History of The Fakenham Society

The Fakenham Society started as the Fakenham Literary and Stage Society in 1948. Meetings were held during the winter and took the form of talks, debates and play readings. The proposals for debates are surprisingly topical, for example: ‘That our education system has failed’ and ‘That ‘modern’ art is decadent’.

Over the years, the number of debates diminished, and the ‘member’s evenings’ increased when, for instance, members would bring favourite records.

In 1966 the name of the Society changed to the Fakenham Society. A rival Fakenham Literary Society was created in 1979-80, but no further reference has been found for that! Only a few annual programmes have been retained between 1969 and 85 though minutes of the committee do exist.

By 1975 the Society was in trouble with no committee being elected at the 1976-77 AGM. An extraordinary AGM was organised with the proposal to wind up the society. The membership obviously objected and the Society was reconstituted for the 1977-78 season.

The current format of 12 meetings through the winter was formally adopted in 1978.

The society has had many homes in its history – the original meetings were held in the Red Lion Tea Room, then the Music Room at the Grammar School. There was a major problem in 1995 when in the middle of the season the Baptist Hall was refurbished so the Society moved mid-season to the Queens Road Junior School. In 2005 the Baptist Hall was withdrawn from use, so the Society again moved to the Junior School mid-season. The Masonic Hall was used from 2006-7 until the 2011-12 season when the society moved to its current home in the Lancaster Room at the Fakenham Sports Centre.

Two example programmes are shown below:

Link to the Gas Museum

Each year at the AGM the Fakenham Society receives a report from the Gas Museum – the relationship goes back to the beginning of the museum.

In 1986-87 the Fakenham local history society thought they’d like to set up a museum. The Gas Works was a local landmark that was crumbling and needed preservation. It was decided to create a trust from local organisations including the Town Council, the Fakenham Society, the History Society and the Chamber of Commerce who were all asked to provide a trustee. The Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust were involved as they had the organisation set up to handle grants.

Affiliation to the Norfolk Society (CPRE)

Programmes for the seasons 1994-1995 to 2004-2005 state that the Fakenham Society was affiliated to the Norfolk Society. No reasons were given for stopping the subscriptions.