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VISITS & WALKS 2014
APRIL     Wednesday 30th   
VISIT TO THOMAS WARE’S TANNERY, BEDMINSTER, BRISTOL  

A group 27 members stepped into a piece of living industrial history with a guided tour of the largest remaining traditional tannery in Britain, led by director Barry Knight.   We learned the processes by which the hides are treated, stood by the tanning pits in which they soak and watched the machines that roll them.  Not to mention the powerful smells that are a by-product of some of the treatment!   At the end we watched elbow grease in action and held some of the finished products.  The company has outlasted its rivals by turning from shoe leather to niche products where the Made in Britain label counts for more than the lowest price.   This was an evening that everyone will remember.  

MAY - Wednesday 14th -  WITLEY COURT AND LEDBURY    
JUNE Saturday 7th - MIDFORD - CANAL AND RAILWAY WALK      
JULY Saturday 5th 
CHIPPING SODBURY   - GUIDED WALK

Local historian Jim Elsworth led a group on fascinating tour of a small town with a long and varied history.  The main streets contain a huge number of buildings that have changed much over the centuries but still stand; it takes an expert eye to spot the many alterations and added facades.  Further from the town centre, we saw the remains of mills and evidence of past industries. 
                         A group of thirty-five enjoyed a varied day, starting with a visit to one of Britain’s two Victorian transporter bridges.   There was a choice between crossing on the suspended gondola or walking the steel gantry 200ft above the River Usk.   We then moved on to Tredegar House, now owned by the National Trust, where we had an “Upstairs Downstairs” tour and discovered how successive generations of the Morgan family accumulated great wealth and then lost it.   The day was rounded off by a short stop at Tintern in warm sunshine.
SEPTEMBER  Saturday 6th  
WELLS, SOMERSET - GUIDED WALK   


Sixteen members and friends enjoyed a walk around the Cathedral precincts and the Market Place, guided by Society member Bob Porton.   With a knowledgeable guide to point out the details, the richness and significance of the hundreds of figures carved on the magnificent West Front of the Cathedral became apparent.  Around the corner, we learned the story of Vicars’ Close, the oldest residential street in England; it was built to make sure that young assistant clergymen had somewhere secure to live, so they had no excuse for being late for early morning services!  
We travelled by coach to the magnificent ruins of
Witley Court in Worcestershire. This stately home
was badly damaged by fire in 1937 but more
destruction was wrought by the scrap merchants
and salvage dealers who owned it subsequently. An
excellent guide explained the history of the house
and owners the Earls of Dudley before giving us the
opportunity to watch the hourly display of one of
the most ornate fountains in the country. Some
members took the opportunity to visit the
adjoining Great Witley Parish Church, which is
decorated in the baroque style, uniquely for a
country church. We returned via the Malvern Hills
and spent an hour in the charming town of
Ledbury with its street of half-timbered buildings.
Society member Richard Dyson took a small group of
members on a walk that stretched some to their limit!
First we explored the remains of the Somersetshire Coal
Canal at Midford, then walked along the line of the canal
to Tucking Mill, where we saw the real home of geologist
William Smith (which is not the one with the plaque).
After climbing up to the cycle path built recently along the
track-bed of the Somerset and Dorset Railway we walked
through both the Two Tunnels, the first being over a mile
in length, before returning to our cars near Bloomfield
Road.
AUGUST Wednesday 6th - NEWPORT - TRANSPORTER BRIDGE AND TREDEGAR HOUSE