When Bridgwater woke up this morning it was chucking it down. All the work put in by Pat, Sara and their team might end up being viewed through aqua rimmed glasses from beneath a veil of umbrella tracked raindrops. Not only that, but the weed in the canal was threatening to scupper the planned pleasure boat trips before the day had even got under way…..But none of this was going to stop the people of Bridgwater from having a party, descended as they are from Pirates and Terrorfish.
It had been months in the planning and in a place like Britain you clearly can’t expect a bit of rain to put you off, so by 1030 on a slightly damp Sunday morning the Bridgwater Docks Gala opened regardless and the people turned up regardless.
Celebrating our Canal
Not one to be deterred by weed clogging his propellers or sinking, Captain Ken Bussell made sure the Mayor and Leader of council were on the first boat of the day out into the docks. The event had been planned to commemorate the re-opening of the Canal 21 years ago but due to the failure of the CRT’s contractors to actually clear the weed, the irony wasn’t lost on the landlubbers.
Around the dockside dozens of stalls had sprung up from the Flower Show to the Civic Society, the Blake Museum to the Carnival clubs and their fundraising tomboli and from Sue’s Smoothies to Nicks ‘Indian Head Massage’ all to the rhythmic accompaniment of Pulse Radio.
And never far from public gathering, local campaigning group Bridgwater Forward had a table where people were being asked what they wanted on the Northgate site now that Tescos had dissapeared up it’s own marketting myth. ‘Leisure facilities’ seemed to be every second contribution.
If you popped into the Sea Cadets HQ there was an Arena set out where Majorettes and cheerleaders performed their hearts out and then at the opposite end of the harbourside was a miniature funfair.
The Admirals Landing pub did a roaring trade with queues for their carvery stretching half way round the bar while a hog roast outside took care of those who couldn’t wait.
“That’s the way to do it” shrieked a helpful Mr Punch from under an overhanging apartment block while at the bascule bridge end of the dock some concerned Firefighters positioned their vehicle alongside a bouncy castle, a surf-yourself-daft machine and one of several ice cream vans.
Rhiann Childs was on standby with her Torpedo Boat MTB219 to show the odd councillor around it – and none odder than Cllrs Dudderidge, Smedley and Hinckes who decided to re-enact a scene from ‘The Three Stooges Continually Bang Their Heads on some very low Beams’.
But it was MTB219 that saw even more action that afternoon when the Marine Cadets staged an amphibious attack on it in a spot of military theatre. An attempt to (obviously successfully) rescue a hostage involved snipers on the dockside, frogmen appearing from beneath the waves and an inflatable (boat) full of cadets storming aboard, blowing up the place (with confetti) and then speeding off into the night. Well, the Sea Cadets hut). And all this done with imaginary guns- now some may say this is health and safety gone mad, but the last thing you want in a war situation is the enemy suing you isn’t it.
The Docks are back
The docks are a gem of Bridgwater’s heritage and they need to be made use of. So thanks should go to Pat Robinson and Sara Evans for organising such an event designed to draw people’s attention to it’s potential. There’s talk of an annual event and maybe a Christmas Market – but whatever happens next, the Docks are back on the town’s agenda.
Westover councillor Kathy Pearce commented “This is a great way to celebrate and promote this historical and important part of the town. Lots of local, community, organisations are taking part by having stalls, activities or refreshments. It’s taken a lot of hard work to make this happen.”