
We actively work with other local organisations such as Bishop’s Waltham in Bloom, which was started by one of the Society’s chairmen, Bill Walmsley, the Bishop’s Waltham group of the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, Bishop’s Waltham Museum and others.
We actively work with Bishop’s Waltham Parish Council and Winchester City Council as well as Hampshire County Council.
The Society was the initiator for the formation of the Bishop's Waltham Town Team and has two representatives on the Team - the Society's chairman has been chairman of the Town team for the last five years.