Famous families unite to lay Somerdale foundation stone, Keynsham

Published on: 05 Feb 2016

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February 2016

Holding the same ceremonial tool used to lay the original foundation stone of the Somerdale factory in 1932, the grandson of Cecil Fry laid the first stone in a development that will transform the buildings into a retirement village.

Bath businessman Cosmo Fry was joined by Sir David Wills, patron of the St Monica Trust which is developing the site, on January 11.

Sir David is the great-grand-nephew of the trust’s founders Henry and Dame Monica Wills and he used the same tool that helped lay the charity’s foundation stone in 1920.

The ceremony marks the official start of the £60 million building project to create a 90-bed care home, 151 assisted living apartments, office space and retail units.

An application for a change of use that would allow part of the development to accommodate a relocated St Augustine’s surgery is due to go before Bath and North East Somerset Council’s development management committee on February 10.

Chief executive of the St Monica Trust David Williams said: “The historical relationship between the Wills and Fry family is represented on the University of Bristol coat of arms and both families funded a number of major philanthropic endeavours which were of huge benefit to the people of Bristol.

“With Sir David Wills and Cosmo Fry laying the foundation stone, we are delighted to continue this relationship between the two families through the conversion of the former Fry’s Somerdale factory into our new retirement community.

“We’re extremely grateful to Alan Freke and his colleagues at the Frenchay Museum who kindly loaned us Cecil Fry’s ceremonial mason tools.”

Sir David Wills added: “The Fry and Wills families have had a long association through their charitable bequests to the people of Bristol and it was a wonderful opportunity for the St Monica Trust to purchase the site of the old chocolate factory to build their new Keynsham retirement village.”

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