A HISTORY society in Bracknell Forest has closed after 24 years due to falling memberships and a lack of money.

After publishing four books on local history, Sandhurst Historical Society closed on December 31 with 20 members, reduced from 90 members in 2000.

Liz King, Chairman of Sandhurst Historical Society, said: “It’s not going to open again because we just haven’t got the funds, and we haven’t got the membership to get the funds, because each meeting is in the region of £100 plus… it’s just not practicable.

READ MORE: This local company gets snow scene requests from celebrities

“To be honest, I don’t suppose the local community will notice, because we haven’t had an influx of calls saying ‘when are you going to open again’ so I think people have gotten out of the habit of going out.”

Society members paid £3 to attend a monthly evening meetings at Sandhurst Community Hall, a point the chairman said was a reason for declining numbers to the Historical society, which opened in 1996.

Mrs King said: “These days, young people have different priorities – they have children - and don’t want to turn out [to evening meetings].

“If you think about it, there isn’t much history in Sandhurst, to be honest, there isn’t – there’s a lot of old buildings but they’re not preserved, or historical. What you associate with Sandhurst is the military college.”

READ MORE: Ofsted reveals how pandemic has changed teaching at Bracknell school

Councillor Michael Brossard, Councillor for Central Sandhurst, said: “Having attended a handful of these meetings I can vouch for the eclectic mix of speakers who bought their encyclopaedic knowledge on their specialist subject.

“Covid-19 has impacted on this organisation as Zoom/ Microsoft Teams meetings are not the same as public presentations with the opportunity for discussions over tea and biscuits after the formal event.

“Sadly it is a case of supply and demand where a reduction in numbers creates viability issues based on room hire etc.

“I have two of their books which I treasure as they contain a wealth of historical information not fully appreciated by newer Sandhurst residents.

READ MORE: Sandhurst's new Aldi is now open

“Maybe in the future our Historical Society will rise from the ashes where a resident will build a nucleus from the public who respond to social media with ‘why not’.”

Local Historical Societies in the UK are widespread, with 1155 societies belonging to the British Association for Local History alone. In societies, members and experts give talks on local history, observe local archaeological digs, and organise research projects from the extensive amounts of historical records. Many display these findings in their local communities, and on websites.

Dr Gillian Draper, Events and Development Officer at British Association for Local History, said: “The society’s activities reveal what is long-standing in a place and perhaps linked to families still resident in the area, and how much has changed more recently.

“For the community which is lucky enough to have a local history society, there is an organisation which strengthens bonds between its volunteers, provides a place where they can share and increase their skills in research and writing, and indeed technical expertise- as well as providing friendship, tea, biscuits and yearly celebrations!”