The foundation stone has been laid at the former Somerdale factory in Keynsham to mark the start of building works at the St Monica Trust’s fifth retirement community.
The stone was jointly laid by Bath businessman, Cosmo Fry (left) and Patron of the St Monica Trust, Sir David Wills (right).
Sir David Wills is the great-grand-nephew of Henry and Dame Monica Wills who founded the award-winning charity in 1925.
Cosmo Fry’s grandfather, Cecil Fry was the Chairman of J.S. Fry & Sons for 28 years and was hugely influential in the confectionary company’s move from central Bristol to the Keynsham site.
Cosmo Fry said: “It was very nice to be part of the ceremony and I’m thrilled that the original factory buildings are staying up. It’s not only a testament to how well they were made in the first instance, but also because they have such a presence about them.”
Celebrating a historical relationship
Sir David Wills and Cosmo Fry used the same ceremonial mason tools which were used to lay the Somerdale factory’s and the St Monica Trust’s original foundation stones in 1932 and 1920, respectively.
Chief Executive of the St Monica Trust, David Williams said: “The historical relationship between the Wills and Fry’s 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.”
A pair of silver ceremonial trowels from the 1920s
Opening Summer 2017
The laying of the foundation stone marked the official start of building works at the £60 million retirement community which is due to open in Summer 2017.
The redevelopment of the former chocolate factory will create 151 assisted living apartments and a 90-bed care home, as well as office space, retail outlets and leisure facilities for the local community.
Sir David Wills, said: “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.”
The St Monica Trust retirement community is part of the wider Somerdale development by Taylor Wimpey, who are creating 700 homes, a new club and conference centre, a primary school and nursery, shops and sports pitches.
Please contact the St Monica Trust on 0117 949 4004 for further details or complete our online registration form.