One thing I love about Calne is the immediate sense of community I felt when I arrived. 

I wanted to continue being part of that community, even when I’m unable to get out of the house. So, on 23 March 2018 I set up a Facebook group called ‘Calne in Photographs’ with my wife. I took inspiration from Peter Treloar, one-time Mayor of Calne, who published eight photograph books on Calne between 1974 and 2010. 

Housebound, but desperate to know more about the town we had decided to settle with our family, I set up the group without high hopes. However, by providing lots of content myself in those first few months and frequent Shout Outs from the Calne Facebook pages, we managed to get our first few members. They began to interact and share their own content, not just of Calne as is it, but also as it was – the journey had begun. 

It is to those first few members that I will always be grateful to. We gradually got to know each other and became a community. When new members joined, we welcomed them, encouraged them, and helped them with any questions they had about the town and its impressive past. 

Two years and eight months on, we are a community of close to 3500 members, from locals, to ex pats, to tourists, to those looking to move to Calne themselves. But what makes us a community? 

During lockdown 1.0, we not only shared photographs of Calne, but set up threads for our members all around the world to share photographs from their front window, day and night. It was wonderful seeing the landscapes of different countries in this way. It was special, to be thousands of miles apart, but providing that connection and support to each other during such an unsettling and troubling time – a time that continues still. 

The group brings people together in a way that was not possible before, for example two school friends, apart and without contact for 75 years have recently shared photographs of their reunion. And that’s not the only one, we also provide space for members to share information about upcoming school reunions. 

Our members have also been assisting local author, Dee La Vardera, with her upcoming book on C&T Harris, by sharing their memories and identifying people and processes in photographs. Along with members of the group, I am compiling information about all of Calne’s past mayors in the hope of publishing books to share the life and times of Calne through the activities of those mayors. 

For me though, the icing on the cake was a message from another person with disabilities commented on a collection of Christmas light photographs I’d uploaded. She said how lovely it was to see the lights as she can’t get out of the house to see them. This not only lead to a conversation about this year’s lights, memories of Christmas lights past – and more importantly, others responded with Christmas light photographs of their own. 

So, what makes us a community? Whatever is happening in the world, we come together to show and discuss the beauty of Calne – past and present. 

If you would like to become part of our community, or just have a look around. You can find the group by clicking here.

By Tim Havenith 
Author of Calne Place Names

* In memory of David Charles, who recently passed. During October 2020, David reconnected with his friend Rex Hitchens, after 75 years. David was only a member of our group for a short time, but will be missed.

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