If you live in the greater London area, please check our list of local history societies here, and do let us know if we’ve missed yours out.
Local history groups are part of the bedrock of the London History scene and I’ve made it my business over the past three or four months to get to know them by attending monthly meetings. So far, I’ve been to Brentford & Chiswick and Hounslow – my two “home” groups – plus Twickenham, Sheen & Mortlake and Camden, all easy striking distance from home. During this year, I’ll try to get to as many of the rest as possible. I have found out that:
1) They are value for money. Typically they cost £5 – £12 per annum.
2) They hold monthly talks of the highest quality, free for members and typically a quid or two for non-members
3) Their meetings are well-attended, usually over 50 members show up in my experience so far
4) The demographic is the elderly
I’d like to address the possibly delicate question of 4). At most of these meetings, I am invariably among the youngest there, and being in my early 50s, I’m no spring chicken. Through Twitter, Facebook and other agencies, I know that London is packed with history lovers of all ages, yet there seems to be little Venn diagram crossover between these groups and local societies.
Where does this leave local groups? When their members pass on, will they wither and die? I don’t think so: most of these organisations have been around for over 50 years and all appear to be thriving. I believe that when people reach a certain age – say 55-65 – they tend to start doing things such as gardening, playing bridge… and joining their local history society. I’m aware that I’m generalising a bit here, but I believe this is the demographic that nourishes the local groups from the bottom end.
So if you’re under 50 and reading this, do yourself a favour: check out your local history society, you may be missing out.
Oh, and by the way, membership of a local history group gets you a £10 discount off membership to London Historians, please contact us to find out how.