In Bridgwater & the River Parrett, Rod Fitzhugh presents an invaluable record of the heyday of trade on the river when the prosperity of much of Somerset was dependent on access to the sea. From 1200 to 1971 when Bridgwater Docks finally closed, the river was a trading route for cargo. Early wooden craft, then schooners, ketches, other tall-masted ships, and finally steamships, made Bridgwater a leading industrial centre with high employment for ship building as well as brick- and tile-making. Imports, from wine to coal as needs changed through the centuries, ensured the wealth of the area, only declining with the development of the railways. The clanking of cranes was silenced, and the wooden pillars against which the ships had moored at the wharves, slowly sank in the mud.
From the Bristol Channel through Burnham-on-Sea, Highbridge, Combwich, Dunball, Bridgwater, Somerset Bridge, Burrowbridge and finally into Langport, this fascinating selection of photographs, comprising the work of both professionals and gifted amateurs, offers a nostalgic glimpse of an exciting period in the history of the area and, in so doing, throws a fresh light on the present. First published in 1993, this revised and updated edition brings the history of the River Parrett up to date and introduces some fascinating photographic records.