Memories of Thame

Memories of Thame

During 2007 and 2008, some of the older people of Thame were invited to record their memories and these were compiled into a series of fascinating recordings by Thame Museum volunteers.  You can listen to some of them on the links below. They contain significant insights into Thame’s past – told by the people who experienced them. Over 40 people were interviewed, some were in their nineties when the recordings were made.  Sadly most of these people have since died, but their memories can still be listened to and appreciated.

In the recordings you will hear about

  • The type of shops in Thame in the 1940s and 1950s
  • The stationing of American soldiers in Thame during WW2 and stories of espionage in occupied France
  • The changes brought about through Local Government and Planning which changed the character of the town.
  • Recollections of growing up in Thame, working in the kitchens at Thame Park, and the origins of the Thame Courthouse
  • Recollections of Thame Show, a local bakery, and travelling to Thame looking for work in the 1930s
  • Memories of getting a job at the BBC and recalling an internationally acclaimed violinist.
  • Helping to set up Rycotewood College and how agricultural engineering came to be at the College.


The memories are local but they are set in a time of national upheaval and uncertainty. The recordings make up a valuable historical archive and give a voice to the people of Thame in the post war period.

When you next visit the Museum you will see a number of push-button Audiopoint stations in the main gallery,  allowing you to play the clips aloud.

Some of the original recordings often last over an hour in total.  However we have published some short extracts from 16 of these local residents here, in order to provide a flavour of the oral history programme.

Just click on the name of the person to find out more about them and to hear their stories in their own words.

Marilyn Airstone

Marilyn came to live with her grandmother during the Second World War. The recordings are her recollections of her life in Thame from the 1940s to the 1970s.

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Maurice Barton

Memories of Maurice Barton covering Thame before WWII, shooting down a German bomber over Thame, being a prisoner of the Japanese and a fire in Long Crendon while he was a voluntary fireman.

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Joy Campoli

Joy’s recollections from her time growing up in Thame, working for the BBC during the move to Broadcasting House in 1932, and her husband Alfredo.

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Trevor Cook

Trevor was born in Benson and moved to Thame in 1933. He has many recollections from his youth living in Thame.

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Mabel Gillard

Mabel moved to Thame at the age of eight and a half. After leaving school at 14 she started work at Thame Park a couple of years later.

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Jack Lazenby

Jack came to Thame in 1950 to work at Rycotewood College as a woodwork teacher. The recordings cover Jack’s early life in Wakefield, Yorkshire, his time at Loughborogh College as a student and Rycotewood College as a teacher.

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Dr Andrew Markus

Andrew qualified as a Doctor in 1956 and was a Thame GP until his retirement in 1994. The recordings also cover his time as a Town Councillor.

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Arthur Staggs

Arthur recounts his time spent working alongside the French Resistance, taking part in sabotage operations and being captured by the Germans.

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Fred Telford

Fred moves to Thame from South Shields during the 1930s Depression to find work. Listen to Fred’s recollections of life during the Depression, his time in the Army during the War and his love of dancing.

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Fred Tildesley

Fred came to Thame in 1966 when he took up the position of Police Sergeant. After retiring Fred became the secretary for the Thame Show. The recordings cover Fred’s time in the Police Force, working for Thame Show and his hobbies of calligraphy and jazz.

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Cecil Wiggs

In 1960 Cecil started work in Oxford and came to live in Thame. He became a magistrate in 1967. His recordings cover the Thame Courthouse, now the Museum, and some interesting cases heard at the Magistrates’ Court.

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Keith Wright

Keith originally trained as a Butcher in the Covered Market in Oxford but when his father became ill he took over the Bakery and ran it until his retirement. Wright’s Bakery is now Costa Coffee.

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