Famous Visitors


We have no firm evidence as yet but it is possible that Turner might have visited and painted in  Burnham. One of his paintings, dated 1781 is titled “View In The Avon Gorge”. It is known that he toured Bath and Malmesbury that year. It is also known that he undertook a tour of the West country July – September 1811. A page on The Tate website says he also visited Devon in 1813. Within this context one might give weight to the two clippings below, the first from the Bridgwater Mercury Burnham Visitors List for 1890, the second undated, found among the Dupuis Diaries:

Please let us know in the Comments at the end of the page if you have any other information about this.


Some readers may remember the Grove family from BBC TV in the 1950’s.

The Grove Family was a British television series soap opera, generally regarded as the first of its kind broadcast in the UK, made and broadcast by the BBC Television Service from 1954 to 1957. The series concerned the life of the family of the title, who were named after the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios where the programme was made.

The programme was written by Roland and Michael Pertwee, the father and elder brother respectively of actor Jon Pertwee. As was common for British television at the time, the series was broadcast live and very few episodes survive in the archives: only three of the original 148 episodes. – Wikipedia

We believe this photo shows the TV family visiting Burnham but we are not sure just where it was taken, can anyone help?


Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip visited Highbridge Radio Station in 1958.

The Royal couple arrived by Royal Train at Highbridge and were received at the Radio Station shortly after 10 a.m. by Postmaster General Ernest Marples. They were to observe a demonstration of the working of the station and the Queen was to send a message to the ship ‘Empress of  Britain’. Following this they rejoined the Royal Train and left for engagements in Bristol.

Arriving at Highbridge Station.

The Queen signs the visitors book.

Thanks to John Davey for scans

Footage from Norman Gobey’s films posted on YouTube by Digibee 1:




1988, Princess Ann opens Save the Children shop in Regent Street .

Is the gentleman accompanying her Admiral Sir Mark Pizey?

Photos courtesy of Ann Popham (in picture at right with camera).

Below is a souvenir scroll of the Town Crier’s announcement, signed by him.



In 1994 Burnham featured in the Challenge Anneka T.V. programme. Anneka Rice enlisted free voluntary services from local industry to complete a new building to house the BARB hovercraft within 72 hours. The project had been initiated by Charles Hall, BARB Secretary contacting the programme.

Photo courtesy of Ann Popham.
The ‘Challenge Anneka Battle Bus’



The New Theatre in Princess Hall was opened by Princess Alexandra 1995

Thanks to Ann Popham for these three pictures.



Prince Edward visited BARB in 2009 to mark the 5th anniversary of the Spirit of Lelaina going into operation, and again in 2014 to unveil sea-front information panels.

Thanks to Ann Popham for photos.



Danny La Rue appeared at a Save the Children charity fete at the Manor Gardens. Does anyone know when?

Photos courtesy of Ann Popham.



Frankie Howerd, well known musical hall , radio & TV comedian from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, was perhaps best known for his TV series ‘Up Pompeii’. He lived in Cross for the last 20 years of his life, was a regular visitor to Burnham.


RICHARD WYATT (TV Broadcaster)

3 thoughts on “Famous Visitors”

  1. Hi all. The visit by the Queen to the radio station has one fact incorrectly stated. The Queen was on her own for the visit. The Duke of Edinburgh had been delayed in Europe by bad weather, probably fog. The printed programme would not have been altered at the last minute so anyone reading the article would assume they were both present.

  2. I have a feeling the man accompanying Princess Ann may be Colonel Mitford-Slade, the then Lord Lieutenant. I keep in touch with his daughter, Carolyn, so will ask her. A wonderful man with a great sense of humour and warmth

    1. Thanks for your observation Justin, you may well be right. As we now have the date of Princess Anne’s visit as 1988 that would make Admiral Pizey about 90, which is older than the gentleman in the pictures looks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *