Winscombe

Winscombe or Woodborough. Before the 19th century the hamlet of Winscombe was centred around the Parish Church of St. James the Great. Woodborough had a triangular village green and an inn, called The Packhorse, on a site near the position of the present-day Woodborough Inn.

Little now remains to be seen of the inn or the original green, but the present-day Woodborough Inn stands very near that position.

Then the railway came!

village inn

The arrival of the railway. An old poster describes how 'a procession of The Mayor and Corporation of Axbridge would be formed at the Town Hall, Axbridge'. This would be prior to the cutting at 'Shutshelve Hill' of 'the first sod' in the building of what was initially called the 'Yatton and Cheddar Valley Railway'. Two years later, in 1869, a station had been built in Woodborough, not Winscombe. First named 'Woodborough', it was soon changed to 'Winscombe' to avoid confusion with another station of that name in Wiltshire. Ninety-four years later the railway closed to passengers and today even the rails have gone. Now, the two hamlets are one and the resulting village has come to be called Winscombe.However, you still may see signs in and around the village that refer to Woodborough.


Recent developments. It is said that improvements made to villages by its inhabitants are a measure of 'village values'.

One of the earliest improvements made to the village has been to the old village school. An increase in population meant that the school had become too small and so a modern Junior School with ample playing fields was built. This was closely followed by the addition of an Infants Department. Recently, another fine series of additional buildings has been added. A tour of the premises will surely indicate the pride that these youngsters feel for their educational environment.

These changes left the original school rooms empty: villagers took over and with much effort the building has now become what is called the Winscombe Community Centre. This Centre and the Church Hall of St. James are major bases for village activities. Both have had recent improvements and seem permanently in use. Each is run by a band of enthusiasts who give freely of their time and effort. Why not join in and help them?

Outdoors there are many sports clubs, including a bowls club in the middle of the village. Soccer, rugby, cricket and tennis are mainly based at or very near the War Memorial Recreation Ground. This is a fine green and grassy area bought many years ago by money raised at public events. The deeds are retained, in trust, by the Parish Council. However, over recent years the ground's changing rooms gradually became inadequate. During the year 2000, with the combined effort of the three clubs and the Parish Council, a major loan was obtained to finance a total refurbishment.

football

As a result, appended to what was always a fine pavilion is a new block containing eight team changing rooms, several referees rooms and a system of showers which can deal adequately with many very muddy players. In addition the grounds contain a children's play area: every effort is made to keep the equipment in first-class condition and attractive to youngsters - and their parents!

There have been other major outdoor improvements. After the 1963 closure, the railway line and its associated stations gradually developed a general air of dilapidation. The line and stations had been deserted and many of the bridges, including the one at Sandford, were blown up. People began walking the line and others started buying or leasing parts. Eventually, these different demands led to the formation in 1977 of the Cheddar Valley Railway Working Group, soon to become the the Winscombe Parish Railway Walk Society and then the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society. This group persuaded Woodspring District Council to buy the remaining land, with its track, though not the stations. This is now managed by the Society and will always be free for the use of walkers. In 1996 the Railway Walk was designated 'A Local Nature Reserve'. Later, North Somerset Council created a cycle way from the recreation ground south along the disused track to the A38 and beyond. It is possible to cycle from the station to Cheddar mostly on the track: perhaps one day it may be possible to cycle on the track to Wells. In the future, it is intended that the cycle way be extended northwards through Sandford to Yatton, and perhaps even Clevedon. After much collective effort the result is for all to see: a linear asset that will be shared and enjoyed by several local parishes.

But, what of Winscombe Station? Yet another group had its eyes fixed firmly there! The Millennium Green Group, later to become the Winscombe & Sandford Millennium Green Trust, came into existence in 1997 with a plan to bring the derelict station site back into community use as a celebration of the new millennium. The community backed proposal formulated by this group for the station and its immediate surrounds was one of the few accepted in the national 'Millennium Green Scheme'. Charitable status, obtained in 1998, was needed so that the group could acquire, hold and regenerate the area already designated a site 'of County Importance for Conservation'. Responsibility for site management is presently shared with North Somerset Council and the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society, which has a right of pedestrian passage through what has now become the Millennium Green. The success of this group and the product of their hard physical efforts can be described, without exaggeration, as phenomenal. The results can easily be judged by a stroll along the station! Wherever did all these ideas come from? But, of course, the task continues and additional support from villagers, old or new, is always appreciated.

What of the near future? There are two projects that are more than mere thoughts in the minds of villagers.

Some young people determined by consultation that the village needed a Youth Shelter at which youngsters could gather not too far from the centre of the village and not too far from the successful Youth Club. The group designed and priced a structure, roofed but otherwise open to the weather, that would fit the bill. With the help of the Parish Council, the group obtained much of the required funding and, with the permission of the Committee controlling the Community Centre, has built the shelter on its grounds.

Another group of young people identified the need for a Skate Park. This, they said, should be away from the centre of the village. Again with the help of the Parish Council and, this time, the War Memorial Recreation Ground Committee, a possible position for this skate park has been determined. The site is on the War Memorial Recreation Ground. There are still difficulties that need to be overcome. Poor drainage has always been a problem for the ground's pitches, which could be increased by the addition of a skate park. So, solutions to this and other problems are being sought. If they can be found, a skate park could appear.

So, what should reading this have told you? Villagers feel that they belong to an active village that is prepared to 'roll up its sleeves and get on with it'. So, whether you are already living here or have just arrived or are thinking of moving here, do join in and enjoy being part of our thriving community.

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