Our Town. Our Heritage.
The Society was founded in 1972 by the Mayor of Bridgwater, Cllr. Irene Tester. As a Registered Charity (No. 265031) we are a not-for-profit organization supported entirely by passionate local volunteers. Our honorary committee takes action on behalf of the membership to address local matters. Together we strive to maintain and achieve the following:
For over 40 years the Society has been well respected as an organisation of local people with a collective wealth of knowledge and experience. Society representations to authorities, on behalf of our wider membership, are recognised and valued in debates on community action and opinion. We are a non party-political organization seeking only to work for you, the residents of our town and villages, to preserve historic Bridgwater and support the change that you want to see.
We are a registered charity pertaining to the preservation and enhancement of Bridgwater and Sedgemoor's heritage. Our service to members and community is regulated by the Charity Commission. Go to the About Us section for more information.
Join Us Today
Membership is open to everyone. If you are passionate about your town and the area and want to have your opinion heard, please join our Society. We listen to your views, ideas and concerns and TAKE ACTION. Supporting the Society is not costly - only £10 a year, or £2 if you're a student! For an application form please go to our Membership Page. Subscription, fund-raising and donations all help to provide:
The Society actively supports and encourages people of all ages to get involved and enjoy the benefits of community spirit. If you would like to get involved with projects in the town or villages or, just want to share your thoughts and contributions with others, please do get in touch. We are also able to assist with providing opportunities and references for volunteers.
The Blue Plaque Initiative
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this is one of our most noticeable achievements. Over the last 10 years the Society has been permanently commemorating local places of historic or public interest with a Blue Plaque. We recently published an informative Blue Plaque Booklet detailing the sites. It has been so well received we've had to order another print run! Please see our Blue Plaque section for more information.
Bridgwater Town Guide
In April 2013, the Bridgwater Town Guide was released in print. However there is now also a free App to provide all of this information digitally. Download the App today and you can have instant access. If you go to the 'about' section on the App then 'heritage sites', the Society's Blue Plaques are listed under Bridgwater Trails.
Save Your Community Assets!
The Community Assets Lists allows buildings which are of community value to be saved from sale and demolition for 6 months, to provide an opportunity for fundraising for community purchase. It does not guarantee success, but it is at least a way of raising the profile of community assets and putting pressure on owners to consider community need, and not just commercial marketing.
In 2015 the Civic Society campaigned to preserve the Magistrates' Courthouse as a Community Asset. A number of potential viable community uses were identified and we believe this historic building can continue to serve local people. Therefore we made an application to Sedgemoor District Council in order to be given the opportunity to raise money to purchase it. Derek Gibson, our President, commented in the press 'this is a community affair that should attract support' and it did - with a very successful public viewing of the Courthouse on 20th February 2015. The viewing was well attended by people of all ages and interests; there was much enthusiasm about the building's history and lots of positive ideas about it's future.
However, the Council did not list the Court as a Community Asset before it was went to auction. Subsequently, it was sold to an out-of-town private investor; in the time since, the building has been left empty and boarded up.
The Civic Society, along with Town and Parish Councils, is authorised to make applications for the Community Assets List. The Civic Society invites individuals or organizations to nominate a community building or space they would like to see protected on the Bridgwater Community Assets List.
For further information go to the 'Projects' section (top of page) and click on 'Community Assets'.
No More Eyesores Campaign
We are passionate about the history of our town and district and believe we should not have to put up with buildings falling into unsightly dereliction. Some properties, like the one we previously identified at Penel Orlieu, have spent years descending into ugly and hazardous eyesores - often subject to repeated bouts of vandalism. Unfortunately other eyesores continue to have a detrimental impact on the built environment. One of our Eyesore Awards went to the former Medical Centre on East Quay:
This building has since been demolished to make way for the ASDA petrol station which was previously refused planning consent due to it's potential impact on the Conservation Area. We now have an unsightly petrol station along with a disused and untended plot of land right on the riverside vista for everyone to enjoy.
We do not think it's right for absent property owners to ignore their responsibilities and/or attempts to deliberately facilitate the deterioration of local (and often historical) sites in order to gain planning permission. Bridgwater deserves better than that. Therefore we intend to push for more awareness and more improvements. Are you fed up of looking at an eyesore in town? If so, please let us know via our 'Contact Us' section! For more information about this campaign please go to our Projects Page.
Voluntary work can be very rewarding; it is also particularly beneficial to presenting a well rounded C.V. and improving your employability. As a charity with a committee of unpaid volunteers, we need as much help as possible with administration, fund-raising, heritage events and community projects. We can provide you with a character reference for your C.V. Please use the Contact Us tab for more details about the ways in which you can donate your time to us and make a difference where you live.
Wednesday 14th September 2016
The next meeting of the Bridgwater & District Civic Society on Wednesday 14th September, is a visit to Wembdon Road Cemetary. We will meet at 2.30pm at the gate in Wembdon Road for an informative tour highlighting the work of the Friends. It is expected to last about an hour and sensible shoes are recommended as the ground is very uneven. Drivers have permission to park in the Quantock Pub car-park.
We believe local people should be involved in decisions which impact on their communities. Historic buildings are being torn down. Our heritage is being destroyed. PLEASE JOIN US NOW before our historic town and villages become unrecognisable! The more people to come forward and support the Civic Society, the greater our achievements will be.
Eastover Hotel September 2016
"BONE IDLE IN BRIDGWATER!