Our Meeting Room
The Town Hall Basement
In the early days, the historians met in a private house, and its files were kept in a cardboard box from a grocer’s shop. Then we moved to the Old Fire Station in Latimer Street which was the headquarters of the Test Valley Archaeological Committee. This building has now been replaced by part of Lortemore Car Park. When TVAT moved to Orchard House, we continued to use one of their rooms. This building has now been replaced by Waitrose.
Then Romsey Town Council asked us if we would like to use one of their basement rooms. Since the room in Orchard House was not suitable for our needs, we accepted with gratitude and have been there nearly 20 years. We pay rent, but we also advise the Town Council on the management of their historic pictures, artefacts and documents as our way of showing our thanks.
The Great Flood
We have had one or two problems with our underground room, but nothing that we could not deal with until 29th November 2012. During the afternoon a water main burst in Bell Street. The water took the easiest course, which was to follow the water main into the Town Hall basement where it cascaded down the wall into our room. Fortunately a member of the public was walking along Bell Street when the burst happened and alerted the Town Hall staff, otherwise they would have locked up the building at 3 p.m. and gone home in ignorance of the problem.
Members of the Fire Brigade helped the Town Hall staff and some of our members rescue our records. It was then necessary for the whole room to be emptied and dried out. Our belongings all went into store, and we reverted to meeting at a member’s house, where we spent our time sorting out three cupboards’ worth of town council papers, taking advice from the Town Clerk and Hampshire Record Office about what was done with them.
A New Start
The room was eventually re-decorated, re-carpeted and completely re-wired. We moved back in June 2013 and have been very pleased with the refurbished space. We were able to rationalise our computer array. Cllr Alison Johnson gave us the donations from her friends on the occasion of her wedding and we used it to enhance our computer array with a 42” television set, so that we can show our pictures to a group of people all at once.
We are exceptionally fortunate in having a headquarters where we can meet and work. This is a facility not available to most local history societies and our society has benefited enormously from it.