Rifle Club

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 late 19th and early 20th Century (See Second Boer War).

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.


Photo courtesy of Ann Popham.

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.


5 thoughts on “Rifle Club”

  1. F Chalkley, J Marchent and Wilf Turk all worked for Wallbutton’s Garage. Jack Duffy was a friend of my father. He asked me when I bought my first property “what type of garden do you have?” I said “lawn at the back and rear.” He said “Cassen eat grass!” He also said “The only good flower is a cauliflower.” When he died they put one on the top of the coffin!

  2. Fred and Cyril Smith (both featured in the photo above) were builders who carried out a house renovation for us in Kingsway Road. I was interested in guns (I was 15 at the time) and they very kindly set up a mini range for a .22 air pistol in the house, and then introduced me to the rifle club. I became a member and shot there regularly until I left home two years later. Under their tuition I became quite adept with a rifle. Fred used to amuse my mother as he would often talk about someone “going through a phrase” when he meant to say “going through a phase”.

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