Archived Press Releases
The following press releases predate South Somerset District Council becoming part of Somerset Council in April 2023:
Chard Spring Festival 27-29 April 2023
19 April 2023
Culture, creativity and heritage play a key role in making the town centre a more attractive and vibrant place. Through a programme of new activities and events, Chard promotes and brings to life the town centre’s unique story, its past and present, creating a sense of pride and responsibility among Chard businesses, community groups and residents of all ages and backgrounds, drawing in visitors to celebrate the diversity of our town across the generations, ethnicities, genders and values.
This year Culturally Chard’s Spring Festival celebrates the past, present and future culture of this vibrant, diverse town and all are welcome to join, as the town celebrates the coming of Spring with a wide range of activities, taking place over three days at the end of April:
Thursday 27 April
The festival opens on Thursday 27 April at the Guildhall with a highly entertaining evening of live music, opened with performances from Holyrood Academy students. Jorden Lindsay will perform a set of acoustic numbers, before versatile four-piece from Weymouth, The Leggomen, take to the stage. This is a ticketed event and tickets can be bought online from Eventbrite or from the Guildhall.
Friday 28 April
During Friday 28 and Saturday 29, Chard Revealed, an exhibition organised by Chard Museum, will be held at the Guildhall. The exhibition will provide visitors with an opportunity to view and explore a collection of photographs from the Dave Wheadon Collection. During this time, the museum will also be hosting special exhibition “HeritArt”, which explores stories and interpretations of the town’s art, culture and heritage.
Chard Museum will be offering two different walks – the Blue Plaque Walk and the Lace Riot Walk. The Blue Plaque Walk guides walkers around 23 of the 27 plaques in and around Chard. A Guide will share the history of Chard through its buildings and people. The Lace Riot Walk takes a tour around seven sites significant to the Lace Industry and more specifically the Lace Riots of 1842.
A display of artwork from the Water Histories project including a short film made with students from Holyrood Academy, and artist Anna Chrystal Stephens will be showing her work at the Guildhall on Friday 28th, coordinated by Somerset Artworks.
Additionally on Friday, Ernie’s Journey is a free Family Circus Show; a magical theatre adventure including circus, physical theatre, stage magic, poetry and puppetry will be sure to entertain all ages. This is followed by a Circus workshop – also free of charge – for all ages and abilities – and will include short performances from local school groups.
We then transition into an evening of sharing soup, music and creativity. Visitors are invited to meet new people in the community and enjoy a workshop and performance from Ukrainian theatre makers Bohdana Ushatenko and Nadiia Latsyba.
Saturday 29 April
On Saturday, Chard Town Council brings you a celebration of all things dance, bringing together a wide variety of different acts to appeal to a wide audience. Entry is free and this event will run from 11am-4pm.
The final activity of the festival sees a comedy night, with a fantastic line-up of comedians to include MC Tom Glover and featuring, Jon Wagstaff, Chris Yates and headliner Sol Burnstein. This is a ticketed event and tickets can be bought online from Eventbrite or from the Guildhall.
For more details and a breakdown of the festival programme please see below and online by going to www.culturallychard.org.
Major public realm works in Chard are now complete. Second phase of Chard Regeneration works commenced on 6 February.
8 February 2023
The major public realm works in Chard’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) are now complete. This extensive programme of works, funded by South Somerset District Council and Historic England, has transformed Chard town centre, helping to unlock its potential as a unique place to live, work and visit.
The programme of works, carried out by Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Limited, has delivered improvements across the town centre on Fore Street, Holyrood Street, Boden Street and the Eastern Gateway.
This has included:
- Repaving the pavements with natural stone – enhancing the historic character of the town and its Conservation Area
- Improving the setting of heritage features, including the unique water rills
- Widening the pavements in key locations to increase accessibility and safety
- Planting new trees and flower beds
- Decluttering street furniture
- Creating new cycle parking and seating areas
- Refurbishment of the Stringfellow sculpture
- Creation of a more attractive approach to the town at the Eastern Gateway, including the commission of a cast-metal pavement plate made by a Somerset foundry
The recent emergency works on Fore Street by National Grid are ongoing for the next few weeks. This will be to repair a faulty substation, requiring the replacement of a transformer and improvement to cabling. The area will have a temporary tarmac surface, but natural paving stone will be re-laid in its place in May 2023. All the costs will be met by the National Grid.
With the public realm works complete, the next phase of the Chard HSHAZ is now underway, with the first Building Repair and Shop Front Improvement Grant now agreed. Works to Barron’s on Holyrood Street begun on 6 February and will last until the end of the month. This will include repairs to the roof and windows and a fresh coat of paint. The shop will remain open for business throughout this time. This, along with the success of ongoing Culturally Chard events and the popularity of the new leisure centre, creates a vibrant environment to help increase footfall and business in the historic town centre. Later this year, Barron’s will benefit from repairs to shopfronts and a new canopy as part of phase two of the Regeneration works.
Portfolio Holder Cllr Jason Baker said, “I am pleased to announce that we will shortly be commencing phase two of Chard Regeneration. The focus of this stage of the works will be on investing in the shops on our High Street, which will not only bring some of the key historic buildings in Chard back to life but will also reinvigorate and bolster the role of Chard as an economic centre.”
Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director at Historic England, said, “We’re delighted to see such a striking transformation in Chard. The public realm improvements are a great success – the work has brought out the town’s historic character and created an attractive and safer space for people to enjoy. The shopfront improvement scheme will take this further, giving businesses in historic premises a real boost. We would like to thank local businesses, residents and visitors for their cooperation, understanding and patience during the completed and ongoing works.”
Final regeneration works to Chard High Street begin
27 September 2022
As part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone, the final major works to the Chard High Street public realm began this week (Monday 26 September).
Contractors, Alun Griffiths, have commenced work on Fore Street to ensure that the area meets the council’s original specification.
After listening to local businesses and residents, the Chard Regeneration Board agreed on the 14 September that, rather than rectify the gradient on Fore Street, the area will be returned to tarmac.
This work is the final stage of the public realm regeneration, with only minor tasks still to be completed. It follows the completed improvement work to Holyrood Street, Boden Street and the Eastern Gateway, which included:
repaving the pavements with natural stone – enhancing the historic character of the town and its Conservation Area
improving the setting of heritage features, including the unique water rills
widening the pavements in key locations to increase accessibility and safety
planting new trees and flower beds
decluttering street furniture
creating new cycle parking and seating areas
The newly refurbished Stringfellow sculpture has recently been reinstated, marking the successful completion of these major works.
A site visit will take place this week to address any potential issues to be rectified. This work will take place over the upcoming weeks.
We understand that the disruption has caused some inconvenience and frustration. We would like to thank local businesses, residents and visitors for their cooperation, understanding and patience during this time.
Portfolio holder for Chard Regeneration, Cllr Jason Baker, said; “It is fantastic to see the final improvement works to Chard high street taking place; it is a major step towards making Chard a better place to work, live and visit.
It is also great to hear of the kindness and positivity shown to the onsite construction workers throughout this process, including the ‘badges of honour’ received from pupils of Chard School and the compliments of the workers’ lovely singing voices!
I am looking forward to celebrating the completion of the works and providing Chard residents with a town centre to feel proud of and a place where communities can come together.”
Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director at Historic England, said: “The near completion of the public realm improvements in Chard is a moment to celebrate. The high street has a wealth of distinctive features including the historic rills – or watercourses – which have now been skilfully restored. The project has created a vibrant and people-friendly space, which we hope will be enjoyed for generations to come.”
The next phase of the Chard Regeneration is now underway, with the first High Street Heritage Action Zone Building Repair and Shop Front Improvement Grants currently being agreed. This, along with the success of ongoing Culturally Chard events and popularity of the new leisure centre, will further add the rejuvenated environment and increase footfall and business to the historic town centre.
What is the Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone?
Because of its special historic character, Chard has been designated a High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) and secured £2m funding to revitalise its town centre. Over £1m of government high streets funding from Historic England has been matched by more than £1m by South Somerset District Council. These funds are being invested in making lasting physical improvements that enhance the historic high street.
The High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme is a national programme of £95 million investment across more than 60 English high streets, with £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund, £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Streets Fund, and a further £3 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The HSHAZ programme for Chard has three strands – public realm improvements (that is, the pedestrian areas of the street), grants for the repair and renovation of historic buildings and shopfronts, and community engagement activity. Additional funding has been secured by a consortium of local cultural and community organisations, to deliver a cultural programme.
The aim of Chard’s High Street Heritage Action Zone is to make the high street a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and spend time. We want everyone to be as involved as possible in the scheme, and in the future of Chard’s town centre.
About Historic England
We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation.
We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.
To find out what is happening in your area and get involved, please follow @HistoricEngland, #HistoricHighStreets and visit Historic England – High Street Culture
Chard Revealed – Explore the History of Chard
19 July 2022
Organised by South Somerset District Council, in partnership with Chard District Museum, the event will feature a range of activities and exhibitions covering the history of Chard’s High Street Heritage Action Zone and surrounding areas.
This will include:
- historic photos from the museum’s archives and members of the community
- drop-in art and photography workshops
- heritage walks
- museum artifact displays
There will also be opportunities to share your own stories and photos of Chard, so please bring along any photos you wish to be included. Original photos will be scanned and a virtual copy will be added to the museum’s archives. Any stories you wish to share can be recorded for the museum’s ‘oral histories’ collection.
Two fantastic, local artists from Somerset Art Works will be in attendance to host activities and talk about their projects. Attendees can take part in arts activities organised by Anna Chrystal Stephens, lead artist on the ‘Water Histories’ project or join Jenny Melling, leading artist for The Banner of Chard, and share in the story of the banners on display in The Guildhall.
The knowledgeable museum staff and volunteers will be on site throughout the event to answer any questions and discuss the town and its history.
Cllr Jason Baker, portfolio folder for Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone, said “Community is a key part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone. The Chard Revealed event is a great opportunity to engage people in local heritage, learn more about Chard’s past and celebrate our beautiful, historic high street.”
Howard Bailey, Chard Museum, said “The Museum is excited to be part of this event. While it’s an opportunity to share many images from local historians, Jeff Farley and Craig Hussey, it is also a wonderful opportunity for Chardians and others to come along and share their experiences and memories for posterity.”
High Streets Heritage Action Zones
The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. Regenerating Historic High Streets through Heritage Action Zones | Historic England
We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.