Sampson Society

Jonathan Ball MBE, our speaker at this year’s annual lunch sent us the following comment:

I really must say I found the Sampson Society amazing …. there cannot be many communities so blessed with a caring civic group with so much devotion and a resource base to ensure their voice is heard …. Bravo say I ! …..


Stuart Line Cruise on board the “Tudor Rose”.  Not all of you may know that we had to cancel our Cruise in July due to there being so many other events being held on the same day and consequently a lack of numbers booking.  So, NEXT YEAR’s cruise will be on the evening of Saturday 16th June.  Further details will follow in due course, but you may wish to note the date in your diary.

Walking Tours - In June, Martin Mallinson organised two identical Walking Tours of Bickwell Valley for an hour or so preceded by coffee.  These were well paced and well informed.  There may be further demand for a Bickwell Valley tour but meanwhile Martin is now planning a Town Centre tour either side of Easter 2018 and further details will follow in our next Newsletter. 

If anyone would like to hold another Appreciation Visit one weekday morning, Martin will prepare a history of your house:  please be in touch.  For new members, these take the form of coffee on arrival, Martin giving a talk on the history of your house and a look round whichever rooms you wish to make available to look at the architectural style.

AGM – Monday 23rd October at 6pm at the Kingswood Hotel on the Esplanade.  This is usually a convivial affair with a complimentary glass of wine after the short business of the evening.  Edmund Harrison, our Vice-Chairman wishes to step down as Vice-Chairman due to other commitments but he is, thankfully, willing to remain on the committee as his knowledge of and long association with Sidmouth is invaluable.  We are now looking for nominations for Vice-Chairman which should be with the Secretary by Monday 16th October.  

Christmas Drinks and Buffet – Sunday 10th December at Noon.  Nicky and Graham Davies are our hosts again at their lovely home, Trow Hall.  Tickets, costing £12.50 each will be available for purchase at Sidsoft in Church Street from Wednesday 1st November.  If you are not able to get to Sidsoft, please e-mail Alan Weaver at his address below.  Due to space, this is a Member only event, but if you have house guests whom you wish to invite, our ‘one member, one guest’ rule applies.

Friday 9 March 2018 – Annual Lunch at the Victoria Hotel – further details to follow, but please note the date in your diary.

Alma Bridge update – your Society has been asked to put forward suggestions to Sidmouth Town Council regarding the positioning, on view to the public, of the preserved side walls and parapet of Sampson’s Alma bridge.  There is no ‘bridge element’ in what remains but is of historical interest.  We plan to discuss this at our AGM.

Spotlight on Alma Bridge

Extracted from ‘Sampson’s Sidmouth’ – In 1846 the Sid Vale Association agreed to build a bridge near the mouth of the river Sid, but the wife of the Lord of the Manor for Salcombe Regis, Mrs Cornish, refused to grant access.  Eventually a deputation met Mrs Cornish and she finally consented.  After much discussion an iron bridge was agreed, but the money was not forthcoming, therefore a wooden structure was approved.  It was to be made out of the timber salvaged from the shipwrecked ‘Laurel” and would cost £26.10s.

The bridge was named ‘Alma Bridge’ after the Battle of Alma in 1854 in the Crimean War.  The bridge was erected by July 1855 but in 1877 it was severely damaged and was nearly washed away.

In October 1895 it was proposed to build a new bridge and a letter was written to the then Lord of the Manor for Salcombe Regis, Robert Kestell Cornish, Bishop of Madagascar who was abroad at the time.  His permission had to be obtained.

Mr Sampson was asked to design and prepare specifications and get tenders for a wooden bridge on brick piers to be built at the same place as the existing bridge.  (It is not known if the above gentleman is Mr Sampson, but it is likely to be so, dressed as he is and with a plan in his hand!  He would have been aged 34 at the time)

Tenders were accepted from Mr Butters for the bridge and Messrs Skinners for the brickwork.  The new Alma Bridge was opened in November 1900.  It looks like they had someway to go to open in November if the date of the above photograph is correct.

We regret that we are not able to display he photos mentioned above which are in our original Newsletters.