Saturday April 11th saw an interesting event on the Quay when the restored Port Memorial and Ornamental Gardens were re- opened by the Mayor following refurbishment.
Councillor David Howell had also organised a ceremony with the Sea Scouts to bury a time capsule containing items from local groups and organisations within the town, (including 4 years worth of Bideford Buzz on a memory stick.) The plan is that the capsule will be excavated in 30 years time and will give a snapshot of life in Bideford in 2015.
Councillor Peter Christie described the history of the Port Memorial, which commemorates how Bideford regained its port status in 1925 after losing it in 1882. This was echoed in an historical description by the Town Crier.
A rather wonderful terracotta mural has been designed and built by ceramicist Maggie Curtis, and this now forms part of the memorial. Maggie writes ;-
‘Being asked to make commemorative plaques for a public memorial is an honour, but daunting, especially when my knowledge of the history of Bideford Port was sketchy at best. However the research was fascinating; I found out why Harry Juniper called Peter’s Marland clay “pipe clay”, why, when on holiday in Portugal in 1967 at the Cascois’ Fiesta, the prize for the Greasy pole was a salt cod, and why there are so many Americans visiting the North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore.
I decided to show Bideford’s mercantile shipping history by depicting two illustrated trade maps. Bideford’s shipbuilding industry played a crucial part in enabling Bideford’s merchants to trade, so I researched and found named Bideford-built ships throughout the history of both Tobacco and Salt Cod and used them to represent the development of each trade and their subsidiary cargos.’
Interestingly Bideford has two other time capsules in place. Just at the entrance to Victoria Park is the Millennium Time Capsule, buried there in 2000. Another little book, ‘Secrets of Bideford’ (available at Bideford Library) describes the burying of art works in the fabric of the Quay when the flood defence scheme was completed.
Future generations of Bidefordians will have plenty of archive material to peruse!