For the third year running Bridgwater Town Council will be celebrating local history with a special event at Bridgwater Arts Centre. The event will run from 10am to 4pm and will be free.
Organiser and Town Council Leader, Cllr Brian Smedley, said “Bridgwater people have always been proud of their history whether it’s the first town to petition against the slave trade or the last battle on English soil. Throughout the day the Arts Centre -the first in the country – will be home to a selection of 7 topics from 700 years of Bridgwater history presented by 7 local historians using photos, film, music and short talks. The last two years have seen full houses and we expect the same this year. There will also be food provided. “
The Art Centre will be open from 10am and refreshments are available. The bar area will feature an exhibition by Blake Museum and a rolling slide show of old Bridgwater photos.
Programme for History Day
1030 Opening by Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, Mayor of Bridgwater
1035 Cllr Brian Smedley in the chair
1040-1125 Stephen Honey “Viking in Somerset”
1125-1210 Val Bannister “The Dodgy Duke and the Crumbling Castle”
1210-1255 Stewart Richards “The History of Lytle Mill and the ambitious plan for it’s restoration.”
1255-1345 Historic lunch provided by Purplespoon catering
Plus ‘Photos of old Bridgwater’ by Paul Bovett
1345-1430 Roger Evans “Pageants and Poltergheists: Tales from Sydenham Manor “
1430-1515 Dr Lesley Sutcliffe “Dr Jonathan Toogood -Founder of Bridgwater Infirmary”
1515-1600 Chris Sidaway “The Pilgrim Way- A New Somerset Trail?”
This years Historians
Roger Evans “ Born and bred in Bridgwater (just across the road from the Arts Centre, in the Mary Stanley), Roger was the youngest ever councillor on the Bridgwater Borough Council, author of “The Book of Bridgwater” and numerous other books on Somerset, life-long involvement in carnival (former chairman of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival and founder and life member of the Renegades Carnival Club) and worked for 33 years at the Cellophane where he was a regular tour guide for Sydenham Manor.”
Val Bannister “Currently half way through a Plymouth University BA degree course (History, Heritage and Archaeology) Val is their oldest ever undergraduate. Originally from a long-established Portishead family, she moved here from Southend in Essex 15 years ago. Working life of 3 parts: Mother (currently 3 great-grand-children and another on the way); social worker (problem teenage lads); Law degree as mature student followed by research and publishing as Liability (“I’ve been hurt; who’s going to pay me?”) Lawyer. Currently secretary of very active Residents’ Association, and packing in as much theatre, music, and travel as possible, while continuing a life-long interest in archaeology and history.”
Born in Taunton and living most of his life in Somerset, Stephen studied Graphic Arts, Illustration, Ceramics and Art History in the early 1970’s. He worked as a Cartographic Draughtsman for the Admiralty until 2000. For the last 15 years he has been employed with English Heritage and has been the Site Manager at Muchelney Abbey since 2011. He has a wide range of historical interests, but is focussed mainly on the Anglo Saxon period. He is a practitioner of medieval arts, particularly stained glass and illuminated manuscript.
Chris is a Bridgwater based consultant in Arts and Heritage and an experienced historian and walk leader. He has written extensively about local history, archaeology, military history and historic buildings. A former Arts officer for Sedgemoor District Council, Chris is currently a Parish Clerk.
Dr Lesley Sutcliffe “After retiring from medical practice in 2012, Lesley studied and then obtained a Diploma in the History of Medicine from the Apothecaries’ Hall in London. It was during this time that she came across the name of Dr Jonathan Toogood and subsequently published his biography. She feels proud to have restored this Bridgwater Surgeon to his rightful place in the town’s history.”
Stewart Richards is a local man educated at Friarn and Dr Morgans School and the son of former mayor Ken Richards. Stewart is a Chartered Chemist and has spent his entire working life in the field of flexible packaging holding a series of managerial posts at British Cellophane prior to transferring to the USA for 14 years with UCB Films. He is now a semi-retired consultant to the flexible packaging industry. On his return to the UK in 2013, he was encouraged to become involved with Blake Museum by his wife who was already a volunteer. A number of people involved with the museum were keen for him to get involved in a project to restore the town mill; he is now leading that project in a voluntary capacity, on behalf of Bridgwater Town Council and Blake Museum.