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Popular Fakenham historian Dr Mike Bridges remembered as groups celebrate milestones

PUBLISHED: 15:40 24 April 2017

Dr Mike Bridges at the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History. Picture: ARCHANT.

Dr Mike Bridges at the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History. Picture: ARCHANT.

Archant © 2009

A well-loved Fakenham historian who lost a brief battle with a brain tumour last year was fondly remembered at an exhibition giving and insight into the town’s past.

Members of Fakenham's three history groups discuss one of their exhibits.  From left: Harry Yates (Gas Museum), Mike Welland (History Society), Jim Baldwin (Gas Museum), Lyn Maple (Community Archive) and Diana Braithwaite. Picture: PETER BIRD.Members of Fakenham's three history groups discuss one of their exhibits. From left: Harry Yates (Gas Museum), Mike Welland (History Society), Jim Baldwin (Gas Museum), Lyn Maple (Community Archive) and Diana Braithwaite. Picture: PETER BIRD.

Fakenham Heritage Group put on a display at Gallery Bistro on Saturday.

The event marked significant milestones in the work of the three local history groups.

The Fakenham Local History Society is 65 years old, Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History has been running for a quarter of a century and the Fakenham and District Community Archive has been going for a decade.

A celebration cake was cut by Diana Braithwaite, partner of the late Dr Mike Bridges who brought the three organisations together under the umbrella of Fakenham Heritage Group two years ago.

She was presented with a photograph of her late partner in memory of his unstinting work to chronicle and preserve the town’s history.

Lyn Maple, chairman of Fakenham Community Archive, said: “We’ve put on this exhibition to bring awareness of our group to the public’s attention. We want to encourage more people from the Fakenham area to volunteer to help with our work.

“It’s an ever-expanding collection which can be added to on the last Tuesday of each month in Fakenham Parish Church between 2pm and 4pm. Anyone can drop in to see more of the extensive collection and add to it with their own family photographs of bygone times.”

A sample 1,000 pictures can be see on the archive’s website, www.fakenhamcommunityarchive.weebly.com

Harry Yates, director of Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History, said: “The gas museum is of historical importance. It’s a schedule 1 ancient monument and the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales.”

Fakenham Local History Society continually researches local issues and brings them to the public’s notice with a programme of monthly talks.

A man with a passion for his town

Dr Mike Bridges was passionate about the history of Fakenham.

Upon his retirement in the early 1980s the soil surveyor and professor returned to the town having lived in Derbyshire, Swansea and the Netherlands.

He was elected a director of the Fakenham Town Gas Works Museum Trust, and became chairman in 2002.

In 2008 he guided it through accredited status with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission.

In 2010 he brought together the history of Fakenham in a new book – Fakenham-Lancaster – having already collaborated with friend Jim Baldwin on Conflict and Memories, detailing the effects of the Second World War on the town.

Two years ago Dr Bridges brought together Fakenham Local History Society, Fakenham and District Community Archive and Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History under the umbrella of Fakenham Heritage Group.

Dr Bridges died, aged 84, in September last year after a brief battle with a brain tumour.

Fakenham - A Fair Place

Norfolk’s rich archaeological remains go back many thousands of years and Fakenham - a Saxon name meaning Fair Place or Fair River - has seen it all.

The Romans, Boudicca’s Iceni rebellion, the Vikings and the Normans all helping to shape a town granted a market charter in 1250.

In 1066 the Domesday Book listed the town as having 150 residents.

That has grown to more than 7,600 today.

The Fakenham Community Archive has a fascinating collection of some 12,000 pictures chronicling the evolution of the town over the past 150 years.

The group wants people to contribute their own photographs of bygone times at its meetings at Fakenham Parish Church between 2pm and 4pm on Tuesdays.

The photographs can be seen at, www.fakenhamcommunityarchive.weebly.com

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