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August News

Water, water everywhere!

Visitors to the play area at Gainsborough will have noticed that a drinking water tap has been installed at the east end of the site, just near to the entrance and the two mounds; this has happened as a result of some very quick thinking by the Parish Council and some fast grant application processing by South Somerset District Council (SSDC).  During the summer, the allotment are has had all of the old piping replaced in the ground as a significant volume of water was just being lost underground.  Repair was made in early March, but no sooner had one part of the old pipe been replaced than the next part would start to leak, so Members decided that total replacement was the best bet.  As we had a team of pipe fitters onsite, the idea was suggested that drinking water could be provided into the Play Park for a better price than binging back all the equipment and men at some other time. The water company were willing to do a deal, but as the Parish Council did not have all the money needed for the project, an application was made to SSDC for a contribution towards the cost. Support was gained from ‘Plastic Free Milborne Port’ and a Facebook survey revealed 100% support for the project. Within a week SSDC had awarded the Parish Council half the costs and the order was placed.  

Time Stands Still for No Man

While we have always been led to believe that time cannot stop, you may believe that it has if you have been using the Town Hall clock to keep the time. The current clock has been at a standstill for years. Members of the new Council were very keen to get it working again, as well as to see the clock-face professionally restored. The work has been commissioned and is now under way!

Happy 300th Birthday to our Market House!

Our Town Hall building celebrates its 300th birthday this year… probably!

There had been a market in Milborne Port from 1086 which had presumably lapsed by 1397 when the bailiff and burgesses were granted a market on Wednesdays.  The market then lapsed again but attempts were made to revive it in about 1720 when the market house was built, comprising a vaulted cellar, arcaded ground floor and room above, later referred to as the Long Room (which is where council meetings take place under normal non-Covid 19 circumstances!)  Anticipated business did not materialise and by around 1785 the arcades had been bricked up. The building was used in 1791 as a warehouse and later as a Sunday school, a day school and as a natural history museum.  The Fire Engine was even stored there between 1790 and 1830. 

The building was bought with the manor of Milborne Port from the Marquis of Anglesey by the Medlycotts in 1835 and in 1949 was sold by Sir Christopher Medlycott to the parish council for £300, the first council meeting being held there on 19th September 1950. 

In the course of repairs to the floor, the underground chamber was discovered (see photo below), a ‘vaulted brick basement’ (Western Gazette, 1950); the theory at the time was that there had been a tank there for the use of providing water to the fire engine.  Despite the advice from the Somerset Archaeological Society to create an accessible opening in the west end wall for future inspections, a concrete floor was laid, making future access to the basement impossible.  Restoration of the building, including the dismantling and rebuilding of the bell turret, was carried out in 1971.  It is now a Grade II Listed Building.

Accounts record various repairs and other expenses, such as ‘Cleaning the New Town Clock’ for which a Mr S. Game was paid six shillings in 1827; the mechanism for that clock is probably the one currently housed in the Chapel Museum on Wheathill Lane.

And have you noticed the weather-vane on the bell-turret?  This dates from 1820.  And is not serendipitous that the recent pandemic has seen a new and very successful temporary market on the Weighbridge on Saturday mornings?

So Happy 3rd Centenary to our great building and let’s hope that it will still be here in another 300 years!

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