Ten Years of The Bridge
“This new community magazine fills the gap left by the demise of the Parish Magazine following the retirement of Greville Wain.” These were the opening words of the first edition of The Bridge in September 2010, written by Clendon Daukes with the title of “Initial Co-ordinator”. He said it was being edited by Geoff and Jenny Smith and would be distributed to residents and businesses in the OX18 4 postcode area. He also expressed the hope that readers would make a modest donation to the running cost. The magazine had 24 pages. It included a number of articles from contributors and quite a few of these, including the Burford and District Society, Tolsey Museum, Oil Syndicate and Burford School, have continued to this day. Some of the original advertisers have also supported us throughout. The design of the magazine including the layout of the front page was Geoff Smith’s work. After a short while, hawk-eyed Judy Cumming joined to do the proof-reading.
In Bridge no. 2 Clendon said that future editions were likely to contain between 12 and 16 pages. He also asked for help with distribution of the magazine and many volunteers came forward. Without these distributors, some of whom are still performing the same service today, The Bridge would have never got off the ground.
In December 2015 Clendon reported that, after producing 58 editions, Geoff and Jenny wished to stand down as they were leaving the area. (Geoff sadly died in 2018). The present editors tentatively expressed interest in taking over from them and soon found themselves with the daunting task of producing 11 editions per year with December off for good behaviour. Armed with a new computer and the latest Apple software, we gradually got into the groove. The basic look of the magazine remains as first designed by Geoff with a few minor tweaks. The biggest change has been the introduction of colour throughout instead of just on the four outside pages. This increased the cost of printing but made the appearance of the magazine more attractive and helped to bring in more advertising. There are a few more features, especially interviews with a range of interesting people who have contributed to life in our patch. Our IT guru, Pete Freeman, set up a new website. This enabled us to provide up-to-date news in a way that it is not possible in a monthly magazine and enabled former residents in distant parts to keep in touch with events here.
The core content of The Bridge has always been news from local clubs, societies, schools and churches but gradually more contributors appeared and a more varied range of articles was published. This also meant that the magazine got bigger, making it a longer read, heavier for the distributors to lug around and more expensive to print. We decided that we would try to keep it to a maximum of 36 pages, going up to 40 for exceptional events such as the Burford Festival for which we gave wide coverage. This meant having to ask contributors to limit the length of their articles to save space. Sometimes we have been forced to hold articles over to a later edition or even omit them altogether. Expansion also took place in the geographical sense as we began to distribute in other villages such as Holwell, Aldsworth, Sherborne, Westwell and Windrush, spreading our area into Gloucestershire. The magazine was called The Bridge to symbolise its role as a link between the whole community of Burford as well as between Burford and surrounding villages. We are always anxious to provide coverage of what goes on in all of our area.
One thing we never expected was to find ourselves in a pandemic and lockdown which caused so many local activities to cease. However our splendid printers, Flying Press in Witney, continued to print and readers continued to provide articles so we have been able to produce the magazine through this challenging time.
The Bridge is distributed free of charge but, like a free lunch, there is no such thing as a free magazine. The magazine is produced entirely by volunteers. Even our accountants, V.J. Hancock & Co, kindly provide their services free and printing is our only expense. Each edition costs about £xxx to print, depending on the number of pages. Most of the cost is covered by advertising, masterminded by our advertising manager Steve Richards, but we are grateful to readers who have made generous donations to help make up the difference. We put the notional price on the front page as a gentle reminder of the approximate production cost of each copy. Sadly in the present economic climate some of our advertisers have said that they wish to cut down on their spending. We have limited reserves so any significant drop in income may mean that we have to produce a slimmer magazine, but we hope it won’t come to that.
Editing the magazine is quite a challenge each month and we know that we may not please everybody all the time. However it is a great privilege to be able to produce something that reaches several thousand people in this part of the world and, we hope, provides useful information and some entertainment. We owe a big thank you to so many: to Geoff and Jenny for setting up The Bridge on such secure foundations; to our contributors, distributors, advertisers, printers, team members, Clendon, Steve, Judy and Pete; and of course to all of you, our readers. We hope The Bridge will still be flourishing in another ten years from now.