The E. V. Osborne Collection

This collection of ephemera once belonged to E. Veronica Osborne M.B.E. They were acquired from a private dealer by the Heritage Group in October 2020. A Miss V. Osborne is mentioned resigning from Tewkesbury Town Council in April 1946, in order to take up the role of Housing Manager at Bridgwater (Gloucestershire Echo 16 April 1946). She appears regularly in the newspapers thereafter, in relation to housing matters in the town, such as an annual competition for the best garden, and reporting on rent arrears for the council houses.

In 1950 she was elected to the National Council for the Institute of Housing (Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 18 November 1950) In 1956 Osborne was noted as President of the Bridgwater Soroptimist Club (Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser 30 November 1956). That year she was also described as the Bridgwater Borough Head of Welfare (Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 15 September 1956). In 1958 she was also serving as honorary secretary to the Bridgwater Association for the Welfare of Old People (Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 22 March 1958), she was still serving in 1961 (Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 29 April 1961).

A report in the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser for 13 October 1962 reads:

The first woman ever to be chosen President-elect of the Institute of Housing Miss is Veronica Osborne. Bridgwater Town Council’s housing manager. Miss Osborne first became associated with the Institute in the early 1940’s, qualified as an Associate Member in 1944 and a Fellow four years later. She has been a member of the Institute’s National Council since 1950 and has twice been chairman of the South-Western Branch, which covers the six western counties. Apart from her duties as housing manager. Miss Osborne is well known for her social work, including the honorary secretary-ship of the Bridgwater Association for the Welfare of Old People. She will be installed President at the annual conference at Brighton next September

For the opening of Westfield House in 1965 (below) Miss V. Osborne F.I. Hsg. M.R.S.H., is described as Housing Manager for Bridgwater Borough Council. In 1981 she was described as Chief Housing Officer for Sedgemoor District Council (Central Somerset Gazette 03 December 1981).

Bristol Evening Post 29 June 1982:

MISS Veronica Osborne of Wembdon. Bridgwater, is all set to enjoy her retirement now she has left local government, as one of only a few woman to reach the giddy heights of chief officer. She was chief housing officer at Sedgemoor district council since its formation in 1974. Former Redland High School pupil Veronica joined Bristol housing department in 1935. During her ten-year stint there she was responsible for bomb-damaged property in the city. Later she joined Bridgwater borough council as housing manager. Last year her efforts were recognised when she was made an MBE. But she was modest about her career successes. “I had a goal and I worked for it,” she said. “I believe in sex equality and I did not expect preferential treatment from the other chief officers but they were kind and helpful.” She believed that she was lucky as she was never discriminated against in the early days and was encouraged by her superiors.


1957, 15-17 June: In Commemoration of Admiral Robert Blake

1957, Monday 17 June, Tercentenary of Admiral Robert Blake, Civic Luncheon

1960, Information sheet from the Bridgwater Borough Association for the Welfare of Elderly People

1965, Thursday 18 February, Opening of Westfield House

1969, Saturday 1 November, Commemorative Banquet on the Five Hundredth Anniversary of the Mayoralty

1969, Thursday 20 November, Opening of the YMCA, Friarn Avenue

1979 and 1982, Twinning Ceremonies with Schwalm-Eder and La Ciotat

with 1982 Programme for ‘At Home and Abroad’ production by the Bridgwater Amateur Operatic Society

Circa 1954 Annotated Map

An annotated map in the collection (cropped). The base map is by Whitby, Light and Lane, and dates to about 1954 – this will have been removed from a Town Guide. Whether the parade it refers to is contemporary with the map, or several years later when an old map was recycled, is unclear.