Eric Leslie Davis, always known as "Jim", loved Hungerford, and loved researching its history.
He was a Commoner of Hungerford, and at various times Overseer of the Port Down and Chairman of the Commons Committee. He held the senior office of Constable in 1970 and 1971.
In the 1970s and 80s he produced several short books on aspects of the local history, including:
- "The Story of an Ancient Fishery", 1978
- "The Great Fight on Hungerford Common", 1987
- "The Bear at Hungerford - The Story of an Ancient Inn", 1989.
He also did much research on the history of Hungerford Port Down, and made some (unpublished) notes. These are now available on line by clicking the link on "A History of Hungerford Port Down, with some Digression into the General History of Hungerford".
Much of the research and findings are to be found on the Virtual Museum under the relevant sections.
- Jim Davis (sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
Dr Jimmy Whittaker sent further information Feb 2018:
"Jim Davis was a local historian who contributed much to the history of Hungerford in a series of booklets. In this article I expand upon some biographical details, Eric Leslie Davis (ELD) was born 16 th January 1905 in Camberley, Surrey and was the son of James William Davis and Mary Jane Acott married in Maidstone, Kent in 1892 , both of his parents were born in Kent.
His father James William was head gardener on the Rushmore Estate on Cranbourne Chase, Dorset so it was hardly surprising that he initially worked with his father as a gardener before he joined the police force, in latter life he became a keen gardener. As was the practice in those days and even today, many sons were called after their father even though it was not their “proper name” ,so young Eric Leslie Davis was known as Jim Davis, a name which stayed with him for the rest of his life.
JD had three sisters who were Sybil (b.1895), Ellen (b.1899) and Dorothy (b.1901).
In 1931 he married Blanche Irene Hooper in Stroud and they had a daughter Susan who was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 1935.At this time he was a policeman .He then moved to Wooton Basset on the outskirts of Swindon before being promoted to sergeant at Marlborough.
In 1939 JD was living at a house named “Simla” , Barnfield on the London Road (A4).He was called up in 1939 and served as a Captain in France, Belgium and Holland during WW2 and after the end of the war he was part of the Special Police Corps in Germany helping to restore law and order .In essence the SPC was a unit within the police force with a different range of duties compared to JD retired from the police force in 1950 and worked for Thomas Free and Sons of Marlborough who were a company of house furnishers .Basically this was an upscale furniture shop providing personal advice and service. Today this furniture shop has gone and is Thomas Free is now an undertakers.
In 1954 Jim Davis bought 10 Bridge Street and set up a branch of Frees of Marlborough in Hungerford. Jim leased part of the property to Frees of Marlborough and was employed as the shop manager.
Jim Davis sold the property to Roxtons the sporting goods and country clothing outfitters company in 1978 and then the Davis’s moved to No 12 Canal Walk where they lived and wrote extensively about Hungerford.
I was fortunate to be their neighbour for a couple of years (1985 to 1988) and would talk to him about fishing and wildlife. In particular we talked about predators and mink and pike were always on top of our list.
In our conversation I also learnt that he had been a keen trout angler for many years and that he had been a founding member of the Kennet Valley Fisheries Association.
Jim Davis was a loyal supporter of The Town and Manor of Hungerford, serving as Constable for two years in 1972 and 1973. In addition he was a Trustee of the Town and Manor for almost a quarter of a century.
His wife Blanche was known as ” B “ , was born on 27 th January 1907 and died on 17th December 1989.Every day at 4.00 p.m. on the dot she would feed the ducks from the River Dun on their back lawn .Today the house next door (No 13) is known as “Quackers” …I wonder why?
Jim Davis died in January 1999, aged 94 whilst in Princess Margaret’s hospital, Swindon.
His memory and that of his wife B, live on, in a couple of trees planted on Hungerford Common as part of the Millennium Tree Planting Project."
- The Bear