Winsham was a pioneer in the use of the internet to benefit communications within small rural communities in the UK. Luckier than many such communities, broadband arrived in Winsham in 2004, and enjoyed reasonable transmission speeds of between 2-6mbs for most of that time.
Winsham, however, was a pioneer in the use of the Internet before the arrival of broadband in Winsham. Winsham Web Museum was launched in 2002, following some eighteen months of preparation. This was followed in 2004 by the launch of the Winsham Parish Web site. These in turn led, in 2006, to the publication the Winsham E-Letter.
During the years that followed there was a steady growth in the use and general acceptance of these new vehicles of communication, as the use of the Internet was growing at an extraordinary rate. By 2015 some 3 billion people were connected to the world wide web-nearly half the world population. In 2000, the year of conception of the Winsham Web Museum, only 361 million were on line worldwide.
Since around 2005 or so there has also been a rapid growth in the use of mobile connections, with widespread use of Smart phones and Tablets. With this has come the popularity of Social Media-Facebook and Twitter to name just two of the better known. Everyday, millions of people throughout the world connect to social media. By 2015 there had also been considerable increase in the use of the internet for shopping, with the total on line sales in Europe alone being some 364 billion Euros. In Europe, over three quarters of its people have internet access.
In response to the growth in mobile communications, especially among the younger age groups, some of whom were moving away from e-mail and the older technology (PCs and Laptops) on the grounds of cost and convenience, Winsham then introduced its own Face Book and Twitter services to distribute community news and publicise parish events. The PC, Laptop and Tablet remained the best way for most to view substantial blocks of information and many people operate several options, as appropriate to individual need and preference.
Due to the low cost, flexibility and convenience of internet communications, with their deep penetration into society, the UK Government is making their use a statutory requirement for local authorities , including parish councils, in publishing certain types of information. In response to this , in December 2015, Winsham Parish Council went on-line with its own web site.
'Winsham on the Web' is a phrase that was coined in 2004 , with the existence of the Winsham Web Museum, and the launch or Winsham Parish Web Site. It embodied the idea of interconnecting sources of information about Winsham, for the benefit of its residents. By 2015 this idea is reaching fulfilment far beyond anything even thought possible at the time; we suspect that there is still much further to go.
John Sullivan - 26th December 2015
The idea first appeared in 2004, when Winsham Parish Web Site was started as a partner to the Winsham Web Museum, which was launched two years earlier in 2002. It now encompassed a group of on-line sources that provide a wide range of information relating to the Parish of Winsham, in different forms and styles.
Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop and Desk-top equipment are now part of everyday life, and 'Winsham on the Web' caters for all, demonstrating a lively approach to on-line rural community communications, for the benefit of all.
It is difficult to evaluate the benefits of such an idea. However a remarkable thing happened in 2015-the first year that Winsham Facebook and Winsham Twitter made an appearance. The visits to the Winsham Parish Web Site doubled. The Year ending figures increased from 5,934 sessions to 10,822 an increase of 99.07%. The only thing to attribute this increase to is the start and popularity of these two services, and the associated growth of mobile technology, linked, of course to the steady popularity of the e-letter and the Parish Web site, the latter being the bedrock of all the services.
Winsham on the Web currently has six components:
All have their own editors and work independently, but with a common objective of informing users of what is going on in Winsham, and encouraging the spirit of community.
This site was created in response to a statutory responsibility placed upon the Parish Council to publish detailed information to comply with new transparency requirements introduced in 2015.
It carries detailed information about your Parish Councillors, their declared pecuniary interests and contact details, and comes at a time of potentially great change in local government.
It also provides access to minutes and agendas. Details of adopted policies and the agreed Code of Conduct can also be viewed, along with accounting information. And much more. The list is long but can be easily explored using the menu tabs at the top of each web page.
On its 'Community' page, links to a wealth of information will be found, relating to the social support services offered by the County Council, District Council and related bodies. Using this page, the Parish Council will publish information about the policies and programmes it is pursuing.
Its role will develop further as time goes by, as will its relationship with the other members of 'Winsham on the Web'. Switching between this new site and the other elements of 'Winsham on the Web' is very easy. Just look for the logos displayed at the top of this page.
Launched in 2004 as Broadband became available, the Winsham Parish Web Site it quickly became effective as the quickest way of providing information to the Parish.
Previously Notice Boards and the Joint Parish Magazine were the only practical means of delivering information, local, social or otherwise. Today, Winsham Parish Web site carries a vast range of information about all aspects of life relevant to the parish, as well as acting as a portal for medical, emergency and travel services. It also carries 'Market Place' used by local businesses as a low cost method of communicating with the online residents of Winsham.
All the major village resources are represented on the web site, often having their own dedicated area, or by the provision of links to their own web site. The wide use of photographs also helps report on recent past events. After a period of time, if considered significant, they are transferred to the Winsham Web Museum.
With the introduction of the new Winsham Parish Council Web Site, the layout of the Parish Web site has changed. Winsham Parish Web site no longer carries the detail of Parish Council business, although it sometimes publishes comment and supplementary information. 'Winsham on the Web' is the overall concept that brings together all of Winsham's online activities.
Launched in 2002 after eighteen months of preparatory work this was the UK's first museum site to exist solely in cyber space. Remarkably this was done at a time before Broadband was available in the parish, and everything was done at dial-up speeds! In the years that have passed, there have been thousands of visitors to the site, which is also being permanently archived by the British Library.
It seeks to entertain and inform. It covers the thousand years of history, from the time of Winsham's Saxon roots (although a settlement probably existed centuries before, in pre-Roman times). It has no pretensions to be an academic work. It records information as it receives it, much anecdotal, some speculative, although it does contain a lot of documented information as well. For example, it carries records of Parish Council meetings since it was formed at the end of 1894.
It also takes the view that history began yesterday, so it also covers many events that happened just a year or so ago! It is a large site, but easily navigable. It takes many hours to explore thoroughly, but equally rewarding is a short visit to explore just one topic. It contains hundreds of pictures.
With the development of Social Media, and the rapid growth in use of Smart phones and tablets many people, especially younger generations are using Facebook and Twitter as their preferred method of communication. 'Winsham on the Web' has responded, and 2015 saw the introduction of both.
Between them they have a fascinating ability to explore the world both within the parish boundaries and far, far beyond. They are edited by Thomas Harris and Jason Stevens respectively.
No matter where you are, or what time it is, as long as you have an Internet connection or have cell net access, you can keep up-to-date with what is happening in Winsham.
It is in the nature of Social Media to keep spreading. The two examples above relate to the Parish of Winsham, but other Twitter and Facebook pages relating to particular aspect of our community will develop. The St.Stephen's Facebook page is just one example.
The Winsham e-letter was started in October 2006 to supplement the work of the Parish Web site. It is now published each week and is distributed free to over 200 subscribers by e-mail, most of whom live in the village. It has a simple format which lists coming events, supplementary information being provided by hyperlinks to the other components of 'Winsham on the Web'.
Access to the current e-letter (as a .pdf file) can also be achieved through a link from the Home Page of the Parish Web Site, and via the Social Media.
The e-letter also also provides a means of emergency communication with some 70% of Winsham Households. It is also frequently used in the search for lost pets. It also carries links to the web sites of adjacent villages such as Thorncombe and Drimpton. Editor: John Sullivan.
View all the historic e-letters here