History of the Society

The activities of the Amersham Society, which was founded in 1956, will interest all who care about Amersham Old Town and want to preserve its character and amenities. The Society has grown over its life to become a Civic Amenity Society with nearly 500 members, during a time when the National Civic Societies movement under the Civic Trust has sadly faltered, although we all hope that Civic Voice will become a more effective 21st Century Successor.

A full history of the Society was written in 2006 by Dr Michael Brooks, Barbara Webber and Christine Standring to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Society and it is planned to include a copy of the full History on the Society Website during 2012.

The Amersham Society started its life around a successful campaign to protect Shardeloes House from demolition in 1956. Writing today in 2011 it seems almost inconceivable that anyone would want to demolish a Grade One, Robert Adam designed mansion. The campaign was successful and Shardeloes House, built originally for the Tyrwhitt-Drake family, the local squires and owners of much of Old Amersham, now lives on divided into a series of elegant flats and maisonettes.

Another notable success under the chairmanship of Anthony del Tufo was to ensure that the rebuilding of Amersham Hospital and associated flats for sale was done sympathetically and within sensible height restrictions.

We were also very active in promoting the best options for the Amersham bypass, which after it was built and has enormously improved the life of the Town.

More recent campaigns have been more prosaic but equally as important in their way; campaigning to ensure a sensible implementation of the Licensing Act in 2005 to spare the lives of members and residents its worst potential excesses and where the Society’s views were succinctly expressed in a published letter to the Times. We have a reasonably sensible regime as a result, fair to residents, publicans and visitors alike.

Some issues in the quality of life in Old Amersham have never gone away over many years and have never been resolved in a satisfactory manner and in particular Parking falls into this category. The quality and quantity of street furniture, speeding traffic, the state of pavements and the cleanliness of both public and private spaces have met with mixed success in what is one of the finest Georgian streetscapes in the home counties.

In 2011/12 once again we have a huge issue upon us, HS2. The history of that, whether it is built or not and its impact if it is built on Old Amersham and the Chilterns remains to be written. The government has made its first response to the consultation process by seeking to mitigate its impact on Amersham and Little Missenden by offering to extend the tunnel and switch it to pass underneath the hillside to the South of Old Amersham beyond the bypass without exiting into a cutting, as part of the formal announcement to proceed made in January 2012. The Society continues to oppose the proposal overall on economic and environmental grounds.

Throughout all this time of planning vigilance and campaigns, the day to day life of the Society has continued, to educate and entertain society members with lectures, outings and social events.