Blue Plaques

Historic Blue Plaques

Walter Money (1836-1926) Location: Market Street, at the corner with Bartholomew Street.

Walter Money Blue Plaque

Newbury historian Walter Money was born at Donnington Dene, Oxford Road, Donnington in August 1836.  He was the son of John and Maria Money, and his brother James H. Money went on to become an important local architect.

As a young man, Walter Money trained as an architect.  In 1865 he married Charlotte Ann Butler, and the couple lived for many years at Herborough House in Bartholomew Street.  He was there in 18801, still there in 18962, but gone by 19003

It was while living at Herborough House that he published some of his best-known books, including his monumental History of the ancient Town and Borough of Newbury in the county of Berks, or, more simply, History of Newbury (Parker & Co, Oxford 1887); and The First and Second Battles of Newbury and the Siege of Donnington Castle (W. J. Blacket 1881).

Herborough House was at 122-123 Bartholomew Street, in its later years used by Nias, and then demolished as part of the development of the Kennet Centre.

Walter Money joined the Newbury District Field Club in 1875, and became one of its leading members (Hon. Secretary from 1879 to 1893).  He was a churchwarden of St. Nicolas Church.  In 1878 he was elected a member of Newbury Town Council and he was a member of Berkshire County Council from 1889 to 1897.  He became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), and was a member of the Berkshire Archaeological Society, and local secretary for the National Trust.

Apart from the books mentioned above, a condensed Popular History of Newbury followed in 1905, along with several more books, a number of booklets, and a long series of articles for newspapers and periodicals, including many for the Newbury Weekly News.

In retirement, he went to live at Shaw Dene.  His wife Charlotte died in 1922.  He died on October 18, 1926, aged 90, at a nursing home in St. John’s Road.  He was buried in the Newtown Road cemetery.  In his memory, Newbury Museum (as it was then) was extended with a new building added to the east side of the Cloth Hall.

1. Walter Money letter of Dec 27, 1880 written from Herborough House.  In private collection.
2. Cosburn’s Directory of Newbury 1896 p. 314.
3. Cosburn’s Directory of Newbury 1900 p. 314.

Francis Baily Location: 62 Northbrook Street

Francis Bailey Blue Plaque

Francis Baily (1774-1844) was an eminent astronomer, the son of Richard and Sarah Baily. The Bailys are a Thatcham family, and their family vault lies at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.  However, Richard Baily had moved to Newbury to engage in business as a banker, coal merchant, and barge master, and served as Mayor of Newbury 1773-74.  Francis was born at his house at 62 Northbrook Street (since rebuilt).

After a tour in the unsettled parts of North America, Baily entered the London Stock Exchange in 1799.  He earned a high reputation as a writer on life contingencies and amassed a fortune which enabled him to retire from business in 1825, to devote himself wholly to astronomy.  He took a leading part in the foundation of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1820 and was elected its President four times (1825–27, 1833–35, 1837–39 and 1843–45).  His fame as an astronomer rests on his discovery of “Baily’s beads” in 1836.  During an eclipse of the sun by the moon, the irregular shape of the moon’s limb allows beads of sunlight to shine through in some places around the moon’s profile, but not in others.  He observed the phenomenon again at Pavia during the solar eclipse of 1842, starting the modern series of eclipse expeditions.

In other work, Baily superintended the compilation of the British Association's Catalogue of 8377 stars (published 1845), and revised the catalogues of Tobias Mayer, Ptolemy, Ulugh Beg, Tycho Brahe, Edmund Halley and Hevelius.   He completed Henry Foster's (1797-1831) pendulum experiments, deducing from them an ellipticity for the earth of 1/289.48.  This value was corrected for the length of the seconds pendulum by introducing a neglected element of reduction, and was used in 1843 in the reconstruction of the standards of length.  His laborious operations for determining the mean density of the earth, carried out by Henry Cavendish's method (1838–1842), yielded the authoritative value of 5.66.  He published at his own expense a detailed account of the work of the first Astronomer Royal, Sir John Flamsteed.

Baily lived at 37 Tavistock Place, London.  He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1832.  The lunar crater Baily was named in his honour, as were the rigid and thermally insensitive alloy (Baily’s metal) used to cast the 1855 standard yard, and the Francis Baily Primary School in Thatcham.

John Winchcombe II Location: 24 Northbrook Street

John Winchcombe Blue Plaque

John Winchcombe (c.1489-1557) - ‘Jack of Newbury’

“Jack of Newbury” or John Winchcombe II (c.1489-1557) was a leading cloth-producer in the reign of Henry VIII, when woollen cloth was the country’s most important export.  For a time, he was the leading figure in England’s leading industry. 

The many different cloths produced at the time were dominated by broadcloths and kersies, and current evidence shows Winchcombe producing on an industrial scale: over 6,000 kersey cloths each year in the 1540s.  Each cloth was about a yard (0.9m.) wide, and 17-18 yards long.  The scale of his production is also indicated by details of the dyeing process.  Woad was his most important dye, normally delivered by the cartload. One order survives for 541 cwt, or over 27 tons of woad. 

Many people were involved in the production processes, which included spinning and weaving.  Fulling took place in local mills and the finished kersies were exported via London to Antwerp, where they were recognised in the 1530s and 1540s as the best of their kind.  Although Winchcombe has sometimes been credited with founding England’s first factory, no documentary evidence of a weaving workshop has yet been traced.  However, the quantity of cloths produced suggests a workshop of perhaps 30-50 looms. 

In the language of the time, he was a “clothier,” organising the production of cloth which was then sold in his name.  In the 1530s and 1540s he led a national campaign to persuade Henry VIII to change the law on the making of woollen cloth, heading a group of clothiers from six counties – a campaign which was ultimately successful. 

The Newbury area had produced cloth since prehistoric times; and would continue to produce cloth long after Winchcombe’s death.  But it was only in his lifetime that Newbury reached national importance in this field.  This prominence was real but short-lived.

In Henry VIII’s reign, John Winchcombe combined a role as a cloth-producer with that of one of the county gentry for Berkshire.  He was among those present for the reception of Henry VIII’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves, and his personal contacts included Sir Thomas Gresham and the Protector Somerset.  He spent over £4,000 on the purchase of property including the manors of Thatcham and Bucklebury, and held a portfolio of other property mainly in and around Newbury.  He was a Member of Parliament and a Justice of the Peace.

As one of the county gentry, John Winchcombe led Newbury men to war to fight for Henry VIII, including to the siege of Boulogne in 1544.  He was granted a coat of arms, and had his portrait painted in 1550.

His home in Northbrook Street filled the area between Jack Street and Marsh Lane (now mostly occupied by Marks & Spencer, and previously by the Jack Hotel), and here he welcomed the future Protector Somerset.    It consisted of timber-framed buildings ranged around courtyards.  A fragment of this extensive home survives on the corner of Marsh Lane, complete with carvings and mouldings.  Other carvings now at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire.  It is on this surviving part of his house that the blue plaque has been placed.

A fictionalised story of his life, written by a contemporary of Shakespeare, with published in the 1590s.  This was “The Pleasant Historie of John Winchcombe, in his younger years called Jack of Newbury…”  by Thomas Deloney.  Thomas Fuller described Winchcombe in the 17th century as “…the most considerable Clothier (without fancy or fiction) England ever beheld.”  Winchcombe has been frequently confused with his father, who died in 1520 and was also a clothier. 

David Peacock 2017

Vodafone Location: Thames Court, 20-22 The Broadway

Vodafone Thames Court Blue Plaque

Press report dated 3rd January 1985 courtesy of the Newbury Weekly News

Vodafone Thames Court Blue Plaque

George and Pelican Location: 2 London Road

George and Pelican Blue Plaque

James H. Money (1834 - 1918) Location: Town Hall, Market Place

James H. Money Blue Plaque

James Henry Money was born on October 14, 1834, at the Dene, Oxford Road, Donnington (also known as Donnington Dene), near the Castle pub.  He was the son of John and Maria Money; he had two older sisters, and was the second of three brothers.  His younger brother was Newbury historian Walter Money. 

His father ran a brickworks at Donnington before moving on to create a surveyor’s and then an architect’s business.  His mother’s father was also a surveyor.

On leaving school James H. Money trained as an architect, articled to Cooper & Kent of Gray’s Inn, London.  At this time his designs were selected in competitions for cemetery buildings at Watford, Ipswich and Keighley in Yorkshire.

On returning to Newbury, he joined his father’s practice in the 1850s, and had effectively taken over by the end of the 1860s.  John Money died in January 1874, but had not been involved in the business for several years before then.

James H. Money had a long and productive career: he was active as an architect for over 50 years, from the 1850s until shortly before the First World War.  In 1862 he married Martha Joan Vincent, daughter of Newbury solicitor Frederick Vincent.

In 1864 his office was at 34 Northbrook Street (also home to the printers who established the Newbury Weekly News), and his home was in Enborne Road.  Later in the 1860s he acquired buildings in the Broadway, including York House, which became his long-established office.  His home moved to The Shrubbery, Oxford Road (now Wessex House, opposite Waitrose).   

His designs were numerous, in many different styles.  They included cottages, pubs, breweries, shops, schools, chapels, church restorations, and extensions to country houses, almost all in the Newbury area, with more around Andover and a school in Devon.

His most prestigious projects were the town halls in Hungerford and Newbury, the Falkland Memorial, and Oddfellow’s Hall in Newbury.  Hungerford Town Hall was built 1870-71; Newbury 1876-81, with an extension in 1909-10; the Falkland Memorial at Wash Common, commemorating the first battle of Newbury in 1843, was unveiled in 1878; and Oddfellows Hall in Craven Road, Newbury was built in 1886.

His wife Martha died in 1893 at The Shrubbery.  It was after this that he moved his home to York House in the Broadway (now Thames Court), where his office had been for many years.  He died on June 21, 1918 at his home in Newbury.  The funeral took place at Shaw Church, and there is a memorial cross to him and his wife in the churchyard.  He had at least 10 children (one son and nine daughters surviving in 1918).

David Peacock, July 2017

Further information about James H. Money

Newbury Brewing Industry Location: St Nicolas House, West Mills

Newbury Brewing Industry Blue Plaque

Elsie Lilly Kimber Location: Hillier and Wilson Estate Agents, Bartholomew Street

Newbury Brewing Industry Blue Plaque

This plaque commemorates Elsie Kimber (1889-1954), who in 1932 was elected as the first female Mayor of Newbury since the Borough was created in 1596.  The plaque is located at 64 Bartholomew Street, now Hillier & Wilson Estate Agents, but formerly Kimber’s Grocery and Provision Merchants, informally called “Kimber’s Corner”, which she ran from 1939 until her retirement in 1953.

Elsie Kimber was a pioneer in our local government.  The road had been steep.  Although women had been permitted to be elected as local Councillors and to serve as Mayor and Aldermen in 1907, full national gender equality for voting purposes was only granted in 1928.  Elsie was elected the first female Newbury Town Councillor in 1922 and was appointed its first female Alderman in 1943.  The next female Mayor, Ethel Elliott, was not elected until 1953, and it was not until 1993 that female Mayors were addressed as “Madam Mayor”.  Until then, the term “Mr Mayor” was so ingrained that it was used even for women. 

Elsie Kimber was born at 64 Bartholomew Street and was one of the first intake to the Newbury County Girls’ School when it opened in 1904.  She joined her father, Ernest Kimber, in his grocery business and ran it after his death until she retired.  She was also the first woman delegate to the All England Grocers' Conference.  During the Second World War she served as an ARP Warden.  Her interests as a Councillor included housing, slum clearance, public health and education.  She taught swimming to children, and her reputation was of “one who had an infinite capacity for taking pains”.

DNS Railway Location: Train Station, Station Road

Newbury Brewing Industry Blue Plaque

This plaque commemorates the central role that was performed by the former Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton Railway in conveying service personnel and military materials from the Midlands and the North of England to the Port of Southampton in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe on 6th June 1944. The plaque is located outside Newbury Railway Station, by kind permission of Network Rail and Great Western Railway. 

The DNS Railway constituted the heavy transport link for this vital supply.  At its peak, it carried 120 train movements a day.  To accommodate the traffic, the line between Didcot and two miles south of Newbury was doubled.  Despite its name, it terminated at Winchester, and depended for the final part of its route on other railway lines.  Unfortunately, it never proved profitable from its opening in 1882/1885 or after 1945, and was eventually closed in 1964.