Even as it recedes into history, the twentieth century remains a conscious part of our lives. For Hook Norton, it remains a period in which the village was transformed from what in the 1920s was an isolated parish, suffering from the decline of its once-productive quarrying industry, the troubles of its then struggling brewery, and its uncompetitive agriculture. By 2000 the village was clearly on its way to becoming primarily a modern residential area, dependent on cars and buses rather than the long-gone railway, with a population dominated by in-comers and residents who earned their living in outside towns and cities. An ancient village lay at the heart of the parish, but the question already existed of whether further growth would make Hook Norton a suburb of Banbury, Oxford and London rather than a distinct community with its own character.
There exists no connected history of how that change took place over those eighty years, though the HNLHG’s The Story of Hook Norton (2017) provides a good brief survey. Here we provide here some illuminating recollections of Hook Norton at moments during the period before 1970. There is the nostalgic verse of long-time resident George Dumbleton (1901-1996); the charming drawings and portraits by Joan Lawrence, which conjure up a village in the 1960s where Hooky children could still play in the street; and the folk memories of earlier years prompted by Dougie Marshall. The Village Museum also has some recorded oral memories which we hope someday to make available on this site.
The most revealing record is the long (if amateurish) documentary film made by John and Beryl Gibbs in 1995 entitled Hook Norton in Days Gone By, which uses the many striking photographs taken of the village and its people to recreate life in the parish between 1890 and 1950. This is one of a number of films made about Hook Norton and the area it stands in between 1946 and 1998, made available here through YouTube. We also provide information and links to the radio programmes about Hook Norton broadcast since World War Two, though we deny that the long-running comedy feature about Hog’s Norton has anything to do with this village!
Otherwise this section refers you to articles in the Themes section of this website that relate to the twentieth century. There are articles on religion that demonstrate the continuing vigour of religious life for those who retain the faith, even as it ceased to be a mainstream concern and became unsustainable as a local institution for some smaller denominations. At the same time the provision for health and education improved, even if it was to undergo new trials after 2010. A particular loss has been the admirable provision for adult education that made Hook Norton much envied toward the end of the century, even if local societies have been created that maintain that particular cultural tradition in other, if more limited, ways.