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The Georgian Period (from the accession of George I in 1714 until Queen Victoria in 1837) was Hungerford's "golden age". The population expanded, and there was greater prosperity, largely as a result of its position lying on the London to Bath coaching road, and the Oxford to Salisbury coaching road.
This section of the Virtual Museum expands slightly the bare Timeline, and gives links to further topics related to the Georgian period.
In 1714 George I came to the throne. This was still a time when fire presented a great threat to peoples property, and in 1715 there is mention in the Constables' Accounts of a serious Fire in Hungerford. The town pond in the High Street was used as a water source in the event of fire, and in 1718 Lime trees were planted around the pond in the High Street.
The other great risk was from disease. Illnesses such as smallpox were still common, but in 1718-1720 the first steps to prevent it were taken with the First inoculation against smallpox. Vaccination was to come much later (1796). Thomas Guy opened Guy's Hospital in 1722.
George II came to the throne in 1722. As more and more people were travelling greater distances, the access to the town through the ford across the river Dun was increasingly criticised, and in 1740 the new Bridge Street was made. The Newbury-Marlborough Turnpike Acts came in 1744.
George III became king in 1760. In 1762 the town was shaken by the Murder of William and Anne Cheyney.
But, this was the time of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, but soon, by 1803, became a pan-European war. In 1794 the Hungerford Troop of Berkshire Yeomanry formed. There was country-wide fear of the war. It was a time of great inflation, and in Hungerford a "Voluntary Subscription for the Defence of the Country exclusive of Affected Taxes" was made (varying from £420 by John Willes, to 1s by John Sawyer). Caring for the Poor became a major priority, and in 1795 the Speenhamland System (linking poor rate to the cost of bread) was passed.
In 1798 the Western Canal was opened to Hungerford, and by 1810 the whole Kennet and Avon Canal was fully opened.
Hungerford's First Congregational Church was built in 1802, soon followed by the Old Wesleyan Chapel in Church Lane in 1807. When the parish church of St Lawrence fell down during repairs, a new Church of St Lawrence was built in 1814-16.
There were great celebrations on 25th October 1809 for George III's Golden Jubilee.
The Enclosure Act for Hungerford received Royal Assent on 25 May 1811.
Children's education was beginning to be recognised as of greater importance, and in 1814 the National School was built in the High Street.
George IV came to the throne in 1820. In 1821 the Bare Knuckle Fight on Hungerford Common between Bill Neat & Tom Hickman took place, and in 1827 the Bare Knuckle Fight on Hungerford Common between Marten & Gybletts took place. Huge events for the town.
In 1825 the peace was disturbed by the local theft by John Giles and George Breadmore - who were transported to Australia. See Crimes.
The first bank in Hungerford was established in 1830.
In 1830 William IV was crowned. In the same year there were terrible Agricultural "Swing" Riots locally - Gibbons foundry and the Tannery were damaged.
There were huge changes afoot - in 1832 the Great Reform Bill was passed. In 1833 slavery was finally abolished. In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed, and locally the Hungerford & Ramsbury Union was formed in 1835.
This was the height of the coaching era in Hungerford. There were 200 coaches a week travelling the Bath Road alone.
Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837.