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Down memory lane as historic road is opened

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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The doors on one of the most architecturally important roads in Street were thrown open to the public as part of the village's heritage weekend.

The event, organised by the Street Society, was one of several taking place across Somerset for this year's Heritage Open Days. On Sunday Wilfrid Road, where all the traditional workers' cottages are Grade II Listed, was closed from 2pm to 5pm and three householders opened their homes for the afternoon. More than 300 visitors came to see the houses, one in each terrace designed by two different Victorian architects and built for C and J Clark employees over 120 years ago. Visitors could enjoy refreshments in the street after visiting the houses.

John Turner, centre manager at Clarks Village and vice -chair of Visit Somerset, said: "Street is an integral part of our county and I am delighted it is being shown off."

The weekend's celebrations began in Strode Theatre on Friday evening with a talk on C and J Clark: The Company and the Family by Charlotte Berry and Tim Crumplin from the Alfred Gillett Trust. This gave a full house a fascinating insight into the founding members of the business and their families together with some of the shoe-making company's background.

During the afternoon pupils from Crispin School entertained everyone with traditional games such as hopscotch, blind man's buff and pick up sticks.

Tales of life at the turn of the century were told by Stuart Packer aka Charles the Timekeeper from the old factory and the Shoe Museum was open.

On Saturday morning there was an opportunity to visit the newly built Alfred Gillett Trust Archive where all the archived items from C and J Clark will be stored in a high-performance building to keep them preserved for many years to come.

Visitors had a brief talk and tour of the refurbished Grange which will become in the near future the home of the trust and provide residents and visitors the opportunity to view articles from the history of the Clark family, the business and Street and will also house the fossil collection.

Kathryn Ferry, author of The Victorian Home, gave a talk on Victorian interior design entitled Aspidistras and Antimacassars at Strode Theatre on Saturday afternoon.

At the end of the weekend the chairman of the Street Society, Nina Swift, said: "We have enjoyed a wonderful weekend."

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