The 50th anniversary of the granting of the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Coat of Arms was marked at a special function on Monday evening (February 7th).
Over 30 people attended a special celebration at the Town Council Chambers in Jaycroft Road, hosted by Mayor and Mayoress, Michael and Maria Clarke, to mark the anniversary of the granting of the Coat of Arms to Burnham Urban District Council on February 1st, 1961.
Diana Lee, who designed the coat of arms as a 17 year-old teenager, and won a competition to be the official emblem, displayed her original artwork.
It features the low lighthouse, a setting sun, several bulls heads at Highbridge Market, water and golden sand plus the wording ‘lumen monstro pro salute’ which translates as ‘a great light to greet you’ referring to the lighthouse.
The original charter awarding the Coat of Arms to the towns was also on display during the event.
During Monday’s ceremony, Cllr Neville Jones recounted the history behind the crest, saying: “Following the Queen’s visit to Burnham Radio Station in 1958, the Archaeological Society suggested to the Urban Council that in view of her visit the two towns had gained considerable recognition and that the council should apply to the Royal College Of Arms for its own coat of arms.”
“An unofficial shield displaying arms, such as the one at the water fountain in Pier Street and erected in 1887 to mark Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, had been in common use. An artist also designed a ‘mock coat of arms’ which was based loosely around the Reed family and used on little china objects as souvenirs for Burnham.”
“The urban council, having been asked to submit a design, needed some idea of what they wanted. This is where Diana Lee, a 17 year-old, came in to draw the basic design, which was enhanced with supporters and topped with an ‘heraldic helmet’, the lighthouse.”
“Once the design had been chosen, the wheels were set in motion for the work to go ahead. The necessary cash had to be found and a fund was launched by the Chamber of Trade to raise £175 – probably about £4,000 in today’s currency – to cover the costs.”
“The granting of the coat of arms in February 1961 was a time of great joy and both towns had a chance to enjoy the occasion. After the ceremony, there was a large gathering at the Queen’s Hotel for a celebratory dinner.”
Among those present at this week’s 50th anniversary ceremony were Brian Watkis, Chairman of Burnham Urban District Council from 1971-72; Mr H Bristow, Chairman of the Urban District Council in 1970; Colin Morris, former member of the Urban District Council; Harvey Mayhew, engineer of the Urban District Council; John Williams, Admin Officer of the Urban District Council; Pat Pusill, daughter of the late Mrs Evelyn Herring, Chairman of the Urban District Council 1958-61 and Pam Lyes, granddaughter of Fred King, past Chairman of Highbridge Urban District Council; and Diana Perry (nee Lee).
The charter will shortly go on display in the window of the St Margaret’s Hospice shop in Burnham High Street.