Topsham has a rich inheritance of townscape in a uniquely scenic setting, but in the early 1960's the Town had entered a period described at the time as 'a period of genteel decline'. Several attractive buildings were in danger of being cleared or re-developed in less than sympathetic ways. In response to this challange, a group of people who cared about the historic character and built environment of the Town and wished to maintain and improve it for the future, formed The Topsham Society.
Today we have around 400 members who pay a small annual fee and elect a Committee to look after our main areas of interest. These include Planning and Architectural quality, the Preservation and Improvement of features of historic or public interest and Education. The Committee represents a wide area of Topsham interests, and keeps in touch with Members by monthly items in the Estuary magazine and a bi-annual Newsletter. We also work in close liaison with the Topsham Community Association and the Topsham Museum Society, and there is overlapping Committee Membership between our organisations.
Over thirty years ago, The Topsham Society published what has proved to be a very popular ‘Account of the Streets and Buildings of Topsham'. This took the form of a book, with strip illustrations of the buildings, drawn by Committee Member Caroline Oboussier. This publication was recently updated and extended, and it continues to be a valuable way of disseminating information about the quality and character of buildings in the Town.
In responding to new development proposals, we encourage sympathetic improvements to the submitted plans. In support of this, in 2005 we initiated a scheme which we call the ‘Enhancing Topsham Awards’. This recognises and celebrates new developments and projects which enhance and improve our Town and has played a positive part in our efforts to promote high standards in planning and architecture.
Other areas of activity include planting trees and caring for open areas, organising guided town walks and a programme of talks and visits (see 'activities' section of this website) and the annual award of The Topsham School Trophy, for a piece of writing, poetry, painting or collage, by schoolchildren attending Topsham School, and based usually on the theme of the Topsham Museum's annual Exhibition.
TOPSHAM SOCIETY: STRATEGY 2013
The objects of the Society are:
Topsham in this context includes Topsham and its surroundings.
This paper is intended as the basis for the development of the work of the Committee and sets the scene for members as to why we do certain things and why we refer other matters to the other community groups in the town.
The initiative introduced some six years ago to develop a Design Statement falls within this objective and the Society will maintain such a document, updated at no less than [five] year intervals. In preparing an updated statement the Society will take a view based on discussions with the planning authorities and the provisions of the Local Plan. It will consult with members and the population of Topsham as a whole before finalising the document. The Design Statement (or Townscape Review) will provide guidance to the Committee when responding to planning applications. It will be recommended to any person wishing to build or make alterations to a property who seeks guidance before a formal planning application.
Education of the public