This article was written by Harry Mottram for the Bridgwater Mercury newspaper in 2016.
Last week’s article about Bridgwater’s factories back in the day have prompted several readers to respond with some of their own memories.
Firstly David Peek who provided the images and memories recalls how a group of girls were prevented from appearing in the Carnival Concerts in the 1920s for being too young. How times have changed when youngsters make up the life blood of the carnival.
Talking of young and beautiful women back in the day – the mayor of Bridgwater has sent in a photograph of a group of female workers from British Cellophane in the 1960s when his mum worked at the plant. It shows the workers from the finishing area of the factory on a night out in the town. The question is can anyone supply the names of those in the photo? Here’s a few suggestions: Vera Atwell. Doreen Puddy, Georgina Trunks, Vi Raynor, Ivy Smith, Glad Chick and Janice Davis. Can you pick out anyone from this photo? We’d love to hear from you. Email email@example.com
Moving on David Peek has a story of two one-legged Bridgwater residents, which just about gets past the censors. He recalls the extraordinary story of Harry Evans who frequented the Heads Inn during the 1940s which later became Waterloo House. He writes: “In the early 1950s he was knocked off his bike by a lorry on Cornhill, not 100 yards from work. His bike wheel trapped his leg and in the ensuing incident a lorry drove past and crushed his leg.
“Despite heroic efforts by the staff at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital he lost his leg. Eventually Harry was sent back to the old Bridgwater Hospital in a ward on the first floor at the back to recuperate. And here’s where the double act of one-legged men occurs. For in the next bed another one legged patient joined him.”
David Peek continues with the story that exercises the mind. He said: “At supper time a glass of medicinal stout was proffered by the staff to which Harry accepted gladly. However his fellow patient in the next bed only quaffed cider. It led to a dilemma. So at the appointed hour his fellow mono legged patient would swing his good leg out of bed and hop-hop-hop to the French windows and out onto the balcony, and then hop-hop-hop again down the metal fire escape and into comforts of the pub, The River Parrot, next door for his tipple there. A somewhat slower hop-hop-hop back up the fire escape and into bed was made before Matron’s rounds. All this of course in the days before health and safety were thought of.”
David’s stories have prompted Alan Hitchcock of Bridgwater to call in about more high jinks back in the day. He recalls a sponsored pub crawl organised to raise cash for the Pig and Whistle Carnival Club in the early 1960s. He said 13 carnivalites set off having a half pint in 26 pubs in the town starting down by the station and ending at St Mary’s. He said only two made it to the end – the rest had collapsed – and the two who managed all 13 pints even went back to the Pig and Whistle for a final drink.
Another memory Mr Hitchcock has is of a pub in Albert Street called the Cock Inn. A large painting of a bird on a yellow wall at the edge of St Matthew’s Field advertised the hostelry while there was another pub there called The Cottage run by a coal merchant as a sideline.
Do you have memories of British Cellophane and the parties held for the workers? Can you name the people in the photo? I’d love to hear your memories of pubs and clubs – do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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