Keynsham has always been recognised for its historical links to Fry’s chocolate, but more recently a focus on creativity has led to success stories in the worlds of music, books and baking as Rachel Mead discovers.

Great British Life: Chcolate Factory dining. Photo: Rachel MeadChcolate Factory dining. Photo: Rachel Mead


The last Double Decker chocolate bar may have rolled off the Somerdale production line over a decade ago, but with thanks to the St Monica Trust, the historical factory buildings of Cadbury and Fry have seen the successful development of a new community in these iconic buildings. The wider Chocolate Quarter features a care home, retirement apartments and the addition of dining and leisure facilities which are open to the wider community. In its heyday the factory produced 57,000 tonnes of chocolate each year, including firm British favourites such as the Crunchie, Picnic, Curly Wurly and Turkish Delight. The historical connotations are still in place with local sports clubs using ‘Fry’ in their team names, plus, the Somerdale Pavilion park run each Saturday has been affectionately nicknamed the ‘Curly Wurly’ as the route whirls around the ShamXross cyclo-cross course.

Less than a mile away, you can walk past the remains of Keynsham Abbey and through Keynsham Memorial Park before arriving at the busy hub of Temple Street. Currently undergoing a heritage-led renewal programme which aims to boost the high street to even more vibrant climes you’ll find a hive of local businesses which are welcoming the introduction of parklets and shopfront improvements. Councillor Mark Roper, cabinet member for Economic Development, Regeneration and Growth says ‘This important project will improve the whole environment of Temple Street and continue to make Keynsham town centre more attractive for residents, businesses, tourists and investors. There is a rich heritage in Keynsham that we hope to encourage more people to engage with and enjoy.’

Great British Life: Parklet co-designed by Meristem Design and Keynsham community members. Photo: Bath and North East Somerset CouncilParklet co-designed by Meristem Design and Keynsham community members. Photo: Bath and North East Somerset Council

As Temple Street merges into the High Street, you’ll be perfectly located to pick up Keynsham’s Discovery Trail. The 1.5-mile walk begins at the Clock Tower which itself tells the story of the town through a series of stained-glass depictions. Take note of the image of a woman with a red halo and golden cup for that is St Keyna, a holy woman who is believed to be the inspiration behind the town’s name. The trail will take you through Keynsham’s 2000 years of change with highlights along the route including a selection of churches, mills and taverns. Visiting the library is also recommended where you can see unearthed Roman mosaics, and old-fashioned Lisbon pans and Guinea kettles from the days when Keynsham manufactured brass goods.

You won’t be short of options when it comes to finding a place for a cuppa or a meal in Keynsham. Locals recommend Savour (previously known as Temple Street Canteen) and local baker and cake maker, Crumbs. If you’re after more of a meal, Dalia Cocina serves up locally-sourced street food with a Mexican vibe, and chippy, Seafood Plus, is renowned for fresh fish and chips, though be sure to get there early, queues go round the block on Fridays!


Great British Life: Giuseppe Dell'Anno. Photo: Matt RussellGiuseppe Dell'Anno. Photo: Matt Russell

Giuseppe Dell’Anno

You moved to the Keynsham area 20 years ago. What brought you to this part of Somerset?

I needed to be near the Bristol area for work. Before my time on the Great British Bake Off, my work has always been focused on engineering. The outstanding local schools in Keynsham were the main attraction and now we know that there are so many benefits to life here. Plus, with two major cities on the doorstep we have everything that we need close by.

If you have friends visiting Keynsham for the weekend, how do you fill the itinerary?

If my friends are bringing kids then we always head to the Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park for guaranteed fun entertainment. Then we’ll head out for walks in the countryside. My favourite spot is along the cycle path between Bristol and Bath - start at the Bird in Hand pub in Saltford and enjoy the views! If we head to Bath then Royal Victoria Park is beautiful, for some reason I always expect Mary Poppins to pop out from around the corner!

We have some fantastic farmers in Somerset and really successful food and drink providers, where do you head for local produce?

I discovered Newton Farm at Newton St Loe near Bath after eating one of their amazing burgers at a school event. They make the best burgers I have ever had! They sell quality ingredients and also have a great café too.

Your Italian heritage influences your recipes. If you were to fuse your favourite Somerset produce with Italian recipes, what would you create?

It would have to be a recipe which incorporates the award-winning Wookey Hole Cheddar. Their cave-aged cheddar lends itself perfectly to be baked in a nice soft dough, combine that with some locally-reared ham and you have a marriage made in heaven! I have also taken to enjoying a dry cider on a hot sunny day, I’m now thinking I need to create a recipe which cooks some locally-reared meat in Somerset cider!

Congratulations for winning Great British Bake Off in 2021. How was the experience for you?

My season of GBBO was filmed during lockdown so my experiences will be different to all the other years because we had an intensely closed environment. Because of the Covid rules, all the contestants and crew lived on site for almost two months whilst we filmed one episode after the other. The bonus of that of course is that we, the twelve contestants, have all formed an incredible bond, it was a very special time.

What was your favourite part of the show?

The thing that fascinated me the most was being able to take a peek into the mechanics behind the filming of such a high-profile show. What we see on the television is super slick, it looks beautiful, but the amount of work and hours that go into creating the show is staggering. To watch one hour of GBBO takes two very long days of filming!

You released your book ‘ Giuseppe’s Italian Bakes’ last year and you will be promoting your new book this year. What else can we look forward to?

I have been over the moon to be able to publish my family recipes but I do realise that I haven’t even scratched the surface, there’s a lot more to come! Developing a cupcake recipe with Eden Project Communities in celebration of King Charles’ coronation last month was very special indeed. Considering that I am a guest in this country, I am phenomenally proud to be able to share my cooking with the good people of Somerset and the UK. There’s more on the horizon…if you follow me on Instagram @giuseppecooks you’ll get all the latest baking news!

Great British Life: Kate Simants. Photo: Kate SimantsKate Simants. Photo: Kate Simants

Kate Simants

You moved to Keynsham 14 years ago. What brought you to this part of Somerset?

My partner and I lived on a boat in London and wanted a mooring for a bigger boat. We’re both from the Westcountry originally, but weren’t ready to leave city life behind. Bristol moorings, it turned out, had 25-year waiting lists so we looked at a map and followed the river along a bit, came across Keynsham and the rest is history!

What are the benefits of ‘Somerset Life’ for you and your family?

Keynsham particularly is incredible for its location – surrounded by countryside and hemmed by the river, but you also have two incredible and completely different cities a short bus ride away. I like the community that comes with a small town and it’s not far to a bigger cultural hub.

You have friends visiting Keynsham for the weekend, how do you fill the itinerary?

A walk along the River Chew to Compton Dando for a pint in the Compton Inn would be up there – it’s such a varied walk, and you can always get in for a wallow if it’s a warm day. Bargain hunting in the many charity shops on the high street – I’m all for a greener way of life (and recently found the best¬ vintage golden tea set for £5!) Locals will tell you that a good night in Keynsham invariably ends up at the legendary pub, The Trout!

Best place for a coffee in Keynsham, and why?

Savour, without a doubt. The best coffee and daytime food, a truly friendly service and they also do loads for the community. They’re one of the places that prioritise sustainability and genuine local engagement – they have a community fridge, host and take part in community events, and generally help give the town a progressive and welcoming feel.

Tell us about the walks around Keynsham.

Nothing solves a sticky plot point like a good walk! It sounds bonkers (and probably looks bonkers, frankly) but when there’s something in a book I need to resolve, I’ll head out for a stomp in the fresh air and talk it through with myself, out loud. I’ll natter on for ages until I come to an answer, and then I’ll record a voice note on my phone to explain what I’ve decided, then move on to the next thing. Works every time! A longer walk will often take me along the river, but one I do more often is out to Saltford and up to the local landmark of Kelston Roundhill. You can see for miles from the top and we have a rule that you can’t look back until you reach the summit!

You have just released your third novel, Freeze. Can you give us a brief outline of what to expect?

It’s a thriller about a reality TV production being shot from a ship in the Arctic – but corners have been cut and there are secrets and grudges that mean everyone is in much more danger than they signed up for. I threw everything at this one so it’s got some really awful characters, massive plotlines, great scenery, and a lot of pace!

You have won several literary awards, congratulations! Which award has meant the most to you and why?

Winning the Bath Novel Award was a real game changer for me. The fact that it’s an international prize but I live just a few miles from where it’s held made it all the more special. I’ve since been a judge for the BNA too, which I’ve absolutely loved doing.

Where is the best place for readers to get in touch with you?

I’m always happy to chat to readers via twitter @katesboat, or you can find me on Facebook.

Great British Life: It's all about the music at the Keynsham Music Festival. Photo: Mike MayIt's all about the music at the Keynsham Music Festival. Photo: Mike May

Keynsham Music Festival

‘We are the biggest free music and arts festival in the South West’ says Mike May, Chair of the Keynsham Music Festival, ‘and we are proud to be able to say that we are an eco-festival. With a strict policy of no-single use plastic on site we are not sending anything to landfill. Everything, 100%, is recycled.’ Having just celebrated their 25th anniversary, the 14 trustees of the Not for Profit company are looking forward to this year’s event which runs from Monday 26th June until Sunday 2nd July. ‘We have created an identity which is now centralised around our community. The festival not only celebrates all genres of music but now also includes the celebration of many forms of art. We are trying to provide something for all tastes and all ages.’

Sitting neatly in Somerset’s festival calendar a weekend after Glastonbury means that Keynsham’s music festival benefits from international street entertainers being in the locality. ‘ We’re so fortunate to be able to welcome a raft of entertainers who are in the county at this time of year. Whether they are on the high-rise trapeze, juggling or performing acrobatics, their talents all add to the programme of what has become the ‘family festival’.

With four music stages, a wellbeing village, memory café and art zone, the free festival has continued to grow each year, with 2022 seeing over 16,000 visitors on the busiest day. Charging just a £1 to use a refillable eco-mug all weekend, the Keynsham Music Festival now costs over £100,000 to deliver which is achieved by raising money from grants, local business sponsorships and bucket collections. ‘We rely on the most incredible group of volunteers who we call our ‘Bucketeers’! We simply couldn’t execute the festival without them. It means a lot to us if we can run this event free of charge, that way the whole community can benefit. Every penny raised is put directly back into the festival itself so that we can continue to provide top quality entertainment for all.’

This year also welcomes a new addition to the line-up with the Nova Youth Arts Festival setting up near to Echo Bridge. By working together with the Keynsham Town Council Youth Development Officer, a youth zone will be created by the young people for the young people. A full schedule of workshops, activities and performances will be in place for 11-19 year olds.

Main acts for the weekend include Thursday night’s performance of Mozart’s great opera, Don Giovanni followed by a night of comedy. Saturday focuses on family entertainment whereas Sunday is all about the music. From rock to folk, Elizabethan tunes to a brass band, the festival promises to offer an eclectic and diverse range of sounds all whilst pitched in the park alongside the River Avon.


Nova Youth Arts Festival

Keynsham is relaunching its Youth Festival under its new name of ‘Nova Youth Arts Festival’ to celebrate all things arty and creative in the community. This is a key part of the Keynsham Music Festival 2023 and will feature a launch party, workshops, and music. The festival will run June 31 until July 2.

Bandstand performances

Keynsham Town Council is proud to present a full season of bandstand musical performances. The Summer line-up includes performances from local brass and wind bands along with choirs and concerts. The agenda begins in May and runs each weekend until the end of September. Bring a picnic and come join us! Schedule varies, so please check the Keynsham Town Council website for the latest information.

Keynsham in Bloom Trail

Every year, Keynsham in Bloom runs its gardening competition for residents to show off their amazing gardening skills across several different categories. This year’s theme is ‘Creativity Unwrapped’ and will run from July 2 until August 25. To find out more about these and other events, visit the Keynsham Town Council website.