Edwardian Highbridge – when Market Street had a market and the town had docks

When a factory hooter sounded at the end of the day in Highbridge – and you got paid in cash

By Harry Mottram. Originally written in 2016 for the Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News – and updated in 2020

In recent years Highbridge in Somerset has had a run down look with shops and pubs closing and the main road, the A38, clogged with traffic along Church Street. In the last five years things have been looking up with large new housing estates and industrial units going up. In fact the developments out towards Edithmead suggest the town is growing in size to rival its neighbour Burnham-on-Sea.

Although it still has a station the town is much changed from when it had one of the largest railway intersections in the South West as well as a cattle market and docks.

The railway used to cross Church Street linking Burnham-on-Sea to Glastonbury

Back in 2016 in the Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News’ Looking Back section, long term resident Spencer Dibble recalled growing up in the market town, showing just how much the area has changed in recent times.

The post was delivered by pony and trap until the 1940s

He said: “At the Lamb Pub, you came to the line gates. These gates went across the road to allow the S and D train going to Burnham-on-Sea.

“You then had Newtown Road and the first pub was The Anchor and I don`t recall much about it as it has been shut for about 50 years or more.

“Then there was the `Globe` run in my time by Mr Dinham, we used to get our soft drinks from the off licence section of the pub.

Milk churns and delivery vans ready at Highbridge Railway back in the day

“Then there was Dyers corner shop and lastly the Top House pub.

“Certainly the Globe and the Top House, were very popular with the Highbridge wharf workers, who unloaded the ships and trains.

“I believe that the timber yard of Blands took over the running of the wharf.

“In fact, working in the mill alongside Mr Carpenter was my first job, when I left school.

“Your break times were ruled by a hooter and on pay days, you went to the cashier’s window, showed your face and received your wages.

“That was all you had to do, as everybody new everybody.”

The War Memorial is still in place
Although the traffic is a bit busier today

With an almost eidetic memory, Mr Dibble continued to recall the main streets of the town.

He said: “Coming out of Newtown Road and back into Church Street, you had the Regal cinema, which later became the Regal Club, which was generally a gambling house.

The Railway Hotel

“Moving further on you had another shop, then a hairdressers, which was actually built in the mid 60`s, then there was a church, which is still there to this day, then Moores the fish and chip shop, then a sweet shop, then a wet fish shop, run by Mr Griffin.

“Then the White Hart pub, slightly set back from the road, with a small car park.

“Returning to the top end of Church Street and turning the corner next to Barclays Bank, were a couple of shops. I used to watch the traffic go by there, before the M5 was built. “The A38 was chock-a-block in the summer time and passing through Highbridge.

“Next there was the Highbridge Bacon Company shop. In a school friend of mine, Mike Facey`s mother had a nasty accident there, involving a bacon slicer.”

Another view of Market Street

Although we have had to leave it there, we would like to thank Mr Dibble for his fascinating input over the past two weeks.

Whether your memories are from way back in time or in the last ten years then do write in with pictures if you have them to Harry by email at: harryfmottram@gmail.com

For more features and news – and much else visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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