1st April 1974 was a momentous day for Freshford. Not because of an April Fool’s Day joke, though some might have thought it that at the time, but because it marked the day when Freshford, after centuries spent in a quiet corner of Somerset, woke up to find itself in the Wansdyke District of the new County of Avon.
Freshford was not pleased.
A memorial ceremony was held on The Tyning the day before and a horse chestnut tree was planted “as a final act to plant it in the soil of Somerset by the sorrowing people of Freshford”. A stone engraved “SOMt 31 March 1974 AVON” was set beside the tree – both are there to this day (the tree used for climbing by children). There was a big turnout by residents to witness a procession, singing by the choir, speeches and prayers.
The Parish Council has recently come across a BBC 16mm film from that day. The film shows various locations around the village – much the same as now except for a noticeable lack of cars; it shows children coming out of the school and crossing High Street to their waiting mums; and it shows some of the tree-planting ceremony and the attendant villagers.
Were you there? Or your family? or friends?
We have had the film transcribed to DVD and will be showing it at the Annual Parish Meeting on Thursday 27th April, at 8.00 pm in Freshford Village Hall. It is only 8 minutes long but will make fascinating viewing for anyone with long connections with Freshford – and for anyone else who has an interest in our community. (Details of the Annual Parish Meeting will follow.)
And how did the story end? Well, after the demise of the unloved Avon, Freshford was on the move again and on 1st April 1996 (another April Fool’s Day prank?) found ourselves in B&NES.