It’s Monday 12th April 2021 and the biggest step yet in a post covid return to normality is being taken across the High streets of the UK. Some pubs have been trading since just after midnight and some traders opened their doors as early as 6am. Here in Bridgwater it’s no different and the streets have been filling up nicely with cafes doing a roaring trade, with gazebos and beer gardens aplenty while hairdressers have seen queues since early morning often down the street and around the block . Although in no particular need of a haircut himself, Mayor of Bridgwater Leigh Redman has been out and about seeing what’s open and talking to traders and shoppers .
First stop was the Engine Room Cafe which has several outdoor tables under a canopy and in the shade of a couple of trees and will be serving coffees, cakes, and lunches from 11 to 2. Manager Anna says they’ll review the situation on 17th May. The cafe is also the gateway to Somerset Film .
Wandering along the High street it was bumper to bumper traffic-but that’s just because the traffic lights at Westbow have been replaced with a temporary slower model while repairs to a watermain have been going on-and will continue the same until April 14th…..
Dropping into the Angel Place shopping centre, the ‘Crafty Collective‘ will be open 1030-3 Tuesday to Saturdays, joint owners Sue and Sarah summed up the situation perfectly “Bridgwater is a little town with lots of small shops, we think that’s what people will want to come back to and that’s us. We’re 80% handmade or hand crafted products.”
Cafes have been booming and some, such as The Nutmeg at the back of the Avenue, have introduced Gazebos for their outdoor customers to shelter under to cater for the vagaries of the British weather. New owner Tina Jasinski says they’ll be opening 9 to 2.30 daily and serving breakfasts and light lunches.
Across the road the queues for the barbers already formed a guard of honour as we entered the Avenue and headed to the Cornhill.
Wandering into the Cornhill Market we can see Dave the Butcher getting ready to re-open 9-2 Tuesday to Saturday.
Meanwhile there’s already a queue developing at Cornhill Watches which will be open 10-4 through the week. Cornhill Records will be open from Tuesday-Saturday 9am-3pm and thereafter.
Back outside the charming corner shop The Sweetbox had been trading throughout and will be continuing 8.30 to 4.30 (so if you still haven’t got your Town Council ‘Tree Trail booklet’ that’s the place.
The Fore Street area was a hub of shoppers, both Costa and Coffee Number One with seats outside were bursting at the socially distanced seams, while the charity shops were back as an essential service. St Margarets Hospice shop would be open Monday and Thursday mornings . Further down the street the banks were still open as they had been throughout as were WH Smiths, Boots and Superdrug.
A special welcome came from the (totally not) excitable Kempsofbridgwater doggie in the window who would be bouncering the premises 9.30-4, Monday to Saturday (although not Wednesdays). They’ve been already doing a roaring trade online and will arrange visits made via the web. Click here for more info.
At the famous town bridge Jason’s Famous Burger Van is back in it’s famous place and will be open Monday to Friday 9.30-4.
Along Binford Place, Bridgwater’s famous Bridge Cafe now has a seating area outside, covered by the overhang canopy and already full of appreciative customers, plates full of cakes and cups full of coffees. They’ll be open Monday to Saturday 8.30 to 3 and Sundays 10 to 2.
West Quay was abuzz with people as befits Bridgwater’s ‘left bank’. Becky from the Fountain Inn had barely had time to meet her customers with the 11am-1130pm re-opening, but every last seat outside was taken as she popped out to give a relieved ‘thumbs up’ after the months of staring out of the pub window alongside her famous dog. Trevor.
Further along the Quay the Coffee Cream was back in business with it’s popular terrace of tables looking onto the river front where regulars and passing bikers on this noted stopping point along the national cycle route can finally mix again over their extremely enjoyable traditional breakfasts.
Next door the Green Olive’s owner Erdal was busy giving a wash down to the perspex partition walls of his popular restaurant , soon to be open again Mondays to Sundays for their delicious Medeterrannean themed meze lunches and dinners.
And further along the second hand record shop ‘West Quay Records’ was back in business and would be opening 9-4 every day but Sunday.
Mayor Leigh said “It’s great to be out and about and see so many shops opening for the first time in a while. I’m pleased to say that Bridgwater is back open for business and social distancing at the same time, but please follow the appropriate guidelines.”