Bridgwater’s popular ‘History Day’ will be held at the Bridgwater Arts Centre from 10am until 4pm  on Saturday 18th November and will feature an array of local historians on a variety of subjects, films, stalls and a free lunch. Stalls will include the Blake museum, the Archaeology society, the Civic Society and the Brick and Tile Museum. The food will take the form of a ‘medieval lunch’ and will be provided by community cook Lesley Gates. The event is free and usually packed out. The event is sponsored by Bridgwater Town Council in co-operation with Bridgwater & Taunton College.


Cllr Brian Smedley

1000 Doors open

1030 Welcome by Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Mick Lerry

1035-1100 Brian SmedleyBridgwater Past, Present and Future”. Cllr Brian Smedley is the Leader of Bridgwater Town Council and will open the event by putting Bridgwater’s recent changes into a historical context.

Suzanne Hannay

1100-1130 Suzanne Hannay“The Ongoing Controversy surrounding Bridgwater born Harry ‘The Breaker’ Morant “. Suzanne was born in Birmingham during an air raid. Having survived that, she has lived in Bristol, London, Sydney and Los Angeles. She now lives in Bridgwater.

David Sutcliffe

1130-1200 David SutcliffeThe Songs of Cecil Sharp” . David studied at Cambridge and was a VSO teacher in Papua New Guinea before working for the British Council moving to Somerset in 1987, where he owned and managed a care home in Hambridge for 20 years. In his retirement he has written two published biographies and also researched a website with biographical sketches of all the singers in Somerset who performed for Cecil Sharp. David  will sing snatches of a few Bridgwater songs into the bargain.

Robbert Turner

1200-1230 Robbert TurnerRAF Westonzoyland” After turning down the offer of a position with the RAF – Robbert accepted what he thought would be an advantageous career. Having trained in studio photography – he was offered a job as press photographer for an East Devon paper whose owner was an ex-Fleet Street Daily Express sub-editor. This opened up an often-dramatic career which led in later years to other former Fleet Street editors. Very much a photographic life which has helped in trebling the size of the RAF WESTONZOYLAND archive.

The Wreck of the Nornen (pic Alan Beech)

1230-1330  Medieval Lunch (Lesley Gates)

1330-1400 John StricklandThe Nornen the Ship in the Sand.” John was born in Burnham and is the Chair of the North Sedgemoor Local history group. The Nornen was driven onto Berrow beach on 3rd March 1897 during severe south westerly gales. The story of her owners, her trade and the conditions the crew faced in the driving snow and gales will be told together with the work of the lifeboat crew and the help given by Berrow residents in accommodating the captain in the days following. All her crew, including the captain’s dog were saved. The wreck can still be seen, at low tide, on Berrow beach.

Dave Chapple 

1400-1430 Dave ChappleKilling Yourself to Keep Yourself: the social and political struggles of Somerset’s Coal Miners”. Dave Chapple is a Bridgwater based socialist author and a former postal worker. He has written several books in the Somerset Socialist History series plus a 3 part autobiography . He is active in a range of Trades Union Councils across Somerset and speaks nationally on workers issues.

1430-1530 Miles Kerr-Peterson/Tony Woolrich “Crypts and Tombs and Memorials of St Mary’s (Pt 1 & Pt 2). These will be short films and available to view in the Gallery, Bar and Kelting room