The club was officially formed in 1935, when four farmers donated £5.00 each, they were Mr. Tom Tripp, Mr. Gilbert Gilling, Mr. Ben Arney and Mr. Jim Tewksbury. The club started as a type of “calf club” where sons and daughters (approx ages 10 – 26 years) of farmers and farm workers could have a ‘hands on’ type of practical education. This often included rearing a calf or other farm livestock. At that time, most of the milking was done in the lush green fields and all cows were milked by hand. The young farmers motto was “Good Farmers” “Good Countrymen” “Good Citizens”Many of the members went on to run or managed their own family farm. The Young Farmer Movement was also known as the rural country marriage bureau. Highbridge Y.F.C. held their first meetings in the upstairs of a stone barn, reached by an outside stone stairs – with no rail! – (There was no health and safety then), and no record of anyone falling off. The stone barn belonged to Mr Willie Ashford of Bridge Farm, now Highbridge Caravan Centre. Over the years the club has held their meetings in the Adult School, in Church Street.now converted into a house, also in the Council Chamber of the old Town Hall, at the “George Hotel” and at present in the “Cooper’s Arms”.
The farming industry changed a lot during the second world war, the horse became less practical than the tractor; when the country had to become self-sufficient, to produce enough food to sustain a wartime economy. Mechanisation was the priority and this led farmers into the expansion era of the fifties and sixties.
Highbridge Young Farmers entered a float in the 1960 carnival. A trailer was borrowed from Mr. E.J. Tucker and construction headquarters were set up in “Southview Farm”, the “Watchfield Inn” and the much loved “Railway Hotel”. A month was spent dreaming up ideas for a subject to be acted out, and two or three weeks building produced what was called, “Motorway Madness”, depicting the construction of the then proposed M5 Motorway. This was the Clubs first very amateurish effort and sadly their last, as the Highbridge carnivals ceased in 1960.
In 2002 Highbridge Y.F.C. progressed to the National Y.F.C. Entertainments Final and came 2nd.
Highbridge Y.F.C. has evolved with the times, many of the members are third generation of the original members, they still have speakers at meetings but with more varied subjects, from Falconry – Bomb Disposal – the effect of Drugs and Alcohol etc. Money is raised for charities with carol singing and holding slave auctions; in 2002/3 monies were raised for the Air Ambulance. The club has approximately 35 members, but few members are actively working in agriculture; a sign of the times. The motto is the same but with more emphasis on the “Good Countryman” – “Good Citizen” then “Good Farmer”.
(Information supplied by Mrs. Wendy Welland. Field Officer for Y.F.C.’s in the Sedgemoor Area).