Letchworth man publishes book on towns in North Herts

Peter Bysouth has written a book on the changing world of 19th century business communities in Ashwe

Peter Bysouth has written a book on the changing world of 19th century business communities in Ashwell, Baldock, Buntingford and Royston - Credit: Archant

A RETIRED research scientist who went back to university to pursue a lifelong interest in history has published a book on towns in North Herts.

Peter Bysouth published Small But Flourishing: Towns of North-East Hertfordshire’s Extra-Urban Matrix after completing a PHD at Warwick University.

The 74-year-old, who lives in Letchworth GC, took early retirement and decided to explore the changing world of 19th century business communities in Ashwell, Baldock, Royston and Buntingford.

The grandfather of two said: “I have always had an interest in history, and I focused on north-east Herts because I have lived here for the past 25 years and it is also where my ancestors have lived – my grandfather was born in the village of Reed just south of Royston.”

Through his research, Dr Bysouth used trade directories, census returns, newspapers and business records to show changes in the businesses of the four towns.


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In the book, he talks about manufacturing, communication, changes in road and rail transport and the development of postal service.

He said: “These four centres, despite possessing very small populations, possessed many of the characteristics of towns. After a lot of digging and research I have concluded that all these towns should be viewed as towns in an extra-urban matrix.”

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In total the book and research has taken Dr Bysouth around seven years.

He said: “It has been a great way to spend my retirement and I am in no hurry to hang up my pen. The next task is to do some research around by surname, Bysouth, and see where that takes me. It is an unusual surname so it will be interesting to see what comes up.”

Anyone interested in buying a copy can email evelyn.lord@ntlworld.com

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