Harpenden makes History - 1979

Opening of Harpenden's new History Centre at 19 Arden Grove on 31 March 1979

Society members, Cllr Colin Curl and Lady Bawden, History Centre Exhibition, 1980
LHS collection
Cllr Stella Curl, Cllr Colin Curl, Lady Bawden in the History Centre, 1980
LHS collection
Exhibition "At Home", 1990
LHS collection

At the end of March County Councillor Gillian Aspinall, Chairman of the Town Council, will formally open Harpenden’s new History Centre to the public for the first time.

Most towns have a Museum.  Sometimes it is referred to as a “Heritage Centre” or a “Muniments Room”.  Harpenden’s Centre will be a place where the town’s history will be gathered together and set out in such a way that those who live here can, through what they see and read, look back over the past and share in the growth and development of the local community of which they are members.

Over the years Harpenden people have presented articles of historical interest to the Council or the History Society – records of the past, old photographs, pictures, tools and interesting bygones.  With them was usually a request that they should be used for “the future Harpenden Museum”.  Several unsuccessful attempts were made to set up a Museum in the past, but when the Harpenden and District Local History Society was founded in 1973 the possibility was looked at again and several sites considered.

Shortly after the Town Council had obtained its permanent offices in Harpenden Hall last year, the District Council offered the History Society two rooms in the former caretaker’s cottage at the back of the building, at 19 Arden Grove.

The District Council made a grant to cover the rent and the Town Council gave £100 towards the first year’s running expenses.  These will be around £180 and the balance will be met by members’ subscriptions, but a lot of money will be needed to equip the rooms for storing exhibits safely and their proper display.  Materials for preparing exhibitions to be sent out to local organisations and schools will also be expensive and the Society will be looking for funds.

Properly, a Museum’s service is the responsibility of the Local Authority and in St Albans the District Council provides staff and financial support for the City Museum and Verulamium.  In Harpenden, apart from funding the rent of the rooms, the Council is unable in the present economic situation to do more for Harpenden.  The work of indexing, displaying and maintaining the Harpenden Collection is therefore being undertaken voluntarily by members of the Local History Society.  Anyone who is able to help in this work, or who would like to see what is being done, will be very welcome at the Open Day, following the official Opening.


This article was first published in Harpenden Forum, a newsletter sponsored by Harpenden Town Council, in March 1979

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