Observations on a tour through almost the whole of England, and a considerable part of Scotland, in a series of letters, addressed to a large number of friends, by Mr. Dibdin.
London, G. Goulding, 1803 2 vol This extract is from Volume 1
Charles Dibdin 1745-1814 was a composer, musician, dramatist, novelist and actor. This letter is addressed to ‘Mr John Sheldon’, This is probably John Sheldon (1752 to 1808) a surgeon and anatomist, who at that time was employed at the Devon and Exeter Hospital. The letter was dated March 30, 1800.
On Friday the twenty-fourth, I arrived at Bridgewater, where I found myself among your friends. This town is situated on the river Parret, and though oddly and irregularly arranged, is large and populous, From many causes it is an opulent and a rich town. I before observed that I found it the only place, except Exeter, where I was refused paper for money. It is extremely well situated, so as to enjoy the benefits of navigation. Vessels of two hundred tons may come up to the quay; the head of which is ornamented by a beautiful iron bridge, rather larger I believe than that at ColebrookDale, but not so large as that at Sunderland.
Its foreign trade extends chiefly to Portugal and Newfoundland, and the receipt of the customs amounts annually to a large sum. Birmingham, Sheffield, and Wolverhampton articles are largely manufactured here, and a spirit of industry and its concomitant content are manifested in the opulence and independence of the neighbourhood. The coasting trade of Bridgewater is to Bristol, Wales and Cornwall. Its imports are various; one great article is wool from Ireland. The tide comes in so rapidly that in half an hour and often I believe a shorter time, the water raises from twelve to eighteen feet perpendicular. At these times are washed in a prodigious quantity of fish, sometimes of such kinds as they are not always taught to expect; the shrimps, however, which are beyond doubt the finest in England, come every day in shoals
Transcribed by Tony Woolrich.