Category Archives: Towns Around Exmoor

BLENHEIM GARDENS VOLUNTEERS

Going back to grass roots help is bringing Blenheim Gardens in Minehead back to its blooming best.

Volunteers, working with West Somerset Council’s open spaces staff, have put in countless hours – gaining recognition from Britain in Bloom and the heartfelt thanks of West Somerset Council during Love Parks Week.

The national initiative, running from July 14-23, is encouraging people to use their parks and enjoy the experience.

Blenheim Gardens is West Somerset’s flagship park and covers six acres in the centre of Minehead. Created in the 1920s, the gardens are mature with spring and summer bedding displays, a wide range of trees, shrubs and perennials that thrive in the mild maritime climate.

The park has its own bandstand for summer concerts and brass bands – always a family favourite – as well as a seasonal putting course, a Burma Star Memorial Garden which provides an area for quiet reflection, and seating.

There are plans to make Blenheim Gardens more sustainable with a greater emphasis on perennials and shrubs rather than thirsty annual bedding plants.

Cllr Martin Dewdney, the council’s Lead Member for the environment, said: “Blenheim Gardens is quite simply beautiful. The park is a wonderful oasis close to the beach and the centre of Minehead and I know it is well loved by residents and visitors.

“The volunteers do so much for the park and I would like to take this chance to thank them on behalf of the community and the council. Blenheim Gardens is a place to treasure, thanks to our volunteers.

“There is something for everyone in the park – plants to enjoy, a pitch and putt course, grass for the children to play on and the very popular café. In the summer, there’s a programme of music in the Bandstand featuring traditional brass and silver bands as well as local groups.”

Blenheim Gardens has a Facebook page, where you keep up to date with the latest events.

This photo is thought to date back to the 1930s.

 

 

 

REGENERATION PLANS FOR BUTCHERS ROW, BARNSTAPLE

Plans are on the table to regenerate one of Barnstaple’s most iconic streets.

North Devon Council is setting aside some of its planned maintenance budget to spruce up Butchers Row in the coming months. It is also in talks with Barnstaple Town Centre Management to understand customer needs and changing shopping habits and to discuss plans to regenerate the historic street.

Last year the council refurbished Barnstaple Pannier Market, which runs the length of Butchers Row. Attention is now being turned to the historic units that the council lets to local businesses and work is likely to begin in the next couple of months.

Head of Resources at North Devon Council, Jon Triggs, says: “Butchers Row is probably one of the most photographed streets in Barnstaple and is an important historical feature of the town. Over the next couple of months we will be looking in detail at what can be done to improve and regenerate the Row, which is Grade II listed and, as such, needs extra care.”

There are currently some vacant units along the Row available to let. Contact Wright Commercial for more information on 01271 377333 or www.thewrightproperty.co.uk.

 

MINEHEAD WINS MAJOR SEAFRONT BOOST

Minehead’s “Enterprising Esplanade” has won a significant financial boost thanks to the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

The project that aims to breathe new life into The Esplanade – the mile-long stretch of seafront – has been awarded £130,696.

The project is being led by the Minehead Coastal Communities Team, and is designed to give the resort an economic boost and make the most of its spectacular stretch of seafront.

The initiative aims to create new trading opportunities on The Esplanade and will restore six Edwardian shelters that are a reminder of past glories.

There are plans to convert one shelter into a trading post as a pilot project. The team is planning to encourage more seafront tourism attractions to make sure visitors thoroughly enjoy their time at the seaside, while a festival and Harbour market are also in the pipeline.

The initiatives will stretch the best part of a mile along the Esplanade, complementing and celebrating the best of the past and present – and looking to the future to help boost Minehead’s economy.

The Minehead Coastal Community Team comprises representatives from Minehead Town Council, West Somerset Council, Minehead Chamber of Trade, Minehead Development Trust, Minehead Eye, Engage West Somerset, West Somerset Railway, and others.

 

COMING UP AT REGAL THEATRE MINEHEAD

The Regal Theatre, Minehead have been very lucky to book the  European Union Chamber Orchestra for Wednesday 5 April.  Directed by Eva Stegemann, the programme will comprise three Mozart works:– Serenade in D K.185, Oboe Concerto K.314, and Adagio for Cor Anglais, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

Soloist Nicholas Daniel (Oboe And Cor Anglais) has played on every continent  and appeared  with leading orchestras across the globe and in the BBC Proms.

EUCO has performed in 73 countries  in major concert halls and Festivals, broadcast on television and radio across  Europe and the USA and had several UK concerts broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £18 are now available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am-3pm Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm Saturday.

Also coming up:

Friday 31 March at 7.30pm
THE DEANE BIG BAND

On Friday 31 March the ever popular Deane Big Band returns to the Regal Theatre with a good time for all as they bring in some toe-tapping big band classics from the swing era. The band will be playing lots of Glenn Miller hits, as well as some by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich and Duke Ellington.

Chris Franks will sing songs like ‘Come fly with me’ and ‘ Let’s face the music and dance’; Chris does not have blue eyes like Mr Sinatra – but he does sound just like him!

Hannah Deason-Barrow will sing about that ‘Old Devil Called Love’ but don’t worry – everyone will end up ‘Feeling Good’.

With two great singers as well as a full 17 piece big band – it will be a big sound and joyful evening.

Performances begin at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £9 are now available from the Regal Box Office.

 

EASTER AT BARNSTAPLE PANNIER MARKET

Spring is in the air at Barnstaple Pannier Market with the return of Monday markets and an Easter eggstravaganza.

Monday markets make a return on Monday 3 April, offering even more opportunity to visit the town’s unique indoor market. With a wide variety of stalls, including fresh local produce, books, gifts, clothing, crafts and antiques, the market will be open six days a week from April until Christmas, with many Sunday events throughout the year.

On Saturday 15 April, the Easter bunny will be making a special visit to hand out mini chocolate eggs to our young visitors, and there will be an eggciting Easter Egg hunt around the market. Then, between 11am and 1pm, Borderline morris dancers will be performing and Dave Hendy will be doing magic around the market.

Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “Spring has definitely sprung at the market with the return of Monday markets and the annual egg hunt.  Please do come along and support the market and enjoy the free family entertainment on Easter Saturday.”

Local ward member for Barnstaple (central town), Councillor Adam Bradford says, “I am delighted that there are now even more opportunities and reasons for us all to enjoy this lively and unique space. We are all looking forward to Easter!”

To keep up to date with the Pannier Market’s news and events, head over to Facebook and like their page: www.facebook.com/BarnstaplePannierMarket/?fref=ts

 

WATCHET’S STREET FAIRS START ON 2 APRIL

Watchet’s second year of colourful Street Fairs begins on 2 April, with music from the Dark Town Strutters, kids’ trapeze and silk and rope drop in workshops from incredible local performer, Lyn Routledge, mouth-watering street food from Broomsquire and Little Van Rouge, fruit and veg, art, craft, local produce and more, all spread across the Esplanade.

The committee is also excited to announce that it has reggae band, Dojo, booked for the May event. Their new single, ‘Bethel’ has been championed by David Rodigan on Radio 1 Extra.

The Street Fairs are run by Watchet Coastal Community Team, who are working to develop tourism and economic growth in the town. They will run on the first Sunday of every month from April through to October.

Last year’s inaugural Street Fairs were a huge success, and led to a threefold increase in the number of visitors to the town.

Cllr Rosemary Woods said, “We’re really excited to be embarking on the second year of Street Fairs. They were a lot of fun last year, and made a big difference to the town, bringing in plenty of visitors. We also aim to support local start-ups, and the evidence is that last year’s events were a real boost for people.”

The Fairs are funded by the central government national initiative, Coastal Communities, which aims to boost Britain’s coastal towns. 118 Coastal Community Teams were created last year and given a share of £1.18m to help drive forward coastal areas growth.

Watchet Coastal Communities Team, which is the organisation behind the Street Fairs, is made up of local people, businesses and organisations in Watchet and includes Town Council, District Council, Watchet Chamber of Trade, Onion Collective CIC, Conservation Society, Market House Museum, West Somerset Railway, Watchet Boat Owners Association and other local business representatives.

Pitches are priced £15- £20. To book a pitch contact Molly Quint on 01984 632592 or email: quint407@btinternet.com

For more information go to the Watchet Street Fair Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/watchetstreetfairs.

ROPE WALK IN WATCHET GETS MAKEOVER

The bank between Harbour Road car park and the train platform in Watchet, known as Rope Walk, is getting a makeover, with weekly community gardening sessions and a commemorative art installation, preserving and celebrating the contribution Wansborough Paper Mill made to the town, both planned for the next month.

Community gardeners will be meeting from 9-12 each Saturday, and ask that if anyone wants to join them, they bring forks, gloves and enthusiasm. Any expert knowledge would also be welcome. The sessions are being run by the Onion Collective CIC, who manage this plot of land between the rail crossing and the visitor centre. Money for the plants has been donated by Watchet’s Community Bookshop.

Sally Lowndes of the Onion Collective said: “We’re hoping to brighten up the bank between the car park and the train platform. The ground is full of ivy and brambles at the moment, so it’s quite heavy work clearing it, but we hope to plant lavender, rosemary and other bee-friendly, fragrant flowering plants there. It’s one of the first sights people have when they arrive in Watchet, so it’s important it looks loved.”

An art installation by Watchet’s Dot Kuzniar, which commemorates the town’s historic paper mill, and was made in collaboration with some of the last workers at the mill is also planned for the fencing behind the bank, and should be in place within the next month, thanks to help from the Watchet Community Makers.

Jon Barrett of Watchet’s Contains Art said: “The closure of Watchet Paper Mill saw the end of 250 years of paper making in this small coastal town. Its decommissioning at the end of 2015 had been quick, though its impact was huge. Long defining the identity of the town there was a real risk that along with the end of its operation the personal memories would be lost forever. Dot is one of several local artists who worked fast to record, preserve and celebrate the story of this Mill, and by installing her work in such a prominent position we aim to commemorate the important contribution the mill made to Watchet.”

If you would like to get involved with the gardening, come along on Saturday mornings, between 9 and 12. For any more information, contact the Onion Collective on 01984 633496 / info@onioncollective.co.uk.

For more information on the Wansborough Paper Mill heritage project, contact Jon Barrett at Contains Art 07583 368072 / jon@containsart.co.uk.

PHOTO:  From left to right, Jess Prendergrast, Sally Lowndes, Georgie Grant, Jenny Barron and Rosemary Woods, clearing brambles.

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST FREE HALF TERM EVENTS IN TAUNTON

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s most successful urban wildlife projects, Routes To The River Tone is delighted to announce ‘Celebration Of The River Tone’ – an entire week of nature-based activities for all at half term.

The celebration is aimed to give people the opportunity to enjoy, discover and explore Taunton’s amazing green spaces, wild places and the stunning wildlife that lives along the river.  The programme of events aims to inspire people to support the charity’s ongoing work to reconnect people with nature and reap the health and wellbeing benefits of spending quality time outdoors.

The Routes to The River Tone project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from Viridor Waste Management, was launched in 2014. Over the past three years the project has worked with local people  and partnership organisations to provide a wide range of public  events, school wildplay sessions,  citizen science projects, interpretation for greenspaces, community gardens, trails (art, history, misguided, story and geocaching) and opportunities to get involved in practical conservation.

Nick Tomlinson, Routes the The River Tone Manager, said: “We really weren’t prepared for the overwhelming response we received when we started to talk to people from the communities, neighbourhoods, schools and community groups across Taunton.  The cumulative amount of passion, enthusiasm and interest that people have shown over the past three years and the popularity of the events we have put on, really shows that people in Taunton really do value nature and understand how critical it is that we make ourselves responsible for ensuring our wild places are still there to enjoy going forwards.

“Once people are helped to discover the natural places on their own doorstep, they value their local greenspace even more and have a greater desire to look after it. We are very proud of what the project has achieved and I am really excited about the programme of events we have put together with partners and local community groups to celebrate the successes of the last three years.”

Simon Nash, CEO of Somerset Wildlife Trust, added: “Community-based support for involvement and engagement with the environment is the key to the long term, sustainable management of Taunton’s wild and open spaces, as well as the health and wellbeing of the communities that surround them. Projects such as this one leave a significant and lasting legacy that can be taken beyond the life of the project itself and owned by the people who enjoy these places the most.”

EVENT PROGRAMME

Celebration of the River ToneCelebration of the River Tone – 13th-18th February 2017
Welcome to our Celebration of the River Tone, part of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s urban project – Routes to the River Tone. Join us as we celebrate our town’s amazing green spaces, wild places and the stunning wildlife that lives along the river through a week of nature-based activities. There’s something for all the family, so why not join us, and be part of it!

RTRTLitterboxesLitter Pick for Wildlife (in association with the Inland Waterways Association)
When: Monday 13th February, 2.30-4pm
Where: French Weir Park Slipway (near Clarence St.)

Help your local wildlife by removing litter from along the riverside. All equipment and guidance provided  by the Inland Waterways’ Volunteers.

How to book: No booking required.
Further details mike.slade@waterways.org.uk or 07977 263840

RTRTBirdboxesBuild a Bird a Home
When: Tuesday 14th February
Session: 1 10am
Session:  2 11am
Session:  3 2pm
Session: 4 3pm
Where: New COACH outdoor classroom, French Weir Park

Join us and build your own bird box for free as part of National Nest Box Week. All materials provided.

How to book: Book your time and a bird box kit by visiting www.somersetwildlife.org/celebratetone

RTRT_StoryTrailStory Trail
When: Thursday 16th February
Where:  Brewhouse Theatre, Orchard, Taunton TA1 1JL

Join Ollie the Otter and his friend as these characters perform and launch you on an exploration of the river. Enjoy reading the story of Ollie the Otter and Vern the Water Vole as you discover the hidden waterways and green spaces of Taunton. Great family fun (walk is 1.5km pram and wheelchair accessible). You may also like to join a craft workshop or enjoy The Lorax film.

Craft Workshops – 10.30am, 12pm and 1.30pm, Free
Story Walk – 11pm, 12.30pm and 2pm, Free
The Lorax Film PG – 3pm, £4 per ticket

How to book:     Please contact the Brewhouse Theatre, Orchard, Taunton TA1 1JL 01823 283244

RTRT_StorytimeStory Time
When:  Friday 17th February
(Session1) 1.15pm- 2.45pm
(Session 2) 3.00pm-5.30pm
Where: New COACH The Parkroom, French Weir Park

Fantastic fables, wild tales and clay art to launch our new picture book about the wildlife of the River Tone.

How to book:  Book to ensure a place  by visiting www.somersetwildlife.org/celebratetone

RTRT_River of light_FusePerformaceRiver of Light Finale Event (in partnership with FUSE Performance )
When: Saturday 18th February, 3- 7.30pm

Join us as we create a River of Light with willow lanterns and streamers followed by a fire performance, live music and food.

Willow Streamer Making Workshop: 3-4.30pm at the Brewhouse Theatre

River of Light Procession: Starts at 5.30pm from the Brewhouse Theatre/Castle Green
Fire Performance: 6pm Goodland Gardens
Band and food: 6.30-7.30pm Goodland Gardens

How to book:  No booking required

For further details on the Celebration of the River Tone activities and events visit www.somersetwildlife.org/celebratetone or contact rivertone@somersetwildlife.org or call Claire, Nick, Olivia or Rose on 01823 652 400

BARNSTAPLE REGENERATION PROJECTS UNDER DISCUSSION

Business leaders from across North Devon met recently, on Tuesday 31 January, to discuss a number of regeneration projects in the pipeline for Barnstaple.

‘Opportunity Barnstaple’, a half-day conference for businesses and partners, was organised by North Devon Council to share ideas and provide an update on projects driving the economic regeneration of the town.

Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “The event was very well received, with more than 60 stakeholders attending, including businesses, developers and representatives from public bodies. We were pleased to be able to update everyone on some major regeneration projects that are already underway. It was a very positive event and I’m looking forward to working with partners to make the most of the exciting opportunities we have to develop the  town.”

Delegates at the event were given an update on the Barnstaple WiFi trial, projects to regenerate The Strand and Seven Brethren, car parking, the town’s Flood Defence Study, a master plan for Pilton Park and the Taw footbridge consultation. There was also information from Devon County Council on sustainable travel grants for businesses and an update on the A361 North Devon Link Road project.

A link to all of the day’s presentations can be found on the council’s website www.northdevon.gov.uk/economicdevelopment.

 

FURTHER CONSULTATION ON PROPOSAL TO CLOSE PANNIER MARKET AT NIGHT

North Devon Council is carrying out further consultation on proposals to close Barnstaple Pannier Market at night.

The council, which owns the market, intends to exercise a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which would restrict people from gathering in the market by closing public access in the evenings and overnight.

A public consultation was carried out late last year to find out what local businesses, residents and stakeholders thought of the proposal. Following this exercise, the PSPO has been amended to reflect public concerns regarding anti-social behaviour in the market at night.

As significant changes have been made to the original PSPO, a further consultation will now be carried out.

Executive Member for Community Safety, Councilor Pat Barker, said: “We had a good response to our first consultation and following some changes, we are now carrying out a further consultation on the proposed Order. Because there is a public right of way through the market, we aren’t able to close it at night without applying the PSPO. Due to the amount of anti-social behaviour going on in the market at night, including vandalism, drinking and even arson, we are very keen to protect the building and the public by closing it at night.”

The consultation on the amended PSPO begins on Thursday 2 February and runs until Thursday 27 April 2017. Have your say online at www.northdevon.gov.uk/consultations or write to Pannier Market PSPO Consultation, North Devon Council, PO Box 379, Barnstaple, EX32 2GR.