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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES Local Newspaper Review: wassailing for the school, the great pipe controversy and Winscombe’s rugby players finally win

The Cheddar Valley Gazette leads with a story about the road between Wedmore and Wells being repeatedly dug up by Bristol Water. The utility company refutes speculation that they had used the wrong sort of pipes in their initial ground works. According to their spokesperson Ben Newby the continuing roadworks are all part of the same job to replace old pipes. In order to minimise the disruption they’ve been doing it in sections. And in April they hope to complete the work meaning the B3131 at Henton will again be closed to traffic.


Inside the newspaper are photographs of wassailing at North Wooton something it shares with the Weston Mercury who have also covered the annual celebrations of all things apples and orchards. The newspaper features a story about the one held at West Croft Farm at Brent Knoll which raises cash for the village school. And they cover the wassail held at Myrtle Farm in Sandford which was attended by the Green Man, a wassail queen and the Mendip Morris.

Perhaps more seriously the Weston Mercury also reports on Weston Hospital’s problems with its A&E department where more than 1,000 patients had to wait over four hours to be seen. The department has been closed over night after 10pm for more than two years.


With the Six Nations Rugby Union competition only days away it was heartening to see Winscombe RFC gain a win beating Bristol Saracens 20-12 in Western Counties North. Many matches have been called off due to the rain but in football Axbridge United beat Shipham Reserves 6-4 in division 4 of the Weston and District League.


Te scene during the public meeting

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES NEWS: Public meeting in Axbridge sees calls to amend housing association plans for new homes off Cheddar Road to include one bedroom properties and more parking

Public meeting about the new development at Mendip View

Residents attended a public meeting in Axbridge Town Hall on Monday, January 13, to hear a presentation for developing the old blackberry shop and land on Cheddar Road at Mendip View.

The presentation by Stonewater housing association was to illustrate how the construction of new homes would look like following its approval of by Sedgemoor District Council for outline planning permission in 2018 of up to 20 homes.

The meeting was attended by around 40 people including Sedgemoor officials such as Duncan Harvey and town councillors. After a brief outline using slides to show the layout questions were taken from the public and councillors. The main question raised was over the lack of one bedroom homes which came from Cllr Barbara Wells. Development Officer Deb Jull, and Georgina Martine of Yeovil architects Boon Brown said they would take on board the point to the next stage of the plans.

Google map of the area

They also explained some of the details including the provision of parking which some questioners such as Priscilla Chard felt was inadequate and of the boundary hedge by the footpath which they said could not be moved. Cllr Barbara Wells said a letter had been received from the current owners about the hedge boundary.

The affordable homes would be 50% rented and 50% shared ownership the residents were told but their question of what was considered affordable went unanswered. (Zoopla currently value a three bedroom house on Knightstone Close in the town at £211,000 although this is not a guide.) Previously the Burnham and Highbridge News reported that: “The Axbridge development at Meadow View will cost £4.8M,of which around £4.5M will come from Stonewater itself, Homes England and other forms of subsidy or inward investment. The remaining £300,000 is being given by the council as a grant, on the understanding that every home within the development will be genuinely affordable to local residents.”

Rented properties cannot be sub-let the residents were told following a question of someone working away for a long period. The homes are of a semi-traditional type as they are out of the town centre in an area of mixed styles.

District councillor for Axevale Graham Gowdin-Pearson asked about broadband and also about the £300,000 grant and how that would be spent. The answer was the developers were looking at options that include making the properties off-grid as far as energy was concerned. Electric car charging points were a possibility but were not definite. Cllr Graham Gowdin-Pearson asked for the developers to look into the issue.

There will be a minimal cost to residents for the upkeep of the estate although Stonewater hope the council will take on that responsibility of the private road at some stage in the future. Cllr Mike Taylor noted that two of the homes had access directly onto Cheddar Road and wondered if that might encourage extra parking on the road.

Cllr Pauline Ham asked about bike sheds as potentially children could cycle to school in Cheddar and would need a safe lock up. Although there was no sheds in the plans there would be hoops to lock bikes to in the open – but the answer was that householders could put a garden shed in their gardens.

The development features two, three and four bedroom homes and they all had provision for parking for more than one car while some extra spaces were available for visitors. This aspect most exercised several questioners.

Other points were the urgent requirement of local people to register on the website which Duncan Harvey said took time but was essential to be on the list. He said Stonewater will try to match people with the right property through a bidding process but those with the strongest local connection will be prioritised. For shared ownership homes applicants must have the finances to buy.

Full details of the plans can be seen on the Sedgemoor planning portal number: 02/19/00021/DT. Residents have until January 23, 2020, to make comments.

The plans now go to the next stage of the process.

For more details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit

Follow Harry on FaceBook, Twitter @harrythespic, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.null


STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – Local newspaper review: long faces in Axbridge over planning defeat, Banwell’s long wait for a bypass but victory for Shipham’s footballers

This week’s Cheddar Valley Gazette and Weston Mercury

Planning defeat and musical Anne Higgs

The Cheddar Valley Gazette leads on the green light given to developers to build 53 homes on green fields in Axbridge.

Maxine Irving writes: “There were long faces in Axbridge on Tuesday night as residents discovered that controversial plans to build houses off Houlgate Way had been given the go-ahead.” The story has been covered in length in this publication – see down the page for more details and comment.

The newspaper also celebrates 40 years of the Cheddar Valley Music Club begunback in 1979 by headteacher of Kings of Wessex Keith Herring, Bev Hearn of Weare First School, music teacher Eric Richard and the legendary Anne Higgs who is still the driving force behind the group.

Strawberry Line and Banwell traffic

The Mercury features the upgrade of the cycle path in Cheddar by the Axbridge Cheddar Cycle Walkway group who have raised funds to improve the section in the village. While on the letters page there’s a complaint by Romany Poppitt-Price about the continued traffic congestion in Banwell. Readers with long memories will note that a bypass was proposed in 1938 – so it is long overdue. The writer suggests that the MP John Penrose highlighted the plan to build a bypass soon may have been just a PR stunt before the General Election last month.

Cheesemen and a late penalty

In sport the Cheddar Valley Gazette reports on Cheddar’s footballers humbled 4-0 by Welton Rovers in another way game – effectively ending their chances of promotion from Western League Division One as they drop down to 8th position. Meanwhile in the division below Shipham FC secured a 4-0 win away to Hutton FC Reserves.

In rugby Winscombe lost at home 32-14 to Matson in the Western Counties North fixture but Cheddar Valley RFC beat Taunton RFC’s second team by 23-20 when Sam Lloyd slotted home a late penalty to secure the win reported in the Mercury.


Both newspapers come out on a Thursday and are available in your local shop.

For more details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit

Follow Harry on FaceBook, Twitter @harrythespic, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – Local newspaper review: crunch week for housing development in Axbridge, Cheddar’s anti boy racer plan, anger at food bank break-in and in sport Winscombe FC enjoy 3-0 win in promotion chase

In the Cheddar Valley Gazette the lead story is about the proposed development of 53 houses on a greenfield site in Axbridge. A public meeting is to be held on Monday, January 13, at 6.30pm, in the town hall to discuss the application which has been opposed by the town council and many residents.

Controversy over housing plan

On Tuesday, January 14, district councillors in Sedgemoor will look at the application which is being recommended by planners. Town councillor Barbara Wells will speak against the plans which would see homes built on the field to the south of Houlgate Way between Axbridge Surgery and Townsend Farm.

The clerk to the town council issued this statement ahead of the public meeting: “Application for the approval of the details of appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for the erection of 20 No. dwellings at Mendip View, Cheddar Road, Axbridge, Somerset, BS26 2DL Planning application number: 02/19/00021/DT.
“At this meeting, the developer has been invited to make a presentation and members of the public will have the opportunity to give their opinion on the application. This is residents’ main opportunity to make their views known to the Town Council. Written comments from residents are encouraged and will be accepted prior to the public meeting.

“Following the public meeting, a Town Council meeting will be held at 8.00pm on the same evening, when the Town Council will make a recommendation to Sedgemoor District Council (there will be no further opportunity for public participation at this meeting).

” Further details of the application can be found on Sedgemoor District Council’s website (planning application no. 02/19/00021/DT) with comments welcome by 23rd January 2020.”

Strawberry Line News

Meanwhile the Cheddar Valley Gazette also carries on its front page a photograph of the Strawberry Line cycle path between Axbridge to Cheddar. It’s the news that the charity and campaign group behind improving the pathway have completed a project of fundraising and work to improve the section in Cheddar between Fiveways Bridge and the industrial trading estate.

Goals, goals, goals

Winscombe FC reports the Cheddar Valley Gazette enjoyed a 3-0 win over Timsbury Athletic in Division One of the County League. Dean Morris was named man of the match in what the the paper describes as an exceptional game which places the team in a promotion chasing position.

Food bank break-in

The Weston Mercury reports on the break-in at Cheddar’s foodbank on December 9. Jenny Fox says the paper put out an appeal on FaceBook following the crime and was ‘overwhelmed’ by the response. She said 60 Christmas hampers came in along with bags of food donated by the public. Police are still appealing for help to solve the burglary. The foodbank is supported by the Trussell Trust and provides three day packs of food for families and individuals in crisis.

Boy racers

An ongoing problem for Cheddar Gorge are the activities of hundreds of anti-social motorists or ‘boy racers’ who use the gorge as their personal race track putting the lives of others in danger. The Weston Mercury reports on a new scheme launched by Cheddar Parish Council and the police to reduce the speed limit in the Gorge to 30mph. A leaflet is being distributed to villagers to draw attention to the ways residents can alert the police to the activity of anti-social drivers.

Both newspapers are published on a Thursday and area available in your local shop.


The newly improved cycle way in Cheddar

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES News: massive improvement to the cycle way in Cheddar after successful year of fund raising by the charity dedicated to enhancing the vital local route for walkers and cyclists

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Happy New Year from The Axbridge to Cheddar Cycleway

Members of the Axbridge-Cheddar Cycle Walkway (ACCW) are delighted to announce their 2020 Vision to upgrade the Strawberry Line path between the two communities has been achieved in time for the New Year.

Following a monumental fundraising effort the charity raised £12,000 to pay for the work to remove vegetation, scrape away tons of mud and relay the path with a new hard wearing surface.

David Parkin of the ACCW said: “We’ve achieved the 2020 vision for the Axbridge-Cheddar Cycle Walkway – to get the narrow section resurfaced and free from muddy puddles. Thanks to a big push from Landscapes West before Christmas, over 50 tons of mud and vegetation was scraped off before laying a good depth of base and finishing stone. Bristol Water have promised to keep their side of the fence clear of vegetation.”

As the fundraising campaign took shape last year more contributions came in from personal online donations, local councils and even a local pub.

Above: the path back in June 2019

Malcolm Conyers of the ACCW said: “Many individuals chipped in through Justgiving online. Although nothing came from Sedgemoor’s small grants programme, Cheddar Parish Council and Axbridge Town Council gave generous support. An amazing octogenarian sponsored walk raised over £500, and the Cheddar Walking group was glad to put money where their boots often tread.

“What really cracked the match-funding campaign was the award of £5000 from Somerset Community Foundation through the HPC community Fund. And a very substantial donation from The Riverside Inn proprietor got us close enough to our target to start work before Christmas.”

However David Parkin said the ACCW had used up much of its reserve funds which are needed to maintain and repair the rest of the pathway. He appealed to residents and regular users of the path to support their work on their Justgiving page at:

And he also asked for businesses who wished to support this vital local cycle and walkway with sponsorship by contacting the treasurer Malcolm Conyers by email at

He said: “We would also welcome any business sponsorship, which has so far been remarkably absent considering the rapid growth in Cheddar housing and the value of the line to sustainable transport and tourism in the area. Any business sponsorship will be acknowledged on display boards at each end of the improved section.”

And the organisers appealed for the public to keep the pathway free of litter and dog poo by clearing up their mess and keeping the pathway clean and tidy for all to enjoy.

A leaflet about the cycle path is available from the library, museum and tourist sites

For more details visit

For more news, views and features from the Strawberry Line area visit and follow Harry on Twitter as @harrythespiv, on FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube.


The Weston Mercury takes us back to 1969 and the Yatton Fat Stock Show

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – Local newspaper review: Yatton’s Christmas Fat Stock Show in 1969; possible cycle route from Weston to Clevedon; and Winscombe AFC move into second spot with 3-0 win

Thursday, December 19, 2020

Both local newspapers The Weston Mercury and the Cheddar Valley Gazette are full of the thoughts of the victorious Conservative MPs who came out on top in the General Election on December 12. Dr Liam Fox in North Somerset hopes to get the railway from Portishead to Bristol finally given the green light, while John Penrose in Weston-super-Mare cited having a larger hospital as a priority. And in the Wells constituency James Heappey has been appointed Minister of Defence for Procurement as a reward for his loyalty and a reflection of his military background.

The Mercury’s Henry Woodsford reports on a cycle route linking Weston to Clevedon which could begin being constructed next summer – if £1.5m funding is granted. Planning permission was secured a year ago while it awaits a North Somerset Council executive meeting on January 7, 2020, to approve a commissioning plan for a 1.4km section at Wick St Lawrence.

In the Mercury’s nostalgia section there’s a charming photo of an Aberdeen Angus calf at the Yatton Christmas Fat Stock Show in 1969 along with reports on a possible teachers’ strike and the drafting in of 150 extra postmen to cope with the Christmas rush – in the days before email.

In the Cheddar Valley Gazette one section that holds up well despite the decline in local reporting is the sports section. And the big news is Winscombe AFC’s winning run which has projected them to second in Somerset County League Division 1 West behind Timsbury Athletic after beating Saltford 3-0.


STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES NEWS IN BRIEF: Plans to stop boy racers in Cheddar Gorge, Axbridge man charged with hit and run accident on Cheddar Road and the results of the General Election in the Strawberry Line District.

Motorists ‘drifting’ around the Gorge at night

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

If you’ve wondered why there are tyre marks all over the road in Cheddar Gorge then you may not be aware of the Gorge’s nocturnal life as a haven for petrol heads writes Harry Mottram.

Some call them boy racers while many may call them anti-social motorists who use the Gorge as a racetrack at night and a place to show off their skills behind the wheel of their cars.

It’s been an on-going problem for years with periodic attempts to stop the road up the Gorge used as a playground for irresponsible motorists putting in danger pedestrians, horse riders and those using the road for its intended use.

Now there’s a new effort to deal with the issue. Cheddar Parish Council issued this statement: “Cheddar Parish Council, together with Avon & Somerset Police, is stepping up its campaign against speeding and other antisocial driving in Cheddar Gorge and the village.  Despite previous actions by the police, supported by Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset Highways and the major landowners; Longleat and the National Trust, the community continues to suffer from dangerous and irresponsible driving.

“Residents continue to report problems, particularly after dark, citing cars spinning in the car parks, noisy vehicles and the village being used as a race circuit.  Hotels and other accommodation owners say they are losing business because guests are so disturbed at night by thoughtless drivers.  It was hoped that the introduction of the 30mph speed limit in the gorge would reduce the problem, but it hasn’t.  Some of the issues arise from large scale car meets which gather in the gorge, others are created by individual drivers, some of whom live locally.

“Now the parish council is distributing leaflets to homes and businesses on the major roads affected in Cheddar, asking people to record incidents of speeding, dangerous driving and other antisocial behaviour, including excessive noise.”

Councillor Anne Fontaine, chair of the highways & open spaces committee, said: “In the past we have asked people to report problems to the police; many have done so, others have got disheartened by perceived lack of action.  Our leaflet should make it easy for residents to record incidents as they occur and send the leaflets back to the parish council at the end of January.”

The question is will it work? Cynics will say the moves will be ineffective and the only way to succeed is to patrol the Gorge nightly with police and to arrest law breakers en masse to send a signal to the ‘petrol head community.’

What do you think? Email views to

Axbridge man charged with ‘hit and run’ incident in Cheddar

Avon and somerset Police have issued this statement: “We’ve charged a 66-year-old man following a collision in Cheddar. Michael John Dolman, of Bailiffs Close, Axbridge, has been charged with five offences following a collision involving a car and a pedestrian on the B3151 on 23 October. The pedestrian, a man in his 60s, suffered suffered head injuries. He’s charged with: Driving without due care and attention; Driving a motor vehicle after refusal of grant/ revocation of licence on account of disability; Failing to stop after a road accident; Failing to report a road accident; Driving a motor vehicle without third party insurance.

“He was released on police bail and is due to appear at Bath Magistrates’ Court on 15 January.”

It’s a blue coloured Strawberry Line District after the 2019 December election

The district’s three constituencies returned Conservative members of the House of Commons in the December General Election in 2019.

In the Wells and Burnham-on-Sea constituency the incumbent Tory and former soldier James Heappey held out from the challenge of the one-time MP for Wells the Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt. Both saw a rise in their support at the expense of the Labour Party’s Kama KcKenzie.

As so often in a national election there were patchy results because in North Somerset Liam Fox’s share of the vote fell despite winning the day. Hannah Young for Labour also saw a drop in votes but the Lib Dem’s Ashley Cartman achieved an eight point plus swing – in contrast to the national toll.

In Bridgwater and West Somerset the LibDems and Greens saw an increase while Labour took a hit – but the winner again was the Conservative’s Ian Liddlell-Grainger.

Results in full from the BBC:

Somerset North East: Jacob Rees-Mogg (Con) 28,360; Mark Huband (Lab) 13,631; Nick Coates (Lib Dem) 12,422; Fay Whitfield (Green) 1,423; Shaun Hughes (Ind) 472.

Bridgwater and Somerset West: Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) 35,827; Oliver Thornton (Lab) 11,388; Bill Revans (Lib Dem) 7,805; Mickie Ritchie (Green) 1,877; Farès Moussa (Liberal) 755.

Somerton and Frome: David Warburton (Con) 36,230; Adam Boyden (Lib Dem) 17,017; Sean Dromgoole (Lab) 8,354; Andrea Dexter (Green) 3,295.

Taunton Deane: Rebecca Pow (Con) 34,164; Gideon Amos (Lib Dem) 22,464; Liam Canham (Lab) 4,715; John Hunt (Ind) 2,390.

Wells: James Heappey (Con) 33,336; Tessa Munt (Lib Dem) 23,345; Kama McKenzie (Lab) 4,034; Dave Dobbs (Ind) 373; Susie Quatermass (Motherworld) 207.

Yeovil: Marcus Fysh (Con) 34,588; Mick Clark (Lib Dem) 18,407; Terry Ledlie (Lab) 3,761; Diane Wood (Green) 1,629; Tony Capozzoli (Ind) 689; Tom Fox (Constitution and Reform) 186.

Bath: Wera Hobhouse (Lib Dem) 28,419; Annabel Tall (Con) 16,097; Mike Davies (Lab) 6,639; Jimi Ogunnusi (BRX) 642; Bill Blockhead (Ind) 341.

Somerset North: Liam Fox (Cons) 32,801; Hannah Young (Lab) 15,265; Ashley Cartman (Lib Dem) 11,051; Phil Neve (Green) 2,938.


Cheddar cemetery expansion takes shape

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Work is progressing on the extension to Cheddar cemetery despite the wet weather. Opened in 1993 the cemetery lies next to the reservoir near Sharpham Road playing fields and is close to capacity. The parish council commissioned the expansion which will more than double the site using the pasture land to the south of the plot.

Heavy plant has moved in and has laid out the area that will include hard standing and a driveway for funeral traffic as well as new paths, hedging and trees.

Cheddar Parish Council said in a statement: “The new area is to be attractively landscaped with hedging, trees and grassy pathways making it a tranquil setting for visitors.  At the same time improvements will be made to the car park and main entrance. In addition to traditional burials the extension will be able to offer green burials.”

Work has continued despite the wet weather

Cllr Lyn Goodfellow, who is co-ordinating the work, said: “Our community is growing and this new facility will serve us well for decades to come.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused during the landscaping work, but we think residents will be very pleased when they see the finished result.”

For further information contact 01934 743217 or visit

For more news, views and features from the Strawberry Line area visit and follow Harry on Twitter as @harrythespiv, on FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube.


AXBRIDGE REVIEW NEWS: Axbridge Pageant appeal for models for a photo shoot to promote the pageant and for the programme cover (all ages welcome)

To mirror the final scene of the pageant the programme will have an ensemble shot of a small number of people in period dress to reflect the centuries.

We will need people of different ages but are keen on an emphasis on youth and children. If you are interested the shoot will be on a weekend in Axbridge ideally before the New Year.

We may have an interest in fashion modelling and also drama – or are simply keen to play a part in the pageant itself. Hair, make-up and outfits will be provided.

If you would like to model in a photo shoot to promote the Axbridge Pageant next year and for the programme then please contact me on Facebook or email

For more details on the pageant itself visit

To sign up and volunteer for the pageant complete one of the forms in the Post Office as soon as possible.

The depiction of the Lady Day Fair scene in the play

AXBRIDGE REVIEW NEWS: the Axbridge Pageant Tapestry Calendars go on sale at Ripley Antiques, Vintage in the Square and the Post Office – perfect Christmas presents

Just in case you have missed this on Facebook, the Axbridge Tapestry
Calendars are now on sale at Axbridge Post Office and Ripley Antiques
and Vintage in The Square.  They they come with a card
backed envelope for posting.  The tapestries are on display in the town hall showing a number of the scenes from the Saxons in the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

The Axbridge Sewing Group (made up of many members of the costume team for the last Axbridge Pageant) created the tapestries based on the scenes from Pageant 2010.

A moment in the Lady Day Fair scene

Axbridge Progressive Supper: Don’t panic if you haven’t been able to book yet – this is how you can still take part if you’ve had trouble booking online

Some couples in Axbridge are concerned they have been unable to sign up for the Progressive Supper on November 16th.

The system used is an online booking site linked to the FaceBook site. However the organisers release the courses in batches to keep the numbers even as there is usually too many couples wanting to travel or to do a starter.

New batches are released regularly but if you have so far been unsuccessful then you can register your request to book a course the old school way. Either drop a written request through the door of 31 Old Church Road with your details or email

This year the event will be a fund raiser for the Axbridge Pageant 2020 held over the August Bank Holiday of that year. The Pageant has become world famous and is a massive event for the town with more than 200 residents in the cast.

The Progressive Supper starts and finishes at the Lamb Inn. Couples and you don’t need to be ‘a couple’ (so a couple could be two friends, a mum and a daughter, dad and his football mate, etc,) either travel and don’t provide a course or a host providing either a starter, main or sweet. There is lots of information on the FaceBook site with FAQs so do check it out for details.

The one thing you can guarantee is you whatever you pay and serve the evening’s collective meal will be as good if not better than a top restaurant for much less with the money going to the town’s pageant.

One of the fund raising aspects of the night is the raffle which raises hundreds of pounds for the pageant. Please consider donating a prize for the raffle – chocolates, wine, tickets – whatever you can rustle up will be appreciated. And bring cash as the tickets are £5 each on the night with the draw at 11.30pm in the Lamb Inn.


Axbridge’s Mumblecrust Theatre are staging HG Well’s The Time Machine

Axbridge’s Mumblecrust Theatre stage HG Wells’ The Time Machine – check out the autumn tour dates

Katie Underhay and Anthony Burbridge of Axbridge are currently on tour with their show based on the HG Wells novel The Time Machine.

Combining storytelling and live music; puppetry and object theatre; history and fiction, Mumblecrust have previously staged The Tale of the Cockatrice, across the UK with support from Arts Council England.

The Time Machine saw its premiere in April 2019 at Theatre Shop, Clevedon, supported by Arts Council England, Theatre Shop and Living Spit’s ‘Shoplifting’ Artist Development Scheme, Take Art’s BARN initiative and Theatre Orchard. 

Co-artistic directors Katie Underhay and Anthony Burbridge work alongside freelancers to create original, compelling theatre for all ages. Katie is an actor, puppeteer and designer. Since graduating from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama she has toured the UK in children’s theatre, created puppets and taught puppetry to all ages. Her other work includes touring with Stuff and Nonsense in the Three Little Pigs, performing in Theatre in Education, and costuming puppets for Three Half Pints and Broken Puppet Theatre Company.

Anthony is a performer, composer and director. His work includes appearing as Davey in Civic Player’s acclaimed rural outreach production Jerusalem, performing as actor/musician in Kickline’s Merlin’s Apprentice, and composing soundtracks for Perceptive Creation’s short films Murder Plot and Walking Shadow.

The pair have collaborated on a number of other projects, including: satirical music video Tawdry Child, Pinecone Penguin’s King Kong the Musical, puppeteering the Mermaid in Luc Mollinger’s creature feature short Battered and co-directing (and creating puppets for) new musical Heartwood.

Hg Wells’ The Time Machine was published in 1895 and has since been made into a film in 1960 and again in 2002. It tells the story of The Time Traveller or narrator who describes to his friends his adventures when travelling into a disturbing dystopian future.

The tour dates:

Monday 21st –  Friday 25th October
Saturday 26th October  – 3:00PM
RUDRY PARISH HALLCaerphilly, Wales
Monday 28th October  – 7:00PM
(Puppetry Workshop – 5:30PM)
Saturday 2nd November  – 11:00AM & 2:00PM

For more details visit


A video explaining why there is a campaign to make it easier for everyone to enter the parish church in Axbridge as equals (and allow more tourists and visitors to see its amazing social history) by creating a new pathway to the south door


This short film highlights the work of those dedicated to ensuring everyone can enter the main south door of the parish church in Axbridge in Somerset in England. It is also an appeal for help and understanding of the project as the church is a historic building of interest for worshipers and non worshipers alike. More details on the FaceBook sites Axbridge Connected and Access For All and at

Harry Mottram

For more from Harry visit

Back stage Wendy – helping behind the scenes with ACT

AXBRIDGE NEWS: a report on the funeral service for Wendy Mace (with bitter sweet stories, great speeches and the day one of Axbridge’s finest was remembered)

Harry Mottram reports on the funeral service for the bon vivant Wendy Mace of Axbridge who (along with her husband Robin) were part of the ‘greatest sitcom the 1970s never made.’
Sun light streamed through the stained glass windows of St John the Baptist parish church in Axbridge, in Somerset, lighting up the sandstone a golden yellow as the coffin carrying the late Wendy Mace was carried from the church. It had been a memorable, amusingly bitter sweet and ultimately uplifting service presided over by the Reverend Tim Hawkings.

Macbeth: the witches get ready – but can you guess which one is Wendy?

It was about a year since the church had been filled with a near identical audience for Wendy’s Civic Award to mark her work with many of the town’s organisations including the youth theatre group Young ACT. Now the church was again packed with standing room only with friends, family and residents who came to pay tribute to her and her work. Those activities included: the pageant, the youth theatre, the museum, the community theatre group, the book club and the carnival – to name but a few.
Born in 1944 before the D-Day Landings and the final act of World War II in the Kent village of Harrietsham Wendy Mace was a teacher, a thespian, a designer, a youth worker, a mother, wife and grandmother all wrapped into the robes of a party hostess, chef and bon vivant. Before 2002 Wendy lived in the south of England teaching English and Drama at Fernhill School in Hampshire where she lived with her husband Robin and her son Toby.

Civic award: Toby, Wendy and Robin

The funeral was marked by remarkable speeches and tributes, none more powerful than one from her son Toby who spoke of her self-deprecating humour. His voice cracking at times with emotion he related stories which brought laughter and tears of joy. For there is a strange conflict of emotions as bereavement and humour intermingle creating a surreal atmosphere where one moment you laugh with a sudden release of tension before finding your throat has become swollen with emotion and tears fill your eyes. Toby recalled the time she drove her car into a man dressed as a Roundhead at a Civil War re-enactment – who was driving of all things a Vauxhall Cavalier. Laughter he said was her greatest gift as if you can laugh at yourself then nobody can laugh at you, but instead with you. He spoke fondly of how she opened the family home to a variety of guests from around the world when he was a child dubbing her the Greatest Ambassador of Nibbles the United Nations never had, and with his father Robin created a household that should have been made into a 1970s’ TV sitcom.
Toby’s young son spoke with an assured confidence about his granny and of her love of poetry and in particular Haiku poetry and how she had passed that enthusiasm on to him. He had written four seasonal Haikus with the one for spring reading: “Daffodils appear, lambs are here, it’s that time of year.”

Book Club – raise a glass Wendy – a summer meeting at Dave Parkin’s house

The Reverend Tim Hawkings essentially played the straight man in this production. He hit the right tone balancing empathy, a Christian voice and yes, a quiet anger, at the cruelty of cancer. He reminded those present of the impact Wendy had made with the youth theatre group in the town, her acting career with the theatre group ACT along with her Christingle services that had involved and impressed so many. He described Wendy’s ‘incredible courage’ in the face of the cruel disease and quoted the words of Seneca: “In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life.”
Paul Passey who admitted his life had in part been scripted and directed by Wendy, was one of Wendy’s longest friends dating back to teenage years when he and his wife Diana and Wendy’s husband Robin were a happy quartet back in the early 1970s in Hampshire. In his eulogy entitled ‘On the Subject of Winning’ Paul spoke of get-togethers at the Roe Buck Inn, of late nights ending with Wendy’s mum providing nocturnal snacks in her parlour, and it has to be said of incomplete stories of seduction, rivalry and much more. As his mate Colin said there were lots of stories that were not appropriate for church. Using a euphemism for the facts of life used by the nuns at Wendy’s school of two separate canoes mooring together in the river bank of married life Paul played on the idea that as teenagers the foursome had deliberately misconstrued the word canoodling as an extension of the nuns’ idea. They say canoodling and the nuns say canoeing – despite it all the quartet stayed in touch and ended up in Axbridge some 16 years ago.
Janie Gray read one of Wendy’s favourite poems The Scholar and his Cat, Pangue Ban, from a ninth century poem translated by Robin Flower. And the Axbridge Singers (of whom Wendy had been an enthusiastic member) performed En Tout, La Paix Du Coeur (In all, Peace From The Heart) and the melodious Santo, Santo, Santo conducted by Stella More. There was also music by Nigel Hess from the movie Ladies in Lavender and a departing song as Time Goes By from the film Casablanca.
This was one of those occasions when we realise we are all mortal, that despite the hymns and prayers implying life is a just a transient step on the way to an afterlife, we are just a collection of atoms with just one shot at life. It is a bleak conclusion that all but the most fervent believers must face. We can delay the date but we can’t put it off. But in that delay and in that decision – we can make the most of life – and that is perhaps the most important point. Live life is the simple motto. Or as a Scottish proverb underlines: “Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.”
That does sound dark. But people like Wendy show how while we are alive we can light up the world by simply embracing life, making friends and being ourselves. Dr Samuel Johnson echoed perhaps how Wendy herself may have put it: “It matters not how a man (or woman) dies, but how he (or she) lives.” Or even more succinctly Clarence OddBoddy in the film It’s a Wonderful Life recalls Mark Twain’s words that: “No man (or woman) is a failure who has friends.” You only had to look at the packed church to see the truth is this last statement.

Harry Mottram

There is more from Harry at

The next Axbridge Theatre production is Our Coutry’s Good at the end of April is dedicated to Wendy.

This is actually the moon in the evening rather than dawn – it was already getting dark

Classic dawn colours looking towards Cheddar and the east

A calm start to the day

Red dawn on a blood coloured reservoir

Spooky looking town at the Res looking like a submarine’s deck

Sunrise in February

This was March 2nd or February 30th as I call it – the Arctic comes to the reservoir

Brrr…. March 2nd and it is freezing

Part of the reservoir became frozen – at the edges that it

Unusual snow cover at the Reservoir

Snow drifts at the yacht club

Icy edge made walking almost impossible. The dog walkers and joggers disappeared this morning!

The ice people wait for the morning sun to melt them away

Winter scene at the Res

NEWS: photographs of Cheddar Reservoir at dawn during February 2018 (from moonlight to arctic light)

The vast strawberry shaped reservoir between Cheddar and Axbridge acts like a mirror to the sky. February began as though spring was not far away but ended in a snowscape adding to the beauty of the body of water.

More photos and news at


Axbridge on Friday, March 2, 2018

NEWS: when snow fell on the first day of spring and turned Axbridge white (and perishingly cold)

It may have officially been the first day of Spring but on Thursday March 1st, 2018, snow began to fall in Axbridge in the afternoon. The weather had been icy cold for days and the forecast had predicted Storm Emma would bring warmer but snowy weather as it moved up from the south. Across Devon, Somerset and much of England and South Wales it met the so-called Beast from the East – a cold front streaming in from Russia – and it created a blizzard as a wind of over 40mph turned Somerset into a Siberian landscape. Parts of Cheddar Reservoir froze, there were power cuts and the M5 and A38 were all but closed for several hours. But for many it meant a day off work or school.

A video of the snow in the town can be seen here:

More stories by Harry Mottram can be found at


Toby, Wendy and Robin Mace

Son Toby, Wendy and Robin Mace

SNEWS: Death of Wendy Mace announced in Axbridge – a funny, intelligent and popular shining light in the town

The death has been announced of Wendy Mace. She died on Friday February 23, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. Her funeral is on Wednesday, March at st John the Baptist’s church in the town in the afternoon.
Harry Mottram recalls: “Wendy was a vibrant, funny, intelligent and articulate member of the Axbridge Book Club – but I most remember her as part of Axbridge Community Theatre – and one role in particular stands out when with her husband Robin she appeared in a production of Neil Simon’s Rumors as Ernie and Cookie Cusack at the Roxy. Wendy played Cookie – a fitting role since she was a brilliant cook! A rich voice, a generous host and always a great laugh – Wendy gave so much to the town – the youth theatre, the carnival, the pageant and many more organisations who benefited from her people skills, her creative talent and her enthusiasm of life. Her civic award was well deserved and resulted in a packed church for the occasion and a standing ovation.”

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: Axbridge Civic Service 2018 by Vicky Brice, town clerk for the town


Axbridge Civic Service

Sunday 25th February 2018

The sun shone brightly, and the church bells rang out, on Sunday afternoon as the community of Axbridge celebrated it’s 8th Civic Service in St John The Baptist Church and presented awards to three very special residents.

Town Crier, Nigel Scott announced the Mayoral Party which included the Deputy Lieutenant, Brigadier Tom Lang and his wife Amanda and the Mayor, Pauline Ham. John Hawkins, Sergeant at Mace, led the party, supported by Peter Yusen, Town Bailiff.  The Party entered the church to a rousing fanfare from the Cheddar Valley Brass Ensemble.

The service was attended by many visiting Mayors, Chairmen, members of local councils and James Heappey MP. The remainder of the church was full of residents of Axbridge, members of local groups and organisations together with friends and family of the award recipients. The church provided a stunning setting, with a lovely flower display arranged by church warden Judith Strange.

Reverend Tim Hawkings welcomed all to the service, which had a nautical theme, given the achievements of the award winners.  The Brass Ensemble of the Cheddar Valley Music Club, guided by Ann Higgs, gave an outstanding performance of Hallelujah Drive and Steppin’ Out by Chris HazellCheddar Valley Voices were delightful in their rendition of Wonderful World (Weiss & Thiele) and We’re All Made of Stars (Barlow & Kennedy). Abigail Campbell captured the audience with her violin solo of Allegro (GF Handel) and Somewhere over The Rainbow, from the Wizard of Oz.

The chosen hymns complimented the service, as did the poem “Sea Fever” (John Masefield) read by Pauline Ham, Mayor of Axbridge and the reading from Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 4, verses 35-41) read by Councillor Taylor.

The highlight of the service was the presentation of the awards by the Deputy Lieutenant, celebrating the community of Axbridge as a whole and the outstanding contributions made by the award recipients. The Mayor introduced the awards and Francis Rabbitts, Bob Wainwright and Peter Downing read the individual citations.

The Civic Award was presented to Barry Hamblin for his outstanding contribution to the community, particularly the time, effort, enthusiasm and sheer hard work he had put into establishing and managing the Axbridge and Cheddar Valley Sea Cadets TS Goathland Unit. His full and varied contribution to Axbridge, from actor in Axbridge Community Theatre, a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce to Mayor of Axbridge (twice) is difficult to summarise, but the establishment and development of the Sea Cadet unit within the Cheddar Valley will stand as a lasting legacy to the Town. He was honoured to receive his award, which followed nominations from the community, and this was one of the few occasions which had rendered him speechless!

The newly-introduced Young Person’s Awards were presented to Jamie Harris and Katherine Sousa both of which were a credit to themselves, their families and Axbridge. Jamie Harris felt privileged to receive his award which recognised his incredible sailing achievements, with many early successes leading to him becoming Cadet World Champion in Argentina.  He has since moved into the 2-man 420 dinghy, a feeder class for Olympic sailors and continues to perform at the highest level, travelling extensively around Europe in his continuing stellar sailing career. Jamie thanked all those who had supported him in the pursuit of his ambitions.

Katherine Sousa was honoured to receive her Young Person’s Award, in recognition of her contribution to youth and civic life.As one of the first cadets to join Axbridge & Cheddar Valley Sea Cadets, she remains an enthusiastic and hard-working member, leading by example and contributing greatly to the high team spirit. This commitment led her to be appointed as the first Mayor’s Cadet to the Mayor of Axbridge in 2014, a high profile civic role, and in 2017 she became Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet to the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset. She also finds time to be an Ambassador for Kings of Wessex School. Katherine thanked all those who had supported her in the roles over this time.

After the service, which finished with the National Anthem accompanied by the Brass Ensemble, guests and residents were invited to the Town Hall, where amazing cakes were on offer!  The guides from Cheddar and Axbridge worked tirelessly serving teas and coffees   under the direction of Beverley Davies and Liz Foster. The cakes had all been made by local residents and were a lovely way to conclude the afternoon.

Photographs of the whole occasion were taken by Tim Hind and Andy Corp and will shortly be available on the website

Vicky Brice, Town Clerk, Axbridge


NEWS (VIDEO): Behind the scenes with David Parkin – staging The Ladykillers in Axbridge – building a theatre, creating the house in Kings Cross and recycling the last set (all with the help of a chocolate biscuit or two)

Ladykillers low res DSC02387

The Ladykillers: a still taken from ACT’s stage play

When Axbridge Community Theatre staged The Ladykillers in the Town Hall in 2016 a team of talented folk worked behind the scenes to make it happen. This is the story of part of that team – the set designers and builders of Axbridge Community Theatre (ACT). The production was directed by Peter Honeyands and was adapted by Graham Linehan as a stage play in 2011 from the screen play written by William Rose for the 1955 film .

ACT’s next production is Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker directed by John Bailey. It will be staged in the town hall in Axbridge in Somerset on May 2-5, 2018.

Tickets will be on sale online from 23rd March 2018, and from Axbridge Chemists and Post Office from 1st April.

Observed by a lone, mystified Australian aboriginal , the convict ship arrives in Botany Bay in1788, crammed with England’s outcasts. Colony discipline in this vast and alien land is brutal. Three proposed public hangings incite an argument: how best to keep the criminals in line, the noose or a more civilised form of entertainment? The ambitious Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark steps forward with a play. But as the mostly illiterate cast rehearses, and a sense of common purpose begins to take hold, the young officer’s own transformation is as marked and poignant as that of his prisoners. The play is far from grim. Actually it’s mostly funny! “All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition.” 

For more films about ACT visit www.harrymottram and for the drama group see


GALLERY: Cheddar Reservoir pictured at dawn during the month of January 2018

The photographs were taken by Harry Mottram on his phone when out for a jog early in the morning. For much of the month it has been dark or misty – or pouring with rain – making photography difficult.

The reservoir is two and a quarter miles in circumference and was built in the 1930s. In January it is filled with coots and moorhens while geese and swans also winter here. There is public access all the year round making it a popular walk, cycle way, and running track with views across to the Isle of Wedmore and the Mendips.

More at



The Friends of Cheddar Library have organised a protest demonstration over the planned closure of the library

The Friends of Cheddar Library have organised a protest demonstration over the planned closure of the library

NEWS: Friends of Cheddar Library demonstrate over threat of the library’s closure by Somerset County Council

A ‘consultation’ over the planned change to Cheddar Library by Somerset County Council takes place this winter as the county seeks to save money by closing libraries across Somerset.

The consultation gives a number of options for residents to choose from. In a document the county reports: “Cheddar: Provide library services through either: · a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in Cheddar (supported by some funding from the County Council), or · an additional mobile library stop.”

They add on the county’s website: “We stress that library services will continue across Somerset, whatever the outcome of this consultation. If we are unable to keep library buildings open in communities, we will deliver library services in other ways, such as through outreach (i.e. in alternative venues within communities), online or mobile library services.”

There is scepticism amongst members of the Friends of Cheddar Library who feel the consultation is little more than a public relations exercise with the outcome already decided at County Hall in Taunton. In a document available online called Somerset Library Service Consultation 2018 Appendix 1: Library Service Proposals for Consultation the numbers of those using the various libraries in the area are shown. The numbers of users are listed along with footfall which show Cheddar to be used by fewer people than Wells and Shepton Mallet. This say the Friends is because fewer people live in the Cheddar area and it is open for fewer hours.

The Friends of Cheddar Library have launched a campaign to fight the plans. They have made a video outlining the reasons why the library should be retained and are lobbying councillors to retain the community facility as it is more than just a library as it is used as a meeting place, gallery and social hub. They are urging residents to engage in the consultation to send a message to County Hall that the library must not be closed.

The consultation in Cheddar is at the Cheddar Library on Friday 23 March with hourly sessions at 2:30pm, 3.30pm and 4:30pm but opens online before that on Monday 29 January 2018. More details at

The Friends have a Facebook site where their activities and campaign plans are announced.


Axbridge Progressive Supper

NEWS: Specially for foodies – the date of the Next Axbridge Progressive Supper is confirmed (and if you go please don’t fall in a water filled ditch) 

This year’s annual fund raising Axbridge progressive supper will take place on Saturday, November 17. Last year the event attracted scores of couples from the town and nearby and raised £1,000 for the town’s pageant held every ten years.

The Progressive Supper involves a three course meal eaten at three different locations. Participants either provide one course at their home, or travellers who pay to dine and do not need to provide food and drink. Cash is raised by those taking part and also by a raffle with the prizes announced at the end of the evening. The evening begins with everyone drawing lots from a hat to discover where they will be dining meaning the evening is a total surprise to all.

The unexpected nature of the evening has led to a number of hilarious incidents over the years due to the nature of the meal – spread out across the town at various homes. Guests have got lost and ended up in the wrong house while on one occasion an unnamed woman fell in the rhyne (a water filled ditch by Moorland Farm) when looking for a house down on the moors. And for hosts it’s meant an annual spring clean of their homes for fear the guests will be shocked at the state of their loo or kitchen.

Each course is for a set time, at the end of which everyone gets up and scrambles, or staggers as the night wears on, to get to the next course – which could be anywhere in Axbridge.

The event is on Saturday 17 November. See the event’s Facebook site for further updates and information.

Or contact Harry on 07789 864769 or email for more details.


Comedy Night at the Roxy in Axbridge – with stand-ups, performance poets, crazy comic films and an evening of laughter 

Comedy Night at the Roxy in Axbridge – with stand-ups, performance poets, crazy comic films and an evening of laughter

The next Axbridge Roxy Comedy Night is on Thursday 25th January 2018. Tickets on sale at the Chemist and Post Office.

The last one sold out in hours so make sure you grab a ticket for the funniest night of the month in the town.

More details at

Kari Ann Muller Mott


Kari Ann Muller Roxy

On Friday, January 12th at one of the Strawberry Line’s favourite pubs there’s a David Bowie Tribute Night at the Crown Inn, Axbridge. Dr Love’s Vinyl Revival will be rolling back the years to an era of Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans and Pin Ups in an evening paying tribute to the artist and also to raise cash for a cancer charity based in North Somerset.

There’s a raffle, Bowie cocktails and an auction. The auction will feature Harry the Spiv selling signed Bowie Album, along with other Bowie era memorabilia including a rare autographed framed Dr Love poster signed by the mysterious man himself.

And there’s a rare piece of rock and roll history up for grabs – a sign copy of the Mott the Hoople Album ‘Mott’ by the model Kari-Ann Moller who married Chris Jagger (brother of Mick) in 1981 and was the cover girl on the album as well as on a Roxy Music album as well. She kindly signed the record sleeve – the album is still as good as ever and is another prize part of the auction.

All money raised goes to the Penny Brohn UK cancer charity.

Extraordinary fund raising event for Penny Brohn UK cancer charity in Axbridge – and it’s all about David Bowie 

On Friday, January 12th at one of the Strawberry Line’s favourite pubs there’s a David Bowie Tribute Night at the Crown Inn, Axbridge.  Dr Love’s Vinyl Revival will be rolling back the years to an era of Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans and Pin Ups in an evening paying tribute to the artist and also to raise cash for a cancer charity based in North Somerset.

There’s a raffle, Bowie cocktails and an auction. The auction will feature Harry the Spiv selling  signed Bowie Album, along with other Bowie era memorabilia including a rare autographed framed Dr Love poster signed by the mysterious man himself. 

All money raised goes to the Penny Brohn UK cancer charity.



Views of Cheddar Reservoir during 2017 – from dawn to dusk and from drought to downpours 

The giant mirror that is Cheddar Reservoir reflects the vast skies above Somerset creating an ever changing waterscape – not unlike that of the sea. Measure more than two miles around and a mile or more across the man made lake built in the 1930s is a popular place for walkers, joggers and families – as well as sailors and fishermen.





Christmas comes to Axbridge with Santa in the Square 

On Saturday, December 16th, Axbridge Square in the Strawberry Line District is closed to traffic from 5pm as Christmas celebrations take place. Pictured above is a scene from Cheddar’s Festive Night earlier in the month, and similar scenes of live music, carol singing and the arrival of Father Christmas will take place in Axbridge. Every child in the town of primary school age receives a gift from Santa who usually arrives in the Square by horse drawn trap. There’s a pig roast and mulled wine on offer in the community event organised by the Axbridge Sports and Social Club led by Pauline Ham the current mayor of the town. Axbridge Sports & Social Club was formed on 29th July 1981 to “promote and encourage sporting and social activities within the parish of Axbridge”. If you are interested in helping the club call Pauline on 01934  732062. ——————————————————————————————

End of the Voices of Axbridge oral history programme

Maggie Turr has wrapped up the oral history programme in the town that began with Harry Mottram around a decade ago with interviews for the Western Daily Press. A tea party was held in the town hall for participants with music provided by Sarah Kendall and Anna Hind. The records covered more than 100 interviews and will be lodged with the Somerset Records Office in Taunton as a snapshot of the start of the new century in the town.

May 2016: The Voices of Axbridge oral history programmes comes to an end with a tea party in the town hall.

May 2016: The Voices of Axbridge oral history programmes comes to an end with a tea party in the town hall.

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