There was a fantastic turnout for John Simpson’s presentation for Cheltenham Local History Society at St Luke’s Hall on 5 March. John talked about the award-winning website, Pittville History Works, explaining how the searchable database was built up to over 14,000 items. It covers every person and building in the original Estate from 1842 to 1939, with stories of individuals ranging from those in the women’s suffrage movement to the First World War to the slave trade. Historian Steve Blake also gave a quick update on his planned, more detailed, research into the builders of Pittville’s houses.
Friends of Pittville and Pittville History Works Group made a major contribution to this year’s Heritage Open Days in Cheltenham. Des Marshall and Steve Blake both led walks around Clarence Square and Wellington Square, focusing on the buildings and their inhabitants, while Gloria and Peter Jones welcomed visitors to take the waters at the Pump Room on Tour of Britain day (9 September). On 10 September a steady stream of visitors visited three of Pittville’s hidden places: the vaulted Victorian wine cellars below Costantinou’s in Winchcombe Street, the mysterious chamber below Pittville Gates, and the kitchen and housekeeper’s room at 48 Clarence Square with its original stone flagged floor, bread oven, pantry and cooking range.
Pittville History Works received an award from Cheltenham Arts Council at a ceremony at the Playhouse on 23 March. These awards recognise the achievements of volunteers who have made a major contribution to the cultural life of the town, and the award to the History Works team was in recognition of the project’s innovation and the impact that it has had since it was set up just three years ago. The award was presented to John Simpson, the project leader, by the Mayor of Cheltenham, Cllr Chris Ryder.
Our Pittville History Works project made the national news today with an article in the Sunday Times about communities who are creating online archives to unlock the history of their streets. The article features 6 Evesham Road, where a blue plaque commemorating Dr Grace Billings, Cheltenham’s first woman GP, was unveiled last year.