Bidford: The Story
Bidford-on-Avon is a well known village that has grown in latter years to about double the size it was twenty years ago. It has its own history, and one family can trace its roots back about 600 years - amazing!
The village has been known as a tourist destination for well over a hundred years and you only have to look at the old postcards printed at the beginning of the 20th century to realize its popularity back then with visitors travelling from Birmingham to spend a day by the river.
Of course, they enjoyed such things as river trips, a drink in one of the then numerous pubs, a walk by the river, visiting the tearooms and so on. Nearby Salford Priors was also popular with the day-trippers who used to come down by train - long before today's traffic!
We mustn't forget another very famous visitor who enjoyed a local hostelry and slept under a tree on his way back home to Stratford one night after a skin full of ale!! Yes, it was none other than William Shakespeare - better known for other things - which, in turn, has brought tourism to Stratford and its neighbouring areas.
Talking about drunkenness - did you know that the local Police house was built in 1898 at the request of the Parish Council who wanted a lock up for the drunks. It's still there with two cells at the back but not in use as a Police station any more. The cells are useful though for storing the village Christmas Lights.
Okay, that's some of the past history. What's it like now?
Well, pretty much the same in a way. It's still a pretty place with its famous bridge built by the monks 600 years ago, and an old Roman road not far away that used to ford the river. Many Anglo Saxon artifacts have been found that are now displayed in museums.
The Big Meadow on the south side of the River Avon is very popular, bringing in lots of visitors throughout the year. The Bidford on Avon and Birmingham Angling Clubs have a big interest in local fishing rights.
There are attractions on the Meadow that bring in the crowds, which we will come on to in a minute, and also a fairly recent phenomenon - the Christmas Lights.
Briefly, the Christmas Lights Committee was formed from local people who wanted to light up Bidford for Christmas. It was a race against time to succeed in this very difficult and involved project from inception to installing the lights in the High Street. How was it done? Well, without doubt, through the hard work and determination of local people from all walks of life, most busy with their own lives and work.
The first switch-on was at Christmas 1999 - a success! Since then the Lights Committee has gone from strength to strength. To raise money for funding the Lights projects, they now include in their annual itinerary a popular Duck Race that takes place in late May or June. They organise dances at the Crawford Hall such as 60's nights, barn dances, etc. that have always proved popular with people.
The culmination of their activities is the switch-on ceremony when a well known celebrity comes along to the village square in High Street and encourages the large crowd with the countdown to the switch-on... and on a dark winter's night, Bidford High Street is transformed from dark to light with an array of colours. There are other attractions for families at the switch-on such as a variety of hot food, dancers, magicians, Christmas carols, and more to keep people entertained.
There are many more activities and interests in the Parish of Bidford, such as lovely walks by the riverside and further into the country if you wish. There is a very active canoe club linked with the Youth Club that has its very own skate park.
Anything else? Surely not in a village? Yes, there is! What about the tennis club, bowling club, cricket team, football, hockey? If you are a fisherman, you are in heaven in Bidford.
There are very many other organisations in Bidford such as the Community Group which organises lots of things, including the very successful Jolly Teapot every Thursday morning where you can have a good old chat. And to keep your energy up, how about a piece of home made cake and a cup of tea or coffee? Bliss!
The Community Group also looks at youth issues and what can be provided for them and parenting and so on.
What about bell ringing at the beautiful St Laurence Church? I am sure you would be welcomed to one of their practice sessions on a Tuesday evening.
Okay, that's enough. Come and visit our village and enjoy what it has to offer (the ducks and swans love a bit of bread).
Oh, and by the way, if you are down by the river watch out for the Kingfishers. But you will have to be sharp because they are very fast. Don't forget the local boat yard where you can hire boats, little and large, to experience the river in a totally different way.
Careful though! Relaxing by, or on, the river at Bidford can totally wipe out your cares and worries. Don't believe me? Try it (and don't forget the picnic)!
With many thanks to Peter Batacanin.