The Chesham Society and the Town Council: a word from the Mayor
It gives me particular pleasure to be able to write this both as Vice-Chairman of the Chesham Society and as Mayor of Chesham for the Society’s diamond anniversary. I joined the Society as Programme and Events Co-ordinator in 2012 at a time when there seemed to be dwindling interest from the residents of Chesham in a Civic Society, believing it to have had its day. I am pleased to report that here we are, five years later at this important milestone, with a committee which has successfully revived interest in the work of the Society.
In 2015 the Society became a Town Partner with Chesham Town Council. It was long overdue but the partnership has demonstrated that a strong and supportive relationship between our two organisations is both mutually beneficial and better represents the views of the people of Chesham. It made perfect sense that I became the liaison bridging both ‘camps’.
There was a similar link-person in those early years of the Chesham Society. Arnold Baines was the Chairman of the Highways Committee of the then Chesham Urban District Council (UDC), the forerunner of today’s Chesham Town Council. Arnold made contact over the summer of 1957 with the Society’s founder member Peter Walker, which proved to be very fortunate. Arnold lived the whole of his life in the family home in Eskdale Avenue. He not only served on the UDC and its successor, the Town Council, but also on the Chiltern District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council too. His life was devoted to Chesham and he became an expert in local archaeology and history. In fact the initial idea for a town museum was suggested in 1981 by Arnold.
This isn’t the place to expand on all his achievements but suffice to say Arnold Baines was a keen ally of the Society, acting as an unofficial conduit between it and the UDC. He strongly approved of all we stood for and its clear that at times he used the Society to put forward views he did not feel he could publicly express in an official capacity. He was regularly corresponding with us until shortly before his death in 2001.
It was therefore appropriate that when the new Town Hall was built as part of the Sainsbury’s redevelopment that transformed the Town Centre in the 1990s, that the path leading from the High Street to the Town Hall was named Baines Walk in Arnold’s honour.