Features: Local History: Axbridge

Before Axbridge Square was laid out in its present form when it was a car park

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – FEATURE: Axbridge Square pictured in the 1970s before all the changes took place and an earlier photo of the Oakhouse Hotel (where you could buy petrol back in the day)

Axbridge Square has been a the site of a Saxon fort or burh, essentially a fortified town with its own mint and garrison in pre-Norman Britain and a car park in the 1970s. Images of the town’s square reveal one of its less glorious moments when Vauxhalls, Fords and Bedford vans filled every spare inch. A few years earlier it had been part of the main road from Wells to Cross with the Square a celebrated bottleneck for traffic in the mid 1960s when the railway was still in place.

A view of the Oakhouse Hotel in the 1970s

The shop on the corner is still there – now the Cooperative – while the Lamb in one of the pictures has no seats and tables outside the front. The layout for parking has changed considerably from what was then something of a free for all. There was a heated debate in the town council in the 1980s about the laying of the new surface – now all but forgotten. And of course the Square is much more than a car park with seating, cycle spaces and occasional public events such as the Pageant and national celebrations.

The Oakhouse Hotel in Axbridge where you could buy petrol back in the day

The photo of the Oakhouse Hotel is a real eyeopener. After World War One it was part of a row of houses and was given over as a hardware shop come garage with fuel for sale to the early motor cars. Later in the 20th century the building now used as a Post Office was the place to get your car repaired. And with all that traffic it wasn’t short of passing trade.

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