Our group started in October 2014 to research and gather together all the information on Harston that many individuals or organisations have before it was lost. We also wanted to identify the heritage of the village to ensure it will be protected for the future. We owe a great debt to the late David Deacon whose collection has provided many of our historical photos. For over 30 years David, with wife Irene’s help, kept a record of changes within the village and researched its past history. We are trying to carry on his good work but also provide a way to share it with others. Irene has kindly allowed us to scan over 1,400 photos of the village that David had collected and we have sorted them and tried to explain how Harston has changed.
We continue to make use of other archived collections such as those found in Jesus College and the Cambridge Archives. Chris Jakes in the Cambridge Collection has helped us access much material on Harston, including the Nora Sellen Scrapbook. Much of our research has referred to and followed on from Helen Greene’s book on ‘Harston 1937, Its history and records past and present’.
As well as researching archives, we have visited many older residents of the village and will continue to do so, to collect their invaluable memories of what Harston used to be like.
Our group usually meets monthly at the Better Brew Cafe in the Village Hall to share our findings and anyone interested in our local history is welcome. We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to help with research or by volunteering their time or skills, such as in publicity or IT/website.
Exploring Harston’s Heritage project Aug 2015-Nov 2016
To avoid having to store lots of information that we come across and to preserve the information for future generations we have created this website, with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘sharing heritage’ grant. We are hoping that when people visit the site they will add what they know or share photos and documents to help further explain Harston’s history.
Display and talks
As well as sharing the history on the website with the local community, and others living further afield, we make this information available in monthly displays in Harston Village Hall alongside the Fair Trade Better Brew Café and Bakers Stall (on the first Saturday of every month 10.30-12.30- see Events for display topics). The displays give people an opportunity to comment and feed back to us what they know.
The ‘Exploring Harston’s Heritage’ project undertaken with the aid of the Heritage Lottery grant also involved giving monthly talks from October 2015 to July 2016 on different aspects of Harston’s history. We have continued with giving talks and also invite in other speakers, usually having two talks a term.
Our first talk on ‘Harston’s Beginnings’ looked largely at archaeology and Domesday records on the whole village while the next talk on Harston’s Closed Businesses looked at some of the past businesses that didn’t survive. Other talks have looked at Transport, Leisure time, Harston families & people who have left a lasting impression, Public services and before, Wartime, Changes to farming & landuse, Growth of & changing Harston in C19th & C20th with a final look at what is important in the village as regards our heritage. (Look in the overview section for the heritage of the different areas within Harston).
Researching for the talks and interpretating the photos has enabled the group to produce a Harston Heritage Trail on sale for £1 at the Better Brew Cafe in Harston Village Hall, on the first saturday morning of every month. This takes the visitor along Church Street and High Street, in particular, describing buildings of local interest and giving some of their history.
With the help of a grant from the South Cambs Community Chest and Heritage lottery money we have also put up a permanent board on The Green showing old photos and history of the older parts of the village.
Covid 19 pandemic (2020-21)
During 2020 we encouraged people in the village to record how they were impacted by the pandemic and along with the parish church members held a ‘Looking out from Lockdown’ exhibition in the church in October. The results are recorded on our website.
We also produced a book of lockdown walks that were regularly used around the village as everyone made the most of their daily exercise allowance. Books are available for £2, available at Better Brew Cafe at the village hall on the first Saturday of every month or you can email us.
Heritage Policy & Buildings of Local Interest list
As our local history group discovered more about our local buildings we realised the village needed ways to conserve their heritage. Our members produced a Heritage Policy in Oct 2017 then, after consultation with Harston Residents Group and other villagers at 8 Oct 2017 Community Development Day to give general feedback, we presented it to the parish council. After consultation with them we amended it Mar 2018 and they agreed to support it by showing to future planning applicants. The Heritage Policy can be seen in the PDF below.
The Heritage Policy referred to buildings of local historical interest and below can also been seen a draft document of those buildings or monuments considered locally as heritage assets which we hope will be conserved and taken into account with future developments. Various criteria were used for including the buildings on the list. They may contribute to and help to define the character of the streetscape of an area, or be significant in the historical and architectural development of the village and, in some cases, be designated due to their historical associations.
We provide an entry for the local village bi-monthly magazine on a variety of local history topics which usually provokes some interest in the local community. (These can be found in the Topics section).
Cards of interesting older buildings
You can buy cards of some of Harston ‘s older interesting buildings at our monthly displays at the Better Brew Cafe in the Village Hall.