Category Archives: Heritage

Saints from the Sea Blog 1: Watch Cork Currach Builders in Action in Minehead 24-29 March

photoIn 2013 maritime authors and historians John and Ann Gilman published Crossways, a book about the spread of Christianity from Ireland and South Wales to the Somerset coastline during the post Roman era. From this work the project ‘Saints from the Sea’ was conceived to recreate the sailings in a traditional Celtic boat, the currach. In the August of 2013 John Gilman approached Minehead Development Trust’s Vision Manager, Stephen Hooper, to ask for help in finding funding to buy a currach from Ireland. Stephen says: “I explained to John that I didn’t think it would be easy to find funding to buy one but I was sure we could bid for funding to build one. Celebrating and revaluing Minehead’s maritime heritage is one of the core themes of the Action Plan to regenerate the town and this is a project that brings the community, its heritage and the environment together to create a piece of living history.”

Currachs were the mainstay vessel of the Celtic culture for 1,000 years, they ranged from six to sixty foot long, and followed the same design. The shape of the hull and flexibilty of the structure were perfectly suited to the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea. Currachs even crossed the Atlantic Ocean. A small boat could be built in a matter of days from locally-sourced materials and they had a work life of around eight years. The currach faded out as the Viking clinker design and Saxon culture spread across Britain but currachs are still very much part of Irish culture and currach racing is a popular sport.

From the 24 -29 March a team of currach builders from Cork will be working with volunteers and long-term unemployed people to build a seven-man twenty-eight-foot masted curragh (timber supplied by Exmoor National Park Authority) outside the new Information Centre and Minehead Museum at the YMCA Beach Hotel and Cafe. The Beach Cafe and Information Centre will be opening on 22 March followed by Minehead Museum on 29 March. The project will launch the concept of a “Heritage Hub” in partnership with West Somerset Railway to enhance the zone as a visitor arrival and welcoming point providing a ambassadorial service for the town.

The boat building will be viewable by the public between 10am and 8pm and there are eight places still available for volunteers to learn about the process from 6pm to 8pm. Contact Dan Cross, Vision Project Administrator, on 07975 640167. The finished boat will be launched at Minehead Harbour on Sunday 30 March.

Watch this space for more news on the project next week!

New film on Exmoor: The Journey of the Louisa and plans for a feature film of the Overland Launch too!

The photograph shows the Lynmouth lifeboat crew a few years after the event. No photographs exist of the original 1899 crew. The picture does include Jack Crocombe though, who was the coxswain of the lifeboat when it was taken over Exmoor to assist the Forrest Hall. He is in the centre of the picture holding the life preserver ring.
The photograph shows the Lynmouth lifeboat crew a few years after the event. No photographs exist of the original 1899 crew. The picture does include Jack Crocombe though, who was the coxswain of the lifeboat when it was taken over Exmoor to assist the Forrest Hall. He is in the centre of the picture holding the life preserver ring.

Plans are steaming ahead for the premiere showing of the new film ‘The Journey of the Louisa‘ – a story of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary deeds. In 1899, during a fierce storm, the Lynmouth lifeboat Louisa had to be hauled 13 miles, which included going over the Countisbury Hill and down the infamous 1-in-4 Porlock Hill, to launch in the more sheltered harbour of Porlock to go to the aid of a ship in distress.

This powerful new film has been produced by Ken Blakey of Lynton, using state-of-the-art computer graphics mixed with real-time footage along the route as well as narration. The premiere of the film will be shown to a full house at Lynmouth Pavilion on Friday 11 April, which coincides exactly with the 160th birthday of Jack Crocombe (coxswain of the Louisa). Copies of the film will be available to buy from Saturday 12 April.

As well as members of the RNLI, as many descendants of the original team as possible have been invited as special guests to the evening’s celebration, including the great-granddaughter and great-grandson of Jack Crocombe, together with the re-enactment crew who dragged and pushed the sister lifeboat a century years later. The granddaughter of the telegraph boy who ran the message from Porlock Weir to Porlock post office for transmission to Lynmouth has just been discovered and will join the grandson of the man who received that telegram which instigated the haul.

The event is supported by the Heritage Lottery Funded Lynmouth Pavilion Project.

In addition to this, Flat-Broke Films Ltd, in association with Next Dimension Entertainment, is delighted to announce that the filming of ‘Louisa‘, the feature film, will commence on location in Lynton and Lynmouth, Exmoor and Porlock Weir this autumn.

Directed by Simon J. Miller and with Academy Award nominated Alexandra Bekiaris and David and Maralyn Reynolds producing, this motion picture will capture the dramatic and heroic account of the 1899 ‘Overland Launch’ of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) ‘Louisa’ lifeboat.

For further information please visit www.flat-brokefilms.co.uk

Exmoor Wildwatch 2014!

The spring issue of the magazine includes a lovely piece by Jane Mares which tells you lots more about one of these species, the sundew. Here is one of her photographs of these beautiful plants.
The spring issue of the magazine includes a lovely piece by Jane Mares which tells you lots more about one of the species which is of particular interest in the survey, the sundew. Here is one of Jane’s photographs of these beautiful plants.

Exmoor National Park’s amazing wildlife has given inspiration and joy to generations, but the very remoteness that makes Exmoor so special means that we do not have a full understanding of the wildlife that lives on the moor. That is where Exmoor Wildwatch 2014 and the accompanying free wildlife events come in!

Ali Hawkins, Exmoor National Park Wildlife Conservation Officer, explains: “Exmoor National Park is home to a fantastic array of wildlife and we would like everyone’s help to find out a little more about some of the special species that live here. We would particularly like to hear about ten key species, some of which are nationally rare and others we simply do not know enough about. Some, like the cuckoo, are distinctive whilst others such as the round-leaved sundew may require more searching in some of Exmoor’s fantastic bogs. With a little bit of effort you can get to see more of Exmoor’s unique wildlife with our free handy spotter guide.

“The key species are cuckoo, kingfisher, brown hare, adder, common lizard, waxcap fungi, round-leaved sundew and heath fritillary, small pearl-bordered fritillary and comma butterflies. Recording your sightings could not be easier. Simply go on line to the Wildwatch link (below) or ring the National Park Centre in Lynmouth on 01598 752509.”

To record sightings and to view the free identification guides visit http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/environment/wild-watch. To order a free Exmoor Wildwatch poster please contact the National Park Centres at Lynmouth, Dunster or Dulverton.

Wildwatch 2014 is also supported by 25 plus free wildlife and surveying training events. “Whether you are interested in butterflies, fungi or river life there is something for everyone. All the training is delivered free of charge by experts to encourage people to learn more about Exmoor’s Wildlife through surveying. Again just visit the Wildwatch website” highlighted David Rolls, Moorland Education and Outreach Officer, “so whether you are out walking, cycling, on the way to work or school please keep your eyes open and report whether you spot any of these wonderful species.”

Exmoor Wildwatch is part of the New Ecologists project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor Trust and Exmoor National Park through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme. For more details on this work please contact David Rolls on, 01398 322164.

New Heritage Trust seeks chair and seven trustees

Somerset and Devon County Councils are seeking a chair and up to seven trustees to lead an important new charity. To be called the South West Heritage Trust, the new organisation will help to protect and celebrate the rich heritage of Somerset and Devon. This independent Trust will deliver the heritage services currently provided by the two councils, with guaranteed funding of £10m over five years.

Successful applicants will use their experience and passion for the heritage of Somerset and Devon to lead and shape the trust. It will be a rewarding and challenging opportunity. The Trust’s role will include managing the Museum of Somerset in Taunton and the Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury (which has recently secured funding of £1.6m for redevelopment), curatorial care of more than three million museum objects ranging from Bronze-Age gold to modern art, caring for and making available the written evidence of Somerset and Devon history from the eighth century to the present day, and protecting Somerset’s historic environment.

To learn more:

· Download a briefing pack from www.somerset.gov.uk/heritage

· Attend the open evening for potential candidates on Monday 27 January at the Museum of Somerset. If you wish to attend please confirm your attendance by 24 January.

To ask questions, confirm that you wish to attend the open evening, or register your interest please contact Mickey Green at mcgreen@somerset.gov.uk tel. 01823 356897.

Unlocking Exmoor’s Heritage

The Exmoor Society is delighted to announce that it is starting its heritage project this month. The purpose of the project is to assess, conserve and preserve the significant amount of materials that it has amassed over 56 years and to make this collection available by a variety of means to everyone, especially students and researchers. Funding has been secured from the Exmoor Society, the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund, charities and private individuals. The project is advertising for an Outreach Archivist on a two-year temporary contract. For further details please contact Karen Trigger at karen@trigger0407.fsnet.co.uk. The closing date for applications is next week – 5pm on Wednesday 22 January.

 

New for 2014: Augmented Reality Heritage Hunter App

2014 is an exciting time to visit the West Somerset Railway with the launch of their brand-new ‘Augmented Reality Heritage Hunter’ App. Passengers are invited to mix history and heritage with new technology and travel on the West Somerset Railway to have a fantastic day out learning about the history of the line, its stations, locomotives and local area.

The app features maps and information about the stations, history and locomotives of the West Somerset Railway as well as an innovative, new and unique to heritage railways aspect of the app which is the use of ‘Augmented Reality’(AR). Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view in this case through the app.

Augmented Reality Heritage Hunter Instructions

The West Somerset Railway app features an ‘Augmented Reality Heritage Hunt’ whereby users will have to solve clues within the app to find hidden ‘targets’ at or near each of the stations to unlock 3D moving images and content-related to the railway. At each station (excluding Doniford Halt) passengers have five tasks to undertake to complete the app:

Tasks 1 & 2: Read and solve the two AR Point Clues and then find the AR targets at each station which you scan to reveal the augmented reality content relating to the West Somerset Railway or the AR point itself.

Task 3: Take a photo of the station which you can share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Task 4: Solve the quiz collectable and answer the question about the station.

Task 5: Each time users see one of the West Somerset Railway steam or diesel locomotives they must enter the locomotives number into the Locomotive Scrapbook which will unlock information on the locomotive including an image, its history and vital statistics.

Once passengers have completed 100% of the ‘Heritage Hunter’ they will be entered into a draw to win one year’s free travel on the West Somerset Railway as well as receiving West Somerset Railway discount vouchers as a reward for completing the ‘Heritage Hunter’.

To assist passengers in planning their day the West Somerset Railway have produced suggested itineraries to allow passengers to maximise the use of their Heritage Hunter Rover Ticket and allow them to visit as many stations as possible.

The app is free to download and is available for iOS and Android. The West Somerset Railway is working with digital production studio Matmi to develop the app. Matmi are an award-winning studio with an international reputation who conceive and create magical experiences across multiple digital platforms.

The app will be available from mid-January and discounted ‘Heritage Hunter’ rovers can be purchased in advance saving you 10%. Book online or by calling 01643 704996.

1,000 visitors to new Bampton Heritage Centre

The Bampton Heritage & Visitor Centre has just welcomed its 1,000th visitor. The centre, which has been partly funded by a grant of £23,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), opened in mid September 2013 with a launch party attended by MP Neil Parish. It has already proved a great success with visitors from the local area, the wider South West and abroad all signing the visitors’ book with many interesting comments and expressions of thanks. Many used to live in the area and have enjoyed reminiscing over the artefacts, watching a short film about Bampton railway and seeing the old photographs on display. There have also been some interesting visits from relatives engaged in researching their family histories.

Reverend Lynne Burgon of St Michael & All Angels Church, where the centre is based, said: “It has already started to become a real benefit to the town and its residents, many of whom have also been enjoying bringing their own visitors. At a time when many churches are facing closure and have to be kept locked, the location of the heritage centre within our beautiful listed church building really brings the church back into the heart of the community.”

Nerys Watts, HLF’s Head of South West, commented: “We were delighted to be able to support the development of the Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre and are so pleased to see how quickly it has established itself as a focal point for local people and visitors alike, ensuring that Bampton’s past can be understood and celebrated for generations to come”

During 2014, school groups will be visiting the centre where children can see a large model of the town’s old railway station and enjoy a short educational quiz. There’s even some specially made dressing-up costumes to help children imagine what it was like in Bampton in years gone by.

Further developments are already in the pipeline for 2014 and guided town trials can be conducted for groups by prior arrangement. Katrina Munro, chair of the project, said: “We hope to be welcoming both walking and historical groups to the town next year. We are lucky to have some very experienced and knowledgeable guides working with us as volunteers and the itinerary or length of the town trail can be tailored to suit the needs of the groups. From the site of the Norman motte and bailey to the beautiful Georgian architecture, there are so many points of interest around the town.” Contact the centre by email on bamptonheritage@btinternet.com or call Katrina on 01398 331777. The winter opening hours for the centre are Friday and Saturday 11am to 3pm and Sundays 1pm to 3pm. Entrance is free. For more information visit www.bampton.org.uk

Heritage focus for Valley of Rocks improvements

Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council has begun projects to enhance the famous Valley of Rocks, thanks to a major grant of £93,000 awarded by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund and £40,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Amory and Heathcoat Trusts via the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.

Works include restoring coastal path access to the hidden beach at Wringcliff Bay, renovating the 19th-century Poet’s Shelter and installing a traditional estate railing fence at the Cricket Club, similar to the one seen in early photographs of the area. Visitors will be welcomed by a resurfaced car park, made greener to reduce its impact in the landscape. New interpretive resources will highlight walk routes and the valley’s geology, history and wildlife.

Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council’s success in raising funds has brought in more than £130,000 to match its own £40,000 investment in the projects. Councillors worked hard to listen to the community and develop suitable designs in consultation with experts in landscape, historic environment and wildlife.

Mayor Suzette Hibbert said: “This project has been on the Council wish list for some years. Thanks to the appearance of the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership and the leadership of Councillor Bernard Peacock we have at last seen the start of this major scheme. Once again we are indebted to the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund and so we say thank you to them and to the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.”

Jason Ball, Heart of Exmoor Scheme Manager, praised the initiative: “The projects cleverly maintain visitor capacity and access, yet with less clutter and tarmac – always a good thing – so it emphasises the wild moorland character and unique features that visitors find so attractive. We are proud to support this thanks to money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Amory and Heathcoat Trusts which the Exmoor Society secured for exactly this type of project.”

The changes will sensitively restore a sense of wildness while simultaneously helping people to enjoy and explore the Valley of Rocks – a favourite destination for locals and visitors to Exmoor National Park. The dramatic clifftop valley on the North Devon coast is crowned with rock features and its special geology earned it status as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The Valley of Rocks is home to hardy free-roaming goats, Exmoor ponies and cliff-nesting birds such as peregrine falcon and fulmar. Cradled in the valley are a village green cricket pitch, a tea room and the Poet’s Shelter which alludes to poets inspired by the amazing location.

Samuel Coleridge, William Wordsworth and his sister, the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth, visited the Valley of Rocks as part of a longer exploration of Exmoor’s coast in November 1797. Coleridge and the Wordsworths fell in love with the Lynton area and even thought of settling there. Coleridge wrote to a friend: “We will go on a roam to Linton and Linmouth, which if thou camest in May will be in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak of the august cliffs, and the green ocean, and the Vast Valley of Stones all of which live disdainful of the seasons or accept new honours only from the winter’s snow.”

The Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre is now open

The brand new Bampton Heritage Visitor Centre opened to the public on 14 September.

On Friday 13 September a fund-raising launch event was held to celebrate the opening of the centre.

Over 130 members of the Bampton community attended and enjoyed live music, west country cheeses and wine.  They were also the first to see a brand new DVD prepared locally to commemorate the Exe valley railway and Bampton railway station which closed 50 years ago next month.  Short speeches were given by the church’s Vicar, Rev Lynne Burgon and also Neil Parish MP who attended to show his support for the project.

Commenting after the launch event, chair of the Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre team Katrina Munro said “This evening has been a huge success and so well attended.  There was a great community spirit and the event had the atmosphere of a lively social gathering.  The centre is not just about attracting visitors; it’s also about bringing the community together including long standing Bampton families and newcomers and celebrating the history of our great little town.  The location within Bampton church is the ideal setting and will work well for all.”

Since 2011, volunteers in Bampton have been working on the project.  The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £23,300 to the centre and a further £12,000 was raised from a variety of local sources.

Displays include modern high quality interpretation boards, local artefacts and photos.  Themes include the famous Bampton Charter Fair, held on the last Thursday of October every year since 1258. A large 1960s model showing the town’s old railway station will be permanently on display.

Residents and visitors will be able to visit the centre from Wednesday to Sunday to find out local information from the centre’s volunteers.

There will be activities for children inside the centre and guided town trails can also be arranged for groups.

Some aspects of the project are still under development and this will include themed exhibitions throughout the coming year.

More details can be found on the town’s website www.bampton.org.uk

Launch of the Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre

The brand-new Bampton Heritage Visitor Centre will open to the public on 14 September.

Since 2011, volunteers in Bampton have been working on a project to open a heritage and visitor centre inside the town’s Grade I listed church.  The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant of £23,300 to the project and a further £12,000 was raised from a variety of local sources.

Commenting on the opening, chair of the Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre team Katrina Munro said “This is a great facility for the whole community and will attract visitors to our town.”

Induction PhotoDisplays include modern high quality interpretation boards, local artefacts and photos.  Themes include the famous Bampton Charter Fair, held on the last Thursday of October every year since 1258, and the Exe Valley railway.  A large 1960s model showing the town’s old railway station will be permanently on display.

Nerys Watts, HLF’s Head of South West, said: “Home to around 100 listed buildings and with its long and eventful history, Bampton has a wonderful heritage to be proud of. We were delighted to be able to support the development of the Heritage and Visitor Centre which will ensure that local people and visitors alike will be able to learn about and celebrate Bampton’s past for generations to come.”

Residents and visitors will be able to visit the centre from Wednesday to Sunday to find out local information from the centre’s volunteers.

There will be activities for children inside the centre and guided town trails can also be arranged for groups.

More details can be found on the town’s website www.bampton.org.uk