Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Broadband Options for Biddisham

We can all agree that broadband speeds in Biddisham, Tarnock and Badgworth are less than ideal. Traditional methods via BT lines are not working and aren't going to be upgraded for quite some time.

The latest from the Connecting Devon and Somerset website is that the cabinet at Edingworth may be upgraded in October 2015 to a usable speed.

The internet has improved our lives and opened our worlds dramatically enabling us to live and work in beautiful places like Biddisham. However this is more than a luxury. Not only do our younger residents need fast broadband but it is an essential utility like mains water and electricity with access to online banking, prescriptions and essential services.

It isn't fair that as a rural community we don't even have the option of efficient working broadband like the majority of the country. And it isn't just the money, I'm sure we would all pay a small percentage more if we could just have it working.

Below are a few links to companies that can provide working broadband until it is bought to us.

I am not affiliated with any company, this is simply to share the information we have found when searching for a working broadband solution so that we could stay and work in Biddisham.

If any of the services are of interest to residents it may be worth working together to see if a deal can be offered with a provider? I will try to keep you updated with progress via the website too.

Connecting Devon and Somerset Broadband  - the website for information on when working broadband will come to our area.

James Heappey MP - part of Mr Heappey's campaign was promising faster working broadband for us in rural communities. He needs to be held to this, so please write, phone and tweet him about our improving our broadband.
James Heappey, 3c Town Street, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BD
Telephone: 01749 343255    Email:james.heappey.mp@parliament.uk   Twitter: @JSHeappey

Avonline Satellite Broadband 

This is not the same as Sky. Satellite broadband was our solution at the end of Biddisham Lane and it works well enabling us to upload and download files, watch video and access the internet in a normal way.
The costs are a little higher, there is an installation fee and there will be a satellite dish on your house. There are set data allowances eg: 25GB per month and when you reach your limit, they do not charge extra they just slow your speeds dramatically.

Set Up: satellite dish on the house, hub inside with wifi to connect 10 devices.
Our speeds: 11 Mb/s
Price: Approx £45 per month for 25GB

Three Mobile Broadband  

This is the solution we found to use in our holiday cottages. Our guests thought they had entered the dark ages when we couldn't offer wi-fi which was when we realized how far behind we were!
Three have recently upgraded their system and it is currently working very well enabling emails, browsing and videos. When a mast goes down it is difficult to get them to fix it quickly as rural customers are not a priority.

Set Up: sim card in a mi-fi dongle to connect 5 devices in the home.
Our Speeds: 3.59 Mb/s
Price: Approx £15 per month for 15GB data allowance

*Please note it is easy to use up the data allowance and they charge a huge amount if you go over, so ask them to set a cap on your limit. We luckily avoided a £500 bill!

EE Mobile Broadband

We are in a 4G area covered by EE. This will work the same as the Three Mobile Broadband service, we haven't tried this option but it looks like it could work well.
Again a Mi-Fi home hub with a sim card would be installed.

Price: Approx £30 per month for 25GB data allowance

If anyone has any info they would like to add to help our villages get better broadband please add a comment or contact us.

Monday, 15 June 2015

People Of Biddisham - Alan Bailey

Its difficult to separate Axe Vale coaches and it's founder Alan Bailey who together with wife Jane started the business in 1977 with just four coaches at Apple Tree Cottage, Biddisham.
The Axe Vale coach taking the children of the village to school has been a twice daily constant for Biddisham for nearly 40 years.

Alan and Jane built up the business on the A38 expanding from school runs and Royal Ordnance Survey Factory transport to coach holidays as far as Morroco and the Alps. Alan worked hard to create a business that put his customers first however it was his charity work and what he gave to the community that really stands out.

Alan passed away in 2007 aged 65 having raised thousands for local charities. His final farewell was a party raising £9000 for Macmillan Cancer and Weston Hospice Care. Biddisham and the local community will have great memories of Alan Bailey's support for the village including day trips and his involvement supporting the Scouts and the Buckaneers Carnival Club. He even came to the rescue of pensioners and Bosnian refugees when they needed transport and help.

Today Axe Vale Coaches is ran by Alan and Jane's son Colin Bailey who is continuing the great work and even performing heroics with the buses.

Below are just a few of the clippings from Alan's Axe Vale and charity work kindly shared by Jane Bailey. How wonderful a man with a coach can be.

Alan from Backwell and Jane from Cleeve were married in 1966. From the local paper ....

"Jane, daughter of Mr. Arthur Chilcott M.B.E and Mrs Nora May Chilcott of the Swan Hotel, Wedmore and formerly Orchard House Cleeve was married to Alan Lionel Bailey only child of Mr and Mrs A H Bailey of Calella Church Town Backwell. He is employed as an engineer by Pye Radio. 
The bride a former Congresbury Church bellringer was given away by her brother, Mr Michael Chilcott her father being indesposed.
She was attired in an Empire line white shot taffeta dress, trimmed with lace. It had a semi train and her shoulder length veil was held with a head-dress of white roses and lily of the valley. She carried a spray of red roses and white lily of the valley. 

Miss Judith Chilcott, the brides younger sister was bridesmaid. She wore a pink organdie dress over a stiffened paper nylon, a circlet of net with diamante and carried a posy of garden freesias. 
Best man was Mr. James Paul Wring, a friend of the bridegroom and the ushers were Mr. Brian White and Mr Victor Carman. 
Officiating minister in a floral decorated church was the Rev. H.C.T Morgan, vicar. Miss Vowles was at the organ for the hymns.
The brides mother wore a brown suit with lurex blouse and collar and white accessories and the bridegroom's mother wore a green velvet suit with green shoes, handbag and gloves and pink hat and blouse. 

After a reception at the Swan Hotel the couple left for their honeymoon on the east coast, Mrs Bailey travelling in a turquoise and black tweed three piece with turquoise hat and gloves and black handbag and shoes."

'Thank you to Coach Firm from Westland Helicopters'
Framed photographs of the Westland Lynx helicopter presented to Alan Bailey by Mr Evans and vice-chairman Mr Dave Reed to say thank you for Axe Vale Coaches support over the years.

 The Buckaneer's carnival club based in Biddisham at the New Moon with their trophies - Alan is center with a number of other Biddisham residents including Pat Cross. 

 The Bukaneers - Golden Gallopers 1978

Buckaneers Arctic Hunters float for the Easter Parade, London 1977
BUCCANNEERS CC / WESTLANDS CC This was the most successful Local Feature Club, it started back in 1973 as Westlands CC and built at Westlands Helicopter Factory in Weston. They then changed their name to Buccaneers CC in 1976 when they moved to New Moon Inn, Biddisham. Nearly all the Members were from Westland’s. They then moved to Fox and Goose Inn in 1983. Then Moved again to Laburnham House, West Huntspill in 1991. Their biggest success was winning the County Cup in 1980 with “Grandfathers Clock”. They also took their 1977, 1982 and 1985 entry to the Easter Parade in London. They finally folded in the late 90’s. 

Jane Bailey raising funds for the Intensive Care Unit at Southmead hospital with Margaret Hendry and Phyl Dyer.

One of the original coach holiday brochures. 

Cyclists from Langford have custom double decker bus from Axe Vale for holiday. The lower deck of the bus was removed to make space for all the bikes. 1980s. 

Jane Bailey congratulating the coach firms 200th customer on their Bristol and Bath service. 

Alan's fundraising clippings including Weare sunset circle and Cheshire Home.

Scouts events, bus haul and fundraising.

Bournville OAP social club Christmas party fundaiser.

Kings of Wessex student sponsored by Axe Vale,

Raising money for Odstock Spinal Unit where Kings of Wessex student Rob Vohra received treatment after a road accident. Jane and Alan with Rob and his mother photographed. 

Bosnian Refugee evacuation in 1992 to Bagley, Wedmore. Alan Bailey gave a coach and two volunteer drivers to transport the refugees back from the Austro - Slovenian border to Rose Court, Theale, Somerset. At the time of writing this in 2015 as refugees continue to drown in the Mediterranean this is especially important. It would be great to hear more about this and what happened to the families.

Ski bus brochure with the lightning double decker Axe Vale coach. 1980s.

Celebrating 25 years of Axe Vale coaches with Jane, Alan and son Colin. 
 Axe Vale epaulets for the coach drivers uniforms.

Scout camp Poland Four Camp, Somerset 2004.

Alan and Colin show off the latest holiday brochure. 

Betty Chalkley of Cheddar organised a bus service with Axe Vale coaches when the daily service from Cheddar to Bristol was stopped. 

Articles on Alans farewell 'A Celebration of Life' fundraiser raising thousand for Macmillan Cancer and Weston Hospice Care. What an inspiration. 

35 years of coach travel brochure. 

Alan's son Colin saved Winscombe from a runaway builders lorry with an Axe Vale coach. Slowing in front of the lorry Colin managed to grind it to a halt with the brakes of the bus just like in an action film! December 2003

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Map of Somerset 1646 - Bilsham

Historial map of Somerset dated 1646 with Biddisham marked in the centre as 'Bilsham'. 

History - Down Biddisham Lane by Jill Bailey

 Photograph taken by George Dafnis circa 1900 of the Biddisham church cross.

History of Biddisham by Jill Bailey - Taken from an article on the Weston Mercury website.

"To many motorists travelling along the A38 between Shute Shelve and East Brent it must appear that Biddisham is an over-sized nameplate for a cluster of swiftly passed houses. 
It would not occur to them that it is a village with a history of hundreds of years, with records of events and customs that would make an intriguing volume. But what can he know of Biddisham who only glimpse its roadside nameplate? 

It is necessary to turn down Biddisham Lane to glimpse, among a cluster of trees, a church and churchyard scene repeated hundreds of times throughout this country - the ancient church, the churchyard cross and the giant yew.Like so many of our villages Biddisham has lost its ancient elms to Dutch elm disease, but I was pleased to note that a preponderance of oaks and chestnuts had left its church still delightfully tree-embowered. 
Biddisham is not a dying village. Attractive bungalows have sprung up down Biddisham Lane, and very pleasant they look with their neatly kept gardens and lawns on which, away from the madding crowd, their occupiers can take their ease and look out on the sweep of levels, once known as the marshes, leading to the Mendip foothills with Crook Peak as a focal point. Change inevitably has come to Biddisham. 

The Rectory is now the Old Rectory, and The schoolhouse The Old Schoolhouse - a dwelling. Biddisham's children start their schooldays at Weare, and then move on to Kings of Wessex, Cheddar. There is now no resident vicar of Biddisham. When, after 16 years there the Rev. John Heigham retired in 1976 the parish, ecclesiastically, was merged with Weare, Badgworth and Biddisham under the control of the Rev Gordon Millier, the parsonage house being at Weare. 
"We have become a very closely knit community," Mr Millier told me. "There has been quite a lot of development in the area in recent years, and the combined parishes now have a population of about 900.

"In his 1791 History of Somerset, Collinson says of Biddisham:" It lies in the marsh on the south-west side of the Mendip hills, four miles west from Axbridge and 14 north-east from Bridgwater, being on the turnpike road between those towns. It consists of fourteen houses and eighty inhabitants. The lands are chiefly pasture, and so rich that they produce some of the finest cheese in the kingdom. 
He adds that under a charter of Edward the Confessor the manor of Biddisham, which had been in the great manor of Wedmore, was passed to the Bishop of Wells in 1150 "towards the reparation of the cathedral church of Wells" and that ever since the dean and chapter of Wells had been the patrons of the living.

Biddisham's church of John the Baptist has a tower arch considered to be of 13th century origin. Its font is Norman with scallops below the bowl. There is a carved oak Jacobean pulpit somewhat similar to that at Weare, and on a wall is a scratch dial, survival of timekeeping before there were clocks. 
There were four bells in the tower 300 years ago, and there are four now.

Down Biddisham Lane one meets with such charming names as Manor Farm, Green Farm, and Meadow Farm. The lane - one would term it a minor road today - is a cul-de-sac, and ends when it reaches the banks of the River Axe at Crab Hole, not far from Rackley, the old port below Crook Peak
Possibly in times when it was easier to take merchandise down waterways than along what passed for roads, Biddisham may have had some link with goods loaded and unloaded on the Axe, which was then navigable almost as far as Cheddar.

The River Axe was also regarded as a 'frontier' in former times and the earliest touch of drama linked with Biddisham is an interpretation of old writings, which suggests that in 998 there was the Battle of Biddisham that is said to have ended with the Saxons driving the Danes back over the river to Bleadon.
In addition to the possible river trade link, Biddisham, being on the turnpike road, was not off the beaten track in olden days, and had its links with traffic going up and down the old Bristol to Exeter highway.

The earliest date in the parish registers is 1620, and at that time the names of Churches, Tutton, and Duckett, still familiar today, appeared often. 
In former times Biddisham had a hectic round of merry-making on Midsummer Day. Of course down the ages, except for the period of puritanical control, midsummer was a day of celebration and rites. Since in Christianity midsummer day is linked with the nativity of John the Baptist, Biddisham church's patron saint, there was special justification for the village making it a big occasion.

It had a rare do in the churchyard! Fives were played against the churchyard wall, there were single-stick combats, and round about was all the fun of the fair including stalls, booths and sideshows. We do not know whether celebrations got out of hand on these occasions, but a parish record of 1728 suggests that discipline was exercised. 
It states that a rate of halfpenny an acre was levelled at Biddisham and Tarnock for setting up a 'peer' of stocks and a whipping post.

The parish overseers appear to have done their best for folk in adversity. A local resident, Hannah Day, had a fatal illness and could not afford to keep their little handmaid, Sarah Simmons, so the parish paid three guineas towards binding Sarah as an apprentice in Bristol. The overseers also paid for a pint of brandy to help Hannah through her last days. They also recompensed two neighbours for sitting up with her at night. 
Susannah Waterman, referred to in the register as 'Su' was poverty stricken and a great expense to the parish for food for her and her three children, and for loads of turf. When she died the parish paid for her funeral, the costs including 'twenty-five quarts of Sidar' for the bearers. This item was preceded by one reading 'Paid ye minister 3d'. 
A Biddisham man, Robert Day, was buried at Loxton at the parish's expense, and to avoid the longer journey by road the coffin was taken across the River Axe. The register's reference to this item is: "Payd for passing the corpes over the water, 2s. 6d." 

A remarkable Biddisham farmer of the last century was Edward Churches. For twenty years he had what was known as 'rheumatic gout' and was confined to bed. But he still directed all the affairs of his farm. His neighbours said of him: "He lies in bed and makes more money than us who work all day."He had his bed drawn up to the window overlooking the farm, and from there directed operations. He painstakingly kept a diary in which he entered details of all who came to the farm and their business. 

When he had stock to sell, he had them driven up to the window and inspected them and fixed the prices. Sometimes sheep and pigs were even taken into his bedroom so that he might settle a point or two about them. When a really old man and the local countryside was greatly excited about the election of a coroner for North Somerset he had a bed made in a cart, and was conveyed in it to Axbridge where the voting was done and the result declared. 
Old Ted Churches and many other Biddisham worthies now lie in the parish's secluded churchyard. As for Biddisham Lane, it may be a cul-de-sac, but there is no end to its story.

This article, edited by Jill Bailey, was originally published on September 29, 1975"

Church News

News from St John the Baptist Church, Biddisham kindly shared by Claire Talbot. 

Did you know? Biddisham is a village because it has a Church. If we did not have a Church we would be a hamlet!

"Dear All

I am honoured to confirm the announcement made at the 10:00am service at Compton Bishop this morning that the Reverend Judith Jeffery is the new Rector of Crook Peak United Parish.

Please pray for Judith and her husband Michael as they prepare for the move into the Rectory at Weare, probably around the end of September.

A Service of Installation is provisionally planned for 7:00pm on Wednesday 14 October formally to receive Judith into our communities as our new Rector. Time and venue (at one of our 6 church buildings) to be confirmed. Do try to come along to meet Judith. This will also be one of the first duties of the new Bishop of Taunton once he or she is appointed later in the Summer.

Today is the feast of Pentecost, which recalls the very start of the Chiristian church. It all seems very appropriate to share the good news that our new minister and spiritual leader that we have waited so long for is on her way to join us!

With kindest regards,

Stephen McColgan
Churchwarden to St. Andrew's Church
Compton Bishop
In Crook Peak United Parish"

- We have 2 Church Wardens. 
Claire Talbot in Biddisham Lane and Alan Sealey in Tarnock. Contact details can be found in the 6 weekly publication – Contact which is delivered to every home and copies can also be found at the back of the Church.

- St John the Baptist Day – 24th June. This is our Churches birthday.
It is a tradition that we distribute gift day envelopes throughout the village around this time. The money which is collected goes towards the up keep of the Church. There is a 10am Service on Sunday 21st June.

- Friends of St John the Baptist Church Biddisham.
The friends are a collection of villagers who are keen to keep the Church in good repair and a pleasure to visit.
This is achieved in two ways:
Firstly, a monthly giving of between £5 and £10, secondly just helping out with the occasional small job or thirdly volunteering for one of the following rotas: grass cutting, church cleaning, flowers, silver cleaning and delivering the Contact magazine.

The Friends also run a 50 Club This is a once a year £10 donation which gives you a special number to enter a prize draw. The draws take place at Easter and Christmas – anyone can join.




If you would like to know more please contact Claire on 750531.

- Would anyone be interested in forming a craft group? 
A new alter cloth was made last year and we have been considering making runners for the front for different times of the year – like for harvest / advent?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Red Kite Comes to Biddisham

This morning on our usual walk we met the man from the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) He told us that bird numbers were looking good and for the first time we had a Red Kite in Biddisham!

The man also identified a Hobby for me that I have watched flying beautifully over the river and said everything was looking healthy.
Sadly this time the numbers of birds from West Africa were down and this is thought to be a consequence of the Ebola crisis but not yet confirmed.

He will be visiting again in a couple of months to see how everything has gone and hopefully we will have another booming year for our birds.

After we said goodbye to the man, there in the sky appeared a Red Kite over Kingsacre and Tile House. A similar size to the buzzards and attracted to the fresh hay cut fields, It was spectacular sight and I hope they will be here to stay.

We also have six fresh cygnets in the river at Riverside Farm, this same pair of swans raise their cygnets here every year and it seems they only just said goodbye to three strong swans a few weeks ago.

Typically the one time I didn't have my camera, the photo above is taken from the RSPB. If anyone happens to take any wildlife images in Biddisham it would be great to share them. The Red Kite and Cygnets can be a challenge.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Achievements - Alice Thompson Gold Award

Congratulations to Alice Thompson of Kingsacre, Biddisham Lane for her double gold award from Kings of Wessex school. Keep up the fantastic work! 

Friday, 5 June 2015

People of Biddisham - Edwin John Banwell

Edwin John Banwell just before he enlisted 

Edwin Banwell was born in Compton Bishop on 16 November 1897. 
His father Albert was a labourer on the Compton Estate and he lived in an estate cottage with his wife Elizabeth.
Edwin had an older brother Alfred and sister Lilian and a younger brother Alfred who was born in 1899. By 1911 Edwin (aged just 13) was living and working at Westbrook Farm, Brent Knoll which was owned by William Vowles. His older brother Albert worked at Tom Vowles’ Laurel Farm at Winscombe. 
By the time of the 1911 Census their parents had moved to Biddisham and a further four younger brothers and sisters had expanded the family.

On 25 January 1915 Edwin attested as Rifleman 6176 for the Rifle Brigade at Bath and he went to France on 28 July 1915.  
Brother Alfred enlisted in the Royal Artillery and went to France in December 1915. 
In July 1916 Edwin was severely wounded and was discharged from the army a month later. He was hospitalised in England for many months and after
recuperating at home in April 1918 he re-enlisted as Gunner 213146 in the Royal Artillery.
Having already served and been so badly wounded, there would have been no expectation for him to serve again and it is a testament to his courage that he wanted to return to the war.

Edwin was discharged in June 1919. In 1926 he married Rose Body and a year later their daughter Grace was born followed in 1931 by her brother David. Edwin died in 1969 and Rose in 1981.

In the Rifle Brigade before going to France

Recovering from his wounds in August 1916

Back in the uniform of the Royal Artillery when he re-enlisted in April 1918

An X-ray taken in 1919 showing a piece of shrapnel still embedded in his chest.

 Edwin’s discharge certificate from the Rifle Brigade

Card from Edwin’s mother returned to her from France in July 1917 as he had been 
sent to hospital in England

This information was provided by Ian McLaren and Betty Baker who was Edwin Banwell's niece and lived near Axe Vale coaches. Sadly Betty passed away about 18 months ago and a source of local knowledge and amusing anecdotes were lost.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

May Weekend - A Walk Through Biddisham

Last weekend the contact magazine needed delivering through the village and this was a good opportunity for me to meet a few people and see exactly how long Biddisham is. I'm really sorry if I missed your house!

From the main road and our village sign (which needs a wash) I walked up through to Tarnock, along Kingsway and then back and down Biddisham Lane. It was great to meet people and stop for long chats about the village. Hearing about how the village used to be was fascinating and a little sad that we are missing that old feeling of community that surrounds public buildings.

I had no idea that there was two pubs in Biddisham and a shop! The lack of a pub was a recurring theme people mentioned and how great the 'meet your neighbours' evening was at the village hall. Maybe one day we'll have a pub again?

People had great stories about living and farming in the village and have referred me to the residents with the richest history who I will be speaking to soon to start a Biddisham Village history project.

Things change quickly here, the little red bricked house is getting a makeover and I just caught it in time to see how it looked before. It will be great too see how it looks after. Opposite Rose Cottage had a whole television programme dedicated to it's renovation. Hopefully someone can find this.

It was a really beautiful day and little disheartening to see the village green locked and completely empty. Please go and use it!

Alex King