Our popular WHS Talks are held at the Balsam Centre, Balsam Park BA9 9HB (accessed from Memorial Hall Car Park), usually on the last Wednesday evening of the month.

Doors open 6.30pm with the talk starting at 7pm. Our 9 talks throughout the year range widely, covering local and national topics such as the Roman Villa at the Newt, life of a local vet in 20th century, restoration of Earl of Shaftesbury’s house, the Nuremburg Trials.

A brief round-up of previous talks are available if you click the “Previous Talks” button further down this page.

The programme is being constantly developed so do revisit this site, check out our Instagram or Facebook and look out for our eye-catching posters in various locations around the town advising forthcoming subjects.

Entry Charges (per person):
Members and under 18s: free
Non-members: £10.00

From time to time Special Talks are being booked. The venue for these is the Memorial Hall. Last year we heard from John Blashford-Snell, and enjoyed a live performance of Flamenco dancing. Charges for these talks differ from the standard Talks charge. Keep an eye on this site for details.

Special Talks (per person):
Members: free (donation welcomed)
Non-members: See listing for prices

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Two strands of local history meshed in the recent talk given by Mark Woodhouse; those of the history of Hall and Woodhouse Brewery and of Wincanton Racecourse.

Since 1777 the brewery started by Charles Hall has been refreshing the thirsty of this area;  it’s reach now stretches into London and to North Devon.  From Ansty it developed onto two sites, then consolidated in Blandford Forum where, quite recently, a newly built brewery replaced that which had operated for a century or so.

In the days when few could read and write, a recognisable emblem was chosen for the expanding business, thus the badge of the badger with the brewery known as Badger Brewery and the products known collectively as Badger Ales.

Introduced to successive generations of the family, from the daughter of Mr Hall who married Mr Woodhouse, at the time the head brewer, it became apparent that the family outlook covered many aspects, not just brewing and financial success, but concern and care for all those working for and with the company.  Also, there has been the occasional incident of serendipity, it seems, allowing the astute leaders of the company to develop the business advantageously.

A photographic record accompanying the talk led through changes in socialising, to which Hall and Woodhouse are still responding.  It was pointed out that what makes the headlines, such as pubs closing, is rarely balanced by the news of new outlets that are larger and have a greater offering than simply wet sales.  That many formerly well-known names, often in public ownership, have disappeared in recent decades while Hall and Woodhouse are approaching their 250th anniversary, must be testament to the acumen of a private family business.

Part of this family and local approach is the company’s annual sponsorship of the Badger Beer ‘Chase at Wincanton racecourse, now the longest-standing, continuous sponsorship of the National Hunt Calendar.  A gallery of past winners was shown, with many famous equine names on the list. Mark Woodhouse acknowledged he had a personal connection to this in the form of Present Man, his well-celebrated double winner of the race.

To round off the evening we were treated to samples of four of the brews offered by Hall and Woodhouse, a most generous way of ending a convivial and interesting talk.

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