Proposals to introduce a new memorial to mark the work of Highbridge’s historic old radio communication station have come a step closer this week with good news on funding.
Burnham-On-Sea.com first reported here last week that £15,000 of funding earmarked to a memorial almost ten years ago expires this Thursday, December 14th.
Cllr Janet Keen has been in discussions with Sedgemoor District Council to try and unlock the funding and she told Burnham-On-Sea.com after a council meeting on Monday evening (December 11th) that she is hopeful it will be secured.
“George Wimpey Homes has indicated that it will not claw back the money because the development was delayed years ago, which is very good news and I am hopeful that will get the funding,” she told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
Her comments come after Larry Bennett, a former employee at the station, pictured right, spoke out at a Town Council meeting last week, calling for the old BT radio station site – which played a key role in military communications during World War II, the Falklands War and the Gulf War – to be remembered.
The old station in Highbridge, which was known as Portishead Radio, closed down in 2000 and was bulldozed in 2007 to make way for the Mulholland Park housing development.
Councillors heard that the developer of Mulholland Park potentially agreed at the time to provide £15,000 of so-called ‘106 agreement’ developer cash for a permanent memorial for the former radio station.
However, no memorial has ever been bought or installed – and the ‘106 agreement’ has a 10-year lifespan, which is scheduled to run out on December 14th.
“It’s vital that this historic Burnham building is not permanently forgotten – so much important work went on there for many years which must be properly recognised,” said Larry.
“I know there was £15,000 set aside from the developer to fund a memorial or plaque but I don’t know where the money went or whether it’s still in an account somewhere waiting to be spent. Other former radio stations like this one, have memorials and it would be a shame to see ours just forgotten.”
Town councillors were sympathetic to Larry’s request at the meeting.
Cllr Nick Tolley, right, added: “It’s a very, very important part of our local heritage that must not be lost, but while plaques are brilliant, one at Mulholland Park may not be very visible – so I’d suggest a three-dimensional rock structure somewhere in the town that would have more impact and be visible to visitors.”
Cllr John Parkes said: “So many local people still talk about the important work that went on there all those years ago – I’d support a proper memorial there.”
Cllr Peter Clayton added: “I would definitely support some form of a memorial – it’s an important part of our local history.”