A report in the Western Herald & Bridgwater mercury of 16th November 1859 describes a meeting to explore the creation of a Rifle Corps for Burnham and its neighbourhood as part of the “national patriotic volunteer rifle movement” (a citizen army of part-time rifle, artillery and engineer corps, created as a popular movement throughout the British Empire in 1859, in response to the Crimean War.) By this time Polden Hill already had a corps and it had become apparent that there were many people in the Burnham area aiming to join this despite the distance. The prime mover in the initiative, Mr B.T. Allen, established that there were 45 people in the Burnham area wishing to form a corps with a membership of one guinea per annum and prepared to provide their own outfit. It was noted that the beach would afford “ample space for practice”. Mr Allen was also able to solicit support and subscriptions from a number of “gentlemen’ in the region.
It is known that Burnham still possessed a Rifle Corps in 1867 (Report in Western Gazette 4/10/1867) and on into the 1880’s.
Whether this became the foundation of the thriving sporting club activity often mentioned in the local press of the late 19th & early 20th centuries is not known.
Back row: J. Duffy, A. Young, A. Lee, T. Bennett, A. Rich, C. Smith, L. Emery, W. Kingston, W. Ballett, J. Allen, W. Simpson.
Front Row: F. Chalkley, J. Marchent, J. French (Hon. Sec.), M. Burford, (Chairman), H. Marchent (Vice Chairman), W. Turk (Capt), F. Smith (Vice Capt), H. Rice.