“Remarkable” Fakenham historian Mike Bridges loses brief battle with brain tumour

Mike Bridges, at the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History, with part of the building that was de

Mike Bridges, at the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History, with part of the building that was destroyed in the Fakenham fire. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

In the face of the devastating diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour, Mike Bridges was stoic.

Mike Bridges at the Museun of Gas in Fakenham, which is appearing on BBC2. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Mike Bridges at the Museun of Gas in Fakenham, which is appearing on BBC2. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Refusing the offer of chemotherapy and radiotherapy that might have afforded him another six months of life, the 84-year-old said: 'I will just live what I have got left.'

And the former chairman of trustees at Fakenham Museum and local historian did just that, taking regular trips to the coast at Sheringham and Cromer with his partner, Di Braithwaite.

It was barely four months since his diagnosis that he died, having been in the care of Cranmer House.

'The tumour was very aggressive and inoperable,' said Mrs Braithwaite.

Mike Bridges at the Museun of Gas in Fakenham, which is appearing on BBC2. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Mike Bridges at the Museun of Gas in Fakenham, which is appearing on BBC2. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher


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'The doctor gave him between six and 12 months but we knew it would not be that long.

'He did whatever his strength would allow. He still loved going to the coast and just sitting by the sea. 'He was very pragmatic when he got the diagnosis. He just sat back in his chair and said, 'how long have I got then?'. He was offered treatment but he wanted to live whatever he had left peacefully and gently.

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'Amazingly he never had any pain. He was very undemanding and was simply a remarkable man.

'He was one of those incredibly strong people – healthy right up until the last few weeks. It is horrible that he has been robbed of his life in this way.'

Passionate about the history of Fakenham, upon his retirement in the early 1980s the soil surveyor and professor returned to the town having lived in Derbyshire, Swansea and the Netherlands.

He was elected a director of the Fakenham Town Gas Works Museum Trust, and became chairman in 2002. In 2008 he guided it through accredited status with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission.

In 2010 he brought together the history of Fakenham in a new book – Fakenham-Lancaster – having already collaborated with friend Jim Baldwin on Conflict and Memories, detailing the effects of the Second World War on the town.

Mr Baldwin, a volunteer at the Fakenham Museum said: 'We found we worked very well together. We both wrote a lot for different booklets and leaflets on the town's history and we had a great deal in common.

'He was keen on the history of his home town, as am I. He was a very learned man, and there wasn't much he did not know.

'The real fun of being with him was digging around working on particular subjects.

'We would always look out for projects to work together on. He was so friendly and easy going, and had so much knowledge people could talk to him on so many subjects.

'It was a great shock when he was diagnosed, and he was only given a short time to live.'

Dr Bridges had also been a member of the School Air Training Corps, and despite his illness was able to make a speech at a parade in the town to mark its 75th anniversary in June.

Born in Fakenham in December 1931, Edwin Michael Bridges attended the Junior School and the Grammar School before leaving the town in 1951 to study at Sheffield University.

Dr Bridges died on September 13 with his partner, Di, and eldest son Julian at his side.

He leaves behind three children and three grandchildren.

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