Little Imber On The Down by Rex Sawyer is the first book to be devoted to the history of this Salisbury Plain community, a remote village which until sixty years ago carried on its life to a large extent untouched by the outside world. In 1943 the villagers were all required to leave, so that Imber could be handed over to the army for military training. Everyone believed that after the war those evicted would be allowed to return, and a long campaign against officialdom was waged by their supporters, but to no avail. Imber, except for soldiers, is now deserted and largely destroyed, and most of its former inhabitants have died. But the community and its history live on in memories and photographs, and Rex has had the full cooperation of the surviving villagers and their descendants while writing this moving and poignant book. With an engaging text and over 100 evocative illustrations, mostly photographs, the unique village of Imber is brought to life again.
Rex Sawyer was headmaster of Wilton Secondary and Middle Schools at Wilton, Wiltshire, for 18 years. He was also a counsellor for the Open University, a lecturer for the Wiltshire Educational Association, and a Salisbury magistrate. He now lives at Tisbury in South Wiltshire, where he is actively involved with the Tisbury History Society.
I was lent this book, unsolicited, by a friend. I visited Imber on one of their Open Weekends last year, do it was interesting to relate the text of the book to the geography as I know it. Also, there is a whole chapter devoted to Councillor Austin Underwood of Amesbury, who played a major part in Imber’s fight for survival after the war. This was of particular interest as somebody one a local history social media site, to which I subscribe, had been asking about him. I am no stimulated to reading WH Hudson’s ’A Sheoherd’s Life’ which has been sat unread on my bookshelf since my youth.
A book I have had since publication but took out to read again. The story/history/herstory of this little village on Salisbury Plain from which residents were required to move out as it had been requisioned by the army for training. There is an annual open weekend when the old church can be visited.