On Friday 27th October, 2017 the Wincanton and District Museum and History Society were given a very interesting talk by John Sansom, the Sweep. In addition there were many slides of old Wincanton, followed by a Carnival film.
John moved to various addresses in his early years, finally, after he was married, to Penn View, Wincanton, which he describes as “a lovely place at the time”, and where he was happy.
The Prince of Wales public house was in Bayford Hill, opposite the entrance to Penn View, and at the time, everybody knew everybody else. Now the public house has gone, and a bungalow stands in its place. Over the years many buildings have disappeared or been altered – a row of houses were knocked down to make the entrance to the Memorial Hall. The entrance to Carrington Way brought more changes, including Cash’s Park. Cobbles went down the middle of Mill Street and so on. However, when looking at the slides of old Wincanton, it is remarkable how many shop and house-fronts remain the same, and the High Street looks (building-wise) almost unchanged.
John mentioned the lovely lardy cakes and hot cross buns he used to eat from Mrs Dykes baker shop, which was the end cottage in the High Street.
One of John’s stories brought us right up to the present. The NatWest Bank started life as the Wincanton Bank the 1700s. As the Westminster Bank it was hit by a bomb during WW11. The bomb dropped directly onto the Bank, killing one person, and the bank safe landed in Church Street. Now, this very month, the NatWest has closed, and, after all the years, the building will no longer be a Bank.
He spoke of the organization called the Bonfire Boys who would carry sticks covered in hessian, dipped in paraffin and with flames 10 feet high would walk down the High Street to the Market Place and light a bonfire in front of the Post Office. In the early days of the Wincanton Carnival, started before the War, they would join the Guy Fawkes circuit at Bridgewater. During Wartime it was abandoned, and when re-started they did not join the Guy Fawkes Circuit. This talk was then followed by a film John had brought of one Carnival during the 1970s. This was shown with a serving of coffee and cakes so the evening ended as a very sociable occasion.
Many thanks are due to John for his entertaining talk, to one of our largest audiences in recent months, and for the time spent on slides and the film. Janet Fray