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Day Out

You are in: Wiltshire > History > Archive Films > Day Out > Day Out: Bradford-on-Avon

'Day Out' opening titles

'Day Out' opening titles

Day Out: Bradford-on-Avon

Watch a BBC West programme made in 1978 whose presenter spends a day exploring the historic Wiltshire town of Bradford-on-Avon and its history.

'Day Out' was a BBC West region television programme which ran for a number of series between 1977-1988.

Each half-hour episode saw one of the presenters - Derek Jones, Gwyn Richards or Barry Paine pay a visit to a different town in the South West - explore parts of interest, and reflect upon the area's history.

In terms of historical research, each programme is as valid today as when it was made. And it's fascinating to see how the many Wiltshire locations they visited then looked in the mid 70s to early 80s.

Broadcast on 31st October 1978 was an edition of the show which centred on the historic Wiltshire town of Bradford-on-Avon - one of the most picturesque towns in the county.

Presenter Gwyn Richards in Bradford-on-Avon

Presenter Gwyn Richards in Bradford-on-Avon

Presenter Gwyn Richards begins his day out by cycling into the town centre down the steep, winding Silver Street.

As Richards cycles across the ancient Town Bridge over the River Avon, his narration explains that Bradford-on-Avon got its original name 'Broad Ford' because the town centre developed around the ford across the river.

At the bridge, Richards visits the 'Blind House' building - thought to have started life as a tiny chapel but eventually became a mini lock-up for drunken undesirables.

On his journey up and through the town, Richards (now on-foot) reflects on its history as a woolen and textiles town. The woolen industry thrived for many years in Bradford but eventually fell away in the late 19th century and the mills that were left were redeveloped.

The view of Bradford from St Mary's Tory on North Hill

The view of Bradford from St Mary's Tory

After bravely navigating the impossibly steep alleyways, Richards' uphill journey reaches St Mary's Tory chapel on North Hill. There he marvels at the outstanding view of the town that people have admired for centuries.

Once Richards has returned to the town centre, he discusses the industry which took the place of wool and textiles once their production had declined in Bradford.

In 1848 a man called Stephen Moulton returned to the UK from America with the secret of using sulphur to vulcanise rubber.

On staying with a friend in the town he realised that Bradford offered everything he needed for his new rubber industry - a labour force, empty woolen mills and water.

By 1978 when this programme was made, rubber was still being produced in the town at Avon Industrial Polymers, a company derived from Moulton's own.

Richards and local bicycle inventor Alex Moulton

Richards and local bicycle inventor Alex Moulton

As Richards notes, one of the products they were mass producing at the time was skateboard wheels! The skateboard craze was at its peak in 1978.

In another connection with Stephen Moulton, Richards visits The Hall, a beautiful Elizabethan mansion that Moulton restored. At The Hall, Richards meets his great grandson, Dr Alex Moulton - the English engineer and inventor who specialises in cycle suspension design.

Dr Moulton demonstrates the classic small-wheel bicycle he invented and reflects on his family history in Bradford.

Towards the end of his day out in Bradford-on-Avon, Richards visits the huge, historic medieval Tithe Barn. It was constructed in the 14th century and survives to this day almost completely intact.

Richards at the historic Tithe Barn

Richards at the historic Tithe Barn

Tithe Barn was built as part of the monastic medieval estate of the Abbess of Shaftesbury.  In the programme, Richards explains that currently the estate was being restored by local man Michael Parry who hoped to turn the complex into a craft centre.

Richards began his day out in Bradford-on-Avon on a bicycle and when his wanderings finally come to end he is shown catching a No. 264 Bath bus out of the town.

'Day Out: Bradford-on-Avon' is a fascinating programme which delves deep into the history of one of Wiltshire's most well-known towns. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in Bradford's rich historical heritage or who has ever lived in, or visited the area.

last updated: 19/08/2008 at 15:35
created: 19/08/2008

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