You are in [Themes] [Councils - Parish, RDC, Town]

Jack Williams wrote about the start of the Parish Council in Hungerford:

"In 1994 I wrote a short history of the Hungerford Parish Council, which celebrated 100 years of its history. The research was undertaken with enthusiasm and I was given assistance by Paul Cable in its publication, by Jean Hutchins, who transformed my handwriting into readable typescript and Stewart Hofgartner and David Holtby, who covered cost of publication.

Please therefore make the journey back to 1894; the whole nation was engaged in the process of electing councils and I have press cuttings covering the parishes of Thatcham, Chieveley, Inkpen, Midgham, Bradfield, Woolhampton and Ashmansworth. In the larger places there was great excitement, but nowhere more than in Hungerford.

So many people were nominated to serve as councillors, and so many wanted to vote, that it was the equal of any parliamentary election!

This first election was to have been by show of hands. Out of the 601 people eligible to vote, some 441 attended the Town Hall - completely filled the Corn Exchange.

A contemporary report stated that "Men without a seat stood at the back of the Corn Exchange, shuffled their feet and smoked their pipes as the evening unfolded".

The date was Tuesday December 14th 1894, and whilst the meeting had none of the ancient ceremony associated with Hocktide, it captured the imagination of Hungerford's townspeople in a quite unique way.

A Chairman, Mr Morse Coulter was elected and over 40 original nomination papers were handed in and after a lengthy scrutiny this was reduced to 28 acceptable applications.

The original Parish Council was to consist of only 11 members and as the initial instruction was to elect by show of hands, the attempt to elect that evening was a practical impossibility.

The 601 eligible voters had been thoroughly vetted, but sad to say there was only one lady present and so no member of the fair sex was nominated to stand for the Council. As all the seats in the room were taken, there was a large crowd at the back, who smoked their pipes and shuffled their feet and it is wonderful to try and imagine the scene. The excitement in Hungerford stemmed from the romantic history of the Feoffees of the Town and Manor and from the mystery of the "Vestry Meeting," which consisted of a few "officials," called overseers, it was an office that could not be refused and by an act of Elizabeth I, they were always substantial householders. So in 1894 the town's people decided that democracy was now to come to our town."

A poll was called for and quite miraculously just 13 days later a full parliamentary style election took place. Those elected on 17 Dec 1894 were Harry major, Alfred Alright, George Coombs, John Adnams, William Chisell, William Alexander, Charles Bodman, George Phelps, William Mapson, George Platt and Thomas Fruen - eleven in all.

The Hungerford Town Council ran in parallel with the Hungerford Rural district Council for 80 years until 1974, but as with many other smaller authorities, the District Council was swallowed up by Newbury District Council.

See also: Painted tribute board to past Hungerford R.D.C. Chairmen 1895-1974. [Jack Williams collection]

In 1974 the Parish Council availed themselves of the opportunity to adopt the status of Town Council and elect a Town Mayor to be its first citizen.

Geoffrey A R (Roy) Morgan emailed (July 2021) to say "The cover of the Hungerford Town Council Information Booklet shows a picture of the Mayor, Councillor Helen Simpson, wearing her ‘badge of Office’, the chain and pendant. I don’t know if the description of the item is recorded, but if not, may I add that in 1964/5 Denis Britain, the then Clerk of Hungerford R D C ‘commissioned’ me as assistant surveyor, to design the pendant. I think that it was to be the gift of Colonel Ward to the Council". The Mayor's Badge (originally the Chairman of Hungerford RDC's badge) had indeed been gifted by Col. E.J.S. Ward of Chilton Lodge. 

The story of the first hundred years of the Parish and Town Council (1894-1994) was compiled by Jack Williams, and published as a booklet.

Photo Gallery:

group_16 counci...
group_16 council 1979 group_16 council 1979
2012 mayors
2012 mayors 2012 mayors
joe brady
joe brady joe brady

- Joe Brady, first Mayor of Hungerford, 1974-75

- The Town Council, 1979: (L to R) Bill Acworth, Lord Fermoy, John McCubbin, Maj John Hathway, Hugh Hassall, Chris Brown, Becky Kennedy, Whittaker, Charles Williams, Vic Lardner, Jack Williams, ??, ??, Jean Tubb, Ron Tarry, Frank Light, ??, Beryl Fowler.

- The Mayor (Cr Martin Crane on right) with 11 past Mayors of Hungerford, on the Diamond Jubilee footbridge, May 2012. (L to R) Ron Tarry (1987 and previously), Jack Williams (1990, 1999 and previously), John North (1991), Mansil Morgan (1994, 1998, 2005), Janette Kersey (1995, 2002), Jean Hutchings (1996, 2001), Chris Jennings (2000), Roger Ballard (2004), Peter Harries (2007, 2008), Elizabeth Cardwell (2009), Anthony Buckwell (2010). [Picture by Tony Bartlett, Hungerford Camera Club. With thanks to The Hungerford Adviser]

Past Mayors of Hungerford include:

1974 Joe Brady
1975 Ron Tarry
1976 Ron Tarry
1977 Ron Tarry
1978 Jack Williams
1979 Jack Williams
1980 Jack Williams
1981 Ernie Whittaker
1982 Lord Fermoy
1983 Chris Brown
1984 Hugh Hassall
1985 Maj John Hathway
1986 Roy Oliver
1987 Ron Tarry
1988 Ivy Wells (First lady mayor)
1989 Ivy Wells
1990 Jack Williams
1991 John North
1992 Paul Cable
1993 John Hathway
1994 Mansil Morgan
1995 Janette Kersey
1996 Jean Hutchings
1997 Paul Cable
1998 Mansil Morgan
1999 Jack Williams
2000 Chris Jennings
2001 Jean Hutchings
2002 Janette Kersey
2003 David Liddiard
2004 Roger Ballard
2005 Mansil Morgan
2006 Gwyneth Bullock
2007 Peter Harries
2008 Peter Harries
2009 Elizabeth Cardwell
2010 Anthony Buckwell
2011 Martin Crane
2012 Martin Crane
2013 Martin Crane
2014 Dennis Benneyworth
2015 Martin Crane
2016 Keith Knight
2017 Keith Knight
2018 Helen Simpson
2019 Helen Simpson
2020 Helen Simpson

Ivy Wells, the town's first lady mayor, died in March 1994 after a short illness, her husband Tony dying just four days later. See Ivy & Tony Wells obituaries and articles, NWN 10 Mar 1994.

See also:

- Hungerford Parish & Town Council, 100 Years of Service, 1894-1994

- "Big (Virtual) Christmas lights switch-on" - NWN, 3 Dec 2020.

- "Appaling problem of pigeon poo" - NWN 28 Jan 2021.