THOUSANDS of spectators are expected to descend upon Bradford on Avon as part of the English Civil War Society’s civil war re-enactment on July 30-31, when they will re-enact a famous battle across the Town Bridge.

Nearly 500 society members will take up arms to recreate the 1643 skirmish on the bridge between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, before heading off for a full scale battle at Poulton Recreation Field. Roads through the town centre are expected to be closed for just 15 minutes for the skirmish.

The two-day event also includes infantry and artillery displays in Victory Fields and a living history village for the public to get a taste of 17th century folk – including cooking, woodwork, metalwork and much more.

“This is going to be the biggest event in living history in Bradford on Avon as far as I am aware in terms of expected attendances,” said Cllr Laurie Brown, who played a key role in securing the society’s services in a hugely successful Chippenham event in 2011 and for Bradford on Avon this year.

“It is so exciting. We have saved up for this for two years. It is an enormous event for the town, this is like our Glastonbury Festival.

“It was a remarkable weekend in 2011 in Chippenham and it does wonders for the local community. They had 10,000 visitors back then and although they are three times bigger than this town, I hope for thousands here too.

“I am so enthusiastic about this, I really cannot wait. It has been a long haul and there is still three more months of hard work left. I just hope the public will get the same thrill from it that other towns have.”

Event organiser Alistair North, a society member for 23 years, said: “We are very much looking forward to this. We have had very successful events in the past in Wiltshire and we hope to enjoy that again.

“It should be a fantastic spectacle and will be a superb celebration of the town and its rich history, educationally, financially and just for pure enjoyment. To storm the bridge as well makes it that extra bit special.”

A working group, including Cllr Brown, the town council, members from the town's preservation trust and museum staff, are overseeing the event management plan, transportation, stewarding and documentation.

Cllr John Potter said: “The idea for this came from a previous mayor and it is a fantastic idea. I saw a re-enactment in Chippenham several years ago and it was fascinating – everyone really embraced it.

“It should be a great laugh to try and get some of the councillors to dress up in costume for it. It is an exciting idea and one I and I think many others in the town are really looking forward to. I will particularly look forward to the skirmish on the town bridge.”