History Society Meeting – 12th May

At its meeting on Tuesday 12th May, the district History Society welcomed one of it’s founder members, Rev Capt Brian Sampson who talked about railways that might have been and the New England Company which certainly is! In introducing the speaker, Chairman Alan Fitch recalled how the society had been formed at Brian’s suggestion and that in the ten years of its history, Brian & Jill had been loyal supporters of the Group.

Capt. Sampson began by telling us of the efforts that were made in the early years of the 20th Century to develop a couple of light railway systems in Essex & Suffolk. One was planned to run between Long Melford & Hadleigh with numerous village stops in between. A second would have been called the Central Essex Light Railway going out as far as Ongar. There were public enquiries and a lot of local interest was generated but due to the two World Wars of 1914 and 1939 the cost of building the networks could never have been found. Another factor was the invention and rapid popularization of the internal combustion engine – but had these ideas come to fruition there is no doubt that Long Melford would have become Suffolk’s Clapham Junction.

Turning to the New England Company for the second part of his talk, Captain Sampson outlined the history of this charity which can claim to be the oldest missionary society still active in Britain. It was founded by an Act of Cromwell’s parlaiment in 1649 to bring Chritianity to the North American indians of New England and later further afield to Virginia and New York. The American War of Independence eventually made the teachers’ work unsafe and operations were transferred to Canada and later to the West Indies. As colonial bishops were appointed the charity became less directly involved, concentrating its efforts on managing its land and other investments and making grants and scholarships to futher the work of the Church in the West Indies and amongst the native peoples of Canada. The Company owns land in Foxearth and has kindly made grants to local Christian projects.

Brian was warmly thanked for his carefully researched and very interesting contribution and, on behalf of the members, all good wishes were expressed to him and Jill by the Chairman upon their impending retirement and move from the village.

***NEXT MEETING: Tuesday 9th June at 8.00pm in Foxearth Village Hall – Mrs Linda Scholes, an American lady but a long term UK resident and whose last visit was greatly enjoyed will talk about two countries divided by a common language.***

Ken Nice.

Comments are closed.