Hugh Pihlens joined the Hungerford GP medical practice in July 1973. He and Lois soon came to appreciate the charm of Hungerford, and began to develop an inquiring interest into the local history of this delightful market town.
In May 1979 he called a meeting of local people known to have an interest in the history of the town, and from this the Hungerford Historical Association was born, its first meeting taking place in September 1979. Hugh was its first Chairman. He was Chairman from 1979-1984, and 1999-2002.
He was invited by Nicholas Battle to write "The Story of Hungerford", published 1983, the first of Countryside Books Town History series.
He has led numerous guided walks around the town for HADCAF, local and visiting groups. In 1988 he brought out a small booklet "A Walk About Hungerford", describing a series of walks around the town illustrating its history through local buildings and artefacts.
In 1992 Phillimore Publishers invited him to write "Hungerford - A Pictorial History", including 170 captioned historic photographs.
Hugh has been interviewed on Radio Berkshire and Radio 210.
- Hugh Pihlens, on his last day in General practice, 30 Jun 2006.
- Hugh Pihlens, Aug 2007
- Filming with Julia Bradbury, Sep 2010
Talks and lectures:
Over the years, he has lectured to the HHA on many aspects of local history, including:
- History of Medicine in Hungerford, HHA Jan 1986
- A Look at Hungerford's History, HHA Jan 1998
- Four Dukes and a Duchess, HHA Mar 2002
- Victorian Hungerford, HHA Sep 2004- History of Medicine in Hungerford, HHA Sep 2006
- Medieval Hungerford, and the History of the Three Swans, HHA Sep 2008
- 400 years of Schooling in Hungerford, HHA Sep 2009
- Victorian Hungerford, HHA Oct 2009
- The Kennet and A Canal - 1810-2010, HHA Sep 2010
In addition, he has spoken to many groups in the local area.
Following Hugh's retirement from medical practice in 2006, he updated the 1992 book, added nearly 50 more pictures mostly dating from 1930-1990, and with Christopher Cooke of West Berks Books Ltd, brought out a revised and enlarged edition of "Hungerford - A Pictorial History".
However, Hugh had long had an interest in IT, and had been lead developer of one of the major computer systems for General Practice. After some months deliberating, he decided that rather than write more books on the history of the town, the best way to share the mass of information he and Lois had collected about Hungerford's history, he would make it available through a website. In February 2009 the Hungerford Virtual Museum was born.
He was delighted to be invited to do a small bit of filming for Julia Bradbury's BBC TV series "Canal Walks", when he spoke on the importance of the Kennet and Avon Canal during the Second World War. This was filmed in Sep 2010 and shown in early summer 2011.