Ken’s turning back the pages of time
WITH the internet making research easier and programmes such as BBC 2 s Who Do You Think You Are? helping us along the way, local and family history are firmly back in fashion. But for one man, the desire to find out about the people and places around him
WITH the internet making research easier and programmes such as BBC 2's Who Do You Think You Are? helping us along the way, local and family history are firmly back in fashion.
But for one man, the desire to find out about the people and places around him has always been there.
Ken Page, 77, from Biggleswade, is an eminent local historian and author of no less than four books in his own right, plus numerous publications through his involvement in Biggleswade History Society.
He is also a font of local knowledge, with all manner of requests for historical information coming his way, including from The Comet - we are lucky enough to have Ken writing a fascinating weekly feature for our Biggleswade edition.
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Ken's interest in local history began when he was administration manager for Wells and Winch (later Greene King) brewery in Biggleswade, where he worked for nearly 50 years from 1942.
As part of his job, he became responsible for looking after the deeds to the brewery's many buildings, and these little pieces of history got him hooked.
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Ken said: "There were over 400 properties and we got quite a few queries on boundaries. I was able to investigate the deeds and I really got interested in the whole thing, the history of the buildings."
Since then, Ken's interest in history has burgeoned, taking in not only his own roots - his ancestors have lived in the Biggleswade area for about 300 years - but also themes such as pubs in the town, the brewery and Harris's Fun Fairs.
He has served as secretary, chairman and archivist for Biggleswade History Society and is still a member, as well as being involved in the Brewery History Society, Sandy Historical Research Group, Sandy Transport Society and the Royal Artillery Association.
In his flat in Back Street, he has amassed thousands of old photographs, carefully collected in albums.
Such is his devotion to sharing his love of history, Ken funded and published his first three books himself, after completing years of research for each of them.
His latest offering, simply titled Biggleswade, is his fourth book, and was written on behalf of Biggleswade History Society, with the help of other members of the group.
It is from the Images of England series, and is a collection of over 200 archive photographs from the history society's collection.
"It's basically a journey through Biggleswade, going back over 100 years. The first part is a tour through Biggleswade," he said.
The bad news for Ken's many fans is that while he will continue to work on books funded and organised by other publishers, he is unlikely to do any by himself again.
He said: "I don't think I'll be publishing any more books. Apart from anything else it's storing them."
This does not mean, however, that this dedicated historian is closing his archives - he is still actively researching, writing articles not only for The Comet but also for newsletters, and gives regular slide shows to local community groups.
He said: "There's always something new to find out. It's surprising really."
* Biggleswade is published by Tempus and priced £12.99, although it is currently available at Bookworms in Biggleswade for £9.99. Ken Page will be signing copies of the book at Bookworms on Friday, February 17 from 11am to 1pm.