Bicester Local History Society was founded in 1986 and is a successor to Bicester Local History Circle, which ran in the town for many years under the leadership of Gwendoline Dannatt. BLHS came together when members of an abandoned adult education class, studying the 1851 census, decided to form an interest group. Meetings at Bicester School and Bicester & Ploughley Sports Centre under the chairmanship of Jill Wishart proved popular, as did two exhibitions: ‘Whatever’s Happened to Bicester?: A Look at the Past’ (1987) & ‘Take Another Look at Bicester’ (1988). Our current chairman and treasurer are founder members together with a membership that topped one hundred for the first time in our 25th Anniversary year (2011) and in 2014 reached over 130 members!
Our constitution states that our aims are ‘to acknowledge and encourage the interests of people in the local history of Bicester and the surrounding area’. We pursue this through a series of monthly talks; visits to local places of interest; exhibitions; producing various publications and historical walks. We have been part of the BBC’s People’s War initiative and have held a very successful History Day with Oxfordshire County Museum Services as well as our own Anniversary History Exhibition in May 2011.
We continue to make our voice heard in planning matters, aiming to protect the character of our ancient market town. We propose the establishment of a museum/display space in line with other local towns and promote this at every opportunity.
In the last few years we have published 'Bicester Through Time', a book of 'Then & Now' photographs, as well as 'Bygone Bicester: The Town We Remember', a DVD based on our 'oral history' project, and late in 2016 we released our second DVD, 'Bygone Bicester: Bicester's Buildings'.
We continue to thrive and welcome new members interested in the history of our growing town.