Minehead is a holiday town situated on the Bristol Channel coast some 21 miles (34 km) northwest of Taunton. It has been a small port since the 14th-c., trading mainly with Bristol, South Wale sand Ireland. In the 19th Century vessels started to travel further a field to Virginia and the West Indies but by the 20th century most of the maritime trade had transferred to larger ports.
Since Victorian times, tourism has been a significant part of the local economy and the town has one of the few remaining Butlins holiday camps in the UK. At the height of the season, from late July and early August, the town's population is significantly increased by an influx of tourists.
The 15th-c. parish church of St Michael is a Grade II listed building. At one time its tower displayed a light which acted as a beacon for ships approaching the harbour. Following his ordeal in an extreme storm a certain Robert Quirke paid for a cellar near the quay where prayers could be made for those at sea. This became known as the Gibraltar Cellar, which later become the Chapel of St Peter.
Minehead's beach was almost totally washed away in 1990 by a violent storm, that also flooded the town. Since then a £12.6 million (15€ million) sea defence scheme has led to the building of new sea wall and the establishment of a new beach, that was officially completed in 2001. The present harbour, beach and promenade wear a welcoming smile and the town is back in business as one of Somerset's prime holiday experiences. The wooded North Hill to the west of beach dominates the town and can be seen for miles. The terminus of the West Somerset Railway lies close to the east-end of the beach and offers visitors an unforgettable train ride through some of Somerset's most attractive countryside.
Tourist Information Centre:
|Warren Road, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5BG - Tel: 01643 702624|
These are the largest gardens in town, covering some 6 acres. The gardens were laid-out in the 20s and have developed over the years to provide a diverse selection of mature trees and shrubs, with manicured lawns and rich herbaceous flower borders.
The gardens are well tended and boast some of the loveliest spring/summer bedding displays in Somerset. Musical events are hosted during July and August, playing modern music on Saturdays and traditional brass/silver bands on Sundays.
Butlins Holiday Camp with all its holiday facilities is normally open to day visitors who can buy tickets at the main gate.
This beautifully peaceful spot sits snug beneath the edge of Dartmoor and lies about 6 miles (12.6 km) west of Minehead. The area has a hotel, shops and many picturesque cottages including Gibraltar Cottages which date from the 17th-c. The small tidal harbour usually shelters one or two handsome yachts and there are rocks and a beach to explore. It is the sort of place where a watercolorist could sit and paint all day.