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 300 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, and the preservation and improvement of features of historic or public interest. 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 30 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 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. Copies are available - see Publications.
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; a programme of talks and visits detailed in the 'Activities' section of this website; and the annual award of The Topsham School Cup, for a piece of writing, poetry, painting or collage, by schoolchildren attending Topsham School.
TOPSHAM SOCIETY: OBJECTIVES
The objectives of the Society are:
Topsham in this context includes Topsham and its surroundings.
The Society is not obliged to deliver against all of the objectives, but as a registered charity is restricted by law to undertake only activities which fall within its objectives.
This brief provides the basis for 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.
To promote high standards of planning and architecture
Education of the public
The Society arranges a programme of guided walks in the Conservation Area of the town during the summer months. These walks are scheduled to run twice per week at fixed times on a “turn up and walk” basis or by prior agreement at other times for groups visiting the town.
The Society also reviews from time to time the status of buildings and structures within the town to raise with the appropriate bodies the use of listed status to protect them. It makes formal application for listing as appropriate.
The Enhancing Topsham Award, a competition held annually to recognise works which contribute to the townscape, makes awards based on nominations from members and others. It recognises all the parties involved in the winning developments, which may have a social as well as a structural element to them.
Joint representation on issues affecting the town