The Beacon

Presented by Chard 2000. June 1993. Historically beacons were fires which played a key role in the networks of local and regional communications.


Beacons historically were fires lit at well-known locations on hills or high places, and either used as lighthouses for navigation at sea, or for signalling over land that enemy troops were approaching, in order to alert defences.


Beacons and lookouts played a key role in the networks of local and regional communications of Anglo-Saxon England during the Viking Age (ninth to eleventh centuries).


Using bonfires for signalling we have to keep in mind that it is a simple form of communication, relying on the visibility of smoke during daylight and of fire-light during the darkness of night to convey messages that have been pre-determined. Their effectiveness was very much dependent on clear visibility, and it is likely that they fell out of use in poor winter weather conditions.


Now a days we use Beacons to celebrate special occasions especially royal occasions.


During Chards Millennium celebrations on December 31 1999, four columns of light lead up to the beacon starting at different locations. The millennium Committee and the town’s churches organized the processions that brought people to Mitchell Gardens for the grand fireworks display that greeted the year 2000 shortly after midnight.


Each of the parades started at about 11.20pm one from the toll house on Snowdon Hill, one from Glynswood/Crimchard, one from Avishayes Road and one from Forton Road.


The grand finale started at 1150pm at Mitchell Gardens when the crowds were welcomed by Hugh Rodway.


After a quiet moment of reflection, the countdown to midnight began. As the clock struck twelve, the beacon was lit, by the Mayor of Chard, Jean Smith, the year 2000 was greeted with a spectacular fireworks display organized by Nick Hebditch began.