THE history of Chipping Sodbury has been brought back to life with a heritage trail launched by Coast presenter Mark Horton.

Six commemorative plaques now mark some of the most historically important places in the town in a scheme organised by Chipping Sodbury Rotary Club and funded by the National Lottery and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The first plaque, marking where Edward Jenner lived as apprentice to apothecary George Hardwicke from 1763 to 1770, was unveiled at Melbourne House on Horse Street in a ceremony on Friday.

Jenner later went on to discover the smallpox vaccine and it is widely thought he may have realised by inoculating people with cowpox they were protected from the deadly disease whilst training in rural Chipping Sodbury.

Bristol University professor and television presenter Mark Horton told an assembled crowd of dignitaries and local historians at the unveiling: “Edward Jenner probably saved more lives than anybody else in history and his significance as a medical pioneer of the modern world in which we live without the scurge of such a horrible disease is immense.

“Every time people walk by here they can think Edward Jenner was not just a local doctor but somebody who really changed the history of the world and that eureka moment he probably had here. His intimate connection with Chipping Sodbury is to be celebrated and this trail is a fantastic achievement.”

Other plaques record one of the oldest properties in the own, the Tudor House on Hatters lane, the Quaker meeting house on Brook Street, St John’s Church which was founded in 1284, Rounceval House which was originally occupied by the Lord of Manor in 1670 and The George Hotel, used as a hospice by pilgrims on their way to Kingswood Abbey during the 15th century.

Mark Lloyd, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce who has been working on the plaque scheme for several years, said: “Those of you that live or work in Sodbury will know that it is a very a special place “The plaque on Melbourne House and the five other plaques located on buildings around Chipping Sodbury help us to truly appreciate our historic environment and they bring our history alive.

“They educate and inform and act as a reminder of our historic past. They are a unique resource for our schools and will act as a tour guide for visitors.”

The plaques were designed by Chipping Sodbury School student Angus Braithwaite, 17, who won a competition held at the school when he was 13.

He said: “It is really nice to see them up and to know that I have had an impact on Chipping Sodbury.”

People are now being asked to vote for the next property to be included in the heritage trail including The Grapes, believed to be the oldest remaining public house in the town which dates back to 1595, Chipping Sodbury Town Hall which houses a 500-year-old chest, The Old Grammar School built in 1789 and Moda House which was once home to Dr Alfred Grace, brother of cricketer WG Grace.

Heritage trail guides are now available throughout the town and include details of how to vote.