Saturday, August 6, 2011

“Official vandalism?”

Bridgwater Forward’s anger at the demolition of Bridgwater’s last brickyard drying sheds

Protest letter to local media

Dear Editor,

When this letter is printed, Bridgwater’s last brickyard drying sheds will have been demolished: destroyed, that is, by official council vandalism masquerading as ‘planning permission.’

We refer to the distinctive long, low wooden-slatted sheds at the Pathfinder Terrace end of Colley Lane. These drying sheds, dating probably from the late 19th century, belonged to the firm of H J and C Major Ltd. The Colley Lane brick and tile makers, members of Ernie Bevin and Jimmie Boltz’ TGWU/Transport and General Workers Union, played their part in the town’s distinctive and often turbulent working-class history.

Their finest hour came at 7am on the morning of Thursday 6th May 1926, at the start of the General Strike. In an amazing act of solidarity, after nine loaders had been sacked for refusing to fill a scab lorry, all the workers at Henry Major’s Eastover works downed tools, and marched to other yards until over 1,000 struck by the evening.

What times!

On behalf of our campaign group Bridgwater Forward, we have to register our disgust and anger that such a vital link to our industrial past has been destroyed.

Who is responsible? Have the decency to own up! Hang your heads in shame!

Did those who voted to grant planning permission for demolition of the drying sheds for housing know anything of their history?

We ask the further question: do any of these planning officials or councillors live in Bridgwater?

We believe that nine months ago the Bridgwater Civic Society brought this matter to the council’s attention, but that nothing was done. Is this true?

There is also a possibility that some of Bridgwater’s oldest houses-we refer to numbers 3-7 North St, may also be under threat. Let’s save those houses at least!

If we were talking about a fine old country mansion in the Polden Hills, would there be this same distinct indifference?

Vandals, if caught, may get punished, but how can Bridgwater people prevent such “official vandalism” by those who have a duty of care to preserve our town?

Yours in anger,

Dave Chapple and Sally Jones,
Bridgwater Forward
01278 450562

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