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‘Every picture tells a story’: exhibition to explore village life through the lens

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 March 2017

First at the tape is Mrs. Mary Garner, of Banwell, followed by Mrs. Jeanne Endicott and Mrs. Rebecca Lynham, both of Wrington.

First at the tape is Mrs. Mary Garner, of Banwell, followed by Mrs. Jeanne Endicott and Mrs. Rebecca Lynham, both of Wrington.

Archant

Hangings and royalty aren’t usually topics people would associate with the quiet village of Wrington – but a new photography exhibition set up by villagers is aiming to shed light on the community’s fascinating past.

The village, nestled in the foot of the Mendip Hills, will soon be home to a collection of rich historic photographs – some dating back more than 100 years – telling the forgotten tales of villagers past.

The project, which has been named Wrington Thru The Lens, is aiming to bring together photographs, postcards and images which tell the story of Wrington’s social and industrial history.

It will formally launch at a two-day exhibition later this year, but villagers are being urged to submit their old pictures, stories and memories of life in Wrington in advance for inclusion.

The idea was the brainchild of villager John Rubidge, who was inspired by an exhibition he previously took part in elsewhere in the country.

Somerset's last horse collar maker, Tom Mellet, pictured at his workshop in Wrington in 1955. Somerset's last horse collar maker, Tom Mellet, pictured at his workshop in Wrington in 1955.

He told the Mercury the project had already been met with great enthusiasm and had revealed some wonderful tales of village life.

John said: “In Wrington we’re now on a quest to get access to as many old photographs, postcards and other images that tell the story of the village’s social and industrial history.

“During the next few years, a group of volunteers aims to scan images to create a digital archive of Wrington, as captured on camera.

“As the saying goes, every picture tells a story, and we hope to eventually create an e-book and hardback book of the exhibition telling the stories behind the pictures.”

The view from Wrington Church in 1925. The view from Wrington Church in 1925.

What stories have already been told?

Some of the pictures which John and his helpers have already discovered offer a fascinating glimpse of Wrington’s history.

Wrington village views. Wrington village views.

One image depicts the village’s old hanging tree, where deserters were hanged during the reign of King James II in the late 17th century, while others showcase the eclectic mix of people who make up Wrington’s history.

People can see what villagers enjoyed for leisure in the early 20th century in one picture, which shows the Wrington Bell Ringers enjoying a day out in 1919.

Another photo shows Princess Diana opening a new rehabilitation centre at Barley Wood House in 1989, which is now owned by the YMCA.

In John’s opinion, one of the most interesting pictures submitted so far tells the story of horse collar maker Tom Mellet.

Wrington village views. Wrington village views.

The image was taken in 1955 and shows Mr Mellet hard at work in the village.

John said: “Tom Mellet was the last horse collar maker in Somerset.

“His workshop was in Wrington, where he provided local horse owners with the traditional horse collar and harnesses for more than 30 years.”

S.O. Kingcott garage, Wrington, opening of their new workshop. S.O. Kingcott garage, Wrington, opening of their new workshop.

How you can get involved

Wrington Thru The Lens will be formally launched at an exhibition, which will take place from April 30 to May 1 at the Memorial Hall in Silver Street. The exhibition will be open from 2-6pm on April 30 and 10am-5pm on May 1.

A photographic competition – with prizes available in both children’s and adult categories – to celebrate the project’s launch is also taking place in advance of the show. The winners of each category will be announced at the exhibition.

If you have old photos of Wrington which you’d like to share with the project, or you would like details on how to enter the competition, you can contact John via email at rubidge7@aol.com or by phoning 01934 863138 or 07515 283382.

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