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Hannah More Cottage in Cheddar: the school house started by the More sisters during the Napoleonic era is pictured here in around 1895 and then again in 2012. Then and now

In places the Strawberry Line time has stood still. The scenes are barely changed in decades - while in others the picture is so different they could be on another planet. Here Rupert Bridgwater tried to find places that matched up to old photographs

It’s the minutia of photographs that attract. The little details that reveal so much about the scene - whether it’s what people are wearing or what’s in the background - or even what’s half out of a photo as it was thought not interesting enough to picture at the time.

The photos below of Axbridge Square are delicious for their detail. The first one was probably taken around 1972. Taken from the window of the Oakhouse Hotel it shows the scene as it was not long after through traffic ceased to pass along the narrow High Street - partially blocked by work progressing over at King John’s Hunting Lodge. Also the new cobbled surface so hotly discussed at the town council is is yet to be laid. The shop on the corner is still there - now the Cooperative - while the Lamb has no

seats and tables outside the front - ideal for passing cyclists to stop and enjoy a pint. The layout for parking has changed considerably from what was then something of a free for all. There was a heated debate in the town council about the laying of the new surface - now all but forgotten.

Moving on to the Hannah More cottage in Cheddar (pictured above) there is at first little discernable difference - except of course for the two females in period costume at the front. However take a closer look and there are several changes. The cottage was much more distinctly a house and ajoining barn in the first image - and was in transition as far as roofing is concerned. On the left the thatch is still in place but the barn has a tiled roof. Now the property is all tiled and comes complete with guttering. The

Axbridge Square in the 1970s still in the aftermath of the days when the town bore the brunt of through traffic. Right: as it looks today

Opposite: Cheddar’s market cross in 1890 when there were no cars as such on the road. The view is looking up towards Station Road with the bank in the distance and a number of small shops along where Deane and Co now are. The nearest garden is now an open pavement in front of Chop. Note the amount of horse manure and carts parked somewhat haphazardly along the street.

Above is Sandford and Banwell station in the mid- 20th century and above left as it is now. Unlike so many old stations it wasn’t knocked down but is a preserved Grade II building.

extended doorstep is no longer necessary due to the tarmac surface of the road - no longer a gravel and sand track - and of course yellow lines to stop parking weren’t needed a century ago. The windows may have been replaced but in general they are all still in the same place with some reinstated - while the cottage now has a telephone and a TV ariel - neither of which would have been needed in the age of the horse and cart. The cottage is now owned by the parish council who allow various groups to meet there.

The More sisters started Sunday schools across the region around 1800. In an age when there was no universal education they quickly gathered women and children as willing students as apart from bible studies the schools offered a chance to learn to read and write, as well as instructions on housekeeping.

22 Strawberry Line Times September-October 2012

Pictured left there are two contrasting views of the market cross in Strawberry Line Times September-October 2012

Cheddar - recently hit by a taxi leading to a lengthy repair job. It’s remarkably unchanged but the properties around have been updated and the traffic of horse and carts has been replace by motorists. The central section dates from the 15th century, with the shelter having been rebuilt in 1834. It has a central octagonal pier, a socket raised on four steps, hexagonal shelter with six arched four-centred openings, shallow two-stage buttresses at each angle, and an embattled parapet. In January 2000, the cross was seriously damaged in a traffic accident, repaired and now awaits repair again.

Above, the Grade II listed building of Sandford Station on the Strawberry Line is still largely in tact. It houses a heritage centre and with the addition of rolling stock actually looks much like it did in the 1950s - although the track only runs to a few yards. Note the double track and the posters advertising excursions to London or to the theatre in Weston-super-Mare - all by train of course.


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